Students learn the principles of living a Christian life and developing values based on their connection to a loving God and the teaching of Jesus. The celebrations of the Church, and the basic components of the Mass, devotion, and prayer, are explored. The Sacrament of Baptism is explained and the place of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, unfolds. Jesus' teachings on forgiveness, His life and miracles, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the seasons of the church year, are included. The emphasis in second grade is on the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist as they prepare to receive these two sacraments.
To facilitate learning to read, students are introduced to initial, medial, and final sounds, rhyming, consonant blends and digraphs. Some of the skills taught include: alphabetical order, capitalization, punctuation, critical listening, identifying the main idea, using context clues, recalling story details, using illustrations, classifying and categorizing, make predictions, sequencing events, recognizing cause and effect, and distinguishing between fiction and non-fiction. Guided reading and individual “book bags” strengthen each student’s individual needs to enhance reading fluency, word recognition, and comprehension skills. Vocabulary words are taught including synonyms/antonyms, and classification. Language development and writing process skills are part of the reading experience.
Students discover what it means to be a writer, using the "Writer's Workshop" method. The students have the creative freedom to choose topics that are meaningful to their own lives. The “Writer's Workshop" method incorporates a guided mini-lesson and independent writing to provide a time for practice. While the students write, teachers conduct individual conferences to build upon each student's specific writing skills. Students also conference with each other and peer edit.
During these early years students learn various math concepts, develop problem solving skills, and use real life applications to understand how to use math in everyday life. Primary students develop their number sense through counting, comparing, sequencing, reading and writing numbers. Addition, subtraction, two place addition and subtraction (eventually with regrouping), and writing ordinal numbers are skills developed. Through the use of age-appropriate resources, such as manipulatives, students develop an understanding of measurement, weight, length, volume, time, money, fractions, constructing and using graphs, and describing geometric figures. The online math program Khan Academy is used by students in grades 1 and 2 as a supplement to their classroom work.
Using their five senses, students explore the world around them through observation and experimentation. They compare, contrast, and sort what they discover. Some of the topics covered include: animals and their habitats, land forms, water, the earth, weather, seasons, the night sky, magnetism, plants, simple machines and movement. Experimentation becomes more sophisticated and lab skills are introduced in first and second grade.
Students participate in weekly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities in small collaborative groups. Students design and build solutions to problems such as building a machine to sort large and small peanuts, constructing a bridge that could hold the weight of one hundred pennies, and building a boat powered by their breadth. STEM helps to promote critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and creativity.
Students begin to explore the relationships of individuals and groups, and how people structure their families and neighborhoods. A sense of community is developed and the variety of communities is explored: farm, city, and village. Our country of America is examined, map-reading skills are introduced, and a review of holidays and customs are pursued. These objectives are followed by the concepts of government, geographic features, important leaders, justice, equality, presidents, and famous civil rights leaders.
Students are learning Spanish through books, games, songs, art, and other hands-on activities. The children are introduced to colors, numbers, letters, animals, foods, and basic commands. They are working on a year-long book titled "Todo sobre yo" (All About Me), which requires the students to be the authors and illustrators. They are learning how to talk about themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods all in Spanish. Culturally, the children are becoming aware of other customs and traditions that exist around the world.