What to expect in third grade

Learn about what to expect for your child in third grade.

By Miriam Myers

In your child's classroom

In third grade your child will move beyond "learning to read" and will begin "reading to learn" and will start reading more for pleasure. Your child should enter third grade reading fluently and with comprehension. She will be learning how to use a more formalized writing process of drafting, editing and finalizing. Your child will probably take tests on a regular basis. In many states, third graders take their first standardized test under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

At the beginning of third grade your child may want things to be perfect. He may pout if he makes a handwriting mistake or he may not want to expand on his writing if he doesn't know how to spell everything correctly. It is important to encourage him and explain that everyone makes mistakes.

Read with your child

To prepare for third grade, take your child to the library and have him pick out books of interest at his reading level. Continue to read aloud to your child and ask comprehension questions about the text, to see if he understands the who, what, where, when and how of what he is reading. Donna Adkins, our teacher consultant, suggests: "If he is reading nonfiction, you could have him pick out interesting facts about the topic. I have children use sticky notes to jot down their facts and then tell me what they wrote."

Master math skills at home

In math your child will learn the multiplication tables, how to tell time to the minute and how to solve problems with fractions. To practice fractions at home you can ask your child to divide fruit such as an apple into fractional parts of halves, thirds and fourths. You can also have your child divide into equal shares. For example, if there are six cookies and three people, you can ask, "How many cookies does each person receive?" Adkins notes: "Learning to solve problems in math is a critical skill, and many of the math standards and tests expect children to be able to reason through problems. Ask your child to explain how he found the answer."

Get crafty when tying it all together

Adkins explains: "This is an age when children are interested in learning new things. It is an opportune time to teach your child some type of craft. It could be anything from teaching embroidery or scrapbooking to teaching the fundamentals of woodworking. Not only will your child learn a skill, he will learn to use organizational skills, math skills and reading skills. And the biggest benefits are the time spent with you and the satisfaction of a task well done."

Each child passes through a range of social, academic and developmental stages at her own pace. Below are rough guidelines of what to look forward to in the year ahead.

Physical and social skills you can expect of your third grader:

  • Work cooperatively and productively with other children in small groups to complete projects
  • Understand how her choices affect consequences
  • Become more organized and logical in her thought process
  • Build stronger friendships
  • Be helpful, cheerful and pleasant - as well as rude, bossy, selfish and impatient
  • Better understand the consequences of her behavior
  • Be more influenced by peer pressure because friends are very important at this stage
  • Want and expects immediate rewards for good behavior

Academic skills you can expect of your third grader:

  • Be able to copy from a chalk board
  • Be able to write neatly in cursive because the small muscles of the hand have developed
  • Read longer stories and chapter books with expression and comprehension
  • Use prefixes, suffixes, root words and other strategies to identify unfamiliar words
  • Multiply single and multi-digit numbers (3 x 4,652)
  • Divide multi-digit numbers by one-digit numbers (165 / 5)
  • Tell time to the half-hour, quarter-hour, five minutes and one minute

Learn more about where your child should be at the end of second grade.