3Rd Grade Math

Updated on September 21, 2014
R.S. asks from Cooperstown, NY
16 answers

Hi ,

My son is in 3rd grade and seems he is having a hard time with maths at his school . As far as I know he is very good in addition , substraction , multiplication .. when i teach him he can understand the concept just like that . I don't know whats wrong with him at school . We are new to this country , so i do not know much about the sylabus here , his class teacher is not a helpful person . I talked to her about this and she sounded so rude . That's why I'm here to share my worries . I don't want my son to lack behind his peers . It will be really helpful if someone could tell me what else I need to work with him , he was telling me that all his classmates can do mind maths , when the teacher ask them i.e 79+57 they answer without using paper/pencil or even without finger counting .
How do I help my son with this . He is a very smart boy and past few days he is complaining he doesn't want to go to school . He want me to homeschool him instead . I cannot discuss all this with his teacher .. so please help me ...

He had a very good teacher from K to 2nd grade . They are so friendly and I never had a communication problem with them . I cannot help my son without knowing what they teach at school , she use Everyday Math .

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So What Happened?

I am using kumon math workbook at home and My son doesn't have any language problem . I talked with the teacher twice , both was after school . I will try to talk with her again , meantime I'm going to work on the mathfacts . He never had any problem with his math in previous years . Just this year looks like a hard year for him . Other than Mathfacts what else he needs to know ( he already knows the timetables ).


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answers from Dallas on

Memorization was very important around here in 3rd grade math. My oldest son struggled with it, and my youngest had no trouble. Flash cards helped, and playing cards helped, too. Practice, practice, practice. They used to have timed tests all the time. It didn't matter if they could do the math slowly (or with fingers); they had to be able to memorize it. Later they (and I) could see the benefit of this. It really made math much easier later.

I also agree with approaching the teacher again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Kumon is a good option to get the basic math skills down as it is repetitive.
It is expensive though.
You can get Kumon books online or bookstores but must
Have the discipline to do them.

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answers from Danville on

I am terrible with math!

But a while ago, when kiddos were younger, someone told me about 'khan academy'. If you google it, you can try it out. A few of my kids found it helpful.

It is early in the school year yet. Perhaps the teacher will be having a conference soon? Your written english seems quite good, but if you feel uncomfortable, have you a friend who could come with you to a conference? Just someone who can make sure all is understood. You can also request a conference at a convenient time for you both. Maybe you caught her on a busy day?

Cooperstown is a nice little town...say hello to the baseball hall of fame for me!


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

That is so frustrating that she was rude to you. That should never happen. I am so sorry you are dealing with that.

I have to say, though, that the best thing you can do is approach the teacher again. Maybe she was having a bad day, maybe she misunderstood you, who knows. But she is the person you need to talk to, and the only way you can really help your son is by talking to her, learning what it is that they are doing in math and figuring out a plan to better help him in class. Teachers and parents need to work together, and there really is no way around it.

Go to her, make an appointment to sit down and talk to her. It's really the best thing you can do for your son.

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answers from Washington DC on

As someone mentioned below, Khan Academy (online and free) has a good reputation; however, for a kid this young, it may not hold his attention.

Yes, you and the teacher need to start over and build a better working relationship. You say you "cannot discuss all this with his teacher" but truly you must discuss it - and tell her that he is now getting nervous and reluctant about school and is fearing math, not liking it as he once did. This is pretty normal when math gets harder at around third and fourth grades but you and she need to try again. Be sure you make an appointment to see her and do not take him--see her alone. Don't be emotional. Find out if she has times when she can offer extra math help -- some schools have periods when teachers can indeed do things like that, or you can arrange after-school time, etc. If she just cannot provide any extra time to see him one on one, ask what she suggests you do.

I also second the post referring to the issues in teaching him yourself. If the teacher gives you materials and works with YOU on working with him, and she shows you how she wants things done, that's fine, but just going on your own to teach him math as you were taught it could backfire.

