learning styles

Everyone learns differently, and there have been several types of learning styles documented, such as auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic.  Often a child will take after their parent, so if you know you’re a verbal learner, perhaps your child is too.  Knowing what type of learner your child is will help you teach the material in a way they are best able to learn it.

Verbal students typically do well in traditional schools.  They are good readers and writers, and in general are excellent students because so much of school is geared toward this learning style.  Of course, they can do very well in the homeschool setting too!

Auditory learners learn best when they hear things.  So explaining a concept to them is easier for them to retain than if they must read it to themselves.  They learn best by listening and repeating the information back to you.   Reading and writing the material just frustrates them.

Kinesthetic learners are very hands-on and learn best with things they can touch and feel.  Math lessons should involve lots of manipulatives to handle, and science of course can be accomplished with plenty of experiments and physical demonstrations.   Many kinesthetic kids would rather tour a historical museum or participate in a historical reenactment than read a history text, for example.

winter nature study

You might think there’s not a lot to learn about outdoors in the winter, but for a curious second grader, nature is always full of fun!  Even without leaves on the trees and many of the animals and insects gone, a hike in the woods can still be educational.   A backyard exploration would be fun too!

Notice all the birds in the trees and figure out what kind they are, what they eat in the winter, and anything else you can find out.  Are there any migrating birds passing through?  How do birds and other animals keep warm in the winter?  You could talk about hibernation too!

You can explore the snowflakes that fall from the sky.  How are they formed?  How cold does it need to be to snow?  What about hail, sleet, freezing rain, and fog?  There are pictures online and in books of enlarged images of snowflakes, and these are beautiful to look and and admire the crystalline shapes.

Toward the beginning of spring, if you live in the right part of the country, it’s fun to learn about maple sugaring, how to tap the maple trees and make syrup from their sap.   You see, winter isn’t a dull topic at all!

Reading the newspaper

By second grade, most kids can read fairly well, and more importantly, they’re eager to learn more.  Practice makes perfect, although finding them suitable material to read can sometimes be a challenge.  The library is great, of course, but have you ever thought of introducing your child to newspapers.

The layout of a newspaper is a good place to start.  Talk about the front page and how the day’s biggest headlines are found there.  The front page also contains the name of the newspaper, the date, the price, and usually a directory of what other sections are included in that day’s paper.  You can explain what classified are, and that they include both job listings as well as things to buy and sell.  There are also some legal announcements and such in that section of the paper.Other sections will often vary by which paper you’re reading, but may include state or local news too.

Newspapers are great for current events, which could be part of your second grade social studies plans for homeschooling.  Have your child choose an article to summarize in writing, or give an oral summary of it.  With today’s world transitioning to more and more news online and less in print, a short introduction to a newspaper could serve your child well.

Should 2nd graders begin learning a foreign langauge?

Not everyone is lucky enough to speak a second language at home, or to have close relatives and friends who do.  How about the rest of us who want our young children to learn a foreign language, and in particular, the homeschooling families who don’t have public school resources to utilize?

There are several options for parents seeking to teach their homeschooled kids a foreign language, but they do require some research first to find the best fit for your family.  The best way to develop fluency in a foreign language is for the child to speak and hear the language daily, but that isn’t always possible.  If relatives of yours speak Spanish, then obviously this is an easier choice to teach your child over French, which the child would never have a chance to practice.

Along those same lines, speaking the language with another person is much preferable over speaking it into a computer.  Many of the available computer programs are excellent, but reciting vocabulary words to yourself or the computer just doesn’t give the same quality of feedback as if you were speaking them to another person.

Learning a foreign language can be a difficult process, so look at the long-term benefits and the advantages your child will gain by speaking another language.  And remember, with learning a foreign language, persistence is key.

field trips

Public school kids have field trips, so homeschooled kids should have them too!  Field trips are a fun way to get out of the classroom, or out of the house in this case, and experience a bit of the real world.  Even things that don’t seem terribly educational on the surface serve a role in teaching kids about the world.  The end of the year picnic for your homeschool group is just as appropriate a field trip as a trip to the zoo, because it gives homeschooled kids a chance to engage their peers in social situations and have some fun.

Trips to an art museum, for example, don’t just teach about art.  Kids also learn what a museum looks like and feels like, and they learn about the expected behavior in art museums, like not touching the artwork!   Some museums don’t allow photography or their art or exhibits, and it’s important to explain these things to children.  These are lessons that could never be learned just from a book.

Historical sites can be invaluable to reinforce concepts in kids’ minds, but often kids find them dull or boring.  So look for kid-friendly places to take your 2nd grader, and keep their interest!   Some state parks or other sites also offer periodic classes for homeschoolers, and these are often well worth your effort to register for  them.

2nd grade social studies

Social studies is a very broad subject area, but well worth exploring with your second grader.  Some states even require it, so be sure to check with the laws in your area so you can meet the minimum standards.  Many times, parents consider social studies a “fun” area, which gets covered only after math, reading, and writing, or the more major subjects.  Some of the organized curriculum formats make include lesson plans for social studies, but otherwise, you’ll need to come up with something on your own.

