Getting Ready for Third Grade

Here's a preview of the skills, lessons, and challenges your kid (and you!) will face in third grade.
By Sasha Emmons



Getting Ready for Third Grade

It's all about reading. Third grade is the year when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn in all subjects.

What he’ll be learning:

  • How to do basic research projects
  • All four math operations and two-step problems (whoa!)
  • Fractions and basic graphs
  • How to prep for standardized tests (Federal law mandates that these assessments begin now.)
  • Writing in cursive (if your district still teaches it!)

What you’ll love:

"Prepare to be astounded by your child’s increasingly richer writing," says Paul Dobitz, a third-grade teacher in Valparaiso, IN. This is when he’ll start to grasp the idea of figurative language and how to choose more descriptive “wow words” for effect—even working in alliteration and onomatopoeia (when the word imitates the sound associated with it).

Don’t stress over . . .

Disorganization: This is a big transition year, which means less hand-holding. The teacher is no longer checking that the assignment is written down. The responsibility can be hard for them to grasp, especially for kids who don’t have older siblings to model after. Try bolstering your child’s responsibilities at home so that he begins to adopt a more “I’m in charge of me” attitude. You can just matter-of-factly say to him that third-graders feed the dog and pack their snack — didn’t anyone tell him?

High expectations: “This is the year when school is harder because now they have to prove that they really know the work,” says Dobitz. And knowing the work means reading and understanding it. Reading ability needs to be all there. Try joining a reading program (at your local library or through to keep those skills sharp.

Friend drama: Kids, especially girls, are embroiled in buddy woes (“She said what?!”). "Try taking concerns seriously. Your child may be miserable," says Michelle Anthony, Ph.D., author of Little Girls Can Be Mean. So be sure to ask lots of questions (“Do you have any idea why she said that? Were you more angry or embarrassed?”). And listen with full attention. She’ll know she has the support to work it out.

Plus: Read more on third-grade skills, lessons, and readiness.

Find out what to expect in:

What to Expect by Grade
Cognitive Skills
Age 9
Age 8
Child Development and Behavior
School Life