Deconstructing Grade Two

Grade Two promises to be an interesting year as not only is there a wide variety of stories to choose from (legends, tall tales, Saints, Jataka Tales, animal stories, Aesop’s fables, trickster tales) but also a wide range of academic, social and emotional abilities and levels amongst eight year olds.

Here are a few thoughts for heading into grade two:

  • If the purpose of the stories at this point is to show the eight year old that we identify with his emerging sense of  internal duality, then we show him that in the curriculum (and how that works out!)  We don’t say the moral, but let the child come to the conclusion himself.  It can be hard to watch your eight-year-old appear blank with some of the fables, for example, or not really seem to “get” the life of a particular Saint, but hang in there as the child digests it all!  It will come around later!
  • Get your spiritual baggage in order.  If you have been hurt by religion, unsure of religion, please realize the Saint stories are not taught from a particular religious point of view, (unless you WANT to teach them from a particular point of view; that is the joy of homeschooling!), so please let go of what you are carrying around.  Your child does not carry this baggage and these are important stories for your child to hear. 
  • Math is so important this year, learning place value is huge and really deepening those four math processes is vital.  Math stories are still typically used at this point, but do be thinking ahead to when your stories for math will disappear.  Waldorf schools are not especially known for being strong in math, but this can be highly dependent upon the teacher.  As you use stories, please do make sure they are not so complex you lose sight of the actual math!  Math also takes repetition and practice, so some should be done every day during your opening activities if it is not a math block with breaks here and there.  Some teachers in Waldorf Schools also add a “math track” several days a week, like an extra lesson time.
  • I feel strongly science this year should be tied to nature stories and in ways local to your area; being out in the weather, bringing more consciousness to what the weather does, looking at habitats, gardening, cooking, taking care of pets. 
  • Handwork should still be centered on knitting and crafts.  Wet felting is a wonderful activity. I feel that purling and dry needle felting should be left for past the nine year change.  I know some would disagree.  You can view the back posts on handwork to see more about the developmental rationale of this from a Waldorf perspective.
  • If you are American, you must decide what you want to do about Native American stories.  Some curriculums put Native American legends in second, some put Native American studies with stories in third, some put Native American things in fourth grade with local geography.   You are the teacher, and you get to decide!
  • Music, singing, modeling, drama and painting all still play important roles in the curriculum.  They are not to be missed!
  • Foreign languages:  usually most Waldorf schools start with two foreign languages in the kindergarten years orally and immerse the children in the language.  The foreign languages are typically ones that are “opposites”, ie a Romance Language and German, or a Romance Language and Russian.  The best way to bring this is through a native speaker.  I have several posts on this blog regarding foreign languages in the homeschool, please refer to those. 
  • Please do make sure your eight-year-old is still getting plenty of time to play, to dream, to be outside, to participate in preparing for religious events and festivals.

I would love to hear your experiences with second grade.  Please leave me a comment below if you are not off at the beach this hot July. Smile

Many blessings,

Carrie

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10 thoughts on “Deconstructing Grade Two

  1. Carrie,
    Could you please tell me what ‘math tracks’ are? We are preparing for first grade right now, but always wanted to know what those are. We have never used them, neither I nor my husband. I tried to find an explanation for it online, but different sites give completely different descriptions for it so I am still clueless. Is it something that explains a specific math calculation, a timeline or something different?
    Thank you!
    Maggie

    • Hi Maggie, All “match tracks” refer to is the practice that some Waldorf teachers have in providing an extra lesson in math each week, like on a Friday, if you are not in math block. Math is done every day as part of the “warm up” of the Main Lesson but I have seen some teachers put in an extra lesson each week that might take half an hour or so at home. Some would wait to start this until the second half of first grade or even second grade. I think it would be up to you as a teacher. I believe Marsha Johnson has talked about this, but I have heard this notion other places as well.
      The joy of homeschooling is in deciding if this is right for your child or not!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie!
      That is completely different of what I have found online. So it is basically just an added math lesson during the year.
      I plan to start counting games in the beginning of the year, as you suggested, and after the first math block we will see if I add an extra lesson during the week.
      Maggie

  2. Here are two “gifts” for those preparing for Grade Two. The first is a link to my Saint Nicholas Stories that you may find useful in December.

    Saint Nicholas Stories

    http://www.eons.com/uploads/0/8/08470603_Saint_Nicholas%20Stories.pdf

    And a link to my version of Native American stories

    The Sky People

    http://www.eons.com/uploads/8/5/85167284_The_Sky%20People.pdf

    Both of these sets of stories were created for my Kindergartens. But they are quite suitable for the early grades as well (any age, actually!). I used The Sky People for the week or so before Thanksgiving. Both of these manuscripts will be published as books when I get the illustrations sorted out. In the meantime, In the meantime, consider them a private gift.

    Christine Natale

    • Wow, Christine, how generous of you! Thank you so much for this wonderful resource.
      As a non-American I do not know much about Native-American tales, so this is great for me to start delving deeper into those legends.
      Thank you again!
      Warmly,
      Maggie

  3. Thanks, Carrie. As always, your site is such a blessing!

    Thank you, Christine!!! I was already planning a short Native American block in November, as I have a collection of native american trickster tales that I want to do around that time. Your Sky People stories will fit in perfectly and I can use them with both of my children. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Hi there,
    I Hope this email finds you well. My daughter is in grade 2 and finds math difficult. I was interested in more specific tips on helping her find more ease with math through nature. we live in a wonderful country side on a lake. How can I use this beautiful space and enhance her math learning. We also have a puppy. Nature, Puppy and Math! examples would be fabulous.
    Thank you so much.
    Karen From Canada

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