George Lucas Educational Foundation

I am moving from Grade 5 to Grade 3

I am moving from Grade 5 to Grade 3

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I'm moving to Grade 3 and am worried about the different types of behaviour management and expectations that will arise.
I'm worried that the expectations I had for Grade 5's will be too harsh for Grade 3.
What are third grade children like developmentally?

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Becky Fisher's picture
Becky Fisher
Education Consultant

We had a teacher make the opposite move in our school and she ended up loving the new challenges brought on by a new age group. I taught all elementary students in music and I have to say I don't think you should be too worried. Although students in Grade 3 are developmentally different than students in Grade 5 (shorter attention spans, less control and patience, etc.) you will find that most students will rise to a challenge if you offer it to them. You should set high expectations for your third graders and they may surprise you. Of course curriculum will be different, but the same rules apply to 3rd and 5th grade students. I think the students will benefit from having a teacher who has a higher level of expectations. You can always adjust if students are struggling to meet them, but I don't think you'll have to.

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Agreed with Becky. I'm very fortunate to work with all grades in my school, and they're all pretty awesome and all pretty much respond to the same kinds of classroom management strategies.

The main difference you'll find is that the third graders are definitely more immature, but at the same time, they're a bit more innocent than your 5th graders. You're more likely to have kids who still believe in Santa in third grade, but this is also the year that will probably really start to shift for many kids. They'll like more obvious humor than some of the subtlety you might be able to use with the 5th graders. You know those books of punny jokes? Third graders love those, as they're really starting to build their independence in reading and larger vocabulary.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think the thing you have to be most aware of is that around grade 3, kids are making a transition from learning to read to reading to learn. It's a key year for a lot of skills, and not every kid is going to make the transition at the same time. additionally, they tend to still be pretty concrete versus abstract thinkers, so they take everything literally, meaning things like sarcasm are totally lost on them.
They will need more scaffolding of skills overall, and they tend to love centers- using things like centers to help teach keyboarding might be fun :) They are starting to read more and more independently as Dan said, and still love group reading time- I remember a teacher who used to read to us from books like James & the Giant Peach for 10 - 20 minutes either before or after lunch, and it was a great shared experience. It was perhaps a little above our independent reading level, but it kept our attention and got us enthralled with reading.
3rd grade is that 7 to 8 yr old range where they are fun and adventurous but haven't yet landed in the need to be super cool yet. What fun! I miss third grade, It was a great year for both my kids....

Mary's picture
Fourth Grade teacher in Napa, CA

I taught 3rd grade for 9 years. Third graders are wonderful. It takes more effort to teach them as they are still learning to read and write. They can become very independent and helpful. You will have to be organized and methodical in your behavior plan. They will adapt to it and will make it their own. Have them help you make the rules and the rewards and consequences. You will really like the age group.

Irna Spigariol's picture
Irna Spigariol
Third grade teacher from Australia

Thanks for that , I do feel worried because my year fives are such independent responsible students .

Irna Spigariol's picture
Irna Spigariol
Third grade teacher from Australia

That actually sounds like something to look forward to , I forgot how they have that wide eyed wonder . And I will have to be mindful that I will have to less inferential . Thanks for this very useful heads up!

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