Thoughts on Third Grade

My oldest child, Curly, is in 3rd grade this year. I’m still trying to come to grips with this reality. All summer long I had a knot in my stomach when thinking about the upcoming challenge of our new school year.

For some reason, 3rd grade seemed like a huge challenge. It was a big jump in expectations and work for both of us. 

Have you ever faced one of those school years that seemed overwhelming and new?

First grade feels very official.

Third grade marks a turning point when children are reading well and able to do more challenging work.

I know there will be many more milestones in the future such as the start of middle school and even the start of high school! They will be here so quickly!

I’ve found that 3rd grade is a big change in that I have higher expectations and there is more work involved. 

Writing – This is the first year that we’ve really focused on writing. The previous years we’ve worked on spelling rules and grammar. For 3rd grade we’re spending more time writing and Curly is beginning to create original compositions, compose her own sentences, and write her own narrations for science and history.

Math – This year Curly is learning multiplication, division, fractions, and some basic geometry. By the end of this year she will have a solid foundation in the basics of arithmetic. I can look forward into the future and see pre-algebra quickly approaching.

Bible – We have Bible time together as a family but this is the first year that Curly has done an additional Bible curriculum for me. I wanted her to have a greater challenge and become familiar with the Bible stories and themes. So, first thing in the morning, we have our own private Bible time.

Online Class – For the first time, Curly is taking an online class. She is taking a literature class that takes her through several of the books in the Narnia series. She learns about plot, character, setting, and other story elements. She has to write her own journal entries each week, complete reading assignments and projects, and ultimately design webpages with information about the books she has read. It has been exciting to watch her interact with her teacher and the other students in the class as she learns in a new environment.

Independence – I’m trying to help Curly take steps to become independent in some of her course work. She has a planner where I write assignments for her to complete. I give her instructions and have her complete some work on her own. I help her assess how to break assignments down into manageable parts as she plans for her week. I’m hoping to set the stage for greater independence and responsibility as we head toward middle school.

Here’s what 3rd grade has included so far:

Diagramming – This is the first year that we have really learned to analyze sentences, find the different parts of speech, and then place them on a diagram. Curly is really understanding the various parts of speech and I can tell she has a greater understanding of grammar now that she can see the visual diagram of each part.

Research projects – As part of her science curricula this year, Curly has completed a research project. She utilized two sources and wrote a short report on one of the planets. It was exciting to see her looking through the books and finding facts on her own. She is beginning to learn how to research and put together her own projects. I plan to assign a few more research-based projects to give her more practice.

Literature guides and discussions – When I read aloud to the kids I often stop and ask them questions to make sure they are following the story. This is the first year that I have used a literature guide to help guide our discussion. Curly reads the book on her own and then writes down her answers to the questions in the guide. Afterward, we go through them together and discuss her answers.

Independent math work – I teach the math lessons to Curly each day and then I assign the worksheets for her to complete independently. She’s also working on Beast Academy for a greater challenge and I encourage her to work as many problems on her own as she can. It’s been helpful for me to see what she remembers from our lessons after she has completed her assignments on her own.

Read aloud practice – Now that Curly is a fluent reader she has not been reading to me as often as she should. I’ve tried to find time for her to read aloud to me several days a week so she can practice reading aloud and I can make sure she comprehends what she is reading.

Assigned reading – I keep books scattered around our house and give the kids time to choose books and read on their own. This is the first year that I’ve chosen some books and assigned them to Curly to read. Many of them she enjoys but she has had to finish one book about Pocahontas that wasn’t a huge hit with her. It’s been good practice to understand that she won’t love every book she reads but sometimes she will need to persevere and finish.

Completing narrations for history and science – In previous grades, Curly would give me oral narrations and I would write them down for her. This year she writes her own narrations on her notebook page and I check them when she is finished. She has to think about spelling, grammar, and content as she completes her own narrations.

Writing her own books – Curly has discovered that she enjoys writing. She learned to type last year and has put that skill to good use this year as she types out her own books. I give her time each day to type and she creates her own story lines, imagines characters, and types her own books. It has been great practice for her spelling and grammar skills.

Now that we’re in the middle of our first semester of 3rd grade I feel that I’ve relaxed into our routine. But when we were getting started I often felt overwhelmed by the amount of work that was necessary for a new year of learning. 

I’ve found 3rd grade to be a challenge but Curly is rising to that challenge and I can see that we are making progress and heading steadily toward upper elementary and then middle school – which is a very intimidating thought!

For further reading, check out these posts!

3rd Grade Curriculum

The Myth of Independent Work in Elementary

How Long is a Homeschool Day?

Developing Age Appropriate Expectations

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