So far, the learning in a curriculum inspired by Waldorf pedagogy has been somewhat sleepy, with the dreamlike quality of the classical fairy tale. But now, as the children continue their practice with the basic skills and concepts presented in first grade, they eagerly take up the sword of responsibility for their new-found abilities. They write, they read, they calculate.
Each child awakens to these milestones in his or her own time, yet, on the whole, this is usually a year when the child takes giant steps forward in capacity and understanding.
The literary focus of the year reflects this dawning of self-consciousness, with its surprising awakening to the inherent duality in every human soul. On the one hand the children hear stories of idealistic heroes and saints, and on the other hand, they hear Animal Fables. The latter have appeared in all cultures as traditional teaching stories; in them, animals take on human characteristics and foibles, interacting with one another and with human beings in often surprising, but always educational ways. And, finally, some teachers of Second Grade also tell the tale of The King of Ireland’s Son, in which the striving, struggling human being AND the magical, mythical animal characters both play their part. From these stories arise exercises in recitation, group writing, and the beginnings of original composition. These exercises, and the spelling and grammar lessons associated with them, develop the children’s growing literacy.
At the same time, the skills developed in First Grade are the firm basis for further studies in number. But now this work intensifies, as the children learn to solve word problems involving all four processes, and to bring these into written form. The children also continue their rhythmical practice of number patterns on a daily basis, with the recitation of times tables in combination with walking, clapping, stamping and jumping.