Matt Reimer says every year, the first day back at school is always the same.

"You wake up a little bit nervous with butterflies in your stomach and you come in," he said Wednesday. "There's always a bit of a nervous energy around the school."

But Reimer isn't a student. He teaches grade three at Oakenwald Elementary School in Fort Garry, in the Pembina Trails School Division.

He said the students are nervous, too, but as soon as they hang up their backpacks, they are ready to go.

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Matt Reimer teaches grade three at Oakenwald Elementary School and said Monday changes to the math curriculum will be a special challenge this year. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC )

"Seeing those kids come in, smiling and ready to learn, and the first day they're always very quiet sitting at their desks." he said.

Reimer said kids in grade three are have a lot on the go.

"There's a lot of social things that are happening, the socialization is still happening," he said. "They're sort of testing their boundaries a little bit and trying to find out who they are as people."

He said change is also in the wind for math in particular, as the province puts greater emphasis on basic skills, including memorizing multiplication tables. Reimer said that means a mixture of old and new ways of teaching math, but he did have to go looking for the flash cards.

"I blew the dust off them," he laughed. "They were sitting in the math cupboard. But you know what, we have lots of new things in the classroom that make it a lot easier, with technology (like) the smart board in the classroom and computers in the school," he said.

Reimer said the changes to the math curriculum will be a challenge this year but he's looking forward to it.

"The basic facts are important this year, and we're going to make sure that they have those basic facts by the end of the year."