This is the age when academic strengths and weaknesses are fairly evident to students and teachers alike. For example, if the child has a “knack” for math, she may have been placed in an advanced class already, and the work may come relatively easy to her. On the other hand, she might dread history because she finds it boring and can’t keep the time periods straight. Ten year olds have a wide range of abilities, but a desire and willingness to learn can make all the difference, especially in subject areas that may present more of a challenge.Skills Required at the Beginning of 5th Grade
The child’s teacher will expect her to do the following:

• Produce projects demonstrating reading comprehension (e.g. a book report, poster, diorama, skit, mobile, or book jacket)
• Differentiate between fiction and nonfiction
• Ask and answer critical questions about characters and plot that explore similarities, contrasts, and hypothetical scenarios
• Integrate reading skills with science, social studies, and math

Writing and Verbal Communication

• Write in cursive (longhand) as requested
• Accurately take notes from reference materials
• Write papers, ranging from three to four pages, that require research
• Use higher-level vocabulary words, including synonyms and antonyms
• Write for a purpose: to explain, to describe, to persuade, to entertain, to list, to express an opinion, and so on.
• Produce polished assignments that have been self-edited for grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes
• Present oral reports

Math

• Solve long-division math problems with double-digit divisors
• Multiply two- and three-digit numbers
• Work with fractions and decimals
• Calculate perimeter and averages
• Use a calculator
• Understand that there is more than one way to solve a math problem; know when and how to incorporate various methods of calculation
• Do “mental math” (calculating without paper; ability varies widely among students)

Science

• Analyze, predict, observe, and think scientifically
• Explain how an answer to a scientific question is found
• Retain science facts from previous year

History and Social Studies

• Know home state history
• Understand the branches of the U.S. government
• Retain history facts from previous year
• Know U.S. geography

Naturally, 5th grade will be more academically challenging than the earlier grades. Not only is this the final year of elementary school, but teachers are preparing your child for the rigors of middle school. Help him begin with a positive attitude by encouraging him to keep up the good work in the subjects he enjoys, while still motivating him to improve in areas that are more difficult. If he lags in reading or math skills, you may want to consider consulting with a tutor or other educational specialist, since the work only gets more demanding.

The sheer volume of new material introduced in the 5th grade can seem overwhelming, so the right outlook is patience, patience, patience. The child will be expected to accomplish the following over the course of the school year:

• Pinpoint the five stages of plot in fiction: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution
• Produce written or oral book reports, demonstrating knowledge of plot and character development
• Explain the differences between genres — biographies, poetry, mysteries, plays, historical fiction — and read books in each category
• Know how to use the library (card and computer catalogues, periodicals, the Dewey Decimal system)
• Read more complex texts (textbooks and fiction) to build vocabulary and comprehension skills

Writing & Verbal Communication

• Generate flow between sentences and paragraphs, with a clear-cut introduction, body, and conclusion in both informative and creative writing assignments
• Switch styles as appropriate for the audience or subject matter (for example, a casual voice when inventing character dialogue in creative writing; an objective tone for reports)
• Participate in writing workshops in which students edit and critique each other's work
• Write a research paper of greater length and scope (more than four pages). For example, learn to narrow the topic, locate information from multiple sources, take notes, collect and cite sources, create an outline, etc.
• Use research and report-writing skills to complete assignments in other subjects such as science, social studies, math, art, and music
• Prepare for middle school standardized writing tests by practicing skills in a daily journal or completing weekly at-home writing assignments

Math

• Compute with fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers
• Compute with powers
• Interpret percents
• Organize statistical information
• Estimate probability (many teachers begin with a coin-flipping activity and increase difficulty with variables)
• Learn the basic angles and formulas of geometry
• Compare measurement to the metric system
• Compute the volume and area of objects
• Budget with play money

Science

• Design basic experiments to test student’s hypothesis; after carrying out the experiment, record observations and draw concrete conclusions
• Study physical science (electricity, magnets, atoms, molecules, and chemistry) and life science (environments, weather, water cycles, habitats, food chains).
• Build models — hanging mobiles of the solar system, dioramas of natural habitats for earth science, clay molecules to introduce chemistry, etc.
• Relate science to everyday life by discussing topics like weather patterns and preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes

History and Social Studies

• Create timelines to understand the flow of historical events
• Become proficient in map reading
• Read historical fiction to enhance lessons about world history — for example, Lois Lowry's Number The Stars is often read while studying the Holocaust
• Read accounts of individuals from past time periods in order to compare and contrast to the present

Other Subjects

• Learn more about the human body in Health — from the skeleton and cardiac system to nutritional needs and the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, and smoking. If sex education is offered, most schools send home a parental permission slip before a student attends such classes.
• Continue to study history and theory in Art, Music, and Drama
• Meet fitness requirements in Physical Education; expect more attention to the rules and regulations of organized sports
• Continue study in a Foreign Language, if offered (varies by school district)
• Refine typing and technical skills in Computer class

Homework
The key to successfully completing homework in the 5th grade comes down to two factors: responsibility and organization. The child will be accountable for about one to two hours of homework per night. Expect due dates to range from daily, weekly, and even monthly for some assignments. At the beginning of the year, talk with the child about time management so that the work doesn’t become overwhelming. Offer to help him set up a "homework calendar",” or buy him a planner as a back-to-school gift.

Remember that teachers highlight the importance of independence this year. While we always want the child to succeed, now is the time to let your child take increasing ownership of her schoolwork. Knowing she did it on her own will ultimately boost her confidence and self-reliance. If the child truly needs help understanding an assignment, walk through the steps together. Ask her to explain the process she has gone through thus far, and where she thinks she may have gotten off-track. Many times, once the trouble area has been pinpointed, you can offer advice or examples that will help her complete her work — without having to give away the answer or do it for her.