“St. Francis loved animals, nature and people. He worked all his life for peace and kindness for all.”
“Once a mouse, to its great surprise, found itself between two lion’s paws……
It is wise to help those of smaller size.”
Second graders continue to live through imaginative pictures and stories but begin to transition away from “dreamy” early childhood. A shift occurs where the child no longer sees the world only in its wholeness but has a nascent awareness of the polarities in our lives; something is either wonderful or awful. They are becoming much more aware of this dichotomy in the world and can be sharply critical of others, while being tender and easily hurt on the other side.
They have a keen sense of what is right and wrong; they do not always have the ability to live up to this knowledge, but when given images of good and the right, they resonate deeply with them. Hovering between their earthly and divine natures, the second grader finds wisdom in two main aspects of the language arts content of second grade – saints and fables.
Saints bring pictures of humans who experienced a metamorphosis in their life, and then devoted themselves to service. Conversely, the fables, provide an opportunity for children to recognize their own shortcomings, which are often depicted in a humorous way, and then balanced appropriately by the scales of justice.
These foibles in the fables and the grand nobility in the saints’ stories bring lessons of life with which the children are able to grow wisdom; then they meet “the moral of the story” every day in the moral struggles with their classmates and teachers, an objective lesson in the nature of the family of humanity to which we all belong.
In this is the kernel of good education: looking to nature and looking to the human being. In one lives the spirit of science, mathematics, and technology; in the other that of history, literature, the arts. The fables and legends, our observations and experiences together, form the content and substance of our work this year, and help to bring the class closer together.
From these stories and experiences come the inspiration for the children’s writing and to support this writing, many of our academic goals. Reading instruction establishes a firm foundation in phonics while continuing the emphasis on comprehension. The need for proper punctuation arises as we continue our work of putting speech on paper. Our beginning grammar study reveals there are different types of words: naming words (nouns), doing words (verbs), and describing words (adjectives and adverbs).
Work in arithmetic this year focuses on developing and refining the skills introduced in first grade. In working through the imagination, stories provide ample adventures filled with counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
The times tables are practiced orally with rhythmic clapping and counting sticks, and bean bag games. One of the essential mathematical pieces of second grade is place value, an entirely new way for a child to at look at numbers, thus this explored in various forms: written forms, games and active physical movement.
The second-grade year is about deepening the students’ capacities as they continue to unfold and learn how to be a part of their class community while also exploring their independent nature.