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So your kid is starting third grade — here’s what to know

As a third grader, your child will officially be part of the older half of their elementary school. While “upperclassman” status can give kids a confidence boost, a new school year may still present some uncertainty.

To give you and your child peace of mind about what’s ahead, this guide will cover what to expect and offer helpful tips for making the year a success.

Here’s what to know when your kid is starting third grade.

What your child will learn in third grade

Third grade is a big year for learning. Here’s what to expect.

Reading, writing, and math

In third grade, most kids can read at an elementary school level. Teachers build on their current reading and writing skills with at-home reading assignments, book reports, handwriting practice, and spelling lessons. Students may also be introduced to online or library research.

Having mastered basic addition and subtraction in second grade, children will work on more complex math problems. This usually includes triple-digit adding and subtracting, times tables, division, and fractions.

Other subjects

Beyond language and math, third graders are often taught geography basics, such as state names and capitals and how to read maps. They may also learn about the solar system, weather and climates, animal habitats, and the scientific method. Some students begin practicing their typing skills this year as well.

Developmental milestones for 8- and 9-year-olds

Third-grade curriculum aligns with the developmental milestones for 8– and 9-year-olds. This includes:

  • Sitting still and paying attention for up to an hour
  • Speaking more clearly with a bigger vocabulary
  • Problem-solving and logical thinking
  • Showing empathy and having a “big picture” perspective
  • Ability to tell time on a clock face and digital display
  • Improved physical stamina and fine motor skills
  • More interest in hobbies and activities outside of school

Bear in mind all children are different. Some reach these milestones by the end of third grade, while others may still be working on them as fourth graders.

Schedules, challenges, and changes

Here’s what to expect from your child’s third-grade experience and how to prepare.

Friendships, social pressures, and emotions

Third grade can be tough on kids emotionally. This is a year when close friendships form, though they can also change quickly. And many students start feeling pressure to “fit in” at school. That said, your child may start caring more about material things, like the clothes they wear or the backpack they bring to school.

The year can also be a positive experience. Lots of kids look forward to seeing their classmates, and they often start socializing more with friends outside of school.

In any case, it’s good for parents to look out for potential issues with other kids. If your child is being bullied, let their teacher or a school administrator know.

Homework for third graders

It varies by teacher, but primary school students typically have 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. So, third graders can expect to have roughly 30 minutes.

Your child will be expected to keep track of their assignments, whether it’s a daily reading record, worksheets, or practicing flashcards at home. They’ll also need to know where and when to turn in their homework each day.

Extracurricular activities for third graders

Elementary schools often offer soccer and T-ball for students. Beyond that, art, music, dance, martial arts, and other sports will probably have to be set up with independent organizations.

Since public schools are usually dismissed by 3:30, parents who work full-time may want to consider an after-school program that offers a wide range of activities — kind of like a day camp. Extracurriculars are a great way for kids to make friends, explore hobbies, and learn about teamwork.

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team

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