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Going to School

Grade-by-Grade Learning: Second Grade

What They Learn | How Kids Learn

What Kids Learn in Second Grade

2ndThe Basics
In second grade most children practice the skills learned in earlier grades and begin to use them with ease. Some children who were not completely ready to understand all the material introduced in first grade may now be ready to master it. Second graders apply what they learned about the meanings of letters and numbers to more complicated material, and begin to develop their analytical abilities even further.

Language & Literacy
By second grade, most students can read and write at a basic level. They tackle more and more texts in and out of the classroom as they work to become rapid and accurate readers.

Second-grade teachers put an emphasis on fluent reading (reading without stopping to figure out words) at each child’s own level. The more fluent children become at one level, the more likely they are to become fluent at the next. Children need to be able to read words at each level effortlessly before they’ll really comprehend what they read.

At this stage children also become better story writers as they learn to write basic sentences and short narratives about an event or a character. Children’s handwriting often becomes smaller and neater, and the cursive alphabet may be introduced. Second graders may experiment with different voices, writing some stories from a personal viewpoint, and others in the third person. They more frequently use the correct spelling of words that they know, and use punctuation more regularly.

Mathematics concepts become more complex in second grade. Children can order, group numbers, and work with numbers far greater than those they can physically count. They’ll have more practice with skills and concepts introduced in first grade, such as skip counting. They’ll learn to add and subtract two-digit numbers, and to understand the meaning of multiplication and division. Many teachers will introduce the first half of the “times table” up to the number five.

Second graders will be asked to use what they know to make predictions and find patterns in the natural world. They learn about the Earth and its natural resources, and how people use these resources to get energy. They look at how the Earth changes over time and how we learn about the history of the Earth through fossils. They may do a deeper study of the life cycles of plants and animals.

Social Studies
In second grade, children broaden their knowledge of the world. Students learn about the people and places of their local communities and regions, and compare them to other communities and regions.

Children may be given more responsibility to resolve conflicts with their classmates. They will be expected to have a deeper understanding of the importance of rules and their role in helping people get along.

How Kids Learn in Second Grade

2ndLearning from Experience
Second graders no longer rely solely on their life experiences to learn. Even so, they may have trouble imagining unfamiliar things. This means that a second grader who reads a story about a mountain can create a mental picture if she has seen a mountain in the past. But if she has no idea what a mountain looks like, she might have a difficult time figuring it out, even from a detailed written description.

Processing Information
Children at this age are better at processing information than they were just a year ago. They get riddles, puns, and sarcasm. They can build on the things they know to understand more about them, and to make connections to new concepts. If they’ve been fascinated with spiders in the past, now they can study details of a spider’s anatomy, and then compare it to a praying mantis.

Worries & Pressures
Second graders now begin to care more about how other people see them. They are more likely to worry, be self-critical, and show a lack of confidence in their abilities than they have in the past. The pressures of the peer group begin to take hold — second graders enjoy being considered part of “the group,” and dislike being singled out. They may be embarrassed by either praise or criticism that calls attention to them, especially in front of their friends.

  • DianaSoler

    Looking for a program for my child that he can be able to learn more in his reading . And math . Je will be goin to second grade but I don’t think he is ready for that . I need some help to get him help to get better in his reading .

    • adrianna

      I will ask my mom if she can help you with your child

  • LilyGomez

    I would recommend to take your son to the library more often and have him check out books of his interest. Then have him read the books to you out loud. Practice makes perfect. :)

  • Jessica Jacquet

    My wolf cut-out likes second grade math. He also likes second grade science. My zebra cut-out likes second grade curriculum. I am a twenty-six-year-old woman. I like second grade curriculum. I like second grade reading. My zebra cut-out likes second grade reading. I also like fifth grade math.

  • adrianna

    Well I know how to read because I am in first grade I use to be in kindergarten and I steel knew how to read in kindregarten

  • Cate

    Last year in first grade, my grandson was tested and could read at the 5th grade level. He could add, subtract, multiply and divide in the hundreds by the age of 4. He can now add and subtract in the millions. The school isn’t doing anything special for him. The local private school has a worse record than the public school. What do you recommend. He’s bored of course.

    • angelamontenegro

      I suggest finding a montessori school if you can. They learn at their own pace and encourage those who are ahead to challenge themselves. If that isn’t a possibility, meet with the principal and his teacher to work out extra work for him. If he’s as far ahead as you say, he should breeze through the usual assignments in minutes and then be tasked with a harder, extra-credit assignment. If the teacher isn’t willing to go that extra mile, then asked for a teacher who will. Usually they find kids like that a joy because they are like sponges.

      There’s also the option of getting a tutor who provides harder assignments for your child to do, or having him go to an online school where they go at their own pace. I know several children who do that and they do very well.

      Some schools have worked with Mensa to provide gifted children with harder assignments that challenge them. See if your local chapter has a program like that. If not, maybe they can recommend something.

    • cckb

      Find others who are also gifted. Be careful of advice from people who are not gifted. Look at programs for the gifted particularly over the summer months. You want to encourage creativity and analytical abilities and not learning skills alone. Find others who are gifted.

    • Al

      Khan Academy will help him with his math and have him bring a good book to school to read.

    • Christine Nguyen

      If his growth continues and this is a constant problem in future years, I suggest getting in contact with his teacher who may spearhead tests and meetings with the principal, and school psychologist to see if advancing to the next grade level would be advised. GATE programs don’t typically start until the third grade, but with the right recommendations, your grandson could skip to the next grade level and find better academic challenges that way. They typically will skip children along if the child is advanced in all subjects and can achieve all standards for said grade level to be skipped. They will also assess maturity and socializing skills.

      My experience is that I skipped a grade as a child and my son recently skipped a grade as well, this past school year.

  • Tonera Whitaker

    I used to love reading. I want to get back to that, and, I wish to pass it on to my “sun”.

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