Third Grade: A Change in Attitude and in Work

Dear Carrie

What kind of change in attitude and in work do third grade students experience?

My sister-in-law was homeschooled and has graduated 3 kids. Now, she has 3 more she is still homeschooling. She once told me that around 3rd grade all of her kids just had a less positive attitude. My oldest is now starting 3rd grade in Heart of Dakota. I don’t really tolerate complaining or outbursts. But then, she has enough self-control to control those things. I can tell she is frustrated sometimes. This is usually when she is not doing school, but when we are talking about whether we will do it tomorrow. While we are actually doing school, she seems to have a really good attitude and enjoy it.

In school, since she is older, she has more work to do than her younger sisters who are in Little Hearts for His Glory. Some of my older daughter’s work in Bigger Hearts is not easy for her. I guess I have increased what I am expecting of her. For example, I am now trying to encourage her to use better penmanship. Is this just a normal transition? It is really hard for her to sit down and focus on something with 3 younger siblings running around. During some of her work the younger ones are off doing other things, like watching a video. I know she is jealous they get to do that. I guess my question is, what kind of change in attitude and in work do third grade students experience?


“Ms. Please Help Me with What Changes to Expect with My Third Grade Student’s Attitude and Work”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with What Changes to Expect with My Third Grade Student’s Attitude and Work,”

There are definitely several things to keep in mind in looking at kiddos’ ages and stages. One is that grades K-2 are typically grouped together with K being a bit of a transition from the “fun” of preschool to the “work” of formal school. This is followed by 1st grade where kiddos are often ready for a bit more “real” school and are better prepared to handle a bit more attention-span wise. Then, in grade 2 they are even more ready (and grade 2 is not as much new as grade 1), so they seem to handle grade 2 better. After that comes the next big step up in grades 3-5. :D

Third grade is a change because there are many new skills.

Third grade is almost all new with many skills the kiddos have never had before in all areas. The day lengthens and more is expected. So, third grade is often a crucial year. It is hard work for the kiddos. Add to that the fact that they are often coming off of a care-free summer, and the workload and mental activity seems even more stressful because it is almost a direct contrast to what their summer days felt like. Plus, if you add to that a new wake and sleep cycle, new eating times, and less free time, you can easily see why our little 8-9 years old aren’t exactly “skipping through the tulips” in the initial weeks of school (no matter how fabulous the curriculum might be)! :D I must admit to having a bit of a transition myself when we head back to school after summer! :wink:

Third grade is an opportunity to shape and mold good habits.

As a public school teacher, I taught quite a few different grades, but 3rd grade was my longest stint at 9 years. I loved third grade because you have such an opportunity to shape and mold good habits, train kiddos to be attentive, work on character, and really see a difference in the child by year-end. On the flip side, it also can be an opportunity to battle with kiddos daily if you look at this as a daily battle of the wills instead of a training opportunity. :D That is why this year will be so important not only academically, but also character issue-wise. It is where your little people learn how to be big helpers and good listeners. They learn how to work even when they may not feel like it. They can begin to be trained in daily obedience and in curbing their wills to glorify their Father in heaven rather than seeking to glorify their own wants and needs. It is a huge transition year that takes much parenting and much patience! :D

Devote needed time to character and academic training, and you will make huge strides with your third grade child!

If you happen to have a third grade child, I encourage you to settle in for the long haul. Know each day will be new training ground. However, by the end of the year, you will have made huge strides forward if you devote the needed time to character and academic training. The fruit of this daily training will follow you into the next guide and the next guide after that. By the time you walk through these important middle training years, you will also have built a close relationship with your child. :D

This is the opportunity homeschooling affords us, and it is not an easy one because it takes much time and effort! I wish each of you the stamina to do what is needed each day and the patience to train your children both academically and spiritually. As we travel this road together, let’s remember that we have the added blessing that each day is made new through our heavenly Father. So, if you’ve had a hard day, you can remember that tomorrow is a new day! :D


Update from “Ms. Please Help Me with What Changes to Expect with My Third Grade Student’s Attitude and Work”

Carrie, thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experiences! Just yesterday we had one of those heartwarming moments! My 8 year old and I were curled up on the couch for her read-aloud time. She hugged me and said, “Mom I’m so glad you’re my teacher! I think you are the best Mom and teacher for me.” That encouraged me. It is more work, and she is really growing and that is good to see. I pray for character. I can see that this time is really critical in developing her character. May God give me inspiration, patience, wisdom, and peace. And again thanks, I cannot say how much I appreciate your wisdom along this homeschooling journey!