Social studies can include a wide range of things like current events, citizenship, geography, history, and the study of different cultures or religions.  This is an area that lends itself well to field trips as well, like historical places and monuments.  There are numberous museums you could visit to enrich your social studies curriculum, too.

Some parents will ask their second grader to find a newspaper article to discuss for current events, or buy their child a globe to foster an interest in geography.  Many formal history curricula emphasize simple biographies for young kids to read and learn about history, but certainly each family can do what works for them.  Social studies is usually something kids look forward to!

Celebrating Fall

There’s so much to do with young kids in the fall.  Second grade is the perfect time for a field trip to the pumpkin patch, for example.  Lots of small farms offer pumpkin patch excursions for kids this time of year, and some even combine that with a fun hayride too.  Apple orchards are fun too, especially for pick-your-own apples, and homemade apple cider!

Anything having to do with a harvest theme is popular in the fall, from September all the way through Thanksgiving.  It’s also harvest time for winter squash, turnips, and all sorts of other garden produce too.  Maybe a lesson about gardening or plant life cycles would be useful, or even something having to do with the weather and the importance of bringing in the harvest before the first frost.

You can also make pies, bread, and other pumpkin treats, or learn how to make applesauce or apple cider with your second grader.  They’ll enjoy the food even more if they helped to make it!

Another beautiful way to celebrate fall would be a hike in the woods to admire the fall foliage.  State parks often have hiking trails, and some city or county parks too, and you could even bring some friends along and pack a lunch.  Talk to your kids about the changes in nature in the fall, and how animals and plants prepare for winter too.

creative writing

Did you ever have to do that writing experiment in elementary school where the teacher makes you close your eyes for a minute and try to clear your mind?  Then you open your eyes and write down whatever pops into your head.  Most kids hate this kind of thing because the lack of direction makes them a bit uncomfortable.  It’s one thing to have a writing assignment, and quite another to be left floundering, trying to figure out what you’re “supposed” to write!

But this sort of experience is a type of creative writing, and sometimes it’s actually quite a good idea to write in a more unstructured and free-flowing way.   In second grade, many kids enjoy telling stories, so you can ask your second grader to write a story, either anything they want, or within certain parameters, and this is a painless and fun introduction to creative writing.

There are books and websites galore with suggested writing prompts for kids, which are suggestions for what topic to write about.  Quite often these prompts will consist of a sentence or two and the child should complete the thought in a story.  For example, “If I had a million dollars, I would…..” or “As Sally got off the school bus this morning, a squirrel came by and grabbed her lunch bag.  Then he ran up a tree with her lunch and Sally…..”

Creative writing and storytelling is great to expands kids’ minds and sharpen their writing skills too.  Who ever said there was no room for imagination at school?  Make creative writing part of your homeschooling day!

teaching about weather

There are very few more hands-on approaches to science than teaching about weather.   Most kids in second grade are very curious about the world around them, and this kind of a practical aspect to science is really appealing to them.  Weather is something they can see, hear, and feel…it’s REAL!

There are some great ideas for projects involving measurement of rain with a rain gauge, or atmospheric pressure with a barometer, or even humidity with a hygrometer.   Weather isn’t all about temperature, after all.  You can teach about wind patterns, like how the jet stream influences the weather in North America, and even about how ocean currents affect our weather.  Kids always enjoy learning about big storms like hurricanes and tornadoes too, and talking about some of the big storms the world has seen is a great way to throw a little geography into the mix, as well.

Measurement of weather is a great opportunity for practicing those graphing skills, and weather is a topic that lends itself well to science experiments too.  Let the kids predict the forecast based on what they’ve learned, and then check the actual weather conditions to see if they’re right!

2nd grade handwriting

Different school distrcits may advocate different writing styles, for many different reasons.  One of the perks of homeschooling is that you don’t have to go with what the public school wants, but you can determine what works best for your individual child.  Two of the major handwriting styles are Zaner-Bloser, which is a traditional block printing style, and D‘Nealian, which is a more recently developed curvy style of writing meant to make the transition to learning cursive a bit easier.

By second grade, most children have mastered basic handwriting.  But remember, practice makes perfect!  If your child is struggling, there are several handwriting programs designed to help.  A program called Handwriting Without Tears seems to be especially popular with public schools in this country, and it works very well to help kids learn proper letter formation.   There are other programs too, so be sure to research the subject if your child needs a little extra help that simple repetition isn’t providing.

There are also special pencil grips to make it easier for struggling kids to attain a correct pencil grip.  These are usually plastic or rubber, and slide onto a pencil to make it easier to hold.  They’re inexpensive and definitely worth a try.  There’s also something called a “heavyweight pencil” that can help kids to focus their attention on letter formation.  It’s a mechanical pencil that is actually weighted to help kids learn better writing control.

If all else fails, an evaluation by an Occupational Therapist may be in order.  They can check your child’s motor skills and eye-hand coordination much better than you can at home, and often recommend helpful strategies to solve the problem.