At Grade 4 level, the way children approach reading lessons will completely change compared to how they would have viewed them in first grade. They will now be fluent readers and recognize a great breadth of words instantly. Here’s a short summary of the basic skills your children should have by this level:
The challenge for your children will now be to make the switch from simply being able to read the words on the page, to thinking critically about what the text is telling them. They will also need to begin to inference by reading between the lines and identifying hidden meanings. This can be a challenging step for a lot of children, and it is therefore important that they practice the development of these skills as much as possible throughout their time in fourth grade.
By the time children have reached fourth grade, they are expected to use a full toolkit of skills to decode words. These skills include knowing letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and knowledge of affixes.
Letter-sound correspondences are the sounds that relate to individual letters and letter combinations. Syllabication patterns help children to read multisyllabic words by breaking them into syllables. Affixes are the letters we add to root words that change their meaning, such as prefixes and suffixes.
Some examples of words your child should know at fourth-grade level are:
persuade, glimpse, recommend, hibernate, represent, sensitive,
parallel, observe, distribute, migrate, destructive, calculate
In Grade 4, children are expected to make and explain inferences within a text. Where appropriate, they should make textual references and give examples. You can help your children develop comprehension and inference skills by asking them lots of ‘why’ questions whilst reading with them. Here are a few examples:
If your children are struggling to infer meanings in stories, then you can try to compare the events to something they may have experienced in their own life. This can help them to relate to the story and it can make the events more understandable.
Practice Tip: Challenge your children to read a short section of a story and give written answers to inference questions based on the text. The following example is from a challenge on nightzookeeper.com.
A large part of the reading curriculum in Grade 4 will involve non-fiction texts. Children will be expected to read through a text and identify key details and pieces of information. It is important to be very clear with your children as to what they should be looking for in the text before they begin reading. If they do not have a clear purpose for their non-fiction reading, then it can be difficult for them to extract important information from the text.
It will also help children to go through the key words in the text before they begin reading. This can involve picking out four to eight words that are key to understanding the information in the text. You should run through the meaning of these words, ask your children to read them aloud and ask them to explain their meaning to you. You might even invite your children to find these key words and highlight them before beginning to read.
Children in Grade 4 will also be expected to build upon the ‘compare and contrast’ skills they started to develop whilst in Grade 3. When reading informational texts, you can ask your children to compare how different authors present their information on a topic. You can also ask for their critical opinion at this point about which text they prefer and ask for them to back this up with reasons.
Of course, all of the skills mentioned above are very important, but don’t forget about injecting some fun into reading practice! Children always learn best when they are enjoying themselves and that’s why it’s important to encourage them to read for pleasure. Allow them to select their own books, read things that interest them and introduce fun activities around the books they are reading. Here are just a few fun activities you could do with your children at home:
Nightzookeeper.com constantly challenges fourth-grade readers to read instructions, sentences and short passages of text. The website helps them to discover the meaning of new words using fun games and challenges, whilst also posing grade level questions to test their understanding. By spending time working through these activities on Night Zookeeper, your child will become a more confident reader and critical thinker.