What makes 3rd grade so important?

This teacher describes third grade as a “make or break” year for kids’ academic self-esteem. Learn how to make sure your child survives this vulnerable stage.
YouTube video

As a third grade teacher, she says parents should be on the lookout for kids categorizing themselves as smart versus not smart and being hyperaware of where they fit in, because when kids label themselves it can hurt their self-image and their academic well-being in the long run.

Video transcript

“I see that third grade is a make or break year for students academically and socially because there’s a lot of assessments that starts off at this grade. There is, I do see a lot of my students start putting themselves in categories, whether or not they feel smart or not smart. Judging themselves and being more critical about who they are, where they fit in. If they’re feeling as if they’re incapable or not intelligent, then it can hinder their progress in the long run. And so that’s why, I think, a lot of times in third grade, we try not to keep students back to repeat the grade. We try to give them as much support as we can because it can affect their social-emotional being, and also affect their academics as well in the long run. We try to make sure that they still have the love for learning and they’re really excited about being in school.”

Learn more about your third grader’s learning and development this year, including:

About the author

GreatSchools.org is a national nonprofit with a mission to help every child obtain a high-quality education that values their unique abilities, identities, and aspirations. We believe in the power of research-backed, actionable information to empower parents, family members, and educators to help make this happen. For 25 years, the GreatSchools Editorial Team has been working to make the latest, most important, and most actionable research in education, learning, and child development accessible and actionable for parents through articles, videos, podcasts, hands-on learning resources, email and text messaging programs, and more. Our team consists of journalists, researchers, academics, former teachers and education leaders — most of whom are also dedicated parents and family members — who not only research, fact check, and write or produce this information, but who use it in our daily lives as well. We welcome your feedback at editorial@greatschools.org.