Year 3 Survival Guide

Read our Year 3 Survival Guide to understand what your child will face in Year 3 so you can help them excel and flourish!

Year 3 is a pivotal year in your child’s schooling. Children start sitting NAPLAN for the first time and academic expectations start to form. In this Year 3 Survival Guide, we explain the changes that Year 3 Primary School students will experience and how parents can support their children through these challenges.

Year 3 Survival Guide

In this Year 3 Survival Guide, we discuss:


An Overview of Year 3

Year 3 is an exciting time, as students are reaching the halfway point of primary school. Students experience NAPLAN for the first time and start preparing for the Opportunity Classes Test held in Year 4. These are arguably their first major assessments. So, it’s important that parents understand what is expected from students in Year 3 to maximise their child’s opportunities.


What’s expected of students in Year 3

In Year 3, students should be prepared to:

  • Work independently for up to an hour
  • Sit the Year 3 NAPLAN assessments
  • Persist in learning more difficult content as part of Stage 2

Year 3 is the first year of Stage 2, so students will be introduced to many new concepts.


Year 3 student in superhero outfit

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Common issues among Year 3 students


Issue 1: Students are unable to maintain focus for extended periods of time

This can make it challenging for students to learn and complete homework effectively. It is important that parents help students slowly build up the habit of studying without interruptions and unnecessary breaks.


Issue 2: Students rely on their parents to help them complete their homework and assignments

It is nice to have the time and capacity to help your child, however, students in Year 3 need to start learning how to work independently. There’s a distinct difference between prompting your child when they are stuck and doing their assignment for them. Ultimately, you don’t want to limit your child’s opportunities to learn by doing and making mistakes.


Issue 3: Students don’t appreciate the value of school

With so many games and activities to enjoy, why would your child want to spend time doing homework? As a parent, you can help your child appreciate school and the learning opportunities it offers. Subtle behaviours like choosing to focus on what they’ve learnt, rather than what they’ve scored, will inspire your child to love learning and develop a genuine interest in school.

Your child’s attitude to learning may be the most important thing to note, as it will likely carry on into further education and other aspects of their life.



What is Stage 2?

Stage 2 is the period in your child’s schooling from Years 3 to 4. In Year 3, students will gain and develop many new skills in a range of areas including English, Maths, Humanities, Health & PE, Science, the Arts, Languages and Technology.

For each subject that Year 3 students do at school, there is a list of learning outcomes that they are expected to master by the end of the year. We will explain the key points below in ‘What to expect for Year 3 English’ and ‘What to expect for Year 3 Maths’. For the full list of learning outcomes, check the respective syllabus on the NESA website.


What can parents do to help?

Their teacher will guide them through this learning journey at school, however, there is an expectation that students will consolidate this learning at home through allocated homework and assignment items. Some skills especially, recalling times tables, will require consistent practice at home for Year 3 students to master.

It is important that Year 3 students fully engage with the learning material in Stage 2 because the content will form the fundamentals of Year 4 and further. If your child does not perform well, they shouldn’t be discouraged by it, but rather take that opportunity to improve in the areas they struggle with. Schooling is a long journey and you’ll need resilience to make the most of it.

year 3 survival guide the 3 rs - reflect, rethink, revise

NAPLAN in Year 3

NAPLAN stands for National Assessment Program for Literacy And Numeracy. We have a separate article that breaks down what you need to know about NAPLAN for your child, here.

In essence, NAPLAN tests your child’s literacy and numeracy skills in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. It’s not compulsory, but it’s a good way for parents and teachers to learn where students need help. Some schools even use NAPLAN results to determine which students they admit and/or place in gifted and talented streams.

There are four NAPLAN test domains for Year 3 students:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Language conventions
  • Numeracy
TestWhat content will be examined?Duration
WritingStudents will be asked to write either a narrative or persuasive piece in response to a given stimulus. The writing test is conducted on paper, NOT online.40 min
ReadingStudents will answer questions based on provided imaginative, persuasive and informative texts.45 min
Conventions of languageStudents will be asked questions on spelling, grammar and punctuation.45 min
NumeracyStudents will be assessed on their understanding of numbers and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability.45 min


When will the test be scheduled in the assessment window?

WritingDay 1Day 1
ReadingDay 2
Conventions of languageAfter the reading testDay 1
NumeracyAfter the conventions of language testDay 3


Understandably, many parents and their children will be anxious about their first NAPLAN tests in Year 3.

Here are the key recommendations we make to maximise your child’s Year 3 NAPLAN experience:


Recommendation 1: Students should revise all the content that they learnt in school

NAPLAN tests content under the NESA Syllabus for Stage 2, Year 3. You can find the syllabuses for English and Mathematics, here. Please note that from 2023, the Year 3 syllabus will change, but Year 3 students in 2022 will continue to use the 2012 syllabus.


