Developmental Milestones for Second and Third Graders
At a Glance
Second and third graders start understanding more complicated ideas, like cause and effect.
Kids this age get better at using language to express emotions and ideas.
Second and third graders tend to be easily influenced by their peers.
By the time kids start second and third grade, school isn’t new to them. But the skills they develop in these years are. You may not be expecting to see big changes in your child. But at this age, kids make leaps in language and the ways they think. Their
social-emotional skills grow, too.
Check out these developmental milestones to get a sense of which skills you can expect to see develop over the next few years. Remember, though, that not all kids develop at the same pace. If your child hasn’t yet gotten the hang of all of these things, it’s OK.
At ages 7 and 8, kids work on refining their physical skills. Their
fine motor control and stamina may improve. Most second and third graders:
Gain strength in both big and small muscles
Can play and be active for longer periods without getting tired
Use the small muscles in hands to get better at things like holding a pencil correctly and forming letters accurately
Can run farther and for longer
Ride a bike without training wheels
Develop sports skills like catching a small ball
Tie shoes, button, and do up zippers without help
Coordinate movements to do things like follow a dance routine
Language development typically continues at a steady pace these two years. Kids start trying out words they’ve read but not heard, so you may hear some mispronunciations. By the end of third grade, most kids:
Understand what they read and begin to move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”
Learn vocabulary through reading
Use words to talk through problems, both socially and academically
Start playing with words to make puns; understand jokes and riddles
Test out “bad” words for shock value
Use all letter sounds correctly; don’t substitute w for r anymore when speaking
Use writing to express feelings, tell stories, and summarize information
Second and third grade can be a little rough socially and emotionally. Kids
start narrowing down to a few good friends, but those friendships can change quickly. Most kids are eager to fit in and try out new personalities to see where they fit. By the end of third grade, most kids:
Have moments of extreme insecurity and need a lot of encouragement from their family
Change often between being helpful and upbeat to being unhelpful and grouchy
Enjoy being part of a team, group, or club
Spend more time with and are easily influenced by peers
Experience periods of dramatic emotion and impatience (feeling that everyone is against them) and then bounce right back to everything being just fine
Start seeing things from other points of view and incorporate that into everyday life
These milestones are typical for this two-year span, but kids develop at their own pace. If you’re concerned that your child isn’t meeting a number of these milestones or is struggling in one particular area of development, connect with your child’s doctor or teacher. They can help you take a closer look at what’s going on and come up with a plan.