Around third grade, the dreamy stage of childhood is passing, and a new stage is beginning; one that will culminate in the attainment of full waking consciousness. They are no longer able to dwell in the fairy tale realm. Santa is just a dressed up employee at the mall. Life is becoming more real and less magical. During this stage, the children can become sad, cynical and lonely, feeling isolated from others. To address these normal feelings, the curriculum is designed to empower the children with life skills and practical activities. Main Lesson blocks in 3rd grade cover farming, fibers, house-building, and measurement.
An important help to the students as they move through these stages is the storytelling material throughout the year. Stories are told to the children daily during their Main Lesson block. This year, we focus on the Hebrew myths, which speak to the third grade child’s metaphorical “expulsion from paradise,” and of the trust and self-sufficiency they must develop.
While the idea of teaching Norse or Greek or Egyptian Mythology seems acceptable for most people in our culture, when we bring up the subject of Hebrew Mythology, whose stories come from the Old Testament/Hebrew bible, it can feel tricky and uncomfortable, especially in a public school. Therefore, we wish to explain why we are choosing to bring these particular stories to the children at this time. These stories describe a people who challenged and were challenged by their Father God as they learned to survive, to make shelters, and to work the land. Just so, the students will be challenged as they take up the studies of farming, housing, and measurement, and deepen their own survival skills: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Stories of the great men and women of the Hebrew nation give the children a picture of the challenges of being human and the struggle to make wise choices based on trust rather than based on fear.
These stories are not brought or discussed as religion lessons, but rather as their first taste of world history, giving children familiarity with the ancient stories and myths that have shaped our culture, our literature, our art, and our humanity. From this year forward, the students will explore ancient myths and creation stories from all over the world, gradually building a deep understanding of humanity’s universal attempt to understand our presence on Earth and our place in the cosmos.
Main Lesson integrates multiple subjects into one theme, changing more or less monthly, in which children are given artistic and practical experiences of topics that address their developmental needs at a given age. Concepts are presented from the whole to the part, from concrete and experiential to more abstract. During Main Lesson, students are engaged in activities including but not limited to recalling and reenacting stories, singing, moving, writing, building, reciting poetry, doing mental math, discussing, drawing, modeling, listening, collaborating, and performing. It is a dynamic and rich learning model.
Specials include Spanish, crochet in Handwork, and Games.