What is a Main Lesson Book? It is a compilation of the child’s work from a block of teaching that might be over a period of time…The MLB [Main Lesson Book] is a blank book or pages that are completed and created by the wonderful child. It should reflect the unique qualities and capacities of that child and be a reflection of the ‘best work.’…It creates a picture of the whole-block or whole-year of lessons in both an illustrative and written form…You can think of it as a visual picture of the time spent on a subject or a topic, and the MLBs are often cherished and enjoyed for many decades.
from “Waldorf Main Lesson Books: A guide for creating beautiful memories and a record of work.” by Marsha Johnson
Here are some of my thoughts regarding Main Lesson Books in a Waldorf-inspired home school:
- Your child’s artwork may not look like something you have seen online! Each child is blessed with their own strengths and weaknesses. Drawing may be your child’s (or YOUR!) weakness. That’s OK!
- How does your child’s main lesson book reflect their unique qualities and capacities? Find ways to include your child’s artistic strengths in their Main Lesson Book. Take photos of their sculptures and glue them into the MLB. Paint something that will fit into the book and glue it in. Print out a recipe you followed and a photo of the finished baked good and glue these into the book. Staple a finished weaving project into the book. Remember, it’s not just about drawing and summarizing!
- Main Lesson Books should show progress over the years, and not just in drawing! Is your child’s handwriting improving? How about the clarity with which they write? Punctuation? Grammar? Is the composition of their pages more complete? Are you teaching them techniques that they are incorporating into their pictures?
- There is no right way to do a Main Lesson Book. Steiner believed teachers should be guided by “spirit-vision or spirit-driven responsive and artistic endeavors” (from Marsha Johnson’s aforementioned work.) This is an area I really need to work on! Often, it’s convenient and safe to find images online or in books for our children to copy into their main lesson books, but how often do we take the time to really respond in our own spirit-driven or inspired way?
- Sometimes, a child just won’t do their ‘best work’ when working on the MLB. Do you do your best work every day? I would say you need to decide when to push for more and when to hold off.
I would love to hear some of your thoughts on creating Main Lesson Books in your home school! (I apologize for the shadows in all the photos above. Oops!)