Changes in the child from first to second grade are subtle. He or she still feels the deep connection to the world, her family, nature around her. Yet there is a growing polarity arising: while still manifesting a natural levity, a goodness of spirit, there also appears a shadow side. He or she may tell a fib, be unkind to a classmate in a rather devious way. A certain lower side to the human personality shows itself.
To meet this, the Waldorf teacher brings the stories of saints and legendary figures. These show the goodness within the human being. The teacher also introduces fables: short stories of animals whose characters embody both the higher and lower side of human nature: the tricky monkey, the sly fox, the wise owl. While in the fourth grade the animal kingdom is shown more objectively, how it presents itself in the material world, in second grade the animals are examples of portraits of the human soul. Here we have an example of the wisdom of Waldorf: the outer, objective reality is presented to the child at an age-appropriate time. Yet while the child still is living out of a natural wisdom, a natural connection to the realms of nature, Waldorf knows to make use of this to present true images of human nature in a manner that the second grader can relate to naturally.
In the course work, the second grader has grown in his abilities, he can bring more form to his work. Typically cursive writing is started. Reading ability is more extensive, with the child able to understand the differences between vowels and consonants, word families. The legends and fables provide the reading material, speaking and writing. Nature stories are paired with walks in nature bringing the lives in the soul into more wakeful consciousness with what lives externally. Arithmetic moves to longer exercises, mental practice, odd and even numbers, carrying in addition, and geometrical drawing. The child is naturally lead, at an appropriate pace, to a more abstract mental life.
To see what the children will be learning this year, please click Second Grade 2013-14