Year 3 Mathematics at school: what to expect

Focus on number

During Year 3 at school, a large part of mathematics teaching time will focus on number learning.

By the end of the year

By the end of the year your child will be meeting the Year 3 mathematics standard if they are solving realistic problems using their growing understanding of number, algebra, space, measurement, probability and statistics.

When solving number problems, they will make them easier to solve by adjusting the numbers involved. For example, 25 + 35 could become 30 + 30 while 43 - 18 could become 43 - 20 + 2.

Meeting the standard

To meet the standard your child will be learning to:

  • explore patterns in numbers up to 10,000
  • solve problems using suitable calculations
  • talk about fractions when sharing and exploring shapes and quantities
  • organise objects and talk about what’s different and what’s the same
  • estimate quantities and answers to calculations
  • measure objects and time
  • give and follow directions
  • talk about the reasons why an event is likely to happen or not
  • investigate a topic, collect and display data, and discuss what they have discovered.

This is a small part of the skills and knowledge your child is learning in order to meet this standard. Talk to the teacher for more information about your child’s learning.

Mathematics problems at this level might look like this

The illustration shows 8 turtles of different sizes and colours.

Teacher: A nature park has 18 turtles. Another 8 turtles are released into the park. How many turtles are there now at the nature park?

Student: There are now 26 turtles. I worked out that 18 + 2 = 20. That leaves 6 remaining from the 8. So, 20 + 6 = 26. There are 26 turtles altogether.

Ask the teacher what your child is doing in mathematics. Talk about how you can work together to support your child’s learning.

© Commonwealth of Australia. Adapted from New Zealand Ministry of Education copyright material. Liew

Mathematics at home

Support your child

Parents, family and carers like you play a big part in your child’s learning every day – you can support and build on what they learn at school.

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns

Help your child to:

  • find numbers around the home and in the community and talk about their purpose (e.g. letter box number patterns, clocks, fridge temperature, prices)
  • find and connect numbers at the local shops
  • name the number that is 10 more or 10 less than a number up to 100
  • make patterns when counting in groups (skip counting) forwards and backwards, starting with different numbers (for example, 13, 23, 33, 43 …, … 43, 33, 23, 13), and have fun by taking turns to say the next number
  • try making different types of patterns by drumming, clapping, stamping, dancing or drawing patterns that repeat
  • find out the ages of family and extended family members
  • have them try solving addition and subtraction problems to 20 in their heads, for example, 10 + 4, 15 − 7
  • use groups of 10 that add to 100, for example, 50 + 50, 30 + 70.

The way your child is learning to solve maths problems may be different from your own experience.

Involve your child in easy, everyday activities like these

  • Telling the time on analog and digital clocks.
  • Learning their multiplication facts (times tables). For trickier ones, encourage them to explain how they can be sure of the answer, e.g. ‘I can think about 3 x 8 as 2 x 8 (16) plus 8 more, 24’. Celebrate
    explanations over speed and encourage your child to see mistakes as opportunities to learn and part of the process of learning.
  • Making use of opportunities to practise making calculations as they arise in everyday life, e.g. when reading a book together, say ‘I wonder how many pages are left in the book. Are we more than halfway, do you think?’
  • Doing a shape and number search when you are reading a book or looking at art (like carvings
    and sculpture), Ask ‘What shapes can you see?’
  • Helping at the supermarket. Ask your child to get specific items, such as, a medium-sized tin of pet food, 2 litres of milk, 250 grams of mince or chickpeas.

Talk a lot to your child while you are doing things together. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

Being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

For school holidays, weekends or rainy days

Here are some suggestions for what you and your child can do together.

  • Play games. Play ‘I spy something that is longer, bigger, smaller than …’ Play pen and paper games. Try pen and paper games (such as noughts-and-crosses), play board games and do number puzzles.
  • Make your own advertising pamphlet. Put pictures on it and make pretend money to spend.
  • Grow seeds or sprouts. Measure and record the growth each week.
  • Fold and cut out paper dolls and other repeating shapes.
  • Cook together. Talk about the recipe and the ingredients used. Ask questions like, ‘How many teaspoons?’ ‘How much flour?’ ‘How many half cups are there in 1 cup?’
  • Make a map with clues and go on a treasure hunt.
  • Dance to music and sing or clap to favourite songs. Or each make up a dance sequence and teach it to someone.
  • Both take turns closing your eyes and describing how to get from the front gate to the kitchen, from the kitchen to a bedroom, from home to school.
  • Do timed activities like counting how many times your child can bounce a ball in a minute.
  • Play guess-and-check games with different-shaped containers. Estimate how many items (e.g. beans, pegs, buttons) are in the container. Then count to see how close the estimation was.

© Commonwealth of Australia. Adapted from New Zealand Ministry of Education copyright material. photograpy/szefei/Artem Shevchenko/
Alexey Stiop/dive-hive/ChristianChan/SOMMAI