Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Recommended Website:
Scientology Today

Book Review:
What Your Second Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good Second Grade Education (The Core Knowledge Series) by E. D. Hirsch

I have the complete set of these books, from kindergarten through 6th grade, and I really recommend them all. The 2nd grade book contains poetry (including "The Night Before Christmas), stories (including a section from Charlotte's Web), American tall tales (including Paul Bunyan), Myths from Ancient Greece (10 stories in all), Learning About Language (nouns, verbs, sentences, etc.), and Familiar Saysings and their origins.

And that's just the language section.

History and geography, visual arts, mathematics, sciences and music are also included in this book. I especially like the history sections in these books. In the 2nd grade book, Civilizations of Asia and Ancient Greece are particularly interesting, with lots of great pictures. The religions of the cultures involved are discussed in a matter-of-fact and respectful manner. The section on ancient Greek politics leads right into the section in American History and democracy.

The next logical step is to discuss slavery in the United States, and important facts of the civil rights movement are explained. Civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks are given attention, and overall it is done with a proper amount of emphasis, and ends on the positive note of changes and improvements in our culture, rather than stopping with the Civil War and leaving it at that.

A basic overview of what a 2nd grader should know in terms of math is included, along with illustrations and details of the various mathematical concepts. This is not meant to be a complete math text by any means, but more of a checkout point. Anything the child is behind in can then be noted and remedied, and the basic concepts are there so the parents at least can figure out what needs to be taught.

I find the science and visual arts sections to be just a brushover of what should be covered. I only use this information as a starting point, and I find other materials to back these subjects up.

This book is very good as part of the overall Core Knowledge curriculum. By itself, it is an incomplete curriculum for a 2nd grader, I think, but it is very good in terms of history, and for the other subjects, I think it is a great starting point.

Whether your child is homeschooled, or goes to school outside the home, I think this is a good book to have around, and the entire Core Knowledge series is a sensible starting point for a homeschooler who creates their own curriculum, like I do. I think for all other parents, it is very important to have this book, in order to fill in any gaps in your child's education.