Your second grader and writing
With some practice and confidence, second graders can become independent scribes.
By GreatSchools Staff
Second graders should practice writing every day, learning to write in many genres. They’ll write book reviews, journal entries, letters, poems, short stories, reports, and even responses to word problems in math. In second grade, children should begin to develop more independence as writers and be able to express their ideas creatively and effectively.
What will my second grader learn about writing?
Students’ stories should make sense and feature characters, setting, and events that occur in order, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Kids should get to write stories in both the first person ("I") and third person ("he," "she," "it," and "they") and should know how to write a paragraph using a topic sentence and supporting details.
Second graders should continue to explore the writing topics introduced in first grade, using a process that includes the following steps:
- Discussing ideas before writing
This process can help your child with the organization and thinking required to write well. Over time, kids should become more aware of their audience and more sure of their own goals in writing. They should understand the role of different genres of writing and know that a report’s purpose is to inform readers about a topic, while a story’s purpose is often to entertain or encourage deeper thinking.
Parents can talk to their children about writing’s many roles when they encounter it over the course of their day. Recipes, magazines in the grocery store check-out aisle, programs at plays — all of these could be opportunities to discuss how we use writing.
What will my second grader learn about spelling?
Second-grade teachers will reinforce spelling lessons by emphasizing the words that appear in the books students read, while kids continue to learn common spelling patterns and recognize frequently used words in their own reading.
Weekly spelling lists
Typically, second graders bring home weekly spelling lists they’ll later be tested on. These lists might include word families or groups of words with a common feature or pattern. For example, words with a long e sound, spelled using ea, ee, or ie. The lists sometimes contain “challenge words” too, which are more difficult to spell, or words related to a theme, season, or holiday. Teachers often ask their students to write sentences and stories using the featured spelling words.
Karen Heath, a Vermont Teacher of the Year, thinks families should go the extra mile to help second-grade students learn spelling at home. “Ask your teacher for lists of words to work on each week,” she suggests.
Second graders might still use “invented spelling” and spell difficult words the way they sound. When children use invented spelling, they’re demonstrating their knowledge of the sounds letters make, and research shows that letting children use invented spelling allows them to focus on communication. Later, as they learn the rules of spelling, they’ll begin to make the transition to conventional spelling.
Using a dictionary
Second graders learn to use a dictionary to find the correct spelling of words. They may also have personal spelling dictionaries in which they enter words they are learning to spell. By the end of second grade, your child will have learned to spell:
- Words with short and long vowel sounds, such as bread and dough
- Words with an r after a vowel like turn
- Words with consonant blend patterns like the cl blend in clay and clam
- Frequently used words such as was, were, says, and which
- Words in which the consonant is doubled when the tense changes, such as stop becoming stopped and stopping
- Words that drop the final e when adding an ending, as with use becoming usable
- Words in which the y changes to i when adding an ending, such as easy becoming easily