Main Lesson begins in the first grade. Children will experience a Main Lesson following but not limited to the Waldorf methods. Grade 1 focuses on fairytales, letters, and learning the quality numbers including number sense and addition and subtraction. Grade 2 focuses on fables, life cycles, saint stories and other inspiring people, as well as continuing to build addition, subtraction, and now simple multiplication and division skills. Main Lesson is taught on a 4 week alternating schedule between language arts and mathematics. When one subject is not being taught in Main Lesson, it is being practiced in the Practice Class, and then reversed the following month. Main Lesson follows a three day rhythm starting the week with a story, recalling it and drawing it the next day, and then writing about it on the third day. Through the recalling, the drawing, and the writing children build on their memory, comprehension, imagery, phonics, and learn writing structure and form.
Seasonal Circle Movement
A large part of the Waldorf methodologies includes a morning or afternoon circle. During this time children experience a host of beneficial activities. We work to cross all the midlines, preparing children for reading and writing. We sing seasonal songs and recite poetry aligning ourselves with our voices and with the rhythms of the earth. We dance together offering social joy and laughter. In the grades, we also use the circle time to count and play phonics games thus bringing these lessons into our bodies. The circle helps us to feel united as a group and brings joy to our day while also building on Main Lesson learning.
The young child is a being of imagination, creativity, exploration and play. Stories, songs, puppetry and deep time in nature all serve to stretch the canvas widely of imaginative capacities. These seeds of imagination in early years, later develop the capacity for abstract conceptual thoughts as the child approaches their teens.
For young children, willful and purposeful activity imbues a feeling of connection to be a part of the world, imitating the adults in their surroundings, and to become confident in their bodies and minds. Sweeping the floor, raking leaves, shoveling snow, gathering firewood, or farming chores, are purposeful activities that also help to integrate the right and left parts of the body through healthy bilateral symmetrical integration.
Circle time warms our bodies in the beginning of the day with verses, songs and movements to the seasonal rhythms of the seasons. Artistic activities such as painting, drawing, modeling, cooking, baking, sewing, wet felting and weaving all help to integrate the primary reflexes and fine motor skills which serve as pre academic foundations. Imaginative play in nature builds capacities for socialization, emotional regulation, and physical integration.
From this tapestry of early childhood education, we weave the habits of healthy social and emotional beings, who are simultaneously capable and resilient enough to overcome obstacles and innovate as they enter the world.
The 1st grader, 6 or 7 year old, lives in a place of beauty. The message we give them is that the world is beautiful. They live in a a place where the whole of nature is their family, stories come to life for them and they are not yet awake to the realities of life. Fairytales offer a world of archetypes for children to latch on to. Be it the prince, the princess, the witch, the queen, the child can connect to each of these characters in some way and learn from the way the story plays out. They find themselves locked in the satisfaction that good prevails in the end and that their imagination has been stimulated. We also hear stories that connect numbers to our imagination and make manipulating them tangible and fun. Building number sense through counting songs, games, and hands-on experiences help the first grader build their relationships to numbers. Through this stage of development we also spend a lot of time honoring our natural world and our connection to her. We hear many stories about nature and spend time exploring the land around us. 1st grade is a time of beauty, reverence, and innocence.
The second grader lives in a place of duality. They are walking the edge of early childhood and their next phase of development. Ideas of fairness and justice as well as mischief and perfectionism are common for the 8 year old and the Main Lesson stories speak to this. Thus the theme of bravery and standing up for what is right and just is born. They hear stories of animal fables and the foibles of the animal kingdom and compare these stories to those of saints and inspiring people. Learning about life cycles through hands-on experiences is another beloved part of second grade. In mathematics they continue to build and sharpen their relationship to numbers through skip-counting, simple multiplication and division, as well as learning about place value and expanding their addition and subtraction skills. The second grader is an enthusiastic and lively learner, ready to boldly go forth with courage and strength.