Year 3 English: what your child learns

Girl reading at her desk
Your guide to what your child will be taught in English lessons in Year 3 as they move into KS2.

Literacy is still a daily lesson in year 3, made up of:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening

Topics the children may cover include:

  • Myths and legends
  • Adventure and mystery
  • Plays and dialogue
  • Poems to perform
  • Shape poems
  • Non-fiction: reports, instructions, information texts

Reading in Year 3 – your child will be:

  • Reading new words independently
  • Reading longer and unfamiliar passages independently
  • Understanding themes, plots and story ideas
  • Making predictions
  • Identifying the features of different types of texts, particularly in non-fiction
  • Developing reading preferences and explaining why they like certain books
  • Empathising with characters

Most children will be reading around 300 of the most frequent words, and this increases rapidly throughout the year, as a result of their phonic skills. Not all children are confident readers by year 3 however, and it’s important that these children stay motivated. Wanting to read is an important part of being able to read, so reading aloud to your child is crucial, as it allows them to enjoy books beyond their own reading level.

Try this at home:

  • Keep reading together: even if your child is fluent, you can share stories and talk about themes
  • Branch out – children develop favourite authors or themes at this age, but it’s good to broaden their choices by offering alternatives. Ask at your local library for ideas for new authors to try
  • Word puzzles can be fun – encourage them to try a simple wordsearch

Writing in Year 3 – your child will be:

  • Beginning to use paragraphs
  • Using verbs, nouns and adjectives
  • Beginning to use speech marks and exclamation marks
  • Writing events in sequence
  • Using connecting words such as ‘if’, ‘so’ and ‘but’
  • Practising handwriting, making sure size and spacing is consistent
  • Using a keyboard to type and edit

As the children develop their writing skills, they’re encouraged to plan their work, thinking about beginnings and endings. Their spelling and vocabulary are expanding, and this feeds into their written work, as they use more imaginative words, characters and dialogue. They still use familiar stories as a basis for their work, as well as drawing on their own experiences.

Try this at home:

  • Play ‘hangman’ – it’s a simple game but it reinforces spelling and letters
  • Let your child send an email or help them find a penpal – typing a letter to a friend or relative is good spelling and keyboard practice
  • Make up stories together – gather together some favourite toys and make up an adventure for them (put your child in the story, too)

Speaking and listening in Year 3 – your child will be:

  • Practising performance skills with stories and poems
  • Beginning and sustaining conversations
  • Contributing to group discussions and giving their opinions
  • Discussing performances by other people
  • Presenting information clearly and carefully

The children will be working on developing their confidence as speakers, and also on their awareness of an audience.

Try this at home:

  • Play guessing games: ‘20 questions’ is a good one for encouraging your child to ask questions
  • When they’ve watched a film, ask your child to explain the story, and tell you what they thought of it
  • When you listen to your child read, encourage them to try funny voices for different characters

If you want to consolidate your child's learning at home, try our Year 3 English worksheets for spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting practice. 

Check your Y3 child's progress in English with our free Y3 English Progress checks, three mini-tests for the autumn, spring and summer terms.