HOW to Read

Second Grade Guide

Second-grade children like to know how things work. The South Carolina College- and Career- Ready Standards use this need to know to expand students’ reading and writing skills. They begin to develop research and critical thinking skills. Second graders read books that are more difficult and write more complex pieces. Please note: It is so important that a child read fluently and with understanding before entering the fourth grade that Act 284 of 2014 requires retention in the third grade unless certain reading requirements are met.


Inquiry and Investigation

Second-grade students work together to develop questions and gather information. They begin to generate possible explanations and develop alternatives. These abilities serve as the basis for critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

  • Ask questions that lead to discussions and investigations

  • Develop a plan for collecting relevant information from many sources

  • Select the most important information, revise ideas, tell about conclusions and report what is found

  • Think about the conclusions and ask new questions to guide further study

  • Think about and describe the act of learning. Know when to seek help

Learning to Read

Second-grade students apply the sounds that make up words. Students work on self-correction of their reading. They are challenged to become more fluent readers. The second grade is a pivotal time in reading. Students move beyond looking at the parts of an unfamiliar word to figure it out, and instead now use context clues.

  • Use knowledge of the individual sounds of letter to read

  • Use knowledge of how syllables work to read multiple-syllable words

  • Use context to confirm or correct word recognition and understanding

  • Learn more types of punctuation (ex. commas and apostrophes)

  • Read more independently, with increasing accuracy and understanding of the meaning, for longer periods


Second-grade students practice writing different types of sentences; improving on how they describe events, give opinions, and provide information on a topic. The students begin learning cursive writing, which helps improve their fine motor skills, thinking, and short-term memory.

  • Print and begin to develop cursive writing

  • Continue to learn punctuation and standard English grammar

  • Explore books and other materials to pick a topic to write about. Introduce the topic, state an opinion, give reasons that support the opinion, and provide a closing sentence

  • Plan, revise, and edit to better focus on a topic to improve writings

  • Write often on various topics both in and outside the classroom

  • Continue to work on keyboarding skills


Second-grade students’ speaking and listening skills are expanding. They exhibit more self-control as they listen to others. Second graders are improving in the way they explain personal ideas and respond to others’ comments. They begin to think about the techniques of oral presentation.

  • Take turns listening to others and speaking clearly

  • Express ideas gathered from many sources in a concise way. Conduct research both individually and in a group.

  • Explain how ideas and topics are shown in different media and formats

  • Use techniques of volume and tone, eye contact, facial expressions, and posture when speaking

  • Create a simple presentation using audio and visual tools to clarify ideas and thoughts

  • Examine why a speaker makes certain word choices and uses descriptive language

Reading for Enjoyment and Enrichment

Second-grade students look more deeply into the outlook, attitude, and points of view in understanding a text. They look at why an author wrote a piece and the manner in which it is written.

  • Determine if the author’s main purpose is to explain, entertain, inform, or convince

  • Determine who is telling the story at different points in a text – the narrator or characters

  • Make predictions before and during reading; confirm or change thinking

  • Explain what happened, why, and how it shaped the theme

  • Describe how cultural background influences characters, setting, and the development of the plot

  • Read independently for extended periods

Reading for Information

The standards challenge second graders to think about their conclusions and determine whether they need more information in order to make a decision or solve a problem.

  • Ask and answer questions to given and implied information to demonstrate understanding of a text

  • Provide details to draw conclusions or make predictions from texts heard or read

  • Select the most important in- formation, revise ideas, and tell about conclusions

  • Think about the conclusions and ask new questions to guide further study

  • Think about and describe the act of learning. Know when to seek help.

Learning at Home

Learning does not end at the school door. Your child needs support and help from you to succeed in the second grade. Work at home to reinforce classroom learning and spend extra time on specific skills as needed. Here are some suggestions for things to do at home to help your child learn:

  • Read, read, and read some more with and to your child. Let him summarize the story for you. Have him tell you his favorite character and why. Develop a new ending for the story.

  • Make “flash” cards out of the letters in your child’s name and those of other family members or her playmates. Challenge her to make as many words as she can out of her own name and then out of all the letters on the cards.

  • Have your child make a “wanted” poster for a character in a favorite story. Have him draw the character’s picture and then write the “villain’s” name, description, and crimes committed. Talk about the different descriptive words that could be used.
  • Help your child to identify if what she is reading is fact or a made up story. Discuss why. Look in the children’s section of your library for words like fiction, non-fiction, biography, history, and geography. Talk about the meaning of each word.
  • Look at the pictures in his books, have him make up and write captions to describe what is happening.

Parent Resources

  • The Student Reading Success Activity Guide, June 2015 at is available for download from the S.C. Education Oversight Committee. It has information and activities for helping your child become a better reader. Scroll down to the bottom of the web page to see the link.

  • To get a fun game to help your child with spelling, try This site also has games for improving reading.

  • For spelling and word relationships games, try

  • For games, puzzles, worksheets and interactive stories to help you promote reading and improve your child’s skills, see:

  • The S.C. State Library and many of our county public libraries provide access to TumbleBooks, online books that your child can read or the computer will read the book with him. Tumblebooks,, also has games and activities.

  • Go to your public library for books, CDs, and DVDs for learning and fun. You can always use the computers there for the learning games listed above. Let your child get his own library card. If you are unsure about the reading level of a book, ask the librarians. They love to answer questions about books.