This year, your second grader’s language skills will grow exponentially. Simple sentences grow into compound sentences and descriptive words take your child’s writing to the next level. Young writers are expected to use information from “provided sources” to answer questions and to conduct “shared research and writing projects.”
So long, “invented spelling”?
All that sounding-it-out practice is about to pay off! After years of rhyming and practicing high-frequency and sight words, your child has learned a lot more than you may realize about the rules of spelling. This year she’ll show you exactly what she’s learned.
Gone, for the most part, are the phonetic spellings with missing vowels between consonants — “ct” for cat and “becs” for because, for example — that characterize “invented spelling.” Instead, your child will learn to correctly use and spell irregular plural nouns (e.g. mice and feet) and the past tense of irregular verbs (e.g. hid, sat, told). She will begin to understand the concept of root words and how a word’s meaning can be modified by adding a prefix (e.g. happy/unhappy) or suffix (e.g. clear/clearly) and how words can be combined to create compound words (e.g. lamppost and playground).
Now when your second grader is confronted with a new word, in addition to using root words and context to figure out what it means, expect your child to look it up! This year, both dictionaries and glossaries become common tools. You’ll find your child challenged to use both regularly — especially for weekly spelling tests. (See our weekly second grade spelling lists for examples.)
3 types of writing in second grade
Second graders should continue practicing the three kinds of writing they’ve been learning since kindergarten: opinion, informative, and narrative writing. Most writing projects will likely start with kids reading one or more books and responding to what they’ve learned. In any writing, your child should introduce his topic or opinion clearly, use facts and other information — such as definitions — to write a few clear, well thought-out points about his topic, and then write one or more sentences in conclusion.
Writing a narrative is essentially telling a story. Your second grader’s story should describe an event — or a series of events — using details to describe the characters’ actions, thoughts, and feelings. In addition to careful use of descriptive verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, your second grader should use sentence order, verb tense, and temporal words, like after, following, later, to clearly put the events in order. At the end of a second grader’s writing, there should be some sense of the piece or story coming to a close — and not just writing “The End.”
See what second grade writing looks like
bttr, better, best!
Strong writing means not rushing into writing — and not stopping after the first draft. Don’t be surprised to see your child spending more time on a single piece of writing — prewriting, creating a first draft, revising, and editing.
Writing begins with learning. Collectively called prewriting, this first step involves reading and processing new information and ideas, taking notes, organizing their thoughts, discussing what they’ve learned, and, often, rereading and looking for additional sources. Once a first draft is turned in, the teacher or other students will go over it with your child. They may ask questions about the work to elicit details or facts that could be added or clarified, prompt your child to find more information, make sure your child’s word choices convey what she means, make sure there’s an introduction and a conclusion, and help organize the order of events in the story. Using all these questions and suggestions as guidance, your child will do a revision — adding, reordering, and refining the draft.
After one or more revisions, the teacher will likely help your child with the final edit — focusing on spelling and grammar, capitalizing proper nouns, making sure nouns and verbs are in agreement, and checking that periods and question marks are used correctly. These steps — prewriting, doing a first draft, revising one or more drafts, and editing the final piece — help second graders learn that gathering and recalling information, organizing their thoughts, strengthening and clarifying their ideas, and improving grammar and presentation are all essential to the writing process.
Research and sources and publishing, oh my!
This year, kids learn to do research with the careful guidance and support of their teacher and peers. Together, second graders will learn to gather information and draw on what they’ve done in class to answer questions and deepen their understanding of a topic. In their writing, this means that kids will learn to pull information from provided books, websites, class presentations, and other sources to form their opinions, arguments, and narratives.
Working with peers is an important skill, so your child will likely work on at least one group project. She’ll also be expected to give other students feedback to improve their writing drafts by adding details or facts and making sure information is presented in the correct order.
Watch how 2nd graders research and discuss a topic
2nd grade G & P
What are G&P? Why, grammar and punctuation of course! Second graders learn to use apostrophes to show possession (e.g. Matt’s dog), create common contractions (e.g. isn’t and don’t), use commas for greetings and closings when writing letters (e.g. Dear Mom, and Love, Isla), and capitalize the first letters of holidays, products, and geographic names.
Your child should learn to use new and increasingly precise words to express herself, including collective nouns (e.g. the group, the class), reflexive pronouns (e.g. myself, ourselves), and adjectives and adverbs to add detail in their writing. But adding detail isn’t enough: your second grader needs to learn how adjectives and adverbs are different and choose between them based on what they’re modifying (e.g. “The small horse ran quickly” – the adjective small modifies the noun — horse — and the adverb quickly modifies the action — ran.)
To put these tools to the test, your second grader will be challenged to write — and rewrite — simple and compound sentences to show what she’s learned about language, grammar, and structure.
What about handwriting?
Your child still needs to know how to write legibly — and that means penmanship matters. In addition, the Common Core Standards require that, with assistance from a teacher, kids need to use digital tools to produce and publish their work. However, no specific typing skills are outlined until third grade. What does this mean for handwriting, cursive, and typing? Schools will handle this differently, so it’s a great question to ask your child’s teacher.
Updated November 2013 to align with the Common Core Standards