The Transition Years

Posted by BASIS.ed on May 27, 2020 at 10:02 AM

Grades 4-5 at BASIS Charter Schools

Far from the wide-eyed children they were in kindergarten, yet not quite middle schoolers experiencing a new sense of independence, students in grades 4–5 often find themselves in a state of in-between. At BASIS Charter Schools, we consider grades 4–5 to be transition years, and we scaffold our approach with students accordingly. Students begin to increase their academic independence, require less guidance from teachers, master more challenging content, and become accountable for their work. They even begin to research, plan, and revise larger projects on their own. Students in grades 4–5 at BASIS Charter Schools learn essential skills that will help them achieve success in middle school and high school.

Time Management

As students in grades 4–5 start to explore new interests, make new friends, and participate in more extracurricular activities, they have to learn how to balance these with an increased workload. That’s where time management comes in. One of the most important time management strategies is learning how to plan ahead for long-term assignments. Depending on the duration of the assignment, teachers may provide students with separate due dates for specific portions of it. However, the rest is up to the students. An effective planning-ahead strategy students can practice is working backwards from the due date and breaking the project into smaller, nightly tasks. Time management successes, and failures, on long-term projects are valuable learning opportunities.

For daily homework, students can practice prioritizing their assignments according to due date, length, and difficulty. This way, their work seems more manageable, their schedule becomes less overwhelming, and they can enjoy their free time with friends.


Primary CJEven the brightest students can struggle academically if they aren’t organized. This is especially true in grades 4–5, when block courses are broken down into individual subjects and students are required to take more notes. On the first day of school, teachers will most likely recommend that students keep a separate folder (or dividers for a binder) and notebook for each class. This will make it easier for them to retrieve homework and locate study materials. Most schools will supply students with planners, (at BASIS Charter Schools, we provide them with Communication Journals) which are critical for keeping track of homework, important due dates, and tests. Students should also keep their desks, lockers, and backpacks neat and organized to prevent assignments and notes from getting lost.

Study Strategies

To be successful in school, students need to learn which study strategies work best for them—from taking notes, to drawing diagrams and pictures, to talking through concepts out loud. Teachers help students figure out their preferred study method by introducing them to active study strategies. These strategies allow students to engage in meaningful and memorable review, making it easier to connect and recall what they have learned.

Common active study strategies include:

  • Making flashcards
  • Rewriting important ideas in your own words
  • Writing summaries in the margins
  • Creating mind-maps with main concepts and supporting details
  • Writing practice test questions and answering them

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

Students in grades 4–5 will engage in lessons that require them to analyze content in deeper, more meaningful ways. This illustrates the concept of critical thinking—knowing how to think rather than what to think. Students thrive when they feel comfortable asking questions like “what if” or “why” during class discussions and are encouraged to collaborate with each other while working on projects, labs, and investigations. Learning how to think critically also gives students the confidence they need to ask important questions related to an issue they are trying to resolve.

students studyingProblem-solving is directly related to critical thinking. Having strong problem-solving skills allows students to work with others to find creative solutions to a problem, even when no specific directions are given. Students who excel in problem-solving are better able to handle the unexpected setbacks and challenges that inevitably occur while working on a project—a sign that they are able to take more responsibility for their learning.

Understanding Different Perspectives

It is no surprise that once students start collaborating with others, they encounter ideas that differ greatly from their own. This comes at a fitting time in their lives, as they are just beginning to expand their worldview. In class, students are taught how to analyze issues from multiple perspectives and argue multiple viewpoints in a respectful, considerate manner. Through these exercises, they become more flexible in their thinking, which allows them to adapt easily to change, discover new solutions, and resolve conflicts—traits that will help them succeed in many aspects of their lives.

Interdisciplinary Connections

By the time students reach grades 4–5, they begin to see how different subjects are connected to each other. This interdisciplinary style of learning allows them to understand complex concepts across the academic disciplines and supplies them with an impressive breadth of knowledge. Participating in connection projects allows students to experience firsthand how skills from multiple courses are used to solve real-world problems. Above all, making interdisciplinary connections helps students bring different ideas together in a way that makes learning more meaningful and purposeful.

The transition years are an exciting time of academic and social-emotional growth, and all the teachers and staff are committed to providing your child with a world-class education.

BASIS Charter Schools are open enrollment, tuition-free charter schools that follow the accelerated BASIS Charter School Curriculum, which fuels critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. 

Topics: For Everyone