Third Grade is a Beast That I Cannot Kill {It Has Taken Over Our Lives and Everyone’s Crying}

I tried for a shorter title but nothing else worked. Basically, the world is ending in tears and brokenness and third grade is the reason.

I wanted to write something after the day / week I’ve had. I wanted to complain and laugh at my own pain. (As you do.) So, (only half-teasing) I asked our editors how they thought folks would relate to a profanity-ridden diatribe about third grade in general because I have *so* many thoughts. However, what started out as a semi-joke evolved into a serious conversation between some of our contributors about how the expectations of school, especially at this stage, are breaking us and our children.

Here are some snippets of that:


“The expectations are CRUSHING our smart, little girl.”

“She had THREE tests this week, other homework AND a project due … all while she’s preparing research for ANOTHER project. I had less work as a college student.”

“I hate school. I hate homework. I hate having to take a bath while calling out spelling words.”

“… as a former teacher, to see children loathe learning and parents pushed to the brink is the complete opposite of what we should want for them. The expectations are going to alter their affinity to learn and grow in the best way possible. I know there is pressure on educators to GET THOSE scores and GET THE JOB DONE … but at what expense? Our kids lose confidence, joy and families lose spending valuable time together.”

“The people writing standards are’t child psychologists and don’t understand the backlash. They’d say, “work harder.” In fact, kids need LESS work and LESS homework and MORE play. But someone who understands brain science and cognitive ability has to be in charge.”

“… her ADHD medication wears off RIGHT when she gets home. My child is JUMPING around the table and we’re trying to do the area of a parallelogram. Jesus.”

“Can you imagine those children that don’t have two college-educated parents working with them through this?”

“Children are absolutely prohibited from showing any signs of happiness during school. No twirling.”

“… as an educator, I hate what education has become.”

“… the expectations are INSANE. My child went from being on honor roll to being lucky if he makes a C (in third grade).”

Several of us are seeking / in therapy. 

Title suggestions (I’m so sorry for completely ignoring them in favor of a run-on sentence) for this post that were shared in that thread:

“How School is Ruining Families.”
“Dear Schools, We Are Getting It All Wrong.”
“@$&# Third Grade”
“Moms Against Schools.”
“School: Moms Hate You (Get Out of My Life).”

I share these thoughts because they’re all relatable. Those aren’t all my contributions but I get it. I’m living it. And I’m totally not alone (and neither are you). Let’s be clear, too that these women are all CAPABLE. We’re (I’m going to go ahead and include myself in this description) all working hard to GET IT DONE. There’s not a slacker or career complainer amongst us. We ALL find this hard. We’re ALL having trouble. We’re all asking the question, “Is this how it has to be?”

I just wanted to scream that into the void tonight.


I really wanted to go for the funny, witty rant, but this is REAL, y’all. We’re hurting. In my house, we get through the homework and study for the tests at the expense of almost literally EVERYTHING else. There are no after-school activities. There is homework / studying / projects. Full disclosure: Some evenings there isn’t time for a bath because there is math. The third grader is my oldest. My kindergartener is completely feral at this point. This type of pressure wasn’t meant to be managed by an 8 or 9 year-old. This far in, the question about whether or not I can affect change is muted by my efforts to merely keep up.

How about you?
Are your evenings filled with laughter and play after a family dinner at the table?
Do you smile when you think about the afternoon ahead?

^^ If that’s you, please unfriend me. I’m wallowing.

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.


  1. I experienced exactly the same thing when my daughter was in 3rd grade. I even researched studies about homework in elementary school and best practices. I printed out 10 scholarly articles that recommended against any more than 30 minutes of homework for 3rd graders and brought those articles to share with my daughter’s two teachers and principal. (She had about 2.5 to 3 hours of homework every night. One evening, she had 8 assignments, only one of which was to read 20 pages in her reading book and write a summary of them!) Talking to the teachers and principal was like talking to a wall. I got nowhere. My daughter was at a highly rated public school and all I could do was help her get through her years there. Middle school was a breeze after that. A few years later, I ran into that principal and she said, “Aren’t you glad now that we did so much to prepare her?” I told her I still thought it was wrong to to overload young children with homework. My daughter missed out on enjoying part of her childhood, and I am still angry about it!

  2. As a Mimi with a daughter working at a hospital when my granddaughter started 3rd grade I took over the homework responsibilities. After 2 days I was like OMG – what have I gotten myself into? I will not lie, there were a few meltdowns during math, while trying to navigate Google classrooms. I had printed copies of everything curriculum related on the LDOE website. I went to a teacher pays teachers website to order worksheets for reimbursement. At the end of the experience, my husband and I, who are both college educated decided we were dumber than a 3rd grader!

  3. This absurd!!! My kid is a third grader is at Mandeville Elementary and it is NOTHING like this. None of us have time for that! They’re already in school for 7 hours a day!!! Kids need to be kids after school. SMH


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