Signs of Trouble in Second Grade

What to look for if you suspect your child may have problems learning

2nd grade learning problems
Is your child having trouble in second grade?. Cultura/Seb Oliver/Getty Images

By second grade most students are used to the rules and routine of school and are ready to face more challenging academics. For some children, however, second grade is when you begin to see signs of trouble that may require a referral for special education evaluation.  If your child shows a number of these signs of trouble, speak with his teacher and/or pediatrician about your concerns.

Your child may have trouble in second grade if he hasn't:

  • Become a fluent reader who is able to grasp the intent behind the words or the gist of a paragraph.
  • Learned to print his name and other words legibly.
  • Mastered the spelling of the majority of words on the 1st grade core word list.
  • Committed to memory addition and subtraction facts to 10.
  • Learned to be a successful participant in a group.

Your child may have trouble in second grade and might need further evaluation for possible developmental delays or learning disabilities if she shows some of the following signs:

  • Confuses left and right.
  • Loses things and seems unable to organize his materials and workspace (or keep them organized).
  • Gets frustrated because he can't understand the rules of new games.
  • Does things well one day and with less skill on a different day.
  • Can't generalize skills from one situation to another.
  • Creates artwork that looks as though a much younger child created it.
  • Is consistently clumsy and shows poor hand-eye coordination.
  • Has trouble naming things, using words like "stuff" or "thing" as a frequent replacement.
  • Uses a limited vocabulary, poor grammar and/or confuses words with similar-sounding words.
  • Has a limited understanding of puns, jokes, idioms or other non-literal language.
  • Shows difficulty understanding the rules of conversation, missing out on verbal and non-verbal cues and apt to speak without giving the other conversant a turn.
  • Reads slowly, guessing at unfamiliar words, leaving out words and/or without recognizing sight words.
  • Shows delays in writing skills. This can mean having sloppy writing with many erasures, difficulty copying, trouble remembering how to write certain letters or numbers and/or reversing letters and numbers when writing them.
  • Trouble proofreading and correcting own work.
  • Is unable to master counting by various means (i.e. by 2s, by 5s, by 10s)
  • Continues to rely on one-to-one correspondence as a way to solve basic addition and subtraction problems. For example, needs to count on his fingers to get an answer.
  • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time in response to people because of an inability to gauge their mood or feeling.
  • Doesn't understand when he is subject of his peers' teasing or when they are being unfriendly to him.
  • Loses self-control when frustrated, embarrassed or facing an unexpected challenge.

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