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Reading & Language

Second and Third Grader Language Development Milestones

Girls reading in a libraryMost second and third graders are able to read independently. The more they practice, the more fluent they become. At this stage, your child begins to focus in depth on the meaning of what she reads, and she uses reading as a way to help her learn many new vocabulary words and concepts. Second and third graders use writing and talking to help them further develop their understanding of the books and the concepts they are exploring at school and in the world. Although second and third graders can do much on their own, parents can still help them to develop as readers and writers simply by reading aloud, talking with them about the books they read, helping to set up a homework routine, and communicating with teachers.

Your second or third grader is becoming a more fluent, efficient, and skilled reader. With lots of practice reading, he recognizes more and more words instantly, and he begins to read with expression that approaches normal speech. As they become more proficient readers, second and third graders are able to think about the deeper meanings in stories, learn new vocabulary words through reading, and gather new information from books. As writing becomes easier for them, they begin to use it as a way to clarify and extend their understanding of what they read. Likewise, they use discussion to make meaning out of what they read.

Even though second and third graders read and write independently, parents can still help them develop their abilities through regular, daily activities. You can extend the “school” experience at home by establishing good homework habits, helping with homework only when needed, and reading what your child has written. In addition, you can read and talk about books that are not part of homework assignments together and take trips to the library to find books your child likes to read. Learn more ways to help your child become a more fluent and independent reader and use writing as a way to understand what he reads and observes in the world around him.

How to Support Your Reader and Writer

  • Read aloud books that interest your child. When you choose read-aloud books that interest your child, he is more likely to listen well. When you finish one book, ask your child what he would like to listen to next. Try to include some different kinds of books&emdash;fiction, nonfiction and poetry&emdash;in your choices.
  • Help your child pick books at her reading level. Listen to your child reading a page aloud. If she reads smoothly and with understanding, the book is probably “just right.” If she struggles to read words or does not understand what she has read, try an easier book.
  • Talk to your child about the books you read. Talking about books you have read or information you found in the newspaper will help your child know that you value reading. Many children enjoy hearing about the books that their parents read when they were children.
  • Have your child fix her own spelling errors. Rather than telling your child how to spell words, encourage her to fix her own mistakes by sounding out the word or seeing if it “looks right.” Offer your child a list of words that she often misspells to use as a reference when she writes.
  • Help, but don’t do your child’s homework. If your child is stuck, ask questions that help her do her own work. Encourage her to talk to you about her ideas before she writes or to show you what she has done so far. If she frequently becomes frustrated, talk with her teacher.

Next: Learn how your child’s listening abilities.

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