Second or Third Grade with Heart of Dakota – Bigger Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Second or Third Grade with Heart of Dakota – Bigger Hearts for His Glory

With Heart of Dakota, you can place your children exactly where they will thrive!  Target age ranges are small enough to be specific to necessary skills and standards that should be met, but large enough that combining is feasible. Bigger Hearts for His Glory has a target age range of 7 to 9 years old, with independent extensions in science and history for 10 to 11 year olds. It has complete plans for all necessary subject areas.  Likewise, it has multiple levels of reading, handwriting, grammar, math, and spelling.  It even has a choice of read-alouds, which I have loved!  Having taught Bigger Hearts…, three times, I’ve enjoyed different read-alouds (for me) each year! Not to mention, Carrie just finished working with our graphics designer to put together full-color, preprinted, 3-hole punched history notebooking pages and a timeline! What a wonderful time this is to start Bigger Hearts…!

Bigger Hearts… is a big deal! 

I look at this as a very important year for me as a homeschool teacher. The skills we are working on together will soon be skills my kiddos will need to do solo next year. I want them to be successful with their next year newfound independence in Preparing Hearts…So, when I have a child in Bigger Hearts…, that child is usually my focus. I look at this as my opportunity to train them for success.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  If I drop the ball in Bigger Hearts…, my kiddos might be missing skills that are tough to recover later.  So, nothing on my watch, and I mean nothing, gets skipped in Bigger Hearts. Why, you may ask?  Well, Bigger Hearts… is the bridge between Beyond… (where children are little and needing mom by their side practically 24/7) to Preparing Hearts… (where kiddos are taking on a fair share of independence).  Drop the ball in Bigger Hearts…, and you will know it when you get to Preparing Hearts. So, what’s the big deal about Bigger…, you ask?

Well, Bigger Hearts… ramps up the writing!

Daily cursive.  Daily R & S English 2 or 3 (though we do suggest doing much orally, choosing one small section to write).  History notebooking with writing.  Science notebooking with writing.  Daily copywork.  Upper level spelling or dictation.  Vocabulary cards – fairly involved.  Possibly Drawn into the Heart of Reading Student Workbook (or a hiatus from that writing, if your kiddo is in the Emerging Reader’s Set).

This is where you will feel the burn if your kiddos talked you out of doing the daily copywork of the poem in Beyond Little Hearts… , or if they didn’t do the 3 sentences for spelling each week.  Their writing will be way too big in size. Those little hand muscles will quiver and shake, and they will want to throw in the towel in Bigger…! Don’t give in!  Work up to it.  Or, they will never do Preparing…, and if they can’t do Preparing…, there is no way they can do Creation to Christ, and if they can’t do Creation to Christ…, well, you get the picture.

So, as they try to convince you they ‘just can’t write,’ encourage them that they can, or they will forever be playing ‘catch-up,’ and you will forever be writing for them, which doesn’t equip them to be able to share their thoughts and opinions in written form (which is what we want).

Bigger Hearts… prepares students for successful independent work!

What we teach in Bigger… becomes either semi-independent or independent in Preparing Hearts. Step-by-step history and science notebooking assignments that are teacher-directed in Bigger… become more independent in Preparing Hearts. Science experiments you led in Bigger… become student-led in Preparing.  One to three vocabulary cards in Bigger… becomes three to five vocabulary cards in Preparing. Poetry study becomes a creative writing  lesson in Preparing. Bible study becomes a half parent-led and half student-led Bible quiet time in Preparing.  Hands-on math activities are dropped in 3A/3B, and mental math must be applied.

The modeling of oral narration is all done in Preparing, and the guiding of written narrations begins.  The double-dipping of genre studies and story elements in Bigger… is finished, and now kiddos must embrace formal literature study in Drawn into the Heart of Reading.  In short, this is where you will feel the pain of skipping skills in Bigger…, tweaking written work to oral, or putting a child too young to do the work with an older sibling. This is where you will come to the realization that if kiddos couldn’t do Bigger…,  they 100% won’t be able to do Preparing, which is why I make the point, Bigger… is a big deal!

Bigger Hearts… introduces kiddos to Charlotte Mason style skills!

