Learning Guide:Second Grade

These youngsters respond better to praise than criticism as they evolve into classmates who can cooperate.
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Portrait of a Second Grader

Second graders have a certain confidence: It's their third year of elementary school, and they know their way around. They also are pleased with their growing ability to tell stories, to inform their classmates of facts they've learned, to do basic math and reading. Socially, some are awkwardly trying to hook up with new friends; others remain with that one comfortable pal. Parents need to help kids branch out and not always allow them to do the easy thing socially. Second graders are extremely sensitive and emotionally vulnerable. And they're territorial: They don't like to be looked at and cannot stand criticism. They tend to solve problems through their emotions: "You didn't play fair; I'm not going to play with you."

Both boys and girls withdraw under emotional stress: Tattling still typifies some second graders. This is attention-getting behavior that parents can stop by praising the child's accomplishments and abilities, and distracting him from nosiness. Second graders can categorize and cluster information more effectively. They understand symbols.

What your child will learn

To the three R's add two C's: consolidate and cooperate. By the time most children enter second grade, they have acquired many of the skills they will need to function in school for years to come -- taking turns, following rules, sharing, cooperating and reading. Second graders are still desperately eager to learn but have not yet entered the critical peer-pressure phase.

Kids are beginning to read more than the individual words on a page, looking for the meaning in a group of sentences or paragraphs. In fact, reading comprehension is the major academic focus in many second-grade classrooms. An educational term you may hear this year is "cooperative learning," the completion of an assignment by a group of three or four students. Actually, teachers use this approach throughout the school years to teach kids to work with others and to give them a taste of shared responsibility with peers.

Computer use continues in this year, but the Internet is usually not a part of early grade study. Educational game play still figures in, but children are encouraged to find ways to make their own creations with art and word-processing software.

Continued on page 2:  In the Classroom


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