• How Can I Help my Second Grader in




    Second grade students are being introduced to and further developing many basic mathematical skills. Regardless of your child’s current math abilities, the following suggestions can help your child progress in math throughout the year. Please keep in mind that all children progress at varying rates. I hope you and your child will find these ideas helpful this year


    ·         The best way to practice math skills is with real-world application. If you would like to help your child improve money skills, go to the store or create one at home. If you’d like to help your child with telling time, practice timing activities at home such as cooking or reading.

    ·         Place value is an important skill to master in second grade. Help your child improve in this area by having your child read and/or write large numbers (into the ten-thousands if possible). Also, encourage your child to use the terms “greater than”, “less than”, and “equal to” when comparing large numbers. To young students, the numbers 75,239 and 81,619 can look very similar because they have the same number of digits. Finally, remind your child of the importance of ZERO in place value. The numbers 354 and 3,054 are VERY different! You can call out a number and have your child write the number down. Then have him/her identify which digit is in the ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, or ten-thousands place. You can also have him/her write a number in expanded form (example: 3,764 = 3,000+700+60+4). 

    ·         Not all math practice needs to be written down. The car is a GREAT place to practice math skills! You can call out addition/subtraction facts for your child to solve or use the numbers on license plates to make math problems. Even counting cars can be good practice. Try starting at a strange number, such as 583 and counting up from there. If your child is ready for a challenge, try picking a starting number and counting backwards!

    ·         To improve measuring skills, have your child measure different objects around the house. Make sure to have your child measure length in a variety of units including centimeters, inches, feet, and yards.

    ·         Second graders also need to know how to measure the volume of liquids. Your child can practice this by cooking. The best way to understand what a cup of something looks like is to see it! To help your child understand the relationship between the various units of volume, practice pouring water into containers of varying sizes to see how many of one unit it will take to equal another. This can be done with cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. 

    ·         Students also need practice with weight. You can have your child collect objects of various sizes and weights from around the house. Encourage your child to make estimates before using a scale to measure the exact weight. Challenge your child to find a small object that weighs MORE than a larger one!

    ·         Learning to tell time is an important skill for second graders to master. However, in our technological society, analog clocks can be hard to come by. Be sure you have one available at home for your child to practice with. It may also be helpful to find your child an analog watch as well.   

    ·         Word problems can be difficult for many students to understand. Help your child practice this skill by creating word problems that involve family members or friends. Encourage your child to listen for the specific clues in your world problem that let him/her know whether the answer can be reached by adding, subtracting, or other means. When solving word problems, encourage your child to draw a picture when appropriate to help him/her figure out the answer.  

    ·         Having trouble with fractions? Help your child practice by using food! Pizzas and cakes can easily be cut into equal pieces. To practice fractions of a group, use your child’s favorite breakfast cereal. These can easily be manipulated into equal groups, and errors are simple to correct.




    Second grade students are still developing many of the basic reading skills that were introduced in kindergarten and/or first grade. Regardless of your child’s current reading level, the following suggestions can help your child’s reading ability progress throughout the year. Please keep in mind that all children progress at varying rates. It is important, especially in the early grades, to help your child develop a love and value of reading.



    1      Comprehension

    1      Genre (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)

    2      Decoding (“sounding out”) unknown words

    3      Sight Words (these are words that cannot be “sounded out” using traditional phonics rules)

    4      Summarizing (retelling a story in your own words – beginning, middle, end)

    5      Identifying main idea

    6      Vocabulary

    7      Author’s purpose (stating why an author wrote a particular piece)

    8      Identifying story elements (characters, setting, problem, and solution)

    9      Making inferences

    Ideas for reading at home:


    ~ Set a “family reading time” each day. While it is essential that your child read at least 20 minutes each day, it is equally important for your child to see you reading. This will help model the importance and joy of reading for your child. Students who frequently see their parents reading are more likely to become avid readers themselves! “Family reading time” will also help to eliminate distractions from your child’s reading time, and establishing a routine can often help eliminate the struggle to get reluctant readers to read.

    ~ Share highlights of what you are reading with your child. Discuss questions you have or exciting characters/plots. Children LOVE to see adults get excited about what they are reading. Again, your enthusiasm is an excellent model for your child.

     ~ Visit the public library often. Once your child has discovered an author or topic of interest, encourage him/her to check out more books along the same lines. Often, a lack of interest in reading can be traced to a lack of interest in the subject material.

