Fourth and Fifth Grade

The fourth and fifth-grade at Friends School Haverford is organized to support the unique social-emotional development of this age Common developmental characteristics among these students include: a desire to expand social circles, an increased need for peer approval, an increased desire for independence, a need to remain young and dependent. You may notice your child acting very grown-up one minute and rather childish the next. At school, we support the students’ desire for larger social circles and independence in a safe and caring environment. 
Like our other grades, the fifth-grade program is rooted in an interdisciplinary and meaningful approach to learning. Aside from increasing the student’s factual knowledge, we encourage them to more deeply explore new ideas, to respond freely and without prejudice to other ways of living and to understand how their lives touch upon and are touched by others.

Social and Emotional Learning
During the fourth and fifth grade years, we continue to build community and discuss the Quaker testimonies. Like in the younger grades, the Responsive Classroom and Zones of Regulation frameworks are used to give students ample time to share their ideas, reflect on their feelings, and build a strong sense of belonging. Students develop into sophisticated thinkers who can actively think about their own needs as well as advocate for others’.  The fourth and fifth-grade year prepares them for the eventual move to middle school by providing them with not only a solid academic experience but the opportunity to grow as a person in a responsive and caring environment. 

Language Arts
We continue to promote a love for literacy for our oldest students. They are encouraged to think more deeply about their reading and writing as they engage in these activities meaningfully across the curriculum. Students enjoy time throughout the week to explore their interests using books, articles, and podcasts and to write about what is important to them. To supplement this work, daily Guided Reading groups provide teachers with the opportunity to meet with students in small groups and to provide them with individualized reading work. Fourth and fifth graders participate in rich discussions and activities about vocabulary, complex spelling patterns, author’s purpose, organization/style, and inference. 

In addition to writing across the curriculum, Writer’s workshop provides students with targeted mini lessons to teach specific skills. This explicit teaching helps students to embrace various writing styles, incorporate writing conventions, and further develop their own writer’s voice. Teachers actively support students throughout the writing process by modeling and providing plenty of time to write, edit, make mistakes, and try again


Using the Math in Focus curriculum as a guide, fourth and fifth grade students develop into awho not only understand how to solve problems but can talk about their approaches. Math Talks provide students with the opportunity to review building and decomposing numbers, algebraic thinking, and using different operations and strategies to solve problems. These mathematical discussions also allow students to see different strategies, learn from their mistakes, and gain a stronger number sense.  In turn, fourth and fifth grade students develop into more confident mathematicians who are willing to take more learning risks.

Every day, students meet in small, grade level groups for math class.  This allows teachers to answer students’ questions, extend their thinking, and be responsive to their needs.  Fourth grade students work to further develop their abstract understanding of multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, measurement, and geometry.  In fifth grade, the students dive into these topics and their real world applications more deeply to prepare them well for middle school math courses

Social Studies
Fourth and Fifth grade students dive deeply into important and more muti-faceted topics such as world history, justice, current events, equity, and conflict.  These and other concepts are viewed from a variety of perspectives using both nonfiction texts and primary sources. Students dive into topics becoming experts and then present their findings to others. This opportunity to become immersed in their learning about historical and current events allows students to work to further understand their own place in the world.  Questions like, “How can I actively promote positive change?” and “What can I do to celebrate and honor people’s stories?” are discussed and acted on in the fourth grade classroom.
In fourth and fifth grade, students practice skills of observing, describing, and wondering about the world around them. Hands-on explorations in the classroom and outdoors provide opportunities for students to sort, compare, test, keep records, use models and tools, and interpret evidence.