October Rhythm Challenge: Main Lesson Rhythm
When you’re working with Waldorf principles you know that the rhythms of your days, weeks, and seasons matter. Rhythm helps children feel calm, confident, and connected. It helps their parents feel that way too! Rhythm continues to be an important learning tool after your child turns seven and begins main lessons. The main lesson itself will feel best if it has a rhythm to it.
Welcome to the October Rhythm Challenge: Your Main Lesson Rhythm!
Just like a story, a main lesson should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. This pattern will help your child focus and settle into lesson time.
What will you do to begin your main lesson time?
I recommend having some kind of ritual to begin your main lesson that helps your child focus in. A verse that you say every day is especially helpful for signaling that “now it’s time for lesson.” Here are some ways that families begin their lesson:
- Circle time (singing and poetry with movement)
- Recorder practice and active math
- A walk outside then a verse
- Lighting a candle
- All of the above!
How will you structure the middle (main portion) of your lessons?
This may be something that’s defined by the curriculum you’re using and it might not (and even if it is, does the rhythm feel like a good flow to you? You’re the teacher, so change it if you want!). Also, the middle part of your main lesson rhythm can shift from block to block so it’s a good fit with the subject material you’re covering.
A typical main lesson rhythm looks like this:
Recall yesterday’s lesson Review and practice material from yesterday and previous lessons (and blocks) Introduce something new Work in your main lesson book or do some other project Tell a story
Notice that this is a daily rhythm, so every day there is a chance to recall what has been learned before, practice, and learn something new!
I recommend that every lesson include work with the head (thinking), heart (feelings and imagination), and hands (willing and doing). These elements tend to be all mixed up within the lesson because they are just part of the active, multisensory, artistic way that we approach all subjects in the Waldorf method. You might like to review your lesson plans with a little checklist in your mind: Are we doing work with the head, heart, and hands in each lesson?
Or you might like to use these elements to help you craft a daily main lesson rhythm. For example:
Hands: Circle time with active math, movement, speech, and games Head: Recall of yesterday’s lesson, memory work (retelling stories and poems) and skills practice (arithmetic, grammar, spelling, handwriting etc.), introduce something new Heart: Artistic expression of current material, storytelling
You can also have a weekly rhythm for your main lessons. You don’t need to have a unique activity each day of the week, but if you’re planning to do form drawing once a week (for example), it works well to always do it on a certain day. If you have children in multiple grades (and/or in the early years), it’s especially helpful to combine activities in a weekly rhythm. For example, all the children can paint at the same time on Thursdays.
How will you end your main lesson time?
Don’t just let your lesson time fizzle out and dissolve at the end! (I'm speaking to myself here because I often rush to the next thing without taking a moment to intentionally close the lesson.) A simple ending ritual conveys a feeling of reverence and respect for the time you spend together on formal learning. It can be very simple; just reciting a verse is perfect!
Here are some ways that families close their lesson time:
- Telling a story
- Read aloud
- Recorder practice
- Reciting a closing verse
I hope this helps you craft a rhythm for your main lessons!