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Starting your child in a 4th grade online program doesn't have to be a difficult choice to make when you consider the benefits. Just at a time when a 4th-grade student's curriculum is beginning to expand, they can explore new material at their own pace and advance in the ways that are necessary for them.

Online 4th Grade Schools

Just like there are multiple ways of learning and various types of intelligence, there are also numerous models of instruction that can be beneficial to a child. Online 4th grade programs can be of particular importance because of the flexibility and advanced learning they can provide at a time when a student's curriculum is beginning to expand. Even though online K-12 education has been around since at least the late 90s, it still leaves parents with a number of questions about the types of programs available and whether online 4th grade learning is right for their child.

Subject

4th grade online: a look at the curriculum

Fourth grade is often a time when teachers begin--or continue--to focus on teaching across the curriculum. Language arts lessons are often integrated with math, science and social studies concepts, allowing students to use their skills in a wide range of contexts. According to the Core Knowledge Foundation (coreknowledge.org), a non-profit that publishes suggested skill sequences, the following is a typical curriculum for a 4th grader:

    1. Language arts/English: writing, usage and grammar; poetry; fiction; speeches; sayings and phrases
    2. History and geography: world geography (spatial sense; mountains); Europe in the Middle Ages; the spread of Islam; Early and medieval African kingdoms; China: dynasties and conquerors; the American revolution; making a constitutional government; early presidents and politics; reformers; American symbols and figures
    3. Mathematics: numbers and number sense; fractions and decimals; money; computation; measurement; geometry
    4. Music: elements of music; listening and understanding (orchestral; vocal ranges; composers)
    5. Science: human body (circulatory and respiratory systems); chemistry: basic terms and concepts; electricity; geology: the Earth and its changes; meteorology
    6. Visual arts: art of the Middle Ages in Europe; Islamic art and architecture; art of Africa; art of China; art of a new nation: the United States

    This broad curricular approach can begin to expand your child's knowledge and help them to see the real-world applicability of different subjects. Whether your child is studying at a traditional school or through an online program, you can expect similar types of subjects to be addressed but can more fully address a program's learning goals by comparing them with state standards.

      Time commitments for students and parents

      Depending on the online 4th grade program, time commitments can vary. However, with few exceptions, your children should spend less time going to school online than they should in a traditional classroom. Activities such as lining up for lunch, taking attendance, and answering questions from multiple students take up time in a traditional classroom but are nonexistent in online programs. An average day for a student at k12.com, one of the larger online education providers, involves five hours of "school" with 20 to 30 percent of that time spent on the computer. (The remaining 70 to 80 percent is spent in offline activities, such as doing science experiments and completing paper-based curriculum activities.) Parents are expected to spend about three hours a day working with their children--either assisting with lessons, teaching content, or reviewing completed coursework.

      How online 4th grade programs work

      While every program works differently, the process at k12.com is fairly standard:

        1. An enrollment counselor guides parents and students through course selection and placement. Students usually take some sort of placement test that determines the best place to begin in the curriculum.
        2. Students are assigned a state-certified teacher who will work with the students and guide a learning coach (usually a parent) in daily instruction.
        3. Parents (or other learning coaches) guide students through day-to-day curriculum, which is usually listed on a website that automatically updates lesson plans and instructions based on what students have completed so far.
        4. In some hybrid programs--for example, the Chicago Virtual Charter School, which serves Chicago public school students--the certified teacher is someone students see once a week in an actual classroom. Extracurricular activities, such as music classes or sports teams, may also be offered through these hybrid programs.

        You may find that some programs focus tightly on the online learning process while others offer hands-on projects at home or even social get-togethers with other online students at parks. You could also discover that programs vary in the use of textbooks: some might offer materials that are entirely online while others send you textbooks and expect you to provide materials such as printer paper and ink cartridges.

          Paving the way to middle school

          Fourth graders might only be nine or 10 years old, but it's not too early to think about middle school, and online programs can help make that transition easier. Because of the integrated nature of most e-learning curricula, and the self-paced nature of the programs (students are placed at their achievement level rather than their grade level), students get a head start on the differentiation that is part of many middle schools and virtually all high schools.

          Students who stay with online education during their middle-school years could find it easy to choose the type of extracurricular coursework that becomes available in terms of the arts, languages, leadership, and more. They may be comfortable taking a lead role as more options become available during the middle-school years. Even those students who head back to a traditional middle school could discover an easy adjustment to the flexible schedules, course selections, and need for self direction.

          Potential challenges of online 4th grade programs

          All online curricula pose challenges not faced in traditional classrooms. For example, parents (or other learning coaches) must take an active role in the process, which can be difficult if parents have grown (by 4th grade) used to leaving the primary responsibility to someone else.

          Socialization can also be a concern for some parents, though homeschooling groups in many cities (both large and small) give children the chance to interact with their peers. Park districts, churches or temples and other social service organizations are also places children can learn social skills.

          Regardless of the curricula chosen, online education can offer children opportunities that traditional classrooms do not. While the content of lessons is much the same as in a traditional learning environment, parents can take a more active role in their children's education, and children themselves can develop more independent skills that can help them as they grow older and more advanced in their intellectual development.

          Online 4th Grade Programs

          Learn online education looks like for 4th grade students by searching through our school report cards. From course offerings top school details, our report cards help you compare a variety of schools side-by-side in one place.

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          University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
          • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
          • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
          • Flexible start date and class schedules.
          • Locations nationwide and online options.
          • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
          • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
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          • Based in Winter Park, FL, Full Sail University offers an innovative approach to learning.
          • Entertainment and media design programs are offered on campus and online.
          • With more than 37,000 alumni, Full Sail University graduates have worked in many different roles for some of the industry's most well-known companies and contributed to countless notable projects.
          • Through Project LaunchBox(TM), students in most programs receive a MacBook Pro pre-equipped with professional software at a deep institutional discount.
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          • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
          • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
          • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
          • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
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          • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
          • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
          • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
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          • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
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          • Gives students the option to enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
          • Has an average freshman retention rate of 77.3 percent.
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          Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
          • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
          • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
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          Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

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          • Provides an exclusive Ashford Mobile app to keep students connected to the online classroom on the go.
          • Offers a business program in partnership and collaboration with Forbes magazine.
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          • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
          • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
          • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
          • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
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