Where is the 2nd Grader in child development? While the 1st Grader is a “child of nature” the 2nd Grader moves toward a quest, comes to the edge. They are 1 step out of “we are one with the world” – they are disconnecting a bit from the harmony of the younger years – yet they have not yet entered into the stage of the 9 year old who feels a great separateness. The 2nd Grader is clever, and often a trickster. They become interested in polarities. DUALITY is the word that seems to sum up this time period. Their feelings awaken and they are ready to see the dual aspect of human nature. They have more objective awareness about the world around them.
The second grader tries on different identities and aspects of their own nature—sometimes choosing to be the trickster fox and sometimes striving to be as infallible as a saint. This reflects a growing ability to explore the duality of human nature. Fables illustrate man’s animal nature and foibles such as greed and pride. We use the fables to direct their attention, but not burdening them with responsibility directly, to their own animal nature within themselves. Stories of noble people extol the ideals and benefits of selflessness, generosity and other noble human qualities. Through these stories, second graders explore their own moral choices and empathy.
During first grade, children typically love everything because they feel one with the world – with their school, classmates, and teacher. Now the children awaken to feelings of unfairness and questioning. We must recognize that what is going on is a developmentally appropriate shift and they are best supported when we maintain equanimity. We must always strive to ennoble, not enable children – having them learn through their own challenges as they move through the world and develop as strong individuals.
The Second Grade Curriculum is full of rich images, stories, and concepts, which match the child’s developmental needs and cultivates excitement in the learning process. Through all subjects, Art is integrated seamlessly into the curriculum to create a rich sensory experience, grow artistic skills, and make learning imaginative and engaging.
Language Arts is brought to second grade through the study of fables and tales of noble people from around the world. Second graders are at a place in their development where they explore different identities and aspects of their own human nature. These stories of both human foibles and human nobleness help children explore their own character. These stories are also a primary way in which we introduce and embed the academic elements of the curriculum—such as vocabulary development, vowel patterns, sight words, and parts of speech. Our curriculum endeavors to develop rich imagery and comprehension skills and to build the ability to summarize, write, and retell.
Mathematics in second grade is also brought through rich images. Through active, multisensory methods, children further their conceptual understanding of the four processes and place value. They build knowledge of the times tables through skip counting, and learn how to add and subtract larger numbers using hands on manipulatives. Students develop inner pictures through number stories in order to understand the concepts that are represented by math symbols and processes.
Students continue weekly garden time and Inquiry-based Science explorations. Through hands-on garden and science activities they hone observational skills and build wonder for the natural world, which leads to a desire to respect and protect it. Social Studies builds on our story curriculum as students consider the importance of individual action and character and explore how noble people have made a difference in others’ lives.
Movement and Handwork continue to challenge the children physically, builds their coordination, and fosters healthy brain development through body-brain integration. Spanish is an exciting, immersion-based method that engages the whole body and mind through games, songs, and verses.