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Third Grade

Grade 3 is a transition year. Reading passages get more challenging. Sentences are longer. Vocabulary words are tougher. Math concepts require problem solving and complex thinking.

Teachers expect 3rd grade students to take more responsibility for their education, asking questions when they don’t understand something and devising strategies for learning that work best for them. Students are expected to show more independence this year.

It’s enough to make some parents sweat a little. But kids who have a solid foundation from the earlier grades will do well with support, encouragement, and clearly stated high expectations. Academically, it has always been a rigorous year.

Enjoying Reading, Writing, and Studying Words

In language arts, students will be expected to read with confidence, infer meaning that may not be explicitly stated, and figure out unfamiliar words using phonics, context clues, and other strategies. Third grade is the year of punctuation marks, and varied and complete sentence structure. Students will be expected to write detailed sentences consisting of strong verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Yet as the expectations rise, it’s important to show your child that the joy in reading and writing increases, as well. Your child will have the skills to truly express themselves in their journals and writings and will be excited to devour the next book in a series. Third graders will be able to select books to read for pleasure based on his interests; and will want to finish the mystery to find out the ending. In short, even as reading and writing get more challenging, they also pay dividends in the form of greater satisfaction.

Math is a Journey

For 3rd graders and their parents, math can be intimidating. Many students find that the pace and complexity of third grade math is more difficult than in earlier grades.

Your child’s math curriculum will include graphing, money, fractions, adding and subtracting four-digit numbers, and multiplication and division concepts. It’s important to make sure your child keeps pace. The curriculum at this level has a spiraling effect, with every concept building on the previous one. If you suspect that your child is falling behind, act quickly to address the issue with his/her teacher.

Science, Social Studies Still Matter

With so much attention on language arts and math, it’s hard to fit in science or social studies. But expectations are still high in these areas. Often these subjects will be integrated into reading instruction as students learn to comprehend non-fiction texts.

In science, students will be expected to learn about simple machines, matter, earth and space systems and cycles, layers and contents of different soils, and energy resources in the world around us. Your child is introduced to lab science through hands-on experiments. Encourage science exploration within your community, while on vacation, and through museums and other local resources.

Social Studies curriculum has an emphasis on ancient civilizations. We will explore the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Mali and tie this information into how they impact us today in the United States. We will also explore our nation’s government and economic principles.

Parents can support their children by showing an enthusiasm for what their child is learning and a willingness to help them learn more. It’s also helpful to discuss age-appropriate current events with your child and to point out connections between the past and the present.

In 3rd grade, it’s more important than ever for parents to keep a positive attitude about school. It may get more challenging to balance encouragement of your child with high academic expectations. This year may be the first time your child struggles a bit in school – this year they will certainly need to study! Responding with support and a belief that your child can do the work will set a positive tone for your child’s ongoing school career.