Sunday, August 12, 2012

Second Grade

I thought I would share some of my notes on Second Grade. I am still not 100% sure on the implementation of all of this, but I do have a pretty good understanding of what is important for Second Grade. Keep in mind that this is my understanding, which means that I have naturally focused more on some things and left other things out.

In my education on this year, I have done quite a few things. I've read through the Christopherus Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolers, both in the Second Grade portions and in the Subject by Subject portions. I've read through Melisa Nielsen's A Journey Through Waldorf Homeschooling Second Grade. I've listened to a two hour podcast on the Gnomes Home Radio.

I have a bit of an advantage because the Hippie has already gone through Second Grade, but I did have to spend some time thinking about this child. All of that aside, let me share with you my understanding of the Second Grade and what it means in this house. If you are new to the ideas of a Waldorf Education, I suggest you do some research. I don't have time in this post to break it all down for you and I'd love for you to know what I'm talking about.

The skills that are important to me at this age are pretty basic ~ learn to read and build fluency with reading, basic handwriting (which will be practiced via Charlotte Mason style copywork in this house) and basic math. That is really all that matters at this age as far as skills. Grammar and spelling and composition will come with time, but are not my focus just yet.

My second grader can read, but needs practice. I'm planning to do a "100 Book Challenge" with her like I did with the Hippie at this age. My hope is that it will build confidence and fluency and somewhere along the way she will take off. My second grader can do basic math in her head (and really hasn't had a formal math lesson yet), but we want to deepen and broaden that knowledge this year. My second grader can write, but certainly needs practice. I plan to pull short sentences from our Second Grade stories this year for her to copy in order to practice her handwriting. She still writes the occasional letter backwards and still tends to mix capital and lower case all throughout the same word/sentence. But, I feel confident that a year of copywork will resolve those issues.

The subject matter for Second Grade can really be summed up as stories of Saints, Animal Fables, Nature and Math. Second Graders are still somewhat dreamy like a First Grader (and mine most certainly is!). They are ready for a deeper understanding of the material, but are still so young and playful.

The stories of the Saints meet the second grader where she is developmentally. These are stories of other-worldly people who devoted their lives to serving others. The goal here has nothing at all to do with Catholicism (at least not in my home ~ if you are Catholic then this would be different in your home), but has everything to do with showing my daughter that it feels good to serve others. I want to include stories that will speak to her.

The stories of the Animal Fables also meet the second grader where she is developmentally. These are morality tales that teach a lesson, but as the teacher we should never tell them the lesson ~ let the story work deep inside them.

Second grade is also a good time for myths and legends from around the world. I like the Jataka tales because they sort of combine the ideas of the Saints and the Animal Fables into one ~ the Buddha told these tales of himself as various animals and people in order to teach people to be compassionate to all living things. Like the Jataka tales, stories involving Hindu saints would be good this year. I really like the stories that sort of combine the two themes.

Traditional Waldorf Second Grade emphasizes form drawing, knitting, recorder and lots of movement in addition to the academic portions. I have this in the back of my mind and will do my best to bring some aspects of it to my daughter, but I also have to be true to myself and not set myself up for feelings of failure. I have some goals for us in the form drawing and knitting departments, but I am not going to allow myself to feel guilty for "not doing it right" or "not doing it enough". As for music, we hold music in high esteem in this house and the girls hear a lot of it. We have a variety of instruments in this house and they have the freedom to use them. But, learning the recorder just isn't high on my priority list at this time. Movement? Who can keep them from moving? I mean, seriously. Will I be memorizing finger plays and songs with marching? Probably not. I know me. That isn't me. But, we will walk and scooter and bike to the park and the beach. We may do an exercise DVD together or some yoga. We'll stomp and clap some times tables and participate in circle time with friends, but my home will not look like a Waldorf classroom, complete with "lots of movement" and recorder and quality form drawing and knitting going on. And, I'm okay with that. :)

So, while there are many ways one can go with this year as far as the details go, the year can be summed up as:
  • Saints
  • Fables
  • Legends and Myths from around the world
  • Nature Stories
  • Deepening the understanding of the four math processes
  • Reading and writing

On a more personal level, my goals for The Princess are:
  • Math ~ Go slow and savor and enjoy the grade two topics, really solidify the four processes, have fun
  • Reading ~ Continue reading every day, increase in fluency and confidence, move from easy readers to longer chapter books
  • Writing ~ Write something every day, use short sentences of copywork to practice handwriting
  • Composition ~ Orally narrate stories and increase confidence in this skill as a precursor to written composition down the road
  • Developmentally ~ Bring her lots of stories of saints, animal tales, fables, legends, fairy tales, myths, etc.
  • Slow, gentle pace with lots of time for play and exploration, honor her childhood, let her remain "dreamy" as long as she needs to be
  • Regular chances to bake, cook, paint, model, build, create, draw and otherwise express herself creatively

How does that look as far as an outline for Second Grade this year?

I hope to get 8 weeks of school in between our return from Germany and Thanksgiving. During that time, my general plan is to focus on Saints for four weeks, Fables for 3 weeks and then spend a week on St. Martin in time for celebrating Martinmas.

During the holidays, I hope to very gently cover Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucia at their appropriate times in December ~ reading stories about them, baking for the neighbors, leaving shoes out for Saint Nicholas to fill, baking Saint Lucia's buns, making Lucia's crown, etc.

When we return from the holidays, I am imagining the flow to go back and forth between math, Jataka Tales, Saints, Fables, Anansi tales and possibly some Burgess tales. I have an outline of blocks here, but I am still undecided about exactly how we will approach it. Either I will have specific "Second Grade Main Lesson" time with the Princess each day and we will follow the blocks specifically OR I will incorporate the appropriate stories into our family read alouds, have her copywork be related to the stories and have weekly drawing and painting times where she can draw or paint from the stories while her sister is drawing or painting form her applicable stories. I am torn between doing separate main lessons and trying to blend us as much as we can. We tend to work well as a family unit. I'll let you know how that all pans out. The important thing is that her year be focused on the things I've mentioned. Again, as long as she reads every day, practices writing, deepens her math understanding, hears me read aloud quality literature and has plenty of time for artistic expression and play, I think we'll be just fine.

Of course, we will also have our other family stuff that isn't specific to Second Grade ~ God at breakfast (Bible, Character, etc), Literature at Lunch, Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, Poetry, Biographies, Nature Study, Classical Music, Art Appreciation, Kitchen time (baking and cooking), Crafts, Zoo field trips, Homeschool Group Field Trips, the local Symphony, our little group day of Form Drawing and Circle Time and Handwork ...

How are your plans coming? Do you spend time really getting a feel for what each child needs or do you just plan the year out and go with it? I love to hear how others handle their planning.

Until next time,
   ~ IrieMomma


  1. I read all this and loved it, but I got hung oup on the one thing I keep wanting to ask you that I apparently REALLY missed -- why are you going to Germany, and for how long?? (Just call me NOsy Rosy!)

  2. My mom lives there and is generous enough to bless my family with a trip over to see her in September. The girls and I will be there for a little over 2 weeks, Daddy will join us for 10 days of that. We are SUPER excited! I think that is pretty awesome homeschooling all by itself! But, it means lessons of any sort won't start until October. :)

    So blessed for sure! Thank you, Mom!

  3. Hi there! I read your blog all the time. I'm interested to know if you have a particular book you'll be studying saints from. I was raised Catholic...I'm not anymore, but the stories of those wonderful people really are amazing and should still be taught. I'd be interested if you have something you're working from that doesn't necessarily teach their stories from a Catholic standpoint. Thanks!


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