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This year my oldest is a third grader and it’s really blowing my mind!
Third grade in many states is a gate year–in other words, their scores on state tests matter.
As an educator myself, I know that in order to prepare my children for the world, education has to take place at home as well as in the classroom.
An 8-year-old child, typically in third grade, will continue to develop more complex language skills, their reading skills (should) become more sophisticated. They are beginning to understand jokes and puns and start verbally expressing a sense of humor.
Peer acceptance also begins to make an appearance. They are beginning to navigate who they are are where they are accepted.
As your third grader is transitioning to the upper grades, it is crucial for them to learn, practice, and master basic skills. Once they master the basic skills, they can learn to develop more complex skills that will help them though life and the higher grades.
This is the time to foster all the stages of their development. One of the ways you can do that is through books.
Reading together takes the pressure off your child if they don’t like to read.
Here are a few educational books for your 3rd grader that will help teach both life skills and basic subjects:
A classic book that teaches children the magic of friendship. Charlotte’s Web is a beautiful story about love, loss and renewal.
**Bonus tip** After reading the book, watch the movie and compare the book and movie (a quick and easy way to teach your child to analyze details as well as comparing and contrasting). Also try comparing the cartoon version vs the live action version.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
This book is perfect for children who have a hard time staying focused while they read. The transition between words and pictures keeps kids engaged from the beginning until the end. And if your third grader loves this book, there are many more in the series to keep them entertained!
Human Body Activity Book
This activity book makes it easy and fun for kids to learn about the human body. The book features cool facts and gives an exploration of the body with 30 pages of hands-on experiments and activities that will encourage learning.
Big Third Grade Workbook
This is a huge workbook for children that parents can walk through with them. It has multiple different activities to help children learn, have fun, and be creative. Think of it more as a review for third grade, but children can still use it to learn other great facts.
**Bonus tip** At the end of the school year, purchase the 4th grade workbook and start working on some 4th grade skills over the summer to keep your child’s mind fresh.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match
Marisol marches to beat of her own drum. She wears polka dots and stripes and she gets teased for not being like everyone else, but she stays true to herself. This book is a perfect segue to talking to your third grader about peer pressure and what it means to stand out.
Kindness Snippet Jar
A fun way to teach kids about bringing kindness to the world. After reading the book, your third grader will love making their own snippet jar which can be used to practice kindness each day.
**Bonus** If you are a teacher or a school counselor, you can easily take the story and turn into a lesson plan/activity!
Rad American Women A-Z
This book features brave woman who stood up for themselves and others facing oppression and discrimination. Perfect for adding diversity to your bookshelf!
The Way Things Work Now
This is an interesting book that will teach children how different things work. Information on how windmills, Wi-Fi, jets, various inventions and other technology items work and allow us to use them.
Introducing North America (Continents Series)
Children will get an introduction to what makes each country different from one another. In this particular book, children will learn about North America. Each country has its own book in the series and teach about the country’s climate, geography, cities, famous places, language, and much more.
**Bonus tip** If your child stumbles upon a word they don’t know, look it up and expand their vocabulary! My dad did this to me as a child and I HATED it. But, to this day, I still remember the meaning of the word indignant because it was one he made me look up.
Are you looking for some character education books for your elementary kids? Click here.
Have curly haired kids? Check out this book list.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.This means that I receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something through the links on this page.
It’s never too early to start teaching your child character education.
As an 11 year school counselor, character education is a huge part of what I do everyday whether indirectly through conversations with my students or directly through classroom guidance lessons.
After 7 years as a middle school counselor, I have returned to elementary school. It’s so exciting to shift gears and also be on the same schedule with my elementary aged children.
One of the things I love about working with elementary aged children is that they are little sponges and (most of the time) they are eager to please.
When I come to their classrooms, they are excited to see me and excited to learn.
When we talk about being kind to each other and appreciating differences, they genuinely want to learn more, even if that hasn’t been modeled for them at home.
It’s so important to instill good character sooner than later–even if you start with simple conversations.
If you don’t know where to start, then use books to guide your conversations.
Here are a few of my favorite character education books that are perfect for early elementary aged children:
Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess
Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess is another great addition to the Llama Llama installment. Llama Llama ignores his mother when she tells him it is time to clean up.
He ignores his mother, but she has a creative way of getting him to take responsibility for his actions.
This story was perfect for my children because they often whine about cleaning up, even when I talk to them about being responsible for their areas.
This book had such a great message that I took it to school to share with my elementary aged students.
