At a glance
In preparation for fifth grade, fourth graders work on their problem-solving skills.
Most kids who are ready for fifth grade can organize facts to write nonfiction reports.
To be ready for fifth-grade math, kids need to understand fractions and decimals.
By the time kids start fifth grade, they’re expected to focus more on thinking rather than just on doing. These thinking skills involve problem-solving and finding more than one way to do things.
Your state’s academic standards outline the skills kids need to know by the end of fourth grade in preparation for fifth grade. Here are some common ones.
Skills to get ready for grade 5: English language arts and literacy
To get ready for fifth grade, kids start reading more challenging material, including news articles and other informational texts. They add to their vocabulary and use evidence from the text when they summarize. By the end of fourth grade, students are expected to have mastered the following language and literacy skills:
- Identify the main idea of what’s been read, explaining how the author used facts and evidence to back up the text
- Compare writing from different cultures
- Understand information presented in drawings, timelines, charts, and other non-text formats
- Take notes and organize facts; create oral and written reports using the information
- Participate in class discussions about specific questions and share their own ideas and understandings in relation to the discussion
- Use dialogue and descriptive language in stories to show a character’s inner life
Learn more about trouble with reading and writing. Explore books to read with a reluctant reader and find fun ways to boost writing skills and encourage reading.
Skills to get ready for grade 5: Mathematics
In fourth grade, kids continue to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division on paper and in word problems. They do more in-depth work with fractions. They also start to understand the relationship between fractions and decimals. Here are some of the activities kids do in fourth grade that will prepare them for fifth-grade math:
- Solve multi-step word problems, including those that use units of measurement
- Work with multi-digit numbers
- Compare fractions by looking at the top (numerator) and bottom (denominator) numbers; create fractions that are equal to each other (1/2 and 2/4) and add and subtract fractions with the same denominator (Watch a video of how students compare fractions.)
- Recognize that multiplying fractions is like adding and subtracting whole numbers (Watch how kids learn how to multiply fractions.)
- Learn to change fractions with the denominators in multiples of ten (10, 100, 1000) to decimals
- Compare decimals and fractions using > (more than), = (equal to), and < (less than) and place them correctly on a number line
Discover how kids who learn and think differently can get tripped up by math problems. Take a look at how math skills develop at different ages. And explore graphic organizers and software programs that can help kids with math.
How to help your rising fifth grader
The skills students are expected to master by the end of fourth grade can be challenging. But there are things you can do at home to help. Working with fractions can be particularly tough for kids with and other learning differences that affect visual-spatial skills. Try playing games to improve math and critical-thinking skills.
Keep reading together too. Reading and discussing the newspaper can help your child become more comfortable with informational text in preparation for fifth grade. Ask your child to tell you or write stories with detail about characters and plot.
Kids develop at different rates. But if your child is having trouble keeping up, consider talking with your child’s teacher. Together you can come up with a plan for addressing any trouble spots.
There are specific language and math skills kids are expected to have when they enter fifth grade.
Talk to the teacher if your child seems to be having trouble with skills needed for fifth grade.
You can help your child work on key skills at home.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Kristen L. Hodnett, MSEd is a clinical professor in the department of special education at Hunter College in New York City.