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"When should Daniel learn to add and subtract, multiply and divide?"

"How can I know if Sherrie is reading as well as she should?"

"How well should my child be writing in third grade?"

Knowing what school personnel expect your child to learn during an academic year is one of the first steps toward meeting his needs in the classroom and preventing problems.

For example, third-graders are expected to memorize multiplication and division facts through 12 x 12; recognize equivalent fractions; understand the use of letters in simple algebraic statements (ab = 12); and learn estimating and rounding-off skills.

In language arts, third-graders learn to use conventional spelling, punctuation and capitalization to write stories; learn how to identify character, plot and setting in stories; and improve reading comprehension. In social studies, they learn historical facts about state and country, begin to learn geography and study maps.

If you know that certain math skills must be mastered, that a certain level of reading ability must be reached or that certain writing skills must be learned, then you'll be able to help your child progress on course and get help if necessary. If there's a problem, if he's falling behind, you can ask the teacher how to encourage him and help him improve the deficient skills at home.

Rick von Kleist, a California principal and dad, gives each parent a list of the child's grade-level expectations at the first parent-teacher meeting of the school year. "Parents need to know the goals their child should be working toward," says Rick.

If your school doesn't provide such a list, ask the teacher for a "Grade Level Expectations" sheet that explains the academic goals in math, reading, language skills, social studies and science for a particular grade level. Once you have a list of the academic goals, you can watch your child's progress. You can reinforce what he is learning by encouraging him to use math in the grocery story, do special projects, play board games and read.

• What subjects will be covered?
• Are there certain days when he must complete worksheets?
• When are his quizzes and tests?
• How much homework is given?
• How long should it take him to do the work?
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Next in this Series: Monitoring Homework