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Third Grade Skills: How Parents Can Help at Home

written by: Stephanie Torreno • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/20/2012

In third grade, students' critical thinking skills become more important. Whether the subject is reading or math, children need to develop their processing and reasoning skills. These tips are for parents to help children succeed in this important year of elementary school.

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    Reading and Writing

    For third grade students, skills in reading and comprehension becomes even more important. Students should begin using contextual clues to predict and comprehend content. To build the skills needed for both listening and reading comprehension, talk about what you see and do daily. Start conversations, for example, while cooking together, visiting a new place, or after watching television together.

    Third graders begin reading longer, more difficult words because subjects become more complicated. By the end of the school year, a student should will understand and identify synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and affixes and roots. To help your child build vocabulary, use time in the car to play word games. Explain, for instance, that "jam" can mean cars stuck in heavy traffic, in addition to something you put on bread.

    Children need to stay motivated to continue learning how to read. They also need to understand that the purpose of reading is to learn. Students in third grade should know that fiction is read for entertainment, and nonfiction is read for facts and true information. Read different types of books with your child to explore different types of writing. When reading fiction, tell your child how to summarize the story in sentence or two. Discuss how to predict what might happen next in the story. Both strategies help a child remember main ideas and understand the author’s purpose in writing.

    Writing Activities

    Since writing is closely related to reading, children should be encouraged to write every day. In school, students in third grade should keep journals, and write to one another, to parents, and to grandparents. Third graders are encouraged to pay more attention to punctuation, the sequence of events and ideas in stories, an individual’s intent of writing, and the purposes of editing. Parents should remind children that writing is a process. A rough draft is just that – rough. Writing is not done perfectly the first time.

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    Math Skills

    Have your child concentrate on learning everyday math skills. Before beginning division, fractions, and decimals, multiplication up to 12s should be mastered. Since fractions can be a challenge, parents should help with fraction problems at home. Until now, children have only known whole numbers and the relationship between numbers and how many objects they represent. Children have a difficult time understanding that units are made of parts and need to learn to think differently to understand fractions. Use these tips to help them remember concepts about fractions:

    • Have students think about sharing equally. Pizza and cake are good examples.
    • Talk about fractions in real-life examples. Sporting events and sections of the newspaper can begin discussions.
    • The numerator is the top number and the denominator is the bottom number (memory tip: d is for denominator, d is for down – at the bottom).
    • Review the methods for adding, multiplying and dividing fractions. You may have forgotten the rules that you will need to know to help with fractions!

    With these tips parents, students will master skills in reading comprehension, writing, and math problems involving fractions. These skills will prepare them to successfully begin fourth grade.