A Guide to Elementary Schools

Elementary school usually refers to grades one to six. However, this is not always the case as there are variations. Classes in elementary schools are usually self-contained and have just one teacher taking all subjects. Although there are variations, and in some cases, a class may be taught by a team of two teachers, and in some districts, upper elementary grades are departmentalized. For many students, the fourth grade may be more challenging than the third grade because prior to this class, they had been learning to read and must henceforth read to learn. 

This is also the class where students stop learning basic math and have to start applying the basics they have learned to advanced and multi-step math problems. This increase in the complexity of their learning activities also applies to other subjects. Students will do less reading for pleasure and more reading to gain information; in other words, students will begin content-area reading. Though the students will likely have some experience from reading to learn in the first grade, students who have never had to read to gain information may initially find content-area reading to be quite challenging. In grades 3-12, achievement test scores are given more importance and students spend more time and effort in preparation for tests.    

There is increasing skepticism about the testing system and its potential merits and demerits. This has caused a lot of parents to feel uncertain about allowing their children to be exposed to testing. The reason testing seems rampant is that it is essential for monitoring the progress of the students and learning how they can be helped to thrive academically. Testing helps teachers learn whether their students are ready to move on to the next class.  

This is especially important because it is in elementary school that the disparity in academic performance begins to show quite strongly. This is why it is important that teachers pay careful attention to the academic progress of each student to make sure that none are falling behind their peers and in the case that any student is having a hard time keeping up, it is the teacher’s responsibility to support that student and help them catch up.   

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