Let Me Give You a Piece of Advice
by John Pearson
Last year, during the last week of school, I asked my kids to practice their writing skills by answering a writing prompt each day. One of these prompts was, "What advice would you give to next year's 3rd graders?"
I asked the kids to think of some tips and hints that might help the then 2nd graders adapt and thrive. The responses that I received were thoughtful, amusing, and insightful.
The most common theme, present in nearly every paper, was the importance of doing the homework:
"Make sure you bring your homework or you will have to stand out all of your recess."
"You always have to do your homework or you will lose recess."
"Have fun and never get nervous in the third grade and always do your homework!"
While homework is required, certain other items were recognized as contraband –
"Also don't bring toys or food to class."
"Be very good because it makes teachers very upset if you bring toys."
One child stressed good sleep habits:
"Go to bed early so you don't miss the bus and come late. And it also helps you stay awake."
The kids talked about consequences:
"Some more advice would be is don't play in class or talk during class because Mr. Pearson will get mad and make you stand in the corner."
The kids talked about study habits:
"You will learn new stuff but you got to pay attention because some of this is tricky!"
The kids talked about daily procedures:
"In the 3rd grade you only use the restroom 2 times that's in the morning and after recess."
I had one little girl who was very specific in her advice:
"You also need to be practicing fractions because you will be tested in that. You could practice fractions by drawing shapes on a paper and make equal spaces and color them but sometimes you could be tricked by telling you what is the fractions of the UNSHADED parts or what is the SHADED parts so you also need to be practicing fractions all summer."
But my favorite writing sample of all comes from this little boy:
"I will give advice to second grade that are going to 3th grade. Keep up the good work and you will reach your goal and you will become a third grader. Next you will be in third grade like me and you will find what you are looking for."
So there you have it – some excellent words of wisdom directly from the pencils of real-life third graders. If only someone had told my kids this year they needed to bring a pencil to class every day!
John Pearson is a third-grade math and science teacher in Dallas, Texas. He has degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke University and Texas A&M, so most consider his math abilities adequate enough to teach nine-year olds. He is also the author of Learn Me Good (Lulu, 2006), a funny, fictionalized account of his first year in education. Read more at www.learnmegood.com