July 5, 2012

Book Review: What Your Second Grader Needs to Know (part 2)

Yesterday, I went through the literature and geography sections of What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know.  I think Hirsch's series of books is a good resource, in that it gives common core recommendations grades 1-8, not only to school systems, but to the public.  This allows us homeschoolers to stay on target, if we wish, or to use it to chastise ourselves for not doing enough, or to ignore completely what the rest of the world is doing.  I don't believe there is a right or wrong way to use this book, but even if you don't follow it in any way, I think its useful to simply be aware of what other kids are doing.  Sort of like looking at all the adorable crafts on Pinterest that I won't have time to make, even if I live to be 100 :)

In continuation of this book review, the next section is World Civilizations.  To be honest, I don't remember doing much world civ at all until middle school, so I was surprised to see how much Hirsch included.  Covered in this section are:
  • the progression of mankind from hunters and gatherers to cities and jobs
  • ancient writing and Babylon
  • Persia vs. Greece
  • Athens (freedom) and Sparta (warriors)
  • Olympics and the alphabet
  • Alexander the Great
  • Africa - Kush (to be honest, I never knew who this was!)
  • India - caste system, Hindu, King Asoka, Buddhism
  • America - the Indian and Civil Wars
Does anyone else remember covering these subjects in second grade??  I seriously doubt the average second grader will take very much away from such a brief overview of these subjects, but I guess it doesn't hurt to touch upon them...unless it teaches them that history is boring!

As for how it compares with Ambleside Online Year 2...
History is covered through Bible stories, Our Island Story, Trial & Triumph, the Child's History of the World and This County of Ours (see the list on Pinterest).  There is a lot of history in AO!  It isn't all "ancient" and "world" history every year, but its all there somewhere. (History is gone through at a slow and steady pace, using a 6 year cycle so that the child can come to a deeper understanding of these subjects again in years 7-12.   And unlike textbooks in public school, its interesting, and we always have time to finish the books!) 

Fine Arts are the next section covered.  Hirsch recommends covering the different types of instruments and imparting a basic understanding of music (rhythm, notes, dynamics), which I agree with and have already done with my son.  For art, second graders need to know the different types of lines, all about patterns and perspective, depth and light.  Thankfully, he doesn't expect them to master any of this!  I still can't draw that well, but I can certainly appreciate those things in a piece of art, and will continue to encourage my son to see them for himself during our ongoing Artist Study.  In addition to music and art, the performances are included.  The types of plays should be discussed - drama, comedy, and tragedy.  AO easily covers this, with its emphasis on Shakespeare beginning in year 1

Check back tomorrow for my review of the math and science sections of What Your Second Grader Needs to Know!

1 comment:

  1. In the Classical Method, which I quasi follow, history in grades 1-4 are seen as seed planting. They aren't supposed to have full understanding or even memory of everything, but when you come back to it again in grades 5-8 certain things should seem more familiar.

    I think we have or will have covered pretty much all of those things once we finish the four-year cycle. I also include a lot of notes about artists, scientists, and religion that might not normally be covered in "history".

    The biggest thing I try to do is show the kids how history is relevant in their lives. For instance, I point out historical references in their television shows. Last semester when we studied the Louisiana Purchase, Bailey happened to be in the Popeye's drive-thru with her Dad and understand the pun they were making in their food advertisement.

    But I must admit that I've used the "does anyone remember studying this in x grade" as an excuse for putting off formal science study. ;-)


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