What Your Child Should Learn in 3rd Grade

By the third grade, your child should have a very firm grasp on many of the skills we consider essential. Reading, writing, and basic math facts should all be memorized as children move on to more complex ideas. This is a year of tremendous learning as your child begins to think critically and come up with abstract ideas.

It will be one of the first times that learning is no longer so concrete for your child.

Children begin to develop more independence at this age. As a result, parents can sometimes become disconnected from the learning process. If you still want to know what your child should be learning, you can take a look at some of these key concepts. The specifics of what a child will learn may vary by state.

Reading and Writing

At this age, most children can read fairly fluently and their vocabularies continue to grow. This is the year that most children learn to be stronger readers. They will learn how to look for context clues and make inferences based on short passages. When finished with a text, they should be able to summarize it and ask questions about the material.

Many teachers also prepare students for future writing assignments. Your child may bring home several diagrams that are designed to assist in organizing key information. These can include Venn diagrams or mapping exercises. In addition, they may be asked to complete some reports, fiction assignments, and personal narratives.


First and second graders tend to focus on addition and subtraction as the primary math skills. In third grade, children will be introduced to the basics of multiplication and division. Third grade will require students to use more memorization and skills than the previous years. They may also begin to work with larger numbers, fractions, and decimals.

Encouraging children to use mental math or paper and pencil to solve problems is a key concept this year. Younger children often use physical objects to come up with solutions. Now, they should be focusing on memorization and applying concepts without these aids.

Other key math concepts include:

  • Telling time to the minute
  • Recognizing and writing patterns
  • Take measurements for volume, weight, length, and temperature
  • Rounding and comparing numbers and fractions

Social Studies

The content for social studies is highly dependent on the school district and state. Common subjects for social studies may cover the basics of the economy, trade, the details of their home state, and different people groups or cultures.

In general, most social studies classes will focus on geography skills like map reading. Your third grader should be fairly proficient at reading a map by the end of the year.


Some teachers may have used simple science projects in the past, but third graders can begin to do more experiments. They may learn how to observe and record data in order to prepare them for future lab reports. Typical topics that a third grader may study include nature and animal habitats, sound, and other aspects of natural science.

By the end of the year, you should expect your child to be fairly proficient in any and all of these areas. Third grade is a time of great learning for your child. As a parent, you can encourage them to explore different areas of interest and support their studies at home.

Set aside some time to investigate some of these concepts with your child, helping them to reinforce their knowledge. You’ll enjoy the quality time with your child, and they will start to realize how fun and important learning truly is.

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