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What to expect in second grade

Learn about what to expect for your child in second grade.

By Miriam Myers

In your child's classroom

In second grade your child will make considerable leaps in reading, writing and math skills. She will use new vocabulary, orally and in writing. By the end of the year your child should be reading fluently. Work will become more challenging, and the amount of homework will increase. To support your child, set up a library at home with books and magazines at different reading levels and genres. Read plays aloud with your child to build fluency and expression.

In math your child will solve addition and subtraction word- problems, tell time to the quarter-hour, learn about place value in three-digit numbers and work with measurement. To practice these skills at home have your child write an addition word-problem about how many books he read over a period of time or on another topic. Donna Adkins, our teacher consultant, explains: "Measurement can be an abstract concept, thus making it difficult for your child to understand. One way to help your child understand measurement is to make it 'real life.' Parents can accomplish this by cooking with their child. When following a recipe, have your child read the ingredients out loud. Have a variety of measuring tools available such as cups and spoons. Let your child choose the correct tool and explain why it is applicable."

In second grade, your child may want things to be perfect. He may pout if he makes a handwriting mistake. He may not want to expand on his writing if he doesn't know how to spell everything correctly. For this reason it is important to encourage him when he makes a mistake and explain that everyone makes them.

You can use the summer before second grade to teach your child responsibility for some simple chores. Donna Adkins, our teacher consultant explains: "The attitude that one responsibility fits all kids doesn't work well. Some are more or less mature than other children their age. You know your child best. Choose a simple chore that that he can do without feeling overwhelmed. Start small and build. To raise a responsible child, responsibility must be cultivated early and continually."

Adkins adds: "Teaching your child independence is one of the most important jobs a parent has. One way to accomplish this is to develop daily routines that a child can follow. If he knows that every morning when she gets up, she follows a particular routine for getting ready, then she can soon do it herself. In the evening, if your child knows the bedtime routine is to take a bath, brush teeth, read a story and get into bed, then not only is it easier to get her into bed, it is easier for the child to do it independently."

Each child passes through a range of social, academic and developmental stages at his own pace. Below are some guidelines for what to look forward to in the year ahead.

Physical and social skills you can expect of your second grader:

  • Begin to reason and concentrate
  • Have a better ability to process information
  • Work cooperatively with a partner or small group
  • Understand the difference between right and wrong
  • Make connections between concepts so she will be better able to compare and contrast ideas

Academic skills you can expect of your second grader:

  • Expand his vocabulary
  • Read fluently with expression
  • Recognize most irregularly-spelled words such as because and upon
  • Begin to use a dictionary
  • Add single and multi-digit numbers with regrouping
  • Tell time to the quarter-hour
  • Know the concept of multiplication, such as 2x3 is represented by two rows of three objects.

Learn more about where your child should be at the end of first grade.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/11/2011:
"We just moved here from Antioch/Brentwood area and I was wondering where and when to I need yo enroll my daughter in school? How do you pick a school? When you find the one in your area how do you get ahold of them? We are thinking The Cameron Academy, what are the costs, rules, dress code and when? Thanks "
11/5/2009:
"thank you"
06/12/2009:
"We are moving to Franklin School Dst in Burlingame CA. Can you tell me the situation on books as my children have been in a private school up until now. It would be a great help to them if I could purchase some over the summer. They have spent a year in Ireland. My girl goes into 2nd grd and my boy goes into 4th grd. Thank you for your help. Your website is great. "
06/10/2009:
"I think this site is great,i'm a single mom and it sometimes gets very hard to keep up with everything going on in the schools. Your site has helped me somemuch, even when i'm just looking for something simple like new books for my soon to be second grader. I am very appreciative that someone thought to make such a site for parents to be more involved. Thank you D. Kimble"
06/10/2009:
"I have a student who is going into 2nd grade but did poor in first grade. I am working with him this summer. What is the best thing to help him out?"
06/10/2009:
"Great service and information. Please email word lists, etc."
05/21/2009:
"I also would like the Spelling list and sight word list for second grade. "
05/21/2009:
"My daughter is japanese, she did born on abril 6th 2001, in japan children whom did born before april 4th can start first grade since there are 6th y.o., so as she did born 2 days later, she loose one school year and she started from 7y.o. Now she is 2nd grade in a japanese school in japan, as we are going to move to florida this summer, and start school there, I am worry if she has to start 2nd grade again, it means she will be 9y.o. when clasmates are betwen 7 and 8y.o., she is psicologically mature, so I feel she is loosing not only time, also skills delaying her education, last december she joinned an american school in florida for 2 weeks, In this class teacher keep children colored circles, recognize animals, etc...(american-First grade) when in japan she already did additions with 1,2 or 3 numbers..... I am worry same thing will happen again....please advise me What to do, Thanks, Ana Maria "
04/2/2009:
"If you can send me what I have to be more concern in the 2nd grade level it will be really appreicated. My daughter already in 1st grade honour class and they meet so much more from the other 1st graders and she is now level M reader too. If I know somethings more than that it would be nice. Thanks."
12/3/2008:
"Knowing what's expected when my child enters second grade goes a long way to helping me know what I can do at home to help prepare her for the next school year. Although she is still 9 months from even going into second grade, I will be able to give her exercises now that will prepare her and make transititioning less scary."
08/19/2008:
"knowing in advance what our kids are going to do in the whole school year helps a lot. It mostly helps in knowing what to expect from them during the whole year as well as how to help these little minds in grasping the whole idea. Thanks Greatschool keep it up. Garima"
07/14/2008:
"I also would like the spelling and sight words for second grade. I would like them for the forth grade also. Much Appreciation for your site. "
07/7/2008:
"Could you please send me a second grade spelling and sight word list??I'd like to work on that during the summer months.Thanks"
06/3/2008:
"Can you Please send me a spelling and sight words list for second graders I would like to practice with my son during the summer on his reading (spelling and sight words lists). Also some samples of math problems ... Do second graders need to know multiplication or division or fractions??"
06/3/2008:
"My son is an excellent reader. He is a rising 2nd grader. He tested on a 2.5 level, which means second grade 5th month. He has great phenetic skills and is not afraid to read challenging books and will sound out hard words. He reads his sisters books that she's outgrown as she is in 7th grade. This is why its so frustrating for him when it comes to math. He is struggling with math to the point where he can't even add simple problems like 2+2. He will pause and count his fingers. He gets frustraged and shuts down when he can't figure it out. He is not grasping the fundamentals of adding or subtracting. I don't know what to do to help him. Please help me."
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