All 3 of my children love these books because of the graphics and the story. As a mom, I love the Llama Llama collection because it teaches important lessons in a fun and practical way.
Real MVP Kids Books
I cannot say enough good things about these books.
From the diversity in language, disabilities, culture, race & family dynamics, these books not only teach character education, but also give kids the tools to solve real life problems. The books follow MVP kids characters from toddlers to adolescents.
The books also offer extended guidance to parents and caretakers and have talking points at the end of each book. They are also a great tool for educators and the classroom!
Every child can relate to wanting something that other children have, and sometimes not getting it.
In this story, Jeremy wants a pair of shoes that everyone else at school has. He finds a pair at a thrift shop and gets them even though they are the wrong size.
This book touches on so many great lessons, and as a mom with a son and daughters, I love that the main character is a brown boy.
It’s the perfect book to help you discuss wants vs needs, empathy and kindness with your children.
Need help finding more age appropriate books for your kids? Head over to my Amazon Shop for a list!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.This means that I receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links on this page.
Becoming a mother to 3 biracial children is one of my greatest accomplishments.
In many cases, having brown skin leads to a tougher life in this country. There are a few things I want to teach my kids to help them be prepared for a world that often looks at the outside first.
Brown Skin is Beautiful
The beauty industry has come a long way, but I can remember when there were only 4 or 5 supermodels with brown skin to a handful of white ones.
I remember being sent makeup samples in the mail with only the lightest tones.
I also remember wanting long straight hair and hating mine because I didn’t see anyone else on t.v or in print that looked like me.
Thankfully times have changed and now there are so many beautifully positive representations of brown skin and curly hair for my children to aspire to be like.
I want them to know that they need to love who they are, and not wish to be someone other than who they are. I also want them to know that the world’s standard of beauty is so fickle, and often changes with time.
They Can Choose How They Want to Identify
One of the greatest debates about biracial children is how they should identify.
If they look black, and the world sees them as black, should they identify as black?
If they are “white passing” does that mean they shouldn’t identify as biracial?
Should they identify as multiracial because everyone is actually mixed with something?
I would hope that my children would identify as biracial or multiracial because they are a beautiful combination of their white dad and their black (Jamaican lineage) mom.
No matter how they appear to others, I want them to know that they can choose their own identities. Just because they may not look like what people expect them to, does not mean that they have to accept the labels that others give them.
Brown Skin Needs Sunscreen
There is a common misconception that brown skin does not need sunscreen. So many people comment that my kids are lucky to have a beautiful tan.
Melanin is the dark brown pigment that gives skin its color. The more melanin in the skin, the more protection it has against sun damage.
People with medium or dark complexions naturally have more protection than do people with lighter complexions, but they still can experience sun damage.
So no matter the skin tone, I’ll be teaching my kids to wear sunscreen.
Brown Skin is a Target for Discrimination
Thankfully this isn’t always the case, but in many scenarios it is. And sometimes people make insensitive comments without thinking. And when you call them out on their statements, they get offended and tell you they aren’t racist.
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. Thankfully, I was raised on an Air Force Base, so I was constantly surrounded by diverse cultures and languages. I was rarely a target of discrimination, but the times that I was have stuck out in my mind.
The feeling of being discriminated against is not one that you can forget easily.
When my husband and I were dating, he was once asked why he couldn’t find someone white to be with.
After I moved to Georgia, I was stopped by a police officer and he screamed at me for having a Georgia license and a South Carolina license plate.
I want my children to know about these experiences so they can be prepared if it happens to them.
I pray that it doesn’t, but it’s my job as a parent to prepare my children for the world. It isn’t fair that we are still fighting a battle to be treated equally, but it’s important that we know what we are up against.
I have been happily married to my white husband for 10 years this December. Being married to him does not make me less black.
I love him because we have so many things in common, and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We share many of the same beliefs and life goals. I believe that we were created for each other.
He happens to be my white husband and I just happen to be his black wife.
I remember when some of my black associates and girlfriends found out that I was dating someone white. They were afraid to use the description of white person in front of me.
It was an awkward transition, trying to explain to them that I was the same person, and using a race related descriptor could still be used.
After we got married, it wasn’t so awkward anymore, I guess because our relationship status became permanent.
They also made assumptions about my hobbies and interests. That they would suddenly change because of my white husband.
If my hobbies and interests have changed, it’s because I have evolved as a person, not because of his whiteness.
And interests really can supersede race.
