Important Social Skills Third Graders Need to Succeed

Top social and emotional developmental milestones for third graders

third graders in class with teacher
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The social skills that are important for third grade relate not only to friendships and peer pressure, but also to the more in-depth learning encounters your child will have this year. Third graders begin to look at learning as a mix of independent work, guided learning experiences and working together as a group. Having the social skills to navigate all these experiences make the process a lot easier.

Logical Thinking Skills

In third grade, children begin to think in a more organized and logical fashion. In first grade and second grade, your child began to connect consequences--both positive and negative--to his actions. In third grade, the ability to see a bigger picture and plan out more complex activities based on the perceived outcome will help him as he begins more challenging work, like long-term projects or complicated, multi-step math problems.

Constructive Criticism and Positive Feedback

Third graders can not only assess their own abilities but are also able to start critiquing peers' abilities in a way that opens the door for positive feedback instead of merely criticism. This skill is important because as the writing process becomes more in-depth this year, your child will most likely be participating in writer's workshops in which she will be expected to listen to and make suggestions about her peer's stories.

Being able to express what she sees as other people's strengths and what specific changes could bring about improvement will help her go beyond the standby response: "I liked it."

A Three-Dimensional Understanding of People

In third grade, children gain an understanding that other people are not simply observers of their actions and experiences.

 This social skill is an incredibly important milestone for elementary school students. The moment in which your child begins to understand that other people have an inner dialogue and their own reactions to what's going on around them is the moment your child is ready to make more mature decisions and deeper friendships.

Being aware of how other people perceive him can be a good motivator in terms of achievement, but it can also make him more susceptible to peer pressure and insecurity, so it's important to check in with your child on a daily basis to see how he thinks things are going at school.

Demonstrates Wide Range of Emotions

Third graders begin to show a wide range of emotions (not just angry, happy or sad) and are able to express those emotions in a socially appropriate manner. In third grade, the academic expectations are much tougher than they were in second grade and can often cause frustration or feelings of inadequacy. Being able to express frustration, confusion or pride effectively are key in asking the teacher for help when it's needed.

Accepts and Applies Feedback

In third grade, children accept feedback more gracefully and are willing to make the changes suggested. In addition to being asked to critique peer work, your child will be asked to accept his peer's feedback of his own work. This skill is important both in the academic realm, so that he is able to truly hear feedback as a way to help him, and in the social arena, where it can help your child to maintain and work on long-term friendships as opposed to just dropping a friend after an argument.

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