The Insider's Guide to School

Parental Guidance for 3rd Grade

school kids crossing street

Stephanie Rausser

By Mary Pols, mom of a fourth-grader; Brunswick, Maine

1. Just quit with the nagging about the coat, the gloves, and the lunch box. This is the year your big kid will finally wise up to not wanting to be cold or hungry all day and bring them home. Rejoice!

2. The math homework and spelling list? They're your new coat and lunch box. Be prepared to dole out some nagging to make sure your child's completed work departs in his backpack in the morning and makes it to the teacher's desk when he arrives.

3. Brush up on your U.S. geography. This saves you terrible embarrassment when your child asks you for help naming those pesky Great Lakes. Thanks to that popular Stack the States app, you too can be secure on the location of the Midwestern M states: Michigan vs. Missouri vs. Minnesota.

4. Remember last year, when you could still be vague and even possibly misleading about certain things, like saying you were pretty sure Disney World was closed over spring break anyway? You know what kids get really good at doing in third grade? Research. Sharpen up, keep your facts straight, and be prepared for hard questioning.

5. Consider letting your child walk or ride a bike to school by himself if doing so is encouraged in your school community. Foster independence. And yes, of course you can follow in the car, but maybe throw on a wig and sunglasses.

6. Tune in to the social hierarchies that can be very fluid in third grade. Old friends get dumped in favor of new. Recess can become a misery; the lunchroom is suddenly brutal. Your kid may be heartbroken, and you may feel nearly as crushed. But don't let him see you cry; your job is to remind him to stay true to himself and instill confidence in him that this too shall pass. Your rock-solid belief in him will help him get over any social disaster faster.

7. You created all the childhood magic in your house, but eight years into this parenting business, you may find yourself becoming a smidge blasé about Santa?s arrival or the magic of the Tooth Fairy. Don't. Your child's body and brain may be developing by leaps and bounds at this age, but you know what needs to keep growing? His heart. Guard your child's sweet beliefs until he is ready to let go of them himself.

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