Fourth grade is the bridge year between childhood and preadolescence. Students go through many changes throughout the year and need to feel secure, confident, and comfortable with themselves, their peers, and their surroundings. They must be able to negotiate, compromise, and mediate differences with their fellow students in acceptable ways. Fourth grade is also a time when students become acutely aware of boy/girl differences and are very concerned about issues of rules and fairness. During the year, students are presented a variety of opportunities to help them develop the social skills necessary to cope with all of these social-emotional issues, as well as guided conversations with the US Student Character Committee. Fourth graders have an irrepressible enthusiasm for learning. This is the time when key skills, such as organization and time management, are developed in order for students to become independent, responsible learners. The fourth grade curriculum includes many units of study which allow students to view the world through the eyes of another, generally someone their own age, but perhaps in a different time or place. Chapin’s Virtues and developing the students’ leadership role in the Lower School supports discussions on the theme of empathy across many types of literature and genre. Our Language Arts and Social Studies lessons are strongly linked, and our fourth graders begin to find universal truths about relationships, families, and ultimately, about themselves. Cooperative learning activities in social studies and science, whether working on a design challenge presentation with a partner or exploring the far reaches of the universe, encourage the students to develop their critical-thinking and social skills that enhance their friendships and their learning. The irrepressible enthusiasm that fourth graders have for learning is met with appropriately challenging work that is supported by incrementally increased demands and teacher guidance. Children leave their fourth grade year confident that they have mastered many of the skills necessary for success in Chapin’s Upper School and for taking on greater levels of independence and complexity.