5 Incredible Things You'll Learn in Second Grade

This year, you'll likely see huge leaps in your child's reading and writing skills.
This year, you'll likely see huge leaps in your child's reading and writing skills.
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So, your 7 year old, give or take a year, is headed into grade two. Skills like basic reading and simple addition have been introduced and maybe mastered; the writing process has begun, spelling is perfectly creative, and peer-group projects are actually starting to produce results. What's next?

This year will be about building on all of those amazing discoveries from first grade. You'll be seeing huge leaps in reading and writing, suddenly very grown-up math homework, and a child who knows a lot more about life than you could have imagined back when walking was a miracle. Your baby will now be walking, all by him- or herself, into a whole new world of academic and social growth.

Here, five of the coolest lessons your child will learn in second grade. For the first one, you'll want to brush up on your math skills ...

Math Makes Sense!

For the last few years, math lessons have focused on the basics: Numbers as both concrete and abstract; 3 quarters, take away 2 quarters leaves 1 quarter; 2 + 2 = 4. In second grade, math becomes math.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division start to make real sense as concepts, and math problems require true comprehension and reasoning. Your child will learn and possibly master such skills as adding multi-digit numbers by regrouping, doing single-digit math in his or her head, and breaking down large numbers into their smaller components (500 has five 100s in it, for instance). Those ever-popular multiplication tables start this year, so get stocked up on flash cards!

Other possible math lessons this year include graphing, estimating, calculating prices, and telling time -- at least to the quarter-hour -- are all part of the process of bringing math into the realm of daily living.

Next, daily living as literary fodder ...

I'm an Author!
Your second grader has moved beyond writing her name to writing real stories, with beginnings, middles and ends.
Your second grader has moved beyond writing her name to writing real stories, with beginnings, middles and ends.
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Last year, your first-grader was writing about how last weekend, you all went to the "beech," "beche," or "bech." Your second-grader will be writing actual stories about that "beach" trip, complete with beginning, middle and end.

In second grade, reading and writing become "language arts," and exposure to literary genres broadens. Students understand the stories, books, plays and poems they read to the point of being able to write intelligently about them, and they start to write about their own opinions, feelings and lives. They may even create their very own stories, books, plays and poems.

In short, literacy isn't just a skill anymore. It's a creative, personal endeavor.

As this transformation takes place, reading becomes truly fluent and vocabulary expands dramatically. You've no doubt been talking to your child in adult language for years; now, get ready for him or her to respond in kind.

Next, one practice that will become less creative ...

I Can Spell!

In kindergarten and into first grade, all those beach trip stories are about the "beech" if your child decides it's spelled "beech." There is no right or wrong, only levels of inventiveness.

This year, proper spelling is introduced as a skill to be mastered, and your second-grader will be figuring it out partly using the skills that were taught in K and one: sounding out, phonics, memorization, patterns, sight words and good-old trial and error. (Again, break out the flash cards, because spelling lists will be coming home in that character-branded backpack!)

Dictionaries will also be introduced, most likely in both digital and print format, and looking up words will be encouraged at every step in the writing (and reading) process. You might want to pick up an abridged print dictionary if you've lost yours, because that may be the preferred method for a little while.

But, then again, maybe it won't ...

Technology Rules!
By now, computer skills will be a core aspect of your child's education.
By now, computer skills will be a core aspect of your child's education.
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If your child started navigating Windows at 12 months, it will come as no surprise that technology education starts early. It was probably introduced way back in kindergarten, and certainly first graders routinely use computers for playing educational games in class.

In second grade, computer software, hardware and skills are a core aspect of the curriculum, extending into every subject area. This year, children start to learn what technology can really do for them.

Lessons in word processing and online publishing accompany language arts projects. Your second grader might even start a blog. Math might take a turn into simple computer languages; hardware and software terminology are expanded upon; Web searching for research purposes becomes commonplace; and the processes involved in sending and receiving e-mail will start to seem entirely intuitive.

So, if you haven't yet instituted child-protection controls on your home computers and discussed online stranger-danger, now is the time to do so.

And, finally, an amazing shift in perspective ...

I See Your Point!
Second graders learn about respecting different opinions.
Second graders learn about respecting different opinions.
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Part of growing up is discovering you are not, in fact, the center of the universe. Your child has been learning this, little by little, over the last seven years. In first grade, understanding and respecting people's differences was formally introduced. This year, it becomes a central theme that runs through most components of the curriculum.

In second grade, students explore concepts like sympathy and empathy, tolerance and respect, and morality. Through class discussions, explorations of culturally diverse literature, sharing journal entries and other activities, your child will make tremendous progress in the ability to understand and work with the opinions, feelings and experiences of others.

The second-grade year is a big one for personal growth, and reinforcing this opening of your child's mind is as important as practicing reading and math and computer skills and self-sufficiency at home. Respect for self and others will likely serve your child longer than regrouping will, and you may find its development makes the miracle of those first steps look downright mundane.

Well, maybe not. But it's definitely up there.

For more information on second grade, elementary-school curriculums, and related topics, check out the links on the next page.


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Author's Note: 5 Incredible Things You'll Learn in Second Grade

In talking about what students have learned by the end of first grade, it's tough to cover all of the possibilities. To that effect, you'll notice I used a lot of qualifiers -- "possibly mastered," or "perhaps with some effort." It's a reality that some students enter second grade with stunning reading skills, and others are still stumbling a bit, and there's nothing strange about either ability level. I hope you'll take my discussions of what they know, what they'll learn, and how they'll transition from first to second grade as guidelines, not absolutes. Your child's teachers are the best ones to tell you if your child needs extra challenges or extra help.

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More Great Links


  • Grade-by-Grade Learning: 2nd Grade. PBS Parents. (June 18, 2012) http://www.pbs.org/parents/goingtoschool/what_2.html
  • Second Grade Overview. Time 4 Learning. (June 18, 2012) http://www.time4learning.com/education/second_grade.shtml#second_obj
  • Second grade: What your child should know. Great Schools. (June 18, 2012) http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/1209-second-grade-benchmarks.gs
  • Myers, Miriam. "Preparing for Second Grade." Great Schools. (June 18, 2012) http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/275-preparing-for-second-grade.gs
  • Your child and technology: What your second grader needs to know. Great Schools. (June 18, 2012) http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/learning-development/slideshows/5866-second-grade-technology-learning.gs