By the 3rd grade, children have spent 2 years mastering reading and doing basic math computations. At this stage, they are able to branch out in their studies and handle more complex material. Prepare for September by looking over the following skills that will ensure that the child is ready for hands-on science experiments, more challenging math problems, and higher-level reading assignments.

Skills Required at the Beginning of 3rd Grade
The child’s teacher will expect her to do the following:

• Demonstrate comprehension by predicting outcomes
• Identify main ideas and supporting details
• Decode words using cues from phonics, word order, and context
• Self-select a variety of fiction and nonfiction books for pleasure reading
• Keep a journal
• Recognize parts of speech such as subject, verb, adjective
• Use capitalization and punctuation correctly
• Compose in poetic, narrative, creative, and expository forms
• Write in paragraph form
• Recognize spelling patterns and spell high-frequency words correctly
• Use basic research skills for presentations
• Edit and proofread classmates’ work
Math
• Read, write, count, and sequence numbers up to 1,000
• Identify place value to the thousands
• Represent quantities in multiple ways (e.g., 36 = 18 + 18 = 14 + 14 + 8)
• Know addition and subtraction facts to 20
• Mentally add or subtract any two-digit numbers
• Add and subtract three-digit numbers
• Identify, describe, and extend repeating numeric patterns
• Tell time to the quarter hour; be able to calculate elapsed time (e.g. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
• Count, add, and subtract money using dollar and cent symbols and a decimal point
• Collect, sort, and interpret data in various graphs
• Recognize shapes
Science
• Identify parts of plants and animals and explain their functions
• Know names and traits of various dinosaurs; understand the process of extinction
• Name classifications of animals
• Diagram life cycles of plants and animals
• Identify land forms
• Explore physical science, covering topics such as electricity, magnetism, and gravity
History and Social Studies
• Discuss current events
• Recognize historical figures and their contributions to society
• Understand the relationship between consumers and producers
• Locate her hometown on a map
• Appreciate diversity among cultures in the community

As with every passing grade level, the work in 3rd grade becomes more challenging, which can initially intimidate any 8 year old. But with focus, motivation to learn, and attentiveness to the material, your child can make major strides in the following subjects:

• Explore fables, legends, myths, poems, and plays as supplements to fiction and nonfiction reading
• Progress as an independent reader and work up to an appropriate comprehension level
• Read in groups, alternating paragraphs out loud, to build fluency and vocabulary
• Read chapter books that can be either applied to school or just for fun
• Use a dictionary to check the accuracy of the spelling, definition, and pronunciation of a word
Writing and Verbal Communication
• Learn to write in cursive (longhand)
• Write in paragraph form, using transitions
• Use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar (e.g. verb tenses must agree in sentences)
• Use reference books, such as the thesaurus, to make more interesting word choices
• Master the writing process: pre-write, outline, draft, revise, edit, and polish
• Use outlines to write a story or book report that has a beginning, middle, and end
• Write in a variety of styles, including informative, creative, and persuasive writing
• Keep a journal to practice personal writing and handwriting skills
• Understand written instructions and follow them independently
• Listen actively to a speaker in the classroom, whether that is the teacher or a fellow student
• Answer questions in complete sentences (for example, "I like to play on the monkey bars more than playing kickball because I like to climb," as opposed to "Because I like to climb," or simply "Because.")
Math
• Add and subtract numbers to 10,000
• Memorize the multiplication table
• Multiply multi-digit numbers by a single-digit number
• Divide multi-digit numbers by a single-digit number
• Identify written and spoken numbers up to 100,000
• Explain in words how a math problem was solved
• Use measuring tools to calculate volume, area, length, and height
• Analyze and graph data – e.g. collecting and charting the birthdays of all the boys and girls in class to determine how many boys were born in April
• Work with simple fractions and decimals
• Round to the nearest whole number
• Predict patterns in shapes and numbers
• Tell time to the nearest minute
• Relate number problems to everyday situations (e.g. using a budget to plan a party)
Science
• Learn with hands-on projects that illustrate the subject matter, such as maintaining a class greenhouse to show the development of plants and flowers
• Identify rocks and minerals
• Name the planets in the solar system and explore the galaxies, moons, stars, and meteors of outer space
• Compare the human skeleton to animal skeletal systems
• Track water cycles and study how they relate to the formation of clouds
• Conduct experiments that test a hypothesis
History and Social Studies
• Know how to read world maps; be able to find locations on the globe
• Compare different parts of the United States (e.g. contrasting year-round climate of the various regions)
• Learn the 50 states and their capitals
• Study topics relating to American history, such as Native Americans, the journey of the Mayflower, pilgrims and the first settlers
Other Subjects
• Learn basic computer skills for word processing, conducting simple research, or playing educational games
• Develop healthy habits in Well-Being and Fitness
• Create Artwork and experiment with sounds and instruments in Music

Homework
Along with more challenging work, your child will see an increase in homework; expect her to have anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of work to complete each night. Teachers try to keep homework interesting by giving students fun assignments — for example, choosing a word from the dictionary and having kids make up fake definitions to go with the real one to try to trick the class the next day. In addition, tests become routine, so your child will need to spend time studying for them as well.

What can you do to help? As in years past, be supportive, but realize that teachers are emphasizing independent learning. Help your child set up a quiet place in his room or elsewhere at home to complete assignments. Look over homework to make sure it’s complete and that it’s neat and legible for the teacher, but never do the work for the child. While grades are meaningful, be sure to emphasize the importance of learning for its own sake, and the personal satisfaction that comes from doing one’s best. If the child is disappointed in a grade, remind him that
there is always next time to shine!