Seven Math Skills Your Child Will Learn in 3rd Grade

Seven Math Skills Your Child Will Learn in 3rd Grade

Third grade is a big year for learning math! Kids learn about multiplication and division, dive into fractions, and even start calculating areas and perimeters. Learn how to support your child by exploring what will be happening in third grade math. 

In third grade, your child will learn: 

1. Multiplication and division within 100 

Now that your child has mastered addition and subtraction, it’s time to move onto multiplication and division. Third graders will begin by using pictures and objects to explore each operation before they move on to solve more abstract multiplication and division problems. 

At home: Come up with some real-world problems for your third grader to solve, such as “We have four people in our family. If we each get five cherries, how many cherries would there be in all?” As children explore multiplication and division, using drawings and real objects can be a good visual support. 

2. Understand the relationship between multiplication and division 

Just like addition and subtraction are inverse operations (one is the opposite of the other) third graders learn how multiplication and division are connected in the same way.

Help your child examine related facts, like 24 divided by 8 is 3, and 3 times 8 is 24. 

3. Word problems involving four operations

Now that third graders understand addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, they are ready to use all four operations to solve word problems. Students will learn to read problems and decide which operation they should use. They will also work on solving two-step problems independently. 

At home, give your child word problems to solve. Talk through how your child can decide which operation to use when working out the answer to the problems. Have your child write a number sentence to show how the problem was solved. 

4. Fractions on a number line 

Kids will already have had a basic introduction to fractions, but in third grade they develop this understanding even further. Students learn how to show fractions on a number line and compare different fractions. 

Support your child by drawing a number line to show the relationship between different fractions. Talk about which fractions are bigger or smaller and encourage your child to ask questions. Fractions can be tricky to understand, so give your third grader plenty of time to explore. 

5. Time to the minute

In previous grades, your child learned how to tell time to the nearest five minutes. Third graders are ready to master the clock and will learn to tell time to the minute. 

At home: Ask your child ‘what time is it?’ throughout the day and tell them to remind you when it’s time to do something - kids will be more motivated to carefully work out the time when it’s marking something they’re looking forward to! 

6. Scaled Bar and Picture Graphs 

In third grade students learn how to create scaled picture and bar graphs. This means that instead of having one picture or square represent one response, they can represent multiple responses. Your third grader will have to use addition and/or multiplication when reading the graphs. 

At home: take a survey! Count the number of red, blue, green, or other colored items in the laundry basket and put the data in a scaled picture or bar graph. Figure out what scale makes sense to use.  

7. Understand area and perimeter 

In third grade, kids learn about the concepts of area and perimeter. They use their knowledge of multiplication to solve area problems by calculating length x width. Kids will also use addition to figure out the perimeter of different shapes.

Give your child a measuring tape and the challenge of working out the perimeter of household objects. Encourage your child to measure and calculate the area of squares or rectangles, like the surface of a book or a piece of paper. 

Third grade math is full of more complex and interesting topics. Get ready for a fun ride as you dive into learning with your child!   

Found this useful? Check out our grade by grade math guides from Kindergarten to 5th grade

Written by Lily Jones, Lily loves all things learning. She has been a kindergarten & first grade teacher, instructional coach, curriculum developer, and teacher trainer. She loves to look at the world with curiosity and inspire people of all ages to love learning. She lives in California with her husband, two kids, and a little dog. 

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