Second grade marks the start of a gradual shift in the balance between kinds of learning: from primarily learning basic skills to using basic skills to further learning. The focus of reading instruction shifts from seeking accuracy and fluency toward reaching meaningful understanding. Writing expands from learning how to write to writing in order to communicate ideas and from inventive spelling to conventional spelling. Math develops from learning basic calculations to also using calculations to solve more complex problems. Homework also evolves over the course of the year, beginning with 20 minutes of reading in English and 10 minutes in Hebrew daily and expanding, early in the year, to include specific math assignments and a reader response journal on a regular basis.
A shift takes place in social development, as well. With support from their teachers, using the Second Step social-emotional curriculum, second graders become increasingly responsible for their own interactions and work patterns. Many students experience their first meaningful change in social dynamics and teachers support them in growing to understand these shifting dynamics as normal. More of their learning takes place in small independent groups, and children are given a greater role in the conduct and management of their classroom life.