My husband's college degree is in mathematics, but the terms and methods used today are NOT the same ones most of us learned as kids. The techniques my child was taught in school to use were alien to my husband the mathematician! (He's also from a country other than the U.S. and where he grew up there were even more differences in the terms and methods used.) So because you weren't taught under the same system your son's expected to know, plus you come from another country where the system and terms may have been different yet again from what is used in the U.S., I really would suggest you not try to teach him yoursellf (unless it's specific stuff the teacher has given you to work on).

Like Gamma G, I am not saying you can't work this math -- just that the way you teach your son to do things may not be the way the teacher will require him to do it on a test. He may have the right answer at the end, doing it the way you teach him, but if his workings on the problem do not show the steps the teacher wants, he will hear about it and possibly lose points.

Our daughter (now 13) has done a tutoring program through Mathnasium in the summers and they also have tutoring during the school year. I would consider whether your son might benefit and gain confidence by working with a tutor or tutoring place like that in your town. It's not about his having any real lack of understanding -- it's about building his confidence so he doesn't get nervous and fall behind, because math moves FAST these days and kids are expected to keep up or they'll be behind the next year and it snowballs.

Tutoring is expensive but it is a good investment in his confidence. One iimportant thing -- a good tutor will know the school's curriculum and teach him the way the teacher and curriculum want kids taught, in your particular system, right now. A casual tutor like a high school kid on his or her own might not have that advantage, so I'd go with someplace that can guarantee your son would get what's on the curriculum.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Have you tried emailing her? Our teachers have almost said they prefer that... That way they can answer when it's a good time for them. I've found all our teachers very responsive to email so far. I will say I prefer email now too. Much more efficient at times. And your English seems fine but maybe speaking you're not as clear and she's just impatient. While that is not nice or right, after school she may be out of patience. Try email...

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answers from Dallas on

YES YOU CAN..... discuss this with the teacher. The best thing you can do is build a relationship with the teacher. Maybe you perceived her comment as rude in your mind but she didn't mean it to be at all. Were you trying to talk to her at the beginning of the day when the students were all pouring into class or something like that?

You say you are from another country. Is your child in the ESOL program getting help with language barriers? If not, you might check that out so he is better at communicating. Also work on your own language so that you are better at communicating as well. Many times someone is perceived to be rude when indeed they are not.

Before you write the teacher off... (and keep your opinion to yourself and DO NOT let your son think for a minute that you do not like the teacher)..... take your emotions out of this and think only of your son and how you can help him. This takes working with the teacher.

Make an appointment for the teacher's planning time, before or after school to talk. It is NOT the time to attempt to discuss issues when children are coming into the classroom for the day or during the day when the teacher has the responsibility of the children as well as other administrative duties.

Teachers are different and you will not get the perfectly nurturing nice one each year. Sometimes you get a teacher with a different personality but this does not make her/him a bad teacher. It is a learning experience to learn to work with different teachers, different backgrounds and grow from this. It is not the time to stick your head in the sand and do nothing about it because you perceive your son's teacher as rude.

ETA: Keep in mind that 3rd grade is different and a little harder for some students. They are learning new things in all subject areas and for some, it can be a bit frustrating, especially if they did well in K-2. It is an adjustment. Keep working with him at home. Consider talking to your guidance counselor and getting a recommendation for a tutor. Many teachers tutor on the side and it is also a good connection for the student.

