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Second grade: What your child should know

Keep tabs on your second-grader's development with this handy checklist.

By GreatSchools Staff

No two kids are alike, especially when it comes to hitting developmental benchmarks. But it helps to have a rough idea of which academic and social skills your child should acquire at his or her grade level. Learn more about the second-grade classroom in these subject areas: reading, writing, language arts, math, science, technology, social studies, art, music, and physical education. Or check your state's academic standards to find out what students are required to learn.

By the end of the year, you can expect your child to:

  • Begin to reason and concentrate
  • Improve his ability to process information
  • Improve her focus on a specific task
  • Work cooperatively with a partner or small group
  • Understand the difference between right and wrong
  • Make connections between concepts so he will be better able to compare and contrast ideas
  • Expand his vocabulary
  • Correctly use irregular verbs
  • Read fluently with expression
  • Ask and answer who, what, where, when, why, and how questions about a piece of reading
  • Revise and edit a piece of writing
  • Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives
  • Recognize most irregularly spelled words such as because and upon
  • Begin to use a dictionary
  • Do mental math for single-digit addition and subtraction problems
  • Add single- and multi-digit numbers with regrouping
  • Demonstrate an understanding of place value
  • Tell time to the nearest five minutes, using AM and PM
  • Know the basic concept of multiplication (for example, 2 x 3 is two rows of three and 600 is six 100s)

Comments from readers

"math and i am a student that is in the 2nd grade "
"My second grader has met most of the expectations and I hope he continues to excel beyond expectation."
"I have a 2nd grader and I am concerned the skills they are being taught are not rigorous enough. She is in a 2/3 grade combo class which I am also a little concerned about. Also the 'homework' is alarming to me. A single page of activities was sent home for the month to complete. No worksheets, nothing turned in for review. And the spelling list for a weekly test consists of just five words for the 2nd graders and 5 different words for the 3rd graders. My student could easily learn the '3rd grade words' but isn't tested on them. I am freaking out a little. At home I challenge her with work she can do but she'll refuse because they haven't covered that yet in class. It's very hard to get a kid to do something as an assignment from a parent if the expectation isn't as high at school. It is the job of the educators and the parents together to make sure each student is being challenged at their level. So I don't buy the statement that the benchmark should be set at the lowest common denominator for the whole class. Ridiculous. If we do this even our brightest kids won't be ready for higher education. I don't want my kid taking a year of remedial classes in college because they weren't prepared in K-12. And yes I do get involved in the school and volunteer to support my child and others. We are even thinking of switching schools if not for this year, next year to a school with a dedicated 3rd grade classroom. "
"As a women chemical engineer, I work in a male-dominated field and am sensitive to gender references in documentation and spoken word. Despite the fact that my child is a boy, I am frustrated when writers (and speakers) exclude one gender in their message. I regularly hear the argument that the male gender is used generically. If that is the case, then why don't we ever see the feminine gender used? That, of course, is a rhetorical question. In trying to make this point to my male colleagues a few years ago, I gave a presentation that included a documentation package. In both, without saying a word, I used only feminine gender - they got the message loud and clear, their comments being that they had never realized how the choice of gender affects the listener/reader. In this case, they told me that the seemingly inconsequential changes made them feel left out! The use of a single gender leaves out half of the population. A site such as Great Schools should be leading the way in eliminating gender bias, including and perhaps starting with the documentation that is published on your website. It is very easy to be inclusive with the two most common approaches being the inclusion of both genders at every reference (i.e. him/her) or alternating gender references (i.e. every other reference is female). I will look forward to seeing us all working to un-bias education and the materials in which we communicate. By the way, this is a helpful article for parents of BOTH boys and girls! Thank you for providing valuable information in a concise fashion - it makes it easy for busy parents to quickly receive important and helpful information. "
"wow i love the comment left by the teacher. so true people dont think befor they type you guys do alot as teacher's but i was also taught that train starts at home. "
"Folks who commented previously...I'm a 2nd grade teacher and I don't think any of these skills are too far below considering most of us teachers have 25+ students in a classroom. Sure, when you home school and have 1 or 2 or even 3 kids they exceed these standards by far. Give me 1 to 3 kids any day and I'll have them reading college level! Please don't criticize these standards and what we're expecting of children...the standard has to be set somewhere so that we can ensure that ALL students are learning. Those of us who are really great will push and challenge the kiddos who are already meeting and exceeding to go to higher levels; and we'll still get our other students to meet the standards. Please think about what you're saying before you pre-judge teachers and education. And if you really think this isn't right, I dare you to become a teacher. Better yet, I dare you to become a teacher in a high needs population...and when you're just as successful with a group of 25 ch! ildren all at varying levels -- well then you can possibly criticize."
"Gosh my son is homeschooled and is going to go to public school this year in 2nd grade, he already knows his multiplication up to the 12's and his division...and reads 200 page books, didn't know school was so behind like this."
"if your 2nd grader can't work together in a group, reason, or better yet know right from wrong.. well then there's an issue there don't you think. Of course it's expected for them to expand their vocab... as it is all the way thru school... to answer the question about curisive... most schools i'm finding out wait till 3rd grade... the other question about your child's handwritting not being up to par so to speak... leap frog is the BEST FOR THAT!!!!"
"My students are expected to know the above by First Grade."
"Regarding art and creativity what should be a second graders development goal to reach?"
"WOW! Is this all that we are expecting of our 2nd graders? If so, the future of this country is in trouble. Why is this acceptable to anyone? "
"Were does cursive writing and money come into play/ I thought it was 2nd grade, as most schools are writing in cursive in 3rd grade?"
"MY little boy is in second grade. And hes having alot of trouble whith his writing skills. How could i improve them?"