IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

2nd grade math skills: Find out what you need to know for your student

In second grade, students focus on addition and subtraction skills and understanding place value.
Getty Images

Want to help your second-grader master the basics of 2nd grade math? Here are some of the skills your child will be learning in the classroom.


Counting up to one thousand

Count forward within 1000. Count by 5s. Count and add by 10s and 100s. For any given number between 100 and 900, mentally add 10 or 100, or subtract 10 or 100.

Odd and even numbers

Understand odd and even numbers. Tell whether there are an odd or even number of objects in a group (of as many as 20 objects) by putting them into pairs, and/or counting by two.

Reading and writing large numbers

Read and write numbers through 1000, using numbers (352, 621, 1000) and number names (“three hundred fifty-two,” “six hundred twenty-one,” “one thousand”).

Relationship between larger numbers

Understand the relationship between ones, tens and hundreds: ten ones equal one ten; ten tens equal one hundred, ten hundreds equal one thousand. Understand that in a three-digit number, the first digit represents the amount of hundreds, the second digit represents the amount of tens, and the third digit represents the amount of ones– for example, 843 equals 8 hundreds (800), 4 tens (40), and 3 ones (3).

Comparing large numbers

Compare three-digit numbers using the symbols > (greater than or more than), = (equal to), and < (less than or fewer than) and explain using hundreds, tens, and ones.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division

Large numbers

Quickly and accurately add numbers that total 20 or less, and subtract from numbers up to 20.

One- and two-step problems

Solve one-step and two-step word problems by adding or subtracting numbers, through 100.

Adding large digit numbers

Understand that in adding two three-digit numbers, you are adding hundreds and hundreds, tens and tens, and ones and ones and you may need to compose a new ten or a new hundred. Use models or drawings and explain your written method.

Adding within 1,000

Learn to add within 1,000.

Subtracting large digit numbers

Understand that in subtracting one three-digit number from another three-digit number, you are subtracting hundreds from hundreds, tens from tens and ones from ones and you may need to get more tens and ones in order to subtract. Use models or drawings and explain your written method.

Subtracting within 1,000

Learn how to subtract within 1,000.

Measurement & data

Reading digital and analog clocks

Read circular “face” clocks and digital clocks to tell time to the nearest five minutes. Understand the concept of a.m. and p.m. in a 24-hour day. Be able to tell the time aloud and write the time in various ways, using a.m. and p.m.

Measuring and estimating lengths

Measure and estimate lengths of lines or objects in standard units, such as inches, feet, centimeters, and meters. Write out and read measurements in inches (in.) or centimeters (cm). Compare measurements (how many more, how many less).

Solving word problems

Solve addition and subtraction word problems involving lengths in the same units (within 100).


A new roll of ribbon contains 72 inches of ribbon. Sara needs 26 inches of ribbon to wrap a birthday present. If she cuts 26 inches from the beginning of the new roll, how many inches of ribbon will be left?

Solving problems involving money

Solve addition and subtraction word problems involving money – coins (penny, nickel, dime, quarter) and dollar bills.


Antony has a quarter, two dimes, and five pennies. He wants to buy a whistle that costs one dollar. How much more money does he need? What combination of coins would give him the money he needs?

Picture and bar graphs

Read and create picture graphs and bar graphs to show measurements, quantities, or other data in up to four categories. Solve addition, subtraction, and comparison word problems using information presented in a bar graph.


Identifying common shapes

Identify triangles (three-sided shapes), quadrilaterals (four-sided shapes), pentagons (five-sided shapes), and hexagons (six-sided shapes). Analyze shapes by number of sides and corners (angles).

Dividing shapes

Divide a rectangle into several rows of same-size squares, and count to find the number of squares. Divide circles and rectangles into halves, thirds, or fourths.

For tips to help your second-grader in math class, check out our second grade math tips page.

TODAY's Parenting Guides resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts and align with the Common Core State Standards.