I personally am very excited to prepare for Grade Two! A Grade Two child should be close to eight years of age and the Waldorf curriculum for this age reflects the increasing separation (but not complete) of the child from the dreamland of the first seven-year-cycle. A second-grader should still be open and trusting about the world, although not nearly as dreamy as your First Grader should have been. Second Grade is a deepening of what has been taught in the First Grade, and we have the privilege of making sure our child really does know all their phonetic sounds of the letters, sight words, going deeper with our four math processes, increased and more realistic Science. We have the opportunity to make sure the child is learning these things through movement, art, and music and rhythm instead of dry, mind-numbing workbooks and reading comprehension paragraphs.
Stories of the Saints sometimes throw parents during this year. The Saints are NOT taught within the context of the Catholic Church (although if you wanted to do that at home, I suppose you could!) There are also Hindu saints (see Hear the Voice of the Griot! by Betty Staley for suggestions) and Donna Simmons has some suggestions for Saints and Heroes from Russia, Native America, China and other places. Donna Simmons writes in her “The Christopherus Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolers”:
“Stories of the Saints is a wonderful Main Lesson found in most Waldorf schools. Here one is telling stories from the lives of people who were not quite of this world – whether this is Brendan braving the waves to sail to new lands, Francis addressing the wolf at Gubbio or Bride traveling to another life via the well. This is not a block on good people or people who have done good deeds. This is about other-wordly people, messengers from the spiritual world – a place the eight year-old still relates to.”
Second Grade material also could include the Buddhist Jataka Tales from India, myths and legends of the world, Native American or African trickster tales, Robin Hood or King Arthur, Mungo. The moral lesson of the tale, as far as trickster tales and fables, is NOT directly said – the child will figure it out! Remember what Steiner said about supplying the child of this age with conclusions (and if you forgot, see this post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/17/inspirational-words-from-steiners-the-education-of-the-child-regarding-teaching-of-the-7-14-year-old/).
Language Arts is centered around starting to learn the types of speech (the four kinds of words – name words, doing words, how words and color words. You can see Dorothy Harrer’s “An English Manual” by Dorothy Harrer), punctuation, writing paragraphs, more word families, sight words. All of this is taught creatively through stories and movement, not through dry workbooks.
Eric Fairman has many examples of how to tackle the four kinds of words in his book regarding second grade and is a good resource.
Math this year has the following goals, taken from Ron Jarman’s “Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner School for Classes I-VIII”:
a) Rhythmic learning by heart the rest of the multiplication tables (up to 12 times) and in many ways: 12 is three times 4, three 4s are 12, 4 into 12 goes three. Rhythmic clapping, speaking, etc of sequences, both forwards and backwards, of sequences like 3 6 9 12
b)Intensive mental arithmetic, and practical problems where is has to be used. Use of the familiar terms “a half of”, “a quarter of”, “the difference between”. Playing store with money.
c)Written arithmetic in units, tens, hundreds and thousands – with addition, subtraction, short multiplication and short division; all involving carrying.
d) Simple money sums
e) Development of symmetrical form drawing – using several shapes on the same piece of paper with one vertical axis of symmetry, extension to horizontal plus vertical axes, with horizontal axis alone.
f) freehand drawing of various symmetrical shapes – ovals, pentagons, pentagrams and interlacing figures
g) Experience of directions of space N, S, E and W
h)Factor multiplication and division
i) Predicting the rough answer of a sum before doing it
j) Translating large numbers into words and vice versa.
Science focuses on the characteristics of animals, taken from the Fables and Saint Stories as part of the three –day rhythm. If you are confused how to do this, I highly suggest you join Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo!group waldorfhomeedcuators and access her second grade files regarding how to do this. Other blocks may include working with the four elements. Gardening is a practical way to incorporate Science in second grade at home. I have a complete post regarding the scope and sequence of Science throughout the years in the Waldorf curriculum: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/28/science-in-waldorf-homeschooling/
Form Drawing has been mentioned, with a focus of mirrored or symmetrical forms on a vertical axis, crossing the axis, working with a horizontal axis and then work with both axis lines toward the end of Second Grade.
Knitting in some schools included projects with purling now; some schools move into crochet. Hand sewing can still be done as well.
Music should be continuing with singing and your blowing instrument and more songs. Piano is not included in the Waldorf curriculum and a stringed instrument is introduced in the Third Grade, but some homeschooling parents do start piano lessons here.
Modeling, as taken from Arthur Auer’s wonderful book “Knowing About the World Through Modeling”, include wonderful ideas for working with the animals of many of the fable and Saint stories.
Wet-on-wet painting lessons often link up with the stories of saints and fables. Dick Bruin and Attie Lichthart write in their book “Painting in Waldorf Education”, that in order to keep the painting from becoming a representation of something from the story instead of a color conversation, sometimes the painting exercises are done a few months after the stories are told.
Gardening, as mentioned before, should be an important part of your curriculum in the home environment. Working with the four elements is also laying the foundation for later physics of the sixth grade, so do that work carefully.
All in all, a wonderful year with lots of material to choose from!