Third grade is a year of great cognitive, academic and social growth. There is a large degree of variation, but most 3rd graders (ages 8-9) are beginning to be more abstract thinkers; increase their periods of sustained attention and their ability to self-monitor and problem-solve; reason logically about objects; work more independently; expand their vocabulary; and organize their thoughts more coherently, particularly as they relate to real experiences. Youngsters in the 3rd grade are extremely social, and enjoy imaginative play, group activities, socializing while doing classwork, and sharing jokes. They are also beginning to better understand the perspective of others, take more responsibility for themselves and their work, and enjoy working on group projects.
Common Core third grade ELA curriculum will require your child to begin “reading to learn” instead of “learning to read”. He or she will be expected to incorporate a growing vocabulary into a wide variety of reading material, including chapter books; find main ideas and supporting details in a story, summarize, and describe connections in reading material; use context clues to comprehend what he/she reads; compare/ contrast different sources of material; develop a topic in writing with details and clear sequencing to convey information; practice cursive writing; use research projects to build knowledge; participate meaningfully in discussions about classroom material; read aloud fluently; understand figurative language; spell correctly; and use dictionaries.
With regard to math requirements, third graders will be expected to connect the patterns of skip counting with multiplication facts; create number sentences from word problems; recognize key words that indicate the order of operations; learn multiplication, fractions and decimals; apply math to real-life situations; multiply and divide double- or triple-digit numbers by single-digit numbers; and make measurements. By the end of the third grade your child is expected to have gained the skills to complete mental math, work with fractions, estimate, interpret graphs and predict probability and outcomes.
In the third grade year, your child will learn about hypotheses and experiments, use maps, analyze and create graphs and charts, and use the computer more independently. Hands-on learning in science will cover the natural world, observation and measurement, and classification. In this year, children typically also begin to gain an understanding of economics and geography.
Third graders are funny, delightful, industrious, interested, talkative, and motivated to do well. They also have a tendency to work too quickly, have some difficulty recalling what was said because they are so full of ideas, are highly dependent on the opinion of their peers, and may have problems with the increase in homework requirements. Parents can be present at this stage to support their child in navigating larger academic demands as well as their increasingly complex social world, by helping them problem-solve, promoting independence, and setting clear boundaries and routines.
If you have questions about your child’s development, psychotherapy or psychological or neuropsychological testing can be helpful. Jennifer Hope, Ph.D., is a Brooklyn psychologist available to help you get to the bottom of your concerns.