Third grade is a transition year into much more difficult academic material. It's a stepping stone to upper elementary school, and much that is learned this year is foundational for later subjects. Mastering math facts during this year is critical for later success in this area as problems become more challenging.

Multiplication and Division

Multiplication and division are often cited as the most difficult math concepts introduced during the third-grade year. Mastery is critical in order to be able to successfully handle multi-step equations during fourth grade. Much debate has taken place in educational sectors whether the focus should be on understanding how to solve the problem or memorization of the facts, but in either case it's agreed that multiplication and division must be mastered. Repetition is often the key to competency in these facts for most students.

Adding and Subtracting Fractions

Fractions are taken further in third grade, and students need to be able to add and subtract fractions with like denominators. Often pictorial representations of the problem are used initially, with just the equation given as student develop proficiency later on. This also is an important stepping stone as the following year students will be asked to simplify fractions and work with unlike denominators.

Place Value and Rounding

Understanding place value and rounding are important in third grade for developing good number sense. Students must be able to understand the place value of digits to the hundred thousands and be able to round to estimate answers. This is important as decimal points and place value for digits less than 1 are introduced the next year and having a strong foundation in the place value of whole numbers will greatly aid in comprehension with decimals.

Elapsed Time

Elapsed time is another important mastery item for third-grade math facts. Students must be able to solve how much time has passed or will pass from one event to another. Repeated exposure to problems of this type is important as mental math is required and pencil-and-paper solving will not work for elapsed time. This can be a challenge for students at first, but as they become comfortable with language nuances regarding time they can quickly become successful at these problems.