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answers from Hartford on

My son is 8 and in 3rd grade, one thing that was brought up on cirriculum night in my son's class was the introduction of common core math. Math is taught differently then when most of us went to school. I know in our town my son is in a transition grade where teachers started introducing common core a year or two ago. If you have approached the teacher and have not received the feedback you need to try to help your son, I would try one more time, and consider trying to reach out to the ESOL specialist at the school or the person who focuses on kids that need extra help with math. Also discuss with the teacher, if possible, different websites to help with math facts. Our school uses Xtramath and a couple of other sites.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you feel you cannot talk to the teacher and be heard, then I would consider talking to the counselor, the principal or the parent coordinator if your school has one. If she can't explain it to him in a way he understands and is dismissive to you, keep asking. You should not be in the dark about what he is learning and how and what concepts he is missing. When my SD was in elementary school, I did math with her because the way DH explained it was not the way she thought. My way was the way she thought. So if her way isn't how he thinks, how can he get to the same place? If they are doing it in their heads - HOW. The teacher should be able to explain this to you. If she won't, ask and ask and ask til someone on staff will.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Please defer to the teacher. He needs to learn math the way that particular teacher teaches.

Our 3rd grade teacher said she spent more time correcting what parents had done than actually teaching new facts/concepts.

If he's having problems he needs to get his teacher's help. They need to be the only one kiddo gets help from.

Otherwise you could accidentally teach him something different than where they are or too early or wrong. Call the teacher and ask them if they can work with your kiddo a little be more or keep an eye on his progress so he's not behind.

I'm not saying you're not capable of teaching him this math, just that the teacher has her own system and style and is kiddo's first choice. He needs to learn how to learn math from this teacher.

3rd grade math is the big change. Everything they've learned up to this point is put all together where it makes the big picture and higher math is introduced. It's a challenging year for most 3rd graders and if he gets even one fact or way to do something wrong then his math might suffer the rest of academia.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well first off give him time to adjust. You say you are new to this Country. New home, new school, new teacher, trying to make friends, fit in and so on. It is hard enough for an adult to adjust to a whole new life. Imagine what it must feel like to your little guy! Don't just encourage math lessons but also be sensitive to his new life :) Not to mention that math DOES get harder! Give him time. He did fine before. He will get back to doing well with your help and encouragement.

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answers from Detroit on

So sorry your school uses Everyday Math, I think it is the worst program ever. That is probably the issue right there. The dumb program does not spend enough time for kids to understand what is going on.



answers from Sacramento on

You definitely need the teacher on board with helping him. Our daughter's 3rd grade math is ridiculous with Common Core (this is the first full year of it). I'm thankful she understands what they're asking her to do, because it makes simple tasks very complicated. Still, we've had a lot of tears this year and "I hate school" mornings, when she used to love school before CC.

If the teacher isn't willing to help, then I agree with the others that it's time to go the principal. You need the school to lead his education.



answers from New York on

You can have the school do an evaluation of your son. You have to bring in a request in writing and have it date stamped. If he does need special education, there are many good books on the subject. The public schools won't really tell you anything, so you have to know the law. It is also a good idea to find a support group and to hire an advocate until you are more familiar with the special education laws.


answers from Lakeland on

If the teacher is not helping then I would involve the principle. I figure your son may be having a hard time with the common core math. I don't like this "new way" of learning it only confuses the kids and the parents.

There are quite a few websites out there to help with math and other subjects. I like adaptedmind.com, they offer videos along with math problems. This is a paid for site about 10 dollars a month but they follow your states guidelines. You can do a google search and check out the others.



answers from Rochester on

Our district uses Everyday Math and has used it since long before the Common Core came into play. I used to teach 3rd grade math both using Everyday Math and with another curriculum. I personally do not like Everyday Math. It is heavy on teaching kids to use mental math. I don't think that is a bad thing, but the ways Everyday Math teaches it can be extremely confusing. Especially if kids didn't start with the curriculum in kindergarten. It drives my husband completely crazy! The first year I taught it I had more than one lesson that I had to reteach because I had gotten so confused that I totally confused the students.

Try to schedule a conference with the teacher. You can request that the school counselor or principal be there. If they have a math support teacher ask for that individual to attend too. I strongly encourage you to approach the conference as, "I want to know how I can help my child." If you go in with an accusatory attitude of, "You aren't teaching my child right," the teacher will not be as open. And frankly, the principal will be more likely to take the teacher's side than the parent's side. Go in with the attitude of "how can we work together."

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