Subjects, Activities, and Skills for Second Graders

second grade girl reading a book on a table

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Second grade is when most kids start to feel more confident as students. For many second graders, this will be their third year at school, after stints in first grade and kindergarten. For others who may have attended preschool, it may be their fourth or fifth year of being in a school setting. School routines, such as group meetings, sharing stories, independent and group work, and transitioning between second-grade activities will feel familiar.

Regardless of the amount of time your child has spent in school or a school-like setting, second grade will inevitably bring some challenges.

In second grade, subjects such as math, reading, and writing will become more complicated. Homework also will become more regular and require more time to do.

This is a great time to set up a quiet homework area if you haven’t done so already.

Skills Your Second Grader Will Develop

This general guideline lays out what you can expect to see in your second grader as they tackle math, reading, and other subjects this school year.

Social Skills

As a parent, you're likely amazed by how quickly your child is growing up. It may seem like just yesterday you were sending them off to their first day of kindergarten. As your child continues to mature and develop, so will their social skills. Your second grader will:

  • Develop close friendships
  • Be better able to concentrate on lessons for longer periods of time
  • Better navigate stumbling blocks and demonstrate increased patience and self-control

Reading and Writing

By now your child is probably a good reader and writer, but second-grade curricula will definitely help sharpen those skills. Your second grader will:

  • Read more by themselves. Storytime will most likely continue in second grade, but there will also be more of an emphasis on independent reading, both during school and as a part of homework
  • Read longer, more complicated stories, including age-appropriate chapter books
  • Predict what happens next in a story
  • Become a better speller. More emphasis will be placed on spelling increasingly complex words correctly. Spelling tests will be a regular part of second grade
  • Write longer and more complex essays and stories using correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and paragraphs
  • Write letters and/or keep a journal
  • Learn to identify parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, etc.


Second graders will be introduced to math concepts that have everyday applications, such as counting money and telling time. Your second grader will:

  • Understand the place value of numbers (tens, hundreds, etc.)
  • Be able to mentally add numbers up to 20
  • Handle more complicated addition and subtraction problems using methods of carrying and borrowing
  • Work on problem-solving with numbers
  • Be able to do simple fractions
  • Tell time on an analog clock
  • Add and subtract money; learn how to make a change

Science, Social Studies, and Technology

In addition to basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, your child will be introduced to a range of new subject matter that may pique their interest. Your second grader will:

  • Perform basic computer skills such as opening a new document, saving a file, and using the Internet with a teacher’s help and guidance
  • Understand how plants grow and spread their seeds
  • Learn more about the earth, which may involve studying landforms (geology) and continents (geography)
  • Learn about other cultures from the past and present
  • Discuss current events
4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Cognitive and Social Skills to Expect From 6 to 10 Years. 2017.

  2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Building Your Child's Listening, Talking, Reading and Writing Skills: Kindergarten to Second Grade. 2020.

  3. Common Core State Standards. Standards for Mathematical Practice: Grade 2. 2020.

  4. Nebraska State Board of Education. Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Science: 2017.

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.