Fifth grade can be a scary year for a lot of students. They are moving away from the familiar elementary school toward middle school and their bodies are beginning to change as well. In this unsettling year, there are a number of social, cognitive and physical skills that can help lead to school success.
Fifth grade is a year of transition, the navigation of which require some savvy, 5th-grade-worthy social skills. Not only are students preparing to move from elementary school to middle school, but some of them are starting to show signs of puberty as well.
Relationships are also in transition this year, as peer groups start becoming more fixed and parents and teachers start to expect and trust a little bit more. In order to earn that trust, your fifth grader will have to step up and be able to accept responsibility for his mistakes, become a little more dependable and start understanding that that “fair” doesn’t always mean equal.
Fifth grade is not always an easy year for students, requiring some pretty fifth grade-specific cognitive skills. The social and academic realms may overlap a little more than they did previously, as your child’s social circle starts to narrow to a children who have more common interests. Kids who enjoy school are more likely to have friends who enjoy school, too, which can add a new element of academic competition.
There are a number of cognitive skills that will help your child stay in the game, including the ability to argue more logically and with more poise. This is a great skill for more expansive writing. Your child may also be beginning to see multiple sides to an issue, giving her a better opportunity to come up with multiple hypotheses for science projects. Her abstract thinking skills are also improving just as she needs to be able to at more complicated types of math like algebraic concepts and long division.
In fifth grade the physical demands of your child’s life require him to have some important physical skills to help him navigate the change in the way extracurricular activities are organized. Whether your child’s interests lies in music, sports or both, his gross and fine motor skills should be developing fast enough to keep up with them.
This year, your child should be able to begin the more complicated task of completing an activity that requires both physical and cognitive concentration. (For instance, reading music and playing an instrument or remembering and performing a specific play in football.) He will also begin to incorporate feedback, both internal and extrernal, into his movement patterns in smaller ways than before.
There are many signs of trouble with learning in fifth grade, some of them having to do with peer relationships, some having to do with concentration and some having to do with the able to set and complete goals. If you have any concerns about how your child is handling the work in his fifth grade year, it’s time to speak with his teacher for further advice.