By Hank Pellissier
The second grader’s brain
“What happens if we’re late, Daddy? Will something bad happen? I don’t wanna’ be late!”
Second-graders have a propensity to worry. They can fret about nightmares, the dark, their clothes, their homework, or their stomach aches that might — in their agitated minds — be a lethal disease. They hate making mistakes, not finishing tasks, and especially losing. They have to be first, correct, punctual, best, and perfect. What’s wrong with these little nut-cases? Are they blooming neurotics? Hypochondriac loons?
No, they’re not. Morose sensitivity in this age group is actually proof that their brain is developing properly. Seven-year-olds can finally grasp concepts like space, direction, distance, and time. They now understand that the clock is ticking forward. Suddenly, schedules, routines, calendars, plans, predictability, rules, justice, and assignments become excruciatingly serious causes for concern.
Neurologically, what’s buzzing and building inside the second-grade brain? Jane Healy, author of Your Child’s Growing Mind, has defined them as “avid learning machines.” Marguerite Kelly, Washington Post family columnist, labeled second grade as “the age of reason” touched with a “patina of sadness.”