The Main Lesson is a unique feature of the Waldorf School of Garden City’s education, aimed to deepen, enrich, and unify the learning experience. It is a unit of work on a particular theme/subject and is studied each day for three to four weeks. Teachers develop a wide range of artistically and academically integrated and related activities around the central theme. Each Main Lesson relates to the students’ stage of development for that year and is linked to other subjects, building upon prior knowledge, experience, and skills in creative ways that engage students in their learning.
The curriculum calls on students’ growing deductive, logical, analytical, and critical faculties. Main Lessons include physics, where pupils are introduced to optics, sound, and thermodynamics; geology; astronomy; and meteorology, which is introduced with an overview of global weather systems and the study of cloud formations, rain, and wind. History focuses first on the Roman Empire, with its practical, organized, and legislative aspects, followed by the rise of Christianity, the Saxon and Danish invasions of Britain, and William the Conqueror. In English lessons, the conditional is taught, and there are regular dictations and comprehension exercises, while science and history blocks introduce report writing. In math, percentages, profit and loss, simple interest, and proportion and ratio are covered; geometry lessons introduce the use of the protractor.
6th Grade Lessons
- Roman Civilization
- Middle Ages
- Geology & Mineralogy
- Physics (Optics, Magnetism Acoustics)
- Business Math
- Constructive Geometry
The main curriculum themes include an exploration of inner feelings through wish, wonder, and surprise; in history, they explore the Middle Ages and the transition from feudalism to the Renaissance, and the Age of Discovery with the great voyages of the 15th to the 17th centuries. Geography continues by moving to World Geography, including a detailed study of a single continent and looking at the cultural, material, and economic conditions of human societies. Science continues with mechanics and inorganic chemistry and combustion. Human biology emphasizes health and examines our breathing, circulation, and digestion. In English the students write business letters and compositions on many different subjects, and revise the grammatical forms of direct and indirect speech. They often study a work of fiction together. In math they are introduced to graphs and algebra, while continuing to build on their geometry skills.
7th Grade Lessons
- The Age of Exploration & Discovery
- Euclidean Geometry
In this final year before entering the High School it is not unusual for each student to work independently on a substantial project of their own choosing. There will also be a major drama production, to mark the end of their time in the Lower School. Physics covers magnetism, electricity, and electromagnetism. In organic chemistry, students study substances which build up the human body, while in biology they examine proportion in the human body, the skeleton, muscles, and the human eye and ear. History Main Lessons cover the major trends in the development of Western culture from the 17th century to the present, and explore revolution, including the Civil War and the revolutions in America, France, and Russia. Biographies of inventors, industrialists, and social reformers are an on-going feature in these lessons. English lessons continue with sentence analysis, literature study, creative writing, and narrative and descriptive prose. Math moves on to more complex arithmetic using roots and powers and compound interest. The five basic Platonic solids are constructed and their surface areas and volumes calculated, while algebra continues with the theory of equations, introducing more variables.
8th Grade Lessons
- Age of Enlightenment
- American, French, and Industrial Revolutions
- American Civil War to Preset
- Solid Geometry (Platonic Solids)
“The Waldorf School of Garden City provided me with a solid education. The curriculum cultivated the creativity, flexibility, confidence, and innovation I rely on every day as an entrepreneur. I was taught how to think. The emphasis on caring for one another and for our world awakened a strong sense of environmental and social responsibility that I carry with me. The Waldorf School of Garden City is so much more than a school; it is a loving community where children thrive. I am forever grateful for my Waldorf education.” —Alumna