The Bay School's Waldorf curriculum is rich in humanities, sciences, and arts, which corresponds both in content and method to the stages of child development as described by Rudolf Steiner. The Bay School program encourages students to think, feel and move to discover and value what is intellectual, intuitive, creative and compassionate in themselves and others.
The centerpiece of the academic day is a two-hour Main Lesson. Main Lesson starts with Morning Circle throughout the elementary grades, and class teachers employ a diversity movement, song and verse to animate this activity. After circle, for the remainder of the Main Lesson period, classes engage in an in-depth study of one academic subject for three to four weeks. Each subject is explored through story, recitation, writing and art. Each student completes a Main Lesson book at the end of the school year.
Main Lesson subjects begin with fairy tales, fables and nature stories and evolve to lessons in history, geography, and biography in later years. In the older grades the study of physical and life sciences is a large part of Main Lesson work. The Bay School espouses an observation-based approach to teaching science in which direct experience and guided inquiry leads to the revelation of scientific laws.
Mathematics is taught in skills classes throughout and through Grade 5, as a Main Lesson block. Key block content includes the four processes, borrowing, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and, by Grade 5, geometry. Math activities are an integral component of Morning Circle, as rhythmic group work with times tables, mental arithmetic problems and number games strengthen memory, nurture mental flexibility and reinforce concepts.
A big part of the joy and challenge of teaching math in the younger grades is finding ways to present processes so that the underlying concepts emerge as meaningful to the child, while math in the upper grades has a more traditional feel. Beginning in Grade 4, math is taught in specialty math classes with the expectation that graduates can enter high school prepared for Algebra 1. Features of all math classes include work in small groups as well as individual work in problem solving and computation, teacher presentation of new concepts, hands-on activities with manipulatives as appropriate, and book exercises and worksheets for concept reinforcement and practice in the upper grades.
The language arts program fosters in our students a love of reading and an appreciation of good literature. Over the course of eight years the children are exposed to many wonderful classics through teacher reading periods, sets of readers for literature class, and independent book selections for quiet times and home reading. Skills classes in writing and grammar support students’ reading abilities and understanding of literature. Language arts is a major component of Main Lesson work, as students engage in a range creative writing, composition, and poetry to make these lessons their own.
Specialty class offerings in handworks, art, foreign language, music, movement and games, practical and agricultural arts round out the Bay School program to teach both skills as well as to complement Main Lesson work. The school building is bursting with examples, inside and out, examples of class work – art, serviceable objects, tools, plants, food both grown and prepared. Among all this productivity, what you won’t generally find are computers in the classrooms, as students do not use computers during the regular school day. Outside the main classroom, keyboarding is taught to Grade 8 in preparation for high school and at-home writing assignments. Also, textbooks are few and far between, but put to great use for most upper level math classes.