MONTICELLO, Ill., (WCIA) — Classrooms are filled with students once again, and for some students, this year is an important one.

Brianna LaPlant, a third-grade teacher in Monticello, said third grade is a critical year for learning. She said it’s the year they “grow up.”

Current third-graders spent part of first-grade remote. Then, they wore masks most of second. 

With the abnormal learning structure during the pandemic, some students were knocked off track. LaPlant noticed some gaps that she said she’s never seen before. 

“Reading a passage might be a little bit more difficult if they don’t have those foundational sight word skills. They aren’t able to pull out what they’re familiar with, they kind of get stuck,” LaPlant said. “That just provides a challenge because you have to work at a little bit of a slower pace than what we’re used to.”

She said third grade is the year they build on foundational skills to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

LaPlant said teachers are working with other aides and specialists to help fill learning gaps. She said the more hands on deck the better because students need direct attention. 

She said they work in small groups if possible and encourages parents to read more with their children at home.