    ~ All reading is valuable! Be sure to expose your child to a variety of reading material. Books, magazines, even the Comics section of the newspaper can help your child become a better reader. Also remember to expose your child to different genres of literature.

    ~ Nonfiction reading material is very beneficial to your child’s reading success. As your child progresses through school, nonfiction reading material will become more important. Students will transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. If you notice that your child is continually bringing home fiction books, you may want to encourage him/her to select a nonfiction book about a topic of interest. Remember that nonfiction reading material is more difficult to comprehend than fiction material so you may need to encourage your child to go down a reading level when selecting nonfiction books. One way to help your child comprehend nonfiction text is to ask specific questions and then have your child locate the answer in the text. Reading to locate information is a skill we work on throughout second grade.


    ◊ If your child struggles to decode (“sound out”) unfamiliar words:

    1      Encourage your child to look at the beginning sound of the word first.

    2      Help your child break the word into smaller chunks by covering portions of the word with your fingers. (“understand” becomes “un”-“der”-“stand”)

    3      Look for smaller words within larger words. (“stand” contains the word “and”)

    4      Skip the word and go to the end of the sentence. Then, ask your child what word would make sense there. Does his/her guess match what the letters are showing?

    5      Look at the pictures for clues.


    ◊ If your child has difficulty answering questions about something he/she has read:

    1        Sometimes, beginning readers are so focused on reading the words correctly that meaning can be lost. To help your child improve in this area, ask him/her comprehension questions throughout the story, rather than just at the end. Stop after each page, if necessary, for a quick comprehension check.  

    2        Have your child summarize what has happened on each page (or chapter, depending on the book length) as he/she is reading.

    3        Encourage your child to make connections with what he/she is reading. If the story is about a vacation to the beach, ask your child to recall memories of your own vacation. If the book gives facts about frogs, ask your child to recall what he/she already knows about this topic. If the book talks about a character that is sad, ask your child to tell about a time he/she has experienced the same emotion or discuss how he/she would handle the same situation if he/she was the character. 

           4        Have your child create a “story map” as he/she is reading. When he/she comes to           

                information that needs to be included, put the book down and add it to the map right away. A good story map should include title,       author, setting (when and where) characters, beginning, middle, and end. If possible, try to include a problem/solution or           cause/effect relationship from the story as well.

    If your child reads words incorrectly and does not notice and/or correct the error independently:

    Although it may be difficult, try to refrain from stopping your child mid-sentence to correct a mistake.  Instead, wait until your child has come to a good pausing point, such as the end of the paragraph or page. Stopping the reader immediately eliminates all possibility of self-correction and can have a negative impact on reader confidence.

    1      As your child reads aloud to you, jot down the words he/she misses on index cards. After your child has finished reading, go through the words he/she missed and discuss them together. Keep these word cards in a place where you can frequently review them. This continual practice will help your child’s reading and confidence.

    2    Once at a good stopping point, go back to the sentence where the mistake occurred and ask your child if the word he/she said makes sense in the sentence. 

    3     Encourage your child to look more closely at the print to see if the word he/she said matches the letters on the page.

            4     Encourage your child to “sound out” the word using the decoding suggestions above.


    If your child’s reading is too slow/fast, choppy, or lacks emotion:

    1     Using just one page of a book, model for your child what slow/fast, choppy, monotone reading sounds like. Ask your child what was wrong with the way you were reading. What would make it sound better? Then model reading the page the correct way. Often, children may not realize what their reading really sounds like to others. In order to correct their fluency deficits, children need to recognize what they are and how to correct them. If you have a tape recorder, you can record your child reading and then let him/her listen to the tape. After listening to the recording, your child can continue to reread the same text for additional practice. Later that week, your child can record himself/herself reading the same text. It is beneficial for him/her to hear the improvements that have been made. This is highly motivating and fun activity for many children. If your child is reading a chapter book, record reading two or three pages instead of the entire chapter or book. 

    2    Do not underestimate the value of rereading books over and over again. Repeated reading is an excellent way for students to develop their reading fluency. So, if your child has books that he/she loves to read again and again, don’t hide them on the top of the bookshelf! This activity can help your child improve reading rate, flow, and reading with emotion.

    3     Model reading each page of a book for your child before having him/her read it to you. Encourage your child to imitate your reading. 

    4     Read books aloud with your child together. This will help him/her match your speed, tone, and emotion as you read together.

    5     Encourage your child to look at punctuation marks for clues on emotion. Also have him/her think about what’s happening in the story. How would the character(s) feel right now? That’s how the story should be read! 




