Back to School at
Home > School and Learning > By Grade > 4th Grade > 4th Grade Math > Mathematics in Fourth Grade

Mathematics in Fourth Grade

What kids should learn in Math
In the fourth grade, mathematics continues to be something that is used, something children see as extending far beyond school. While children are expected to do basic computational functions such as adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying, in the best classrooms math consists of much more than worksheets filled with problems or drills on number facts. Children:

  • learn when to add and subtract, use a calculator, estimate, and arrange information on a graph.
  • begin to have an understanding of probability and how to judge it.
  • learn how relationships among numbers, patterns, or events can be made more understandable with mathematical formulations.
  • establish models for problem solving.
  • develop mental models by teaching children how to visualize problems and solutions.
  • develop personal theories by thinking about different ways to solve mathematical problems.

What you should expect from your fourth grader
You should expect to see your fourth grade child become a much better estimator than he or she was before. Further, your child will be able to see patterns in numbers more easily -- they will note in a sequence of 1, 2, 4, 8 that subsequent numbers will be 16, 32, 64 -- and will have some beginning understanding of probabilities: how likely is it that when flipping a coin, heads will come out 2 times more than tails, etc. The child should also be able to measure things with precision and to manage fractions fairly well -- although, because of their use of calculators, children are increasingly familiar with decimals.

Teachers often ask the children, "How can we solve this problem?" For example, the teacher might present the following problem: "If 10 balls cost $46.25, how much would 26 balls cost?" The emphasis would be less on finding the correct answer than on showing that there are multiple ways of approaching the problem.

The goal of mathematics in the fourth grade is to help children maintain a good sense of what numbers mean and to make them feel that math is as commonplace and accessible as any other subject in school. Mathematics is not a mystery that only a select few can master. It should be -- and in the best settings it is -- fully available to all.

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 4th Grader by Vito Perrone, published Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.



Handwriting Headquarters
We've got handwriting practice worksheets, handwriting tips, and answers to your child's writing struggles, just in time for back to school. Brought to you by BIC.

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit to sign our petition to save handwriting!