“In each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.” -Rudolf Steiner
By second grade, children have a depth of imagination, interest and focus strongly attuned to learning. They are more aware of their experiences in the larger world and the values and perspectives of others. The curriculum and experiences in the second grade year build on the foundation of first grade, transitioning the students from the experience of one and the whole to duality and comparison. The scope of the second grade curriculum juxtaposes fables with legends drawn from diverse cultures. Descriptions of the animals in the fable precede the story, which is told without moralizing. The students gain a deep intuitive grasp of human moral lessons brought through the characterizations of the various animals. At the same time, the highest moral striving of humanity is portrayed through legends of individuals and their accomplishments. On one hand, the stories of noble deeds and self sacrifice cultivate a sense of wonder and admiration for human striving; on the other hand, the animals, with more self-serving antics, often mirror the children’s lower self. This polarity is seen so clearly in the second grader; in hearing these ancient stories, the child is able better discern him or herself in sometimes a humorous or other times a deeply meaningful manner. Teachers continue to use movement, rhythm, and rhyme as a key instructional tool. Second graders practice and expand skills in retelling of these stories and fables in sequence.
Writing is taught through copying text that the teacher has presented, as well as being introduced to dictation. Children continue to practice handwriting and are introduced to spelling, basic parts of speech and punctuation as they write summaries of stories in their own Main Lesson book. By the end of the school year, some second graders are ready to begin the process of writing independent compositions.
The vocabulary of poems and stories that children commit to memory increases in complexity and length. Recitation of poems, rhymes, and tongue twisters continues to build a love for language, phonemic awareness, and clear speech.
Practice with spelling, phonics, punctuation, reading, sentence structure, capitalization, and distinguishing upper and lower case letters. Literacy is built through listening, vocabulary development, poetry and stories. Reading continues as children read from their own work and begin to read a book as a class, each taking a turn.
Continuation with the four arithmetic processes includes a strong focus on the memorization of times tables, which are learned through games and activities involving clapping, rhyme and movement. By Grade Two, students work on place value, mental arithmetic, word problems, and a range of other exercises to sharpen their computational abilities. The study of numbers and number patterns is continued through games, stories and situational problems.
In early grades, science is taught through the natural world – where children this age are most at home. Walks in the surrounding woods and wetlands, as well as gardening activities, develop the children’s observation and curiosity, building a relationship to their living environment. In the classroom, stories that personify nature and relate its processes and qualities in experiential terms are most meaningful to the second grader. These experiences provide a basis for scientific inquiry in the upper grades. Through the study of the seasons and the months of the year the children develop a sense of wonder and joy in the natural world. The goal is for children to keenly observe nature and the rhythms of the year so that they are able to build on this knowledge in Grade Three.
Following the morning Main Lesson, students move between 40-minute subject classes which engage them in a variety of ways. A more in-depth general description of these subjects can be found in the Specialty Classes section of the website.
Students have multiple recesses throughout the day, in almost all weather, to energize their bodies, let their academic studies rest, and activate their minds through social play, group dynamics, and exploration of the physical environment. Students have access to a large playing field, woods and a stream, natural climbing structures and digging spots, all which encourage them to engage them in unstructured and imaginative play.
Physical Education is specifically taught by the Movement and Games teacher, and the focus for Grade Two involves teamwork and challenge, such as variations of cooperative tag games, as well as continued skill-building from Grade One. In the winter, students participate in cross country skiing/snowshoeing and travel to a local ice rink for our Learn to Skate program.
Students in second grade continue their studies of German and Spanish, which each meet twice per week throughout the school year. In Grade Two, we are most concerned with furthering cultural exposure and increasing memory, language and vocabulary skills. These languages are taught mostly in the native tongue to familiarize students with the sound and cadence of the particular language and use games, stories, guided drawings, song and movement to engage students with the language. It is not until the older grades when writing and grammar are explored.
The focus for second grade is on solidifying knitting skills that were introduced in Grade One, along with the introduction of the purl stitch. Sometimes crochet is brought in during the second half of the year. Projects are still of a useful and aesthetically-pleasing nature and may include such things as hats, small bags, placemats, flute cases or even a small doll or animal.
Art is part of every class, every day and the aesthetic focus of all subjects is a hallmark of Waldorf education. While no formal art classes are taught in the lower grades, students learn beeswax modeling, form drawing, wet-on-wet watercolor painting and traditional drawing and crafts. These are led by the class teacher and are often accompanied by stories or related back to something the students have recently learned or experienced.
Music, like art, is a part of almost every class, every day. Singing and musical games are still an excellent learning tool for second graders, both in their Main Lesson studies, as well as in special subject classes. Students in the lower grades have General Music classes as well, which focus on the introduction of musical concepts through movement and games, rhythm instruments, and singing. Musical vocabulary and written expression will come later in the grades once the foundation of hearing and experiencing music has been laid. Flute playing (Pentatonic and/or Diatonic) is a combined effort between the class teacher and the Music teacher.