The Bay School Early Childhood Programs provide the rich soil for young children to develop strong roots. Each program honors the unique and profound growth of the young child during the first seven years of life. When children are given a warm and nurturing environment, loving caregivers, and ample time for self-initiated play, the seeds of creativity, social awareness, resilience, and flexibility are sown. This provides the foundation for deeper learning as children grow and prepare for the academic challenges of the grade school years.
The Bay School offers a Waldorf based early childhood program for children 18 months to 6 years old: Morning Garden serves families with children 18 months through 3 years, and the Preschool/Kindergarten serves children between the ages of 3 and 6 years. Our early childhood program is designed to support the healthy development of the growing child, creating an environment that fosters balance in movement both physically and socially.
North Cottage, our Early Childhood center, was built in 2011, made possible by private donors passionate about growing our burgeoning programs for young children. . The 900 square foot space, with three distinct rooms, was designed specifically to inspire imagination and creativity among the students as they form compassionate relationships with each other, their teachers, and the natural world surrounding the cottage. The school’s campus, built on 70 acres, offers wondrous explorations on natural paths.
Our indoor and outdoor spaces provide the opportunity for children to move freely and explore fully, encouraging the growth of spatial awareness as well as both fine and gross motor skills. Our program is designed to support language development through oral storytelling, rhyme, movement and song. Through play, meaningful work, imitation, and a consistent daily rhythm, these essential dimensions of the child unfold. Our developmentally appropriate program nourishes and supports the children and prepares them to enter into the more formal academic program of the grade school.
Play is at the center of our program. Simple toys and natural objects encourage children to draw on their imaginations, with the power of fantasy allowing the children to see endless possibilities in the plain wooden blocks, colorful silks, shells and stones that become bridges, homes, campfires, wings or streams. Through this imaginative free play, children develop artistic and creative abilities which promote later symbolic thinking and healthy brain development. As the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses, social play is essential for children’s health and well-being, improving brain development, reducing stress, and teaching emotion management. Playing with peers also develops language and academic skills, and promotes prosocial behavior such as negotiating, devising, and following rules. It supports children as they develop friendships while immersing in the full-bodied play of early childhood.
Every child in the Bay School Early Childhood Program takes part in the care of the classroom, trails, and outdoor spaces. They may sweep, wash and fold, prepare and serve snacks, clear trails, rake, shovel, and garden. Through the daily care of their environment, they develop strength, confidence, and a sense of interdependence with their teachers and classmates.
The young child learns through imitation, and is deeply influenced by the inner and outer qualities of the adults around them. The teachers strive to be models worthy of imitation through the qualities of their attitudes and gestures as well as through the warmth of their relationships with the children and each other.
Rhythm is an essential part of our program. Each day is balanced. Active times are followed by more quiet times, allowing the children’s day to almost breathe in and out. Nature projects and festivals reflect the rhythms of the seasons and give the children a sense of security, order, and inner strength.