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Strategies for 3rd Grade Success

by Rebecca Gaunt

Third grade requirements may reflect a big change from second grade, but there are strategies to optimize your student's success. At this age, students make a big jump from learning basic skills to using those basic skills to learn independently. Although teachers should differentiate instruction to meet students at their level, third grade is a year to focus on higher-order thinking skills.

Organization

By third grade, most students should have, or be developing, some degree of organization. They should be able to keep up with their materials and independently pack their backpack. They should also be able to write their daily homework assignments in an agenda book as directed by the teacher. If your child is struggling, create a morning checklist of items she should make sure are in her bag. The teacher can also assist in making an afternoon checklist and affix it to the desk to aid in packing necessary materials in the afternoon. Check the agenda book daily to help them get in the habit of recording their assignments. Even though some teachers make this material accessible to parents via a classroom website, these skills will come in handy as they get older.

Reading

Third grade is a big year of transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. It is essential that your child reads at home. Consult with the teacher to ensure that your child is reading third-grade appropriate texts. Have your child read aloud to you and ask them questions about the content. By listening to them read aloud, you can identify fluency issues --speed, self-correction and sounding out -- to discuss with the teacher. By asking questions, you can figure out if their comprehension levels are on par with fluency. It is possible for kids to be very fluent readers without having a strong comprehension of what they are reading. On the other hand, if your child is struggling greatly with reading a third-grade text fluently, it is more productive to have them read a "just right" book than one that frustrates them. Third graders should be able to read an age-appropriate text at the rate of at least 120 words per minute by the end of the school year.

Writing

Writing expectations expand in third grade. Students transition from learning to write basic paragraphs to organizing several paragraphs on a topic. They will also write introductions, closing paragraphs and provide details in the body. If your child is struggling with writing, he should practice at home, but don't overdo it. If writing is a struggle, forcing your child to sit and write every day for extended periods can cause him to hate it. Instead, have him spend 20-30 minutes a couple times a week writing and then edit together. Don't try to fix every error at once. Start with the basics. First, is he staying on topic? Is he writing complete sentences? Focus on the big picture before getting into the nitty gritty details of punctuation and spelling.

Math

Students need to memorize basic math facts to be successful when performing more complex operations. Flash cards are a great tool for memorizing basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. By third grade, most students are comfortable with basic addition and subtraction, but some still rely heavily on their fingers. This slows them down and makes them less productive. When multiplication facts are not memorized, students are extraordinarily slow to complete work because they have to draw arrays or use tally marks. Enforcing that they memorize the facts increases the odds of mathematical success.

About the Author

Rebecca Gaunt earned a Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a Masters in education from Oglethorpe University. She has been published in "The Red & Black," "The Athens Observer" and the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gaunt also taught elementary school for seven years.

Photo Credits

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