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Third Grade: A Pivotal Year

Most parents agree that literature is a crucial part of their child's education, for obvious reasons. Being able to read opens up an endless amount of opportunities for them, and sets them up for success for the rest of their lives.

What may not be as obvious is the pivotal role that third grade plays in the rest of your student's academic career and their likeness to graduate from high school. This is the year that students will transition from learning how to read to reading to learn. The third grade standards require students to apply past learning for the first time, while taking a giant leap up in rigor. The National Research Council's data suggests that academic struggles not resolved by third grade aren't likely to go away: students who aren't up to grade level by the end of third grade are statistically unlikely to graduate high school." The proficiency gaps that are initially found only in reading related subjects, quickly spread to all subjects are students in fourth grade and beyond are expected to "read to learn". Science and History take a big hit, and math typically follows.

If these third grade milestones of your child's education are missed, it can lead to your child struggling not only with their academic needs, but also with their social well-being. Watching peers increase their understanding in classes, at what seems like an unobtainable speed, can make your child feel as if typical expectations for their age are impossible for them to reach. This feeling can change your child's connection to education negatively. This negative relationship with learning can affect their interaction with peers, their school work, and their behavior during class.

When a child experiences this repetitive feeling of defeat, it can be difficult for them to catch up. It isn't uncommon for a child to fall into this deficit, especially if their needs are not being met in a typical classroom or with the correct educational interactions. According to Annie E. Casey of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Millions of American children get to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, and that puts them on the high school dropout track. The ability to read by third grade is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential, and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its security."

At Arches Academy, we understand the impact these crucial milestones have on our student's education. With our interactive, hands-on learning strategies we are able to teach our students in a way that they understand and help them set goals for a successful and positive educational experience. Our reading curriculum begins in PreK and carries on throughout our Elementary Program, and is uniquely constructed to avoid the dangerous pitfalls of third grade. Learn more about the third grade experience at Arches Academy and see how a Gifted and Talented Approach to learning can empower your student to navigate third grade with flying success, confidence, and a genuine love of school and learning.

For more information, see: Casey, Annie E. “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Book/Kids Count Data Center, 2 Jan. 2010,


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