What does Fourth Grade Have to do with Middle School?

by Kristen Cross and Aimee Faulkner
Your child is comfortably in the midst of an elementary school routine by his fourth grade year, and middle school isn’t exactly on the radar quite yet. But, should it be?

Did you know that fourth grade is a pivotal year for your child? There are many ways your child should be preparing for that next big step called middle school! Middle School can feel like another planet, as many of the comforts of elementary school are suddenly a thing of the past, and children are thrust into a completely different, faster-paced environment. 

We recognize this would-be dilemma at Pinecrest Academy and accompany our fourth and fifth graders so that their transition to middle school is not only smooth, but successful and joyful!

Here are ways we prepare fourth graders for the middle school experience: 

  • Switch classes as a group - learn how to manage time and plan for classes by having items with them that are needed for each class;
  • Work on executive functioning and learn how to organize materials;
  • Learn to work with different teachers and different teaching styles;
  • Work in groups and begin working more independently;
  • Learn how to build long-term, meaningful friendships through our Virtue Program
  • Assign “Weekly Apostles” to help the teacher throughout the week (passing out papers, updating items on the board, etc.);
  • Plan out the week in student agendas (agendas are completed daily but students are encouraged to look ahead and record future test and quiz dates);
  • Students can choose to begin learning an instrument in Band.

So, how is Pinecrest’s fourth grade different?

  • Christ is at the center of every school day. Students attend weekly Mass, weekly Gospel reflections, and may participate in monthly Confession; religion lessons are part of daily studies; Catholic boys can altar serve;
  • Our Virtue Program builds character daily and motivates students, faculty, and staff to live a “Virtue of the Month” well; virtue winners are recognized each month;
  • Use of lockers and class switching begin this year so that by the time students reach middle school, they have these practices mastered;
  • Departmentalized lessons - students switch classes, allowing for teachers to teach what they are most passionate about and most gifted in teaching;
  • Positive passed reinforcement - students earn tickets/hole punches throughout the day to earn a trip to the prize box - encourages students to always strive harder for success;
  • Each student is known, loved, and prayed for by their teachers;
  • Class sizes are small enough that teachers are able to give students individualized attention in class.
For centuries, Catholic schools have enjoyed the reputation of providing academic excellence, steeped in Catholic Christian values. The whole-person educational approach is a hallmark of Catholic education - the harmonious development of all dimensions of the human person.  Every grade in a child’s educational journey is critical to his success, and that’s why it’s key to pay close attention to how students are prepared for middle school in the midst of the latter elementary school years.

To learn more about Pinecrest Academy’s educational philosophy, click here. Want to know more about the elementary school experience for your child? Contact Lenny Forti, PreK-8th Grade Principal, at lforti@pinecrestacademy.org.

Kristen Cross and Aimee Faulkner are fourth grade teachers at Pinecrest Academy. Kristen holds an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University. Aimee holds an MEd in Elementary Education from The University of North Georgia.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.
955 Peachtree Parkway
Cumming, GA 30041
Phone: 770.888.4477