The powerful energy of the ten-year-old child must be channelled positively. They begin to experience the world beyond their immediate surroundings and it is for this reason that the class 4 curriculum introduces new subjects that address the child’s growing interest in more concrete areas of knowledge.
Learners need to be stretched and challenged as much as possible in all aspects of their work because they are now able to meet the world with new capacities of thinking and feeling.
Expanding the philosophical mind through enthralling tales
The teachers, therefore, prepare lessons with this aim in mind and provide opportunities for independent work. Because the children need to find a new relationship to their work, to their peers and to their teachers, stories in which a multitude of personalities contributes to the social whole are used. Class 4s are quickly immersed in the Norse Mythology which allows them to identify an individual ‘badness’ in contrast to social ‘goodness’. These fascinating tales contain pertinent moral questions, dilemmas, and extremes: light and darkness; heat and cold. They are full of humour, courage and adventure to which the learners respond enthusiastically.
Language skills honed through stories
New aspects of the English language are revealed through these tales. Language as a proper subject becomes more formalised, including parts of speech, punctuation and spelling. Creativity is encouraged when short stories and poems are written. The learners hear about the Three Norns in Norse Mythology: three wise women who represent the Past, Present and Future. Through these characters, tenses are introduced which lay the foundation for the nine tenses that will be introduced in the future.
Switching on the analytical brain through mathematics
An important aspect of mathematics that is introduced during this time is fractions. The foundation that was laid during the first three years of school is now put to the test when learners need to understand the concept of how fractions work. It creates a new dimension in mathematical thinking in the child. Mental arithmetic continues to play a role in daily lessons and a strong emphasis is placed on times tables. Form drawing develops into freehand geometry and Celtic designs are introduced to learn how to divide a circle into equal parts and to create movement simply by using straight and curved lines.
Exploring their world
Other formal subjects are introduced this year. Local geography teaches learners basic map drawing skills, while simultaneously exploring their immediate surroundings. They start with a map of the classroom and in subsequent lessons, expand their maps to the larger community and local regions.
In history, they are introduced to the first farmers who were hunter-gatherers and herders.
The main focus in animal studies is surprisingly the unique quality of the human being which is to a large extent free of the instinctive behaviour of the animal world and whose physical body lacks those special features which allow animals to live so intricately in their environment. These lessons aim to bring about a perspective on the unique role and responsibility of humankind. An important skill can develop at this when learners discover how to use their human faculties to make an impact on the lives of others.
Cultivating further creativity
The discovery of and learning how to do the cross stitch properly is the focus of crafts during the fourth year although other skills relating to the festivals and topics in class are explored and completed. Recorder playing and singing continue and rounds are introduced. Drawing and painting still form a very important part of the daily activities. In the fourth-year animal forms and landscapes are explored as well as great moments in the stories.
The fourth year is a creative and busy year for the learners. Apart from developing many skills, they form new and solid friendships. They become independent in their thinking and are eager participants when new work is introduced. Curiosity in the world is strengthened and supported by the interest of the teachers and other significant adults. They should be allowed to discover, to see and to learn.