I am a believer that culture and experience can shape a person’s world much more than race can.
When I meet people for the first time and I am talking about my family, I don’t describe them in terms of race (white husband, biracial children). Because it often has nothing to do with who they are as people.
But when people see them for the first time, especially my black peers, sometimes I sense a change in how I am treated. I’ve been told that I don’t understand “the struggle” as much, or that I’m lucky that my children won’t face discrimination because they are light skinned.
Although I understand my husband’s privileged, it is not automatically transferred to me.
And my children are not lucky, because despite the discrimination that does come with brown skin, I don’t see brown skin as a curse.
We just have to work harder at explaining hard things to them, like the importance of Black History Month, Black Lives Matter & why people are upset about a black little mermaid.
And if we’re really being honest, shouldn’t these kinds of conversations be happening in every household, not just the multiracial ones??
When I was younger, opening the door to conversations about my family use to make me nervous. I hated when black people asked me what it was like being married to a white man, or when strangers asked what my kids were mixed with.
Now, I take these conversations with stride. If I feel like entertaining invasive questions with an answer, then I answers already prepared in my head. (If you need help coming up with some answers, check out what I say here.)
And If I don’t feel like answering them, then I don’t. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my choices–and frankly, neither do you.
Even if the questions come from family members, acquaintances or church members.
So don’t get it twisted…..even though I have a white husband, I can promise you that I’m still black. I still love watching Coming to America and I’ll still rock an afro.
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**
Back to school shopping is no fun when you are an adult.
Fighting with the crowds, leaving the store without an item (or two) from the school supply list and spending more money than you anticipated makes the experience miserable.
This year I enter my 11th year as a school counselor and I have 2 school aged children.
I’ll admit that even though I’ve been in education for awhile, it was a whole different story when my kids started school.
While I was offering suggestions to parents about their children, I never thought about taking my own advice!
Here are a few simple tips I’ve learned that will make your back to school shopping experience easy (and not miserable!)
Download the back to school shopping list early
Most schools require their staff to make a list of needed supplies at the end of the school year so it will be ready to go by Open House. Check out the school’s website for an updated list for the school year at the end of the year (and if it’s not available you can check periodically throughout the summer).
When you know what’s on the list before everyone else, you can do your back to school shopping at your leisure during the summer and put all the items away until it’s time to go back to school!
Insider School Counselor Hack: You can also just look at the list from the previous year. Not much will change and you can get the bulk of your shopping done early!
Take Advantage of Sales & Buy Clothes During the Summer
I have 3 kids, so shopping sales gives me more bang for my buck.
I also use to work retail, so I know that all prices eventually come down. I’m that girl that sees an outfit I love and will watch it until it’s the price I want. There’s no shame in holding on to as many of your coins as possible!
Since Amazon Prime now includes a pantry, I often order snacks for my family in bulk.
This is especially convenient for back to school shopping because while everyone else it out shopping, I wait for my boxes patiently at my doorstep. Win, win!
And Amazon has near 100 school supply items under $5!
If you are looking for items for your multiracial family, let me help! I’ve got a store front with organized categories WITH YOU IN MIND. Check it out here.
Wait Two Weeks Before School Before Buying New Shoes
When my daughter was in PreK, I found several good sales and I stocked up on shoes.
Sounds like a smart thing to do right?
My daughter was going through a rapid growth spurt, so she only got the wear the new shoes for a couple of months before I had to buy new ones. Sometimes growth spurts are unpredictable, so make sure to do your back to school shoe shopping closer to when school actually starts to avoid having to buy new shoes again so soon.
If you have more than 1 child, check out stores that offer buy one get one 50% off.
Stock Up on Teacher Wish List Items
Why do teachers ask for so many items? Well, some of their students cannot afford the necessary items, let alone the wish list items. Good teachers will not let their students be without, so those items come from their personal pockets.
We all know that being a teacher is a commendable job, but the pay doesn’t reflect the amount of work they put into their students and classrooms. When you gift your child’s teacher with wish list items throughout the year, you are investing in your child’s classroom experience.
Simple things like having extra tissue ensures that kids have what they need while at school and are spending less time outside of class to ask another teacher for an item that their teacher doesn’t have.
Insider School Counselor Hack: Stock up on toiletry items (tissue, hand sanitizer, etc) and keep in a well known location in your home. Send the items throughout the year instead of having to buy them over and over. If you have elementary children, buy your child’s teacher a book or two to add to the class collection. Then volunteer to read the book! Find a book that is diverse in nature.