The Next Grade Level
Every child is different, but it helps to have an idea about the academic and social skills that should be in place at the beginning of a grade level in school. Let’s take the case of Jeffrey who is right on track for going to 2nd grade.
Jeffrey gets right to work and independently manages his classroom tasks. He understands multi-step directions he hears from the teacher or his parents, and he can read and understand most directions written on the board.
Jeffrey likes to write things down. He spells words that are new to him phonetically; he recently wrote about his favorite “dinasor,” for example. His friend Josh, who isn’t doing as well with reading and writing, spells a word like dinosaur with “dis.” Jeffrey also remembers high-frequency words such as was and about for both reading and spelling. Jeffrey writes in complete sentences, and his printing sits nicely on the line on his paper. He usually remembers to start his sentences with a capital letter and end it with a period or a question mark.
Jeffrey reads aloud first-grade books with appropriate speed, accuracy and understanding. He is generally successful with a little bit harder book if there aren’t too many longer words per page. He also interacts with what he’s reading, frequently looking up to make a comment or ask a question.
Jeffrey knows his right from his left and can tell you what time it is to the hour and half-hour by looking at an analog clock. When discussing the number of pets the neighbors have, Jeffrey can do the “mental math”. “They have 2 cats, 3 hamsters, 5 goldfish and a dog, so that’s — 11 pets at their house. Oh wait, they gave the hamsters to their cousins, so it’s only — 8 pets now.” Jeffrey also completes two-digit addition and subtraction problems accurately—if they don’t require regrouping.
In second grade, Jeffrey will have about 20 minutes of homework each day, and he will complete it without help from mom or dad, though he may need a reminder to sit down and do it. (He is a child, after all.) He also has a system for being sure his homework returns to school with him the next day.
There will be class activities that will require Jeffrey to sit in a chair for 30-45 minutes. Jeffrey will be able to do that, and he’ll be able to participate appropriately, allowing others to speak without interruption (unless he’s really excited about the discussion!). He is able to think about and discuss how he thinks other people feel.
At daycare, when two boys wanted to play on the tire swing at once, Jeffrey offered a plan for taking turns; he sees the value of negotiation!
If you ask Jeffrey to tell you about an event, he can tell you what happened in a logical way. If he’s going in to more detail than you’d like, you can ask him to give you the main things and he can trim down what he’s telling you. When Jeffrey and his dad read together, Jeffrey remembers the details and is good at summarizing an incident in the story.
If your 2nd grader doesn’t sound much like Jeffrey, give us a call. It might be a good idea to objectively evaluate his/her development.