Teaching Older Elementary Students

Ah, those upper elementary years! They’re not chubby-fingered cherubs any more, but they’re not yet ready to learn on their own. This is the age of emerging skills. Most students are still mastering the basics of reading, writing, and math, and schoolwork can seem incredibly tedious. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embrace teaching your 8- to 11-year-old.


Routine is a framework for your days that serves your family. When you have a routine, and when everyone knows what comes next in the day, productivity goes up, boredom goes down, and goals are accomplished. Work together as a family to develop a routine that covers schoolwork, household chores, and family fun. Your older elementary student will be grateful to know when he or she has finished the day’s tasks and is free to play.

Interest-driven Learning

Children in this age group often have particular interests. As the teaching parent, you have the opportunity to tailor learning activities to things your child will love learning or learning about. Cultivating a love for learning is more useful and essential than completing every page of a workbook.

Learning-driven Interests

Our third through fifth graders have so much curiosity about the world and the creatures in it. This is a great time to learn important life lessons through such things as owning and caring for a pet, planting and tending a garden, working to earn money, and so on. Just because the activity doesn’t come packaged in a curriculum box doesn’t mean it’s not educational. 

Read, Read, Read

Many children in this age group may be reading independently, which opens up a delightful world to their imaginations. Whatever their independent reading ability, kids in upper elementary grades benefit from being read to. Choose books that inspire the qualities you value as a family, and then travel together across time and space, and into worlds unknown.

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