How to read the mind of a second grader

“Read a second grader’s mind” is just another way of saying: Every leader needs to understand what’s changing mentally and physically in the life of a second grader.  

When you know what can be expected of a phase, you are able to give kids the right amount of success. Let’s dig into how elementary-aged kids think and learn.

A Ministry Leader’s Job for Second Graders

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses addressed the nation of Israel and made a passionate plea to “impress” on the hearts of children’s core truths that relate to God’s character. Some translations use the phrase “teach diligently.” The phrase can also be translated to mean “to cause to learn.” He wasn’t advocating a lecture-based Torah literacy program where a teacher’s responsibility ended once the teacher presented the content.  

What Moses knew was this: The role of a leader is not to simply present accurate information.  A leader’s role is to keep presenting, translating, and creating experiences until someone has learned what they need to know.  

So, your job is simple. 

You must know what can be expected of your second grader. Furthermore, you must know how they think, so they will hear what you say and know what to do. And the truth is . . . elementary schoolers don’t think like adults.  

Second graders and elementary-aged kids think like scientists.  

In reality, scientists understand the world through concrete evidence they can test repeatedly. In the same way, second graders discover how things work through repetition and clear application. 

Brain research suggests that during the elementary years (ages 4-10 or 11), kids learn information quickly and easily. But just because kids in this phase are eager learners doesn’t mean they learn like adults. They’re still mostly concrete thinkers. Second graders need repetition and clear application. Like a scientist, they learn best when they can observe something in their present environment. The more frequently a new concept can be connected to everyday experience, the better. 

Just remember, when you understand the way a kid’s mind is changing, you stand a far better chance of identifying clues that help you know what they are thinking. When you do this, you convey a message they can understand and lay a foundation for later learning.

This content was contributed by Phase. Discover all the resources available for your elementary schooler in the Phase store.