Not sure what to expect in 3rd grade?
Third grade is a transition year. Reading passages get more challenging. Sentences are longer. Vocabulary words are tougher. Math concepts—such as those ubiquitous multiplication tables—require memorization as well as complex thought. Students are expected to take on more responsibility for their education, to speak up when they are having difficulty understanding a concept, and devising strategies to find which way they learn best. As a parent, I’m sure you’re starting to sweat a little while thinking about the magnitude of this critical year. After all, there is a lot more going on in 3rd grade now than when we were in school. But studies have shown that students this age can handle the robust obligation to mastering the standards.
Students will be expected to read with confidence this year, infer meaning that may not be made obvious in passages, and use phonics, context clues, and other strategies to determine unfamiliar words. Third graders learn how to properly use commas and semicolons, identify a subject versus a predicate, and pronouns and adverbs get thrown into the mix. Students will be expected to breakdown a sentence, identify its parts, and make it stronger by adding just the right adjective. Well-formed paragraphs will be the new expectation in 3rd grade, and you can count on me being a stickler for correct punctuation and neatness.
Third grade math can be intimidating for students as well as parents. Students will eventually memorize the multiplication tables, but they will also be expected to understand how multiplication relates to addition, subtraction, and division. These kids are going to learn to solve problems like pros! They aren’t going to just answer a math problem, they’re going to be able to explain why that is the correct answer. The word “multiplication” scares many students, so I like to think of it as really fast addition. Your child’s curriculum will also consist of decimals, adding and subtracting three-digit numbers, and even those pesky fractions. It will be important that your child complete homework and return it to school regularly. Keeping up with the pace and moving forward will ensure your child continues to show progress. But keep in mind, math has changed a bit since you were in school. Allow your child to struggle just a little on their own, as this helps sharpen their problem-solving skills. Show interest in your child’s work, and don’t be surprised if they teach you a thing or two.
Have no fear, science and social studies still matter! As a matter of fact, expectations are still high in these areas. Students will be learning the parts of a plant and their life cycles. They are going to explore the realm of dinosaurs and all about extinction. Gravity and magnetism will be the center of many hands-on experiments. Students will engage in various social studies projects and will be expected to conduct a short research paper or presentation. Students will learn about historical figures and how they contributed to our society. Please support your child by showing enthusiasm and allow them to tell you all about what they are learning.
Now, more than ever before, it is important for parents to keep a positive attitude about school. As the concepts grow more challenging, your encouragement will help your child maintain a balance with the high academic expectations. This may be the first year your child struggles in school – and that’s okay! This is how they grow and develop. Responding with support and a belief that your child can do the work will set a positive tone throughout your child’s school career.