The Main Lesson:
Daily Focused Academic Studies
Inspired by Waldorf curriculum, “main lesson” at SLCS is a focused, interdisciplinary academic block led by the class teacher for the first two hours of every day in every grade.
Subjects are intensely studied during these blocks of time, which last from three to four weeks. At the end of every main lesson block, a new subject is introduced. This pattern continues throughout the year.
The class teacher facilitates the learning of the main lesson content through activities designed to engage multiple intelligences and allow time for an in-depth study of the material.
Main lesson blocks include times during which children are guided to recall and retell content from previous lessons. Each child creates a guided written and artistic record of the content in a bound book, called the “main lesson book.” Used for future reference, these books are forever treasured by the children. Much more than simple notebooks, main lesson books are often exquisite works of art created with great care over the course of the year.
The creation of each main lesson book constitutes a robust learning experience. In scholarly fashion, teachers and students work with original source materials rather than textbooks. Students learn to think and express themselves in a multitude of ways, using both brain hemispheres. They gradually learn time management, reflection, comprehension, synthesis, critical thinking, disciplined recall and nearly every aspect of executive function. Moreover, elemental and creative written and artistic expression are such regular features in classwork that they are not so much taught as absorbed over time.
Academic subjects that are not the focus of main lesson blocks are maintained through instructional periods following the main lesson. Lessons in reading, writing and mathematics are continuous throughout the school year.
Each grade performs an annual play as one of their main lesson blocks. The class teacher writes or adapts and directs the play which is focused on a subject drawn from one of the year's main lesson themes.
Costumes and sets come together in an adult collaboration between parents and teachers, sometimes joined by students and often with assistance from the highly-skilled handwork specialty teacher.
The younger grades perform simple plays with each successive grade producing a progressively more elaborate production. The first graders often speak and sing in chorus with very short, solo lines. The eighth grade play is generally a full-length, fully-staged, costumed and lighted performance with full seating for each evening performance.
The class play requires an intensely collaborative effort that culminates in an exhilarating sense of accomplishment for each class and student. Every child has a chance to shine and every student in the audience appreciates the dedication necessary to deliver a staged performance.