What to expect from my fourth-grader

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 18, 2009

I went to open house at my daughter’s school recently, and among the handouts given to parents in our class was “What can you expect from your fourth-grader?”

It was good to see. I found out my child is right on target!

I got a similar handout last year and remember how I started noticing some of the characteristics it listed. And now, after reading the latest installment, I’m convinced all these experts really know what they are talking about when they discuss child development.

I’ve been watching my daughter bite the skin around her fingernails for months. It’s on the list. It’s a tension reliever, so they say.

And regularly she eats her supper, says she’s full, and 15 minutes later says she’s starving.

That’s on the list, too. Rapidly growing bodies, it says.

My daughter seems to always have an injury, or an ache, or a pain, and she gets her feelings hurt very easily. And guess what? All those things are characteristics of 9- and 10-year-olds.

My daughter can memorize Bible verses, test questions and other facts. She can repeat long monologues from a television show.

Sometimes, many times, I ask her if she even knows what whatever she said means.

“No,” she quickly answers at least half of the time.

Believe it or not, that, too, is on the list.

Other characteristics of 9- and 10-year-olds:

• Enjoys collecting, classifying and organizing. (Cassidy can spend hours organizing hair accessories!)

• Develops abounding energy. (Sometimes I wonder just how many candy bars she had at afterschool care!)

• Desire to complete tasks. (Her favorite saying: “When I’m done.”)

• Have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. (When she’s on the computer, anyway.)

• Often feels worried or anxious and shows impatience. (Lots of stomachaches around the time school was starting, but then, it’s usually me who is impatient.)

At this age they also form stronger, more complex friendships, experience more peer pressure and become more independent from the family.

Much of this information gathered by the teachers comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the references listed on the handout. So I could go to that Web site and get a head start on what to expect in years to come.

But then, it’s likely to mention things like puberty, moodiness and even more peer pressure.

For that, I’m just not ready.

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at sandy.cunningham@wickcommunications.com