We love Charlotte Mason!  Carrie has chosen awesome living books, so check that off the list…  done.  Likewise, she has also assumed you are not familiar with orally narrating yourself as a form of assessment (alas, would we not have loved that in our own school background?!?).  But, tis most likely not so. So, in Bigger…, Carrie has specific plans one day every week within all 9 genres of Storytime based read alouds where you as a parent successfully model oral narration skills. She also has practice planned with orally narrating in response to living book science readings.  After Bigger…, this modeling of orally narrating is all done. So, don’t take it lightly.

Bigger Hearts… amps up the science with daily living books readings and follow-up assignments!

Daily science with a rotation of follow-up skills that are sure to draw in the science/math minded student, as well as the more language arts minded students.  Living books.  Authors passionate about their one science topic as opposed to science textbooks.  Whoever asked who wrote a science textbook like, “I just have to read the next book written by that person?”  No one!  But living books.  They’re different.  Authors care intensely about their topic, and you can tell.

Plus, science is meant to be a hands-on subject.  Not hands-on for the parent, but for the student.  So, twice a week experiments are written for the student to be able to conduct them, not you as the parent.  You’ve had science. This is for the kids now.  What the body does the mind remembers, so kiddos need to do the experiments, not the parents.  Check out this all-star line-up of follow-ups to living science book readings…

  • Practice narration by retelling the science story
  • Create a science notebook entry
  • Conduct an experiment related to the reading and log it in a science notebook
  • Practice narration by retelling the science story
  • Conduct an experiment related to the reading and orally discuss it
Bigger Hearts… is for more mature kiddos, ready for more!
In contrast to the poetry study in Beyond… , Bigger’s poetry study includes more in-depth classical poetry.  You’ll introduce unfamiliar vocabulary. You’ll have questions and discussions relating to the meaning of the poem. Your kiddos will practice proper choral reading.  They will learn specific poetic devices.  Likewise, Bible study will include the study of Godly character qualities, personal application of those qualities, devotional connections, an in-depth hymn study, and longer Scripture memory work.
Furthermore, art projects have multiple steps.  Geography gets more in-depth.  Timeline entries increase in number.  Bigger Hearts… says ‘grow up’ to kiddos, because independence is coming!  Often times, we as homeschool moms breathe a sigh of relief.  For we many times have a little one needing to learn to read and write, and maybe even another little babe needing us through the night.  Even if we don’t have another little one, we sense the times changing.  Our little one must take steps toward independence, or the future looks less bright.
Finally, Bigger Hearts… brings on the books!

You will see more books in Bigger Hearts.  Furthermore, you will see longer books in Bigger Hearts.  Get ready to cuddle up on the couch to read! Prepare to squelch the desire to sneak off yourself and read ahead to see what happens next in the book you are reading!  Know you will be inspired.  This may be the first time you have the thought you LOVE history yourself!  Yes.  The books are THAT good.  Find yourself taking joy in American heroes.  You’ll probably retell the stories yourself!

For all of these amazing things your kiddos are learning, don’t stress about the time it will take to do!  Just 3 to 3 1/2 hours each day. Easy as can be! And the history connections?  Amazing! This is what it’s all about.  Living books that you just connect to and therefore remember.  Prepare to be a little sad about the American history you learned back when. It won’t compare.  So, dive in!  Have fun with Bigger Hearts…, but take it seriously.  It provides the building blocks for what is to come. And if it is done right, it will provide the ‘harvest’ for years to come.

In closing, for easy reference, here’s a the quick list overview of skills in Bigger Hearts…!
  • History Notebooking
  • Geography Lessons
  • Timeline Entries
  • Vocabulary Study
  • Art projects
  • Narration Practice
  • History Activities
  • Classic Poetry: reading, study & copywork
  • Bible Study
  • Biblical Character Trait Focus
  • Devotions
  • Bible Memory Work from Proverbs
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Classic Hymns
  • Spelling: word lists/dictation
  • Grammar and Writing Lessons using the text Preparing to Build: English 2
  • Cursive Handwriting Choices
  • Reading Choices
  • Storytime Genre Studies
  • Guided Literature Discussion
  • Story Element Lessons
  • Godly Character Lessons
  • Math Exploration
  • Biographical and Living Book Science Readings
  • Science Experiments
  • Science Notebooking

In Christ,


P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Bigger Hearts… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Beyond Little Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Bigger Hearts...