What Your 3rd Grader Should Know: A Guide for Parents

It can be difficult to determine what level your 3rd grader should be at and what he or she should know. Keep reading to find out what is typically expected of a 3rd grade student.

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What Should My 3rd Grader Know?

Where Can I Find the 3rd Grade Standards?

Although 3rd grade curriculum standards differ from state to state, there are close commonalities between them about what your 3rd grader should understand and be able to do. If you want more specific information, ask your child's teacher or consult your district and state websites. The Board of Education of your state is likely to be a solid resource when it comes to figuring out the standards.

What Subjects Will My Child Be Studying?

Reading and Language Arts

By 3rd grade, your child should be a fluent reader. He or she should have a large sight vocabulary of common words. Your child should also be able to figure out the meaning of vocabulary words in context and sound out many unfamiliar words. When reading, your 3rd grader should be able to remember details from texts and draw conclusions about events as well as place events in a sequential order. Comprehension is expected in all age-appropriate texts.

Writing skills and penmanship tend to be important in the 3rd grade. Students must typically master basic grammar, sentence structure, paragraph structure, punctuation, spelling and capitalization. Different writing styles, such as letter writing and poetry, are also studied.


In 3rd grade math, your child must review and master addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It's also common for your child to study decimals, fractions, probability, statistics, measurements and shapes. By the end of 3rd grade, your child should be able to complete multiplication fact worksheets and tests quickly and accurately. Some problems your child will be expected to solve are multiple-choice and word problems.

Science and Social Studies

Since science and social studies are not tested on many 3rd standardized exams, topic selection varies more widely from school to school than reading and math. In science, your 3rd grader will typically have to learn about basic biology, astronomy, geology and inquiry methods. As for social science, it's quite common for your child to be introduced to basic American history, geography and government.

Other Subjects

Your 3rd grader's knowledge of other subjects is likely to depend upon the school your child attends and what the location is. Physical education, visual art and music are all required learning in many states. While less common, it's still a possibility that your child will be required to learn theater, particularly in a more arts-driven program.

Getting Ready for the 4th Grade

In many states, a standards-based test is administered towards the end of the 3rd grade school year in order to determine the levels of classes and sometimes to determine your child's placement for the 4th grade. It's important that your child stay on top of his or her work all year long so that he or she is thoroughly prepared to meet the challenges of the following school year. Do your best to help your child in any area where he or she may need it and always be attentive to your 3rd grader's academic needs.

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