Developmental Picture of the Child
Grade Two serves as a bridge between the playfulness of Grade One and the dramatic birth of the individual in Grade Three. At this age children still have some of the imaginative consciousness of early childhood but are becoming more aware of themselves and of the values and perspectives of others. Each child has a deeper sense of his or her ability to grow and learn.
How the Curriculum Meets the Grade Two Student
Solid bases continue to be laid on three primary fronts: language arts and the ongoing preparation toward strong reading and writing skills; mathematics through solid acquisition of a number sense, place value, and addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills; and nature stories and outdoor play. Grade Two continues to be structured around daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms, such as the alternation of quiet focus and active movement within a lesson; the weekly subject lessons; the monthly change of the main lesson block; and annual festivals and celebrations.
“In a society that may be nudging children prematurely into adulthood, Waldorf schools try to preserve the magic and fairy-tale wonder of being a child.”
Importance of Movement
Every day includes a variety of movement activities as our movements facilitate greater cognitive function; our entire brain structure is intimately connected to and grown by the movement mechanisms within our body. The healthy functioning of the senses, particularly the sense of self-movement (or proprioception), sense of life (or well-being), and balance (or vestibular) is paramount to learning. When one of these is not fully functioning or developing, learning cannot take place to its highest capacity.
Mathematical concepts continue to be brought in three ways. Imaginative stories (word problems) form the basis for developing problem-solving. Practice problems and math games strengthen numerical fluency. Movement and other creative activities foster strong math skills by grounding the learning in the whole body rather than just in the head, deepening learning and making it accessible for wider use in later years.
The language arts curriculum focuses on stories of saints and heroes from around the world and juxtaposes these with fables, which together portray the highs and lows of human potential. They speak directly to the inner life experience of the children, reassuring and inspiring them with a strong picture of morality and responsibility. Writing (punctuation, syllables, capitalization letters, sentence construction, etc.) and early reading skills are regularly practiced. Recitation to build memory skills is central to class work; this capacity for memorization will stand the students in good stead in the academic years ahead.
Nature stories and nature exploration provide the basis for later studies in science and geography. Some of the activities which help lay a healthy foundation for scientific thinking include walks where the child’s observation is stimulated to notice such things as the seeds in the swaying grasses, the pattern of the bark on different trees, the glitter within a rock, the geometry of a particular leaf or flower, the reflection in a puddle, and so on. The important thing at this stage is not to allow concepts to become fixed, but rather to let the observations stand, to expand upon them, and to provide opportunities for experimentation and comparison.