Recommendation 2: Students should practise answering questions under a time limit

While your child may be perfectly capable of understanding and answering problems at their own leisure, it can be a different story when they are under time pressure. Careless errors can occur, or students may find that they simply do not have enough time to complete all the questions.

A good way to assess whether this may be something that they need to work on is to try doing a NAPLAN past paper in exam conditions; this means the Year 3 student receives no help from others, follows a stringent time limit and takes minimal breaks. In order to shorten the amount of time your child spends on questions, they may need to work on their mental maths and reading skills.

This will all come organically with practice. To help your child prepare, encourage them to read more books and practise their “times tables”.

Recommendation 3: Students should become familiar with NAPLAN test formats

In addition to knowing the content learnt in school, the best thing that Year 3 students can do to prepare for the NAPLAN is to familiarise themselves with the structure and format of the tests. We’ve provided links to both the paper-based and online NAPLAN tests below. While most schools will conduct their NAPLAN tests online, you may need to check with your child’s school to see if they are still electing to do paper-based tests.


Recommendation 4: Year 3 students should feel encouraged to do their best in NAPLAN tests, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all

If your child does not perform as well as they hoped, reassure them that this is just a starting point for them to improve on. Resilience might be the most important trait of successful students, and as a parent, you play a big role in helping them develop such a mindset.


Recommendation 5: Understand that your child’s NAPLAN results will not affect their Opportunity Class placement or be used to determine Year 7 entry into Selective Schools

These placement processes will occur independently to NAPLAN. You can almost think of NAPLAN as a means to ease your child into the testing environment for major examinations.


Sample paper-based tests

You can find past NAPLAN papers from 2012-2016 on the ACARA website, here. Please note that the format has changed slightly, so use these past papers as a general guide of what to expect.


Sample online tests

You are able to test the NAPLAN online system on their public demonstration system. Please note the Year 3 NAPLAN demo site only provides sample tests for Reading, Conventions of language and Numeracy, because Year 3 Writing tests are still conducted on paper at this stage.


Alarm clock on a pink book


Subjects studied in Year 3 at school

Year 3 students will learn the following subjects at school:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Humanities and social sciences: history, geography, civics and citizenship
  • The arts: dance, drama, media arts, music, visual arts
  • Digital technologies
  • Health and physical education
  • Languages


In almost all cases, Year 3 students will not have an option of which areas or languages to study, as they will be following a shared class curriculum.



What to expect for Year 3 English

Year 3 English consists of 3 main learning areas:

  • Language
  • Literature
  • Literacy



There are many different forms of language and Year 3 students will focus on learning about written, oral and visual languages, and how different techniques are used to construct meaning.

For their study of written language, students will work on producing and recognising correctly constructed sentences in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation and diction. Students will be expected to write imaginative texts and persuasive texts. The imaginative texts must include characters, settings and events with a clear plot consisting of an orientation, complication, action, resolution. The persuasive texts need to explain and support a perspective with arguments divided into clear paragraphs.

Students will also learn about visual language through picture books, films and advertisements and discuss how camera angles, shot sizes and layouts can affect the audience in different ways.

Further, Year 3 students will develop their ability to adjust their language according to their audience, purpose, social conventions and oral traditions.



The learning area of literature seeks to provide Year 3 students with an understanding of various contexts, and give them the skills to speculate the intentions behind other authors’ work. Moreover, by studying other people’s work, Year 3 students will be exposed to new language devices, which they can learn to integrate into their own writing, as appropriately.

Throughout this whole process, Year 3 students will begin to develop their personal preferences for literature, which will motivate them to be passionate about the texts they view and create.



Literacy is about integrating the student’s fundamental knowledge of language with their contextual, social and personal understanding. This will allow them to comprehend various perspectives in texts, express their own opinions, and deliver presentations that are compelling and purposeful. Year 3 students will also begin to infer meaning based on language and context, in addition to recognising literal meanings.


Key things that Year 3 students can do to improve their English skills:

  • Read widely and regularly. There are so many reasons to read that we’ve even compiled the top 5 Reasons Students Should Read Books, here. A good way to make reading a habit, is to establish a day of the week for your child to go to the library. They can borrow books that interest them and then return them a week later when they go to collect more.
  • Practise writing. Keeping a diary is a nice way to regularly practise writing, hand-writing and reflecting. It’s an organic strategy to make your child feel comfortable with writing on the fly and enjoy it. Diaries are fun; your child can decorate and personalise their own, and you can even join them for the ride!
  • Broaden their vocabulary. You need the right words to effectively communicate, and this goes beyond just schooling. Good communication skills are important in your professional, personal and social life. Expanding your child’s vocabulary is a gradual process, and we provide some tips for you to help them do that daily in this article.
  • Practise public speaking. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of others, it might be worthwhile for them to become involved in extracurriculars that can help them break out of that shell. They don’t necessarily have to join debating and drama classes if that doesn’t interest them; even joining a sports group or programming club can help them develop confidence and oral communication skills around others. While children do need to be challenged outside their comfort zone, it is important for them to know that they are still being supported and that they have a say in what they do.


