The changes in teaching between third and fourth grade

It may seem like starting fourth grade is just like starting any other school year. But there’s a big difference between what third graders and fourth graders do in class. Here are some of the changes.


Third grade: Kids focus on learning to read fluently. That includes building a strong vocabulary and figuring out what words mean based on context. Kids may still be reading story books.

Fourth grade: Kids read lots of different formats. That might be encyclopedias, news stories, and chapter books. They also have to form ideas about what they read.

What’s changing: Fourth graders have to understand what they read and draw conclusions about it. They might even have to write essays about what they read.


Third grade: Math class focuses on multiplication and division.

Fourth grade: Kids move on to math concepts like fractions, decimals, and basic geometry, like measuring lines and angles.

What’s changing: Fourth graders start to use arithmetic (like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) to do more complex math.


Third grade: Kids often do hands-on science projects that require experimenting, measuring, and observing (like growing plants).

Fourth grade: Kids might start classifying organisms, like plants and flowers. They learn about more abstract concepts, like electricity and motion.

What’s changing: Fourth graders start to do more abstract science. They have to use organization skills to work on concepts like classification.

Social studies

Third grade: Third graders often spend a lot of time learning the geography and history of their home state.

Fourth grade: Kids start learning more about the United States and the world. This includes reading maps and learning national history.

What’s changing: Fourth graders start to learn more about the world as social studies takes on a broader focus.

Get tips on how to get your child ready for fourth grade.


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