How to succeed in the last half of elementary school.
Grades 3-5 are critical transition years as students build foundational skills and become more independent learners in preparation for middle school.
Students must continue to develop reading fluency and comprehension, solidify their understanding of key mathematical concepts, and enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They also develop their own interests and passions, and benefit greatly if they understand how their interests are connected to academic achievement.
It is still helpful for parents to read aloud to their children. This way, children can gain exposure to books that are above their independent reading levels.
Any student who is still struggling with reading fluency, decoding, and comprehension needs intensive support in these later elementary school years.
Most early elementary students are naturally curious learners, but many students get turned off from school when it gets more difficult towards the end of elementary school.
The last grades in elementary school are crucial for developing interest and dedication to academic success.
The upper elementary school grades are also the years when state standardized testing begins.
Students may begin to feel increased academic pressure or even testing anxiety. Improving confidence as well as a student’s foundation in reading, writing, and math is important to alleviate any anxiety.
This is a great age for students to begin pursuing extracurricular activities. Children in late elementary school can explore activities to see which ones are a good match for their passions and abilities. Students can begin developing skills in sports, music, or the arts. Students should focus on having fun and building social skills.
High-performing students at this age have ample opportunity for growth and enrichment. They can continue to improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary by reading widely, and they can also develop critical thinking skills by solving difficult math problems. Students can begin to develop their interests and passions by reading about subjects they are interested in and pursuing independent projects.
Depending on the school or district, some students will already find themselves tracked into honors level classes when they begin middle school and some schools already have gifted programs or enrichment programs in late elementary school. It is important for high-performing students in the late elementary school years to maintain their motivation and continue to do well in order to distinguish themselves for these opportunities.
Strong students in late elementary school can also begin to work on study skills and time management. Middle school will be a big change in regards to commitments and opportunities, and students who already know how to stay organized and manage their time will find the transition easier.
Students who have mostly B’s at this point may need to improve their confidence, motivation, and focus. It’s important at this stage to address any problems with reading comprehension or understanding of math concepts, so that students can be prepared to work more independently in middle school.
The late elementary school years are an opportunity for B students to improve their skills and work towards higher grades. A student who can improve by the end of elementary school may have the opportunity to be considered for honors classes or gifted programs in middle school.
These students should also begin working on study skills. During 3rd-5th grades, students will have increasing independence. Students will thus need to learn the self-discipline and diligence to still perform well with increasing independence. Developing organizational skills and time-management skills can help these students improve their grades and prepare them for middle school.
C or Below Students
Students who mostly receive C or below grades in the late elementary school years likely need support in reading or math (or both). Many students at this level still struggle with reading fluency and decoding. It is critical to address these problems now, as any student who is still below grade level in reading will struggle to adjust to middle school. While all students should be reading daily by this age level, it is even more important for those who struggle with reading to get daily practice, so that they do not fall farther behind. They may also need remediation and review of phonics and spelling.
Any student struggling in math at this point also needs extensive review and support. Students must have a strong understanding of key concepts like place value, multiplication and division, and fractions in order to be prepared for more difficult abstract concepts in middle school. Any weaknesses need to be identified and addressed now.
Students who have difficulty in school often start to lose motivation at this age, and disengage from school. It is important to encourage these students to develop a mindset which motivates them to work hard, build their confidence, and find ways to connect academic work to their interests.
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Erin M, Academic Advisor