    Second grade students are still developing writers. They are exploring the ability to communicate information, ideas, and creative thinking through writing. Regardless of your child’s current writing abilities, the following suggestions can help your child progress in writing throughout the year.


    Ideas for writing at home:

    ~ “Pass the Pencil” – This is a game in which two or more people write a story together. Each person can only write one sentence before passing the pencil on to the next person. Remember, what you add to the story must make sense with the previous parts!

    ~ Find a photograph or magazine/newspaper picture to write about. These can make excellent writing subjects!

    ~ Have your child add a new chapter or sequel to a book, movie, or T.V. show.

    ~ Your child can write a “How-To” about something he/she is good at. (Examples: “How to make pancakes”, “How to score a goal in soccer”, etc.)

    ~ Encourage your child to keep a diary about important or cool things that happen in his/her life. He/she can even draw pictures to go along with the writing.

    ~ Have your child think of his/her favorite book, movie, or T.V. character. Take this character to a completely new place on a totally new adventure. He/she can even write about what it would be like if this character lived with you!

    ~ Draw a picture for your child to write about, or simply give your child a small doodle that he/she can add to. Once the picture is done, he/she can add a story to go with it.

    ~ Have your child write an information paragraph about something he/she knows a lot about. This could be a recent school topic, information from a book, or simply something your child has an interest in.

    ~ Encourage your child to use the computer to do research about topics of interest. After finding some important facts, have your child organize the information into a paragraph.

    ~ As a parent, you can write/type stories or paragraphs for your child and leave blanks for missing words or phrases. Then, have your child help you come up with the right words to fill in the gaps.

    ~ If your child is making a verbal request to you (to invite a friend over, stay up late that night, go to Six Flags on Saturday, etc.), have him/her put the request in writing and try to persuade you! Tell him/her that you’ll only consider the request if it’s in writing!  

    ~ Encourage your child to become a Pen Pal with a friend or relative who may not live nearby. Even if your child e-mails the letters instead of mailing them, this is a GREAT way to practice writing friendly letters and keep in touch at the same time!

    ~ Establish a conversation journal with your child. This activity is very similar to having a pen pal. On a regular basis, you will write a note to your child and then he/she can respond back to you in writing. Continue to pass the journal back and forth as entries are completed. Children LOVE this activity!


    To help your child edit his/her writing:

    ·         To begin, have your child read his/her writing aloud to you to ensure you know exactly what he/she is trying to say. Before making any corrections, find at least one positive aspect of the writing and comment on this FIRST. It can relate to any aspect of the writing, including content, spelling, use of descriptive words, handwriting, complete sentences, or remember all capital letters and punctuation marks.

    ·         Ask your child to share at least one thing he/she likes or is proud of for this piece.

    ·         Ask if your child can think of anything specific he/she needs your help with. 

    ·         Encourage your child to find and correct his/her own mistakes. 

    ·         If your child struggles to correct mistakes independently, provide guidance. (Example: “I see three places where you forgot to use ending punctuation. Listen as I reread your writing and see if you can figure out where they should go.” OR “ You used the word ‘friend’ twice in your story. This is an important word for you so I want to make sure you spell it correctly. Can you find the two times you used ‘friend’? Let’s circle them, and I will help you fix the spelling.”)

    ·         Remember when helping your child edit and revise his/her writing, that it is not necessary to find and correct EVERY error. Instead, try to select one or two areas of need to focus on for each piece. This helps children build confidence as writers and feel comfortable exploring new areas of writing.



    Second grade students are making the transition from invented spelling to following the traditional spelling rules across all parts of their writing. 


    To help your child apply spelling rules:

    ·         Each week, I identify the spelling pattern we will be focusing on . Please take note of these skills and encourage your child to listen for these sounds when spelling words.

    ·         You may want to keep track of the phonics skills that have already been introduced and hold your child accountable for using these appropriately in his/her writing (see attached list).

    ·         When your child asks for help spelling a word, encourage your child to break the word into syllables. (Ex: “turtle” = “tur” + “tle”) This will help your child become a more independent speller as he/she makes the transition to using this strategy without help.

    ·         If your child tends to reverse letter sounds, have him/her go back and read the word slowly to focus on individual letter sounds. Once your child has read the word as it is written, he/she should notice any sounds that were placed in the wrong order. It may be helpful for you to read the word as it was written. (Ex: “parts” may be written as “prats”)