Wooden model standing in front of a microphone for oral presentation in Year 3 survival guide


What to expect for Year 3 Maths

By the end of Year 3, students should feel confident with their addition, subtraction and multiplication skills. They should be able to provide working out for all problems, but should be able to perform simple arithmetic in their head.

Here’s a list of key concepts that your child should expect to learn about in Year 3 Maths:

  • Odd and even numbers
  • Fractions and decimals
  • Money
  • Number patterns
  • Place value
  • Metric units of length, mass and capacity (e.g., mm, cm, m, km, g, kg, L, m3)
  • Time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc.)
  • 3D shapes
  • Grid maps
  • Angles
  • Chance
  • Lists, tables, picture graphs and column graphs

Practising is the best thing that Year 3 students can do to solidify their understanding of mathematical concepts and minimise errors. School homework is a great start, but it might be worth acquiring additional resources to help your child really feel confident with the fundamentals.


Key concerns parents have about Year 3


Concern 1: Parents are concerned that they don’t know how their child is doing at school

Parents want to know these things because they care. However, it doesn’t change the fact that children often give vague descriptions of their school day or innocently state that they can’t really remember. While there are parent-teacher interviews for this very reason, it’s always beneficial to maintain strong ongoing communication with your child, so they know they can ask you for help at any time.

A good way to prompt constructive communication with your child is to ask them specific questions about what they did at school and what they learned.

Now that you have read ‘What to expect for Year 3 Maths‘ and ‘What to expect for Year 3 English‘, you can ask more direct and leading questions about school. For example

  • “What books are you reading at school?”
  • “Are you learning about fractions and decimals?”
  • “Do you know how many millimetres are in a centimetre?”

Even if their answer is not a resounding “yes”, it will help jog their memory and encourage them to talk about what they actually did. Moreover, you could also look at what they have for homework to figure out what topics they’ve been learning about.


Concern 2: Parents are concerned that they can’t help teach their child

It’s fairly reasonable and common for parents to not have the time and/or ability to help their child with their school work. If your child is struggling with their school work though, it’s definitely worth communicating this with their teacher and working out a plan of attack. In many cases, parents will also need to help their child establish independent study routines at home and guide them into behaviours that will help them improve.

For instance, if a child is having difficulty completing their homework, their parent could help them make a timetable that would give them enough time each week to complete their homework. Moreover, they could tell their child to circle any questions they struggled with and write down a list of questions to ask their teacher. Some other strategies include taking your child to the library to borrow books on a regular basis, reciting times tables on the car ride, or playing word games with the family to expand your child’s vocabulary.


Concern 3: Parents are concerned about putting too much pressure on their child

This is a very valid concern, especially since formal tests are introduced for the first time in Year 3 (i.e., NAPLAN and the upcoming Opportunity Class Placement Test). At the same time though, parents shouldn’t let their concern limit their child’s potential. It’s all about finding a balance between promoting academic vigour and giving students room to make mistakes.

Parents can inspire Year 3 students to love learning and appreciate the importance of education without fixating on their exam scores. Performance in exams should be used as an indicator of their learning and areas of improvement, NOT the main goal of learning. Good performance should be celebrated and poorer performance should motivate the student to focus more on their weaker areas.

Year 3 student standing in front of a maze



How to achieve a smooth transition into Year 3

In summary, these are the most effective strategies that parents can use to help their child confidently transition into Year 3:


Strategy 1: Develop a timetable.

Make it clear when it is homework time, when it is playtime, when it is activity time, and when it is rest time. Be realistic. This will help your child learn to be disciplined, and still allow them enjoy all the good things in childhood. Feel free to deviate from the timetable as you find appropriate; making your child study while ill isn’t necessarily the best course of action, even if the timetable dictates it is.


Strategy 2: Make it a habit for your child to read.

Initially, you may only be able to encourage them to read things that they are interested in. However, as they grow more confident as a reader, you can slowly encourage them to explore wider areas.


Strategy 3: Talk to your child and listen to what they have to say.

Make sure they know you value what they say, and how they are feeling. If your child is not coping well with school, you’d want them to feel comfortable with sharing that with you. That’s the only way you will be able to help.


Strategy 4: Be prepared to face disappointments.

The fact that you’ve gone to the trouble to find this article already speaks volumes about how much you care for your child. When you are heavily invested in something, it can be especially disappointing when things don’t turn out the way you expected. Unfortunately, no one has a perfect school career. So, be prepared to accept that your child will face challenges along the way and that you will have to be there to support them through such times.


Strategy 5: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Your child’s teacher, other parents, friends with older children and your family including your child are some of the people who can give advice and be there for you if you are ever in doubt. Being a student in Year 3 isn’t easy, but neither is being a parent of one, so don’t dismiss your troubles — feel confident that you can get support from the people around you.

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