Peaceful Days: More About Homeschooling Waldorf Second Grade

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!

Carrie

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9 thoughts on “Peaceful Days: More About Homeschooling Waldorf Second Grade

  1. Hi Carrie

    Can you talk more about what “mirroring” the child through stories (i.e 2nd grade is saint/fables)? I’m not totally clear on what that looks like. Or if you have before, can you point me to the link?

    We didn’t have much success with 1st grade fairy tales until only about 3 months ago when my daughter was 7 1/2. Before that, she wasn’t interested in them but not because she was scared or anything like that. Everything else, including handwork, movement, reading, she was always way ahead. She can also sink into her creative play very well. But my son enjoyed the fairy tales and he just turned 6 though I’m not sure if that means necessarily that they are “mirroring” him.

    Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated.

    • Hi there, that is so interesting….As you know, in general the stories of the Waldorf curriculum reflect and engage where the child is developmentally,,,in other words, the eight-year-old is beginning to realize there are choices that we can make in our actions (subconsciously, of course!!) and they are realizing in a more conscious way good, bad aspects of the human in themselves and in their social interactions…Also, the eight year old has an expansive, energetic, sometimes exaggerating or boasting side, and the folktales and American Folk Heroes such as Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, etc…So in this way, we understand the stories which carries the academic and artistic pieces (and those skills are grade level/can be adjusted up and down) but the stories themselves mirror where the child is developmentally as they incarnate into their bodies and life on Earth and their destinies. Also, the stories of the early grades are considered part of History and the evolution of the historic consciousness of man as we trace what pre-civilization people might have said about origins and such to folktales to Old Testament tales (people living in groups, building shelters, trading, etc) to direct history in the 5th grade….I think it is Roy Wilkinson who writes on this so well.
      Heaviness for an early morning, LOL. :)
      Does that help?
      Carrie

  2. Hi Carrie
    I like this post – I have a second grader as well. We are enjoying our year a lot although I must admit I have seriously slacked on the form drawing, knitting, and recorder. I’m very interested in the link about movement but unfortunately I am not familiar with some of the exercises and they are not explained. Can you talk about copper rod exercises and the threefold spiral? We do a lot of movement and mid-line work, obstacle courses, and lots of good stuff like that. I notice my son has some trouble keeping track of left and right, he’s not reading and does not like writing – I know this is completely typical for some 8 year olds (someone please explain that to my mother! Haha!!!) but I’d like to include more because this is just the type of stuff he enjoys! Thanks!

  3. I have found what you said about math to be absolutely true for us. Unfortunately, whenever my daughter encounters even the slightest bit of difficuty, she gets so frustrated, her eyes start to well up and I find it very difficult to help her out of that place. She literally tunes me out, says he doesn’t want my help, says she can figure things out herself, but she pretty much just falls apart. It seems pointless to keep going when she’s a mess, but I feel I don’t want to reinforce that everytime she gets a little frustrated, we can just pack it up and quit. And with the math facts, I know so much of it involves the clapping, snapping, stomping,etc to get it into the body, but she also strongly resists this–says its “babyish.” So, I’m not sure where to go with that either.

  4. Gruessle

    I didn’t understand things like case in English UNTIL I studied German. It is very useful in that way. :)

    I have an MA in English, and I teach at Community College…this knoweldge has turned me into a grammarian LOL

    Jennifer

  5. Thanks Carrie. I am trying to do the second grade myself without the consultant. Feeling pretty confident- but those saints were worrying me.

    • Yes, I go back and forth…They were not part of the original Steiner school’s curriculum, yet they do such a powerful job of showing an eight-year -old that yes, you have these “baser” instincts found in the fables, trickster tales but here are examples of “otherwordly” people – highly recommend Saints and Heroes by Donna Simmons as she pulls those otherworldly heroes and saints from many world traditions, and none of it is associated with religion..
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  6. Pingback: How To Plan Waldorf Homeschool Second Grade: PART ONE « The Parenting Passageway

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