Your second grader and social studies

Second graders dive into history by reading biographies of U.S. leaders and luminaries.

By GreatSchools Staff

Who recalls the dates of the Byzantine Empire? Or that the Ohlone Indians spoke one of the Utian languages? Details from social studies are easy to forget once we graduate to the real world. Still, such primers in history, geography, politics, and anthropology are crucial to our children's education.

How do you know if your child’s social studies curriculum stacks up? Check out our grade-by-grade milestones to understand your state and national standards.

In the classroom

Civic lessons are central to social studies, and, according to award-winning teacher Jane Ann Robertson, decision-making skills should be part of all second-graders' education. "The primary purpose of social studies in the elementary classroom," she says, "is to help young students develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public as citizens of a democratic society."

Second-graders learn to compare their own lives with the lives of parents, grandparents, and famous historical figures. Students might also learn about their ancestors' immigration to the United States and the countries they left behind.

Second-graders might be asked to:

An integral curriculum

Social studies covers history, geography, economics, and civics, and your second-grader's curriculum will likely focus on a theme that integrates these disparate subject areas and allows your child to develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills. One example: the study of farming. By looking at the workings of a farm, second-graders can learn about managing natural resources, how individuals and businesses contribute to a community, how farmers shaped U.S. history and culture, and the geography of different regions, among other topics.

What you can expect your second-grader to do or learn:

What to look for when visiting your child's classroom: