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.