I wrote a pretty detailed post regarding second grade planning here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/07/planning-waldorf-second-grade/ but wanted to recap half-way through this grade what I have learned in the doing. (I did this for first grade as well, please check under the first grade tag).
Here is a list regarding some things I have learned along the way in teaching second grade that I think would be valuable for other parents:
1. Regarding math, I think second grade is (and not to sound scary at all!) a bit of a make or break point because your child starts to size up in their head whether or not they are “good” at math or not. In other words, it seems like it could be the time for a child to generate a “math phobia”. Much of this, I think has to do with temperament and personality. Are they the type of child who will persevere and try and try again and be okay with trying to figure something out or does that just make them fall apart? I think this is something you can tuck in your hat and work with in math.
2. Daily math practice is very, very important when you are not doing a Main Lesson Block on math. The math facts often seem rather floating around and up and away in the mind’s eye of a child….In third grade, these facts should be more well-solidified, but I think it is worth practicing in second grade.
3. As far as language arts, I do not think you need to jump into spelling and grammar as of yet, but we had to because my daughter is learning German and in the German language, grammar is the heart of it all (nouns are capitalized in the German language, for instance) and my daughter was starting to bring German grammar into English..so we had to go there a little bit. I used some of the lessons from Dorothy Harrer’s “An English Manual” book and those were helpful.
Other things to think about include writing utensil (we have been using stick crayons, but I do know Second Grade parents who are using other utensils). Also, when will you be bringing in cursive?
4. Keep carving out time for baking, gardening, cleaning and allow more consecutive days for project completion. How about music, painting and modeling?
5. I strongly believe that there are anthroposophic indications for saving purling in handwork until the third grade. Just a thought. Go read through Steiner and see what you think.
6. Form drawing and movement are important. For movement suggestions in block form see here: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/classroom.pdf
7. After dealing with Saints and Heroes this year, I am not totally convinced that they should be part of the curriculum for the homeschooling family unless the parent is really comfortable with them and those stories. On the one hand, the saints were not part of the original Waldorf school curriculum, and whilst I think it is worthy and important to look into them and see why you don’t connect with them (because there are plenty of Hindu, Islamic, African saints in many places, also heroes of people who were otherworldly, figure who had a connection to the spiritual world that an eight-year-old with one foot on the bridge and one foot on earth could really relate to!), I also don’t think people should bring these stories if they are not comfortable.
Before you give up Saints, though, you might want to check out the Saints and Heroes book by Donna Simmons here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/publications-for-grades-1-through-5/saints-heroes-a-2nd-grade-language-arts-block.html
There are saints and heroes from many different cultures in this resource.
We personally did enjoy saints and heroes along with fables, Native American tales, more fairy tales (Russian ones this year, and I know some families who did a block of Celtic tales). I think second grade could be just those animal trickster tales, fables (no telling the moral please, please let the child figure it out!), more fairy tales, folktales. (King of Ireland’s Son is also traditional in many Waldorf schools). However, I think we still need to show the eight-year-old the duality of man, which is why I think so many schools do use the saints and heroes (otherworldly wonderful qualities close to the spiritual worlds) and the fables or trickster tales (the baser parts of being human). Food for thought anyway.
7. If you are feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up Waldorf, please don’t. You really can do the very essential – opening things (an opening song, a seasonal verse, a longer poem to memorize), do your mental math if not a math block and jump into Main Lesson work and be done. It is better than giving up this great healing education! And, you eventually go through a cycle and time when you can add more back in!
8. Plan for summers OFF. Your child will make so much progress if you just let this material rest, rest, rest.
Hope that helps your planning!