Circle, Main Lesson, and the Block System
Bay School day begins with class teachers leading their children
in singing, reciting poetry, playing recorder, or other activities
as part of opening circle. The main lesson itself, the “main meal” of the day, is a one-and-one-half-hour
period allowing for broad exploration of a subject through the
arts, writing and experiential activities. Through this creative teaching
the children connect with the subject and make it their own. In
content and form, main lesson provides essential nourishment for
the growing child. After a few weeks the teacher introduces a new
subject, marking the beginning of a new main lesson block.
The Main Lesson Book
school year is divided into at least seven to as many as nine Main Lesson blocks, with each block dedicated
to the study of one subject, carefully and beautifully recorded by the students
in their own main lesson book. In the Waldorf curriculum, great emphasis is given to each student's Main Lesson Book. Each student records the lessons of the year in writing and illustration. As the year progresses, the book becomes an individual journal of the student's own academic and artistic growth. At the completion of the school year, the Main Lesson Book is permanently bound and taken home with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
The Specialty Classes Program
first through eighth grade, Bay School students benefit from a
well thought out and developmentally sequenced program in the areas
of the arts, music, movement, and foreign language. The value accorded
to these Specialty Classes within the curriculum is a hallmark of
the school’s Waldorf philosophy
of education. Along with the main lesson studies, they form the
core of the Bay School program.
Classes are taught by Specialty Teachers,
experts in their respective fields. Generally, students have two periods
of instruction in each specialty subject per week. Each subject
has its own Grade One through Eight scope and sequence, with both content and method
of instruction changing over time to meet the children as they mature
through the grades. The interweaving of these Specialty Classes with
the academic subjects through the day and week brings balance and a
healthy rhythm to the children’s day. In an education that
seeks to engage not just the children’s minds but hearts and
hands as well, the Specials curricula play a vital role in ensuring
that the whole being of the child is nurtured.
Specialty Teachers join Class
Teachers in forming a team around each child, supporting and complementing
each other’s work to ensure the healthy development and full
unfolding of each child’s capacities as a human being.
Throughout the grades, one of the blocks taught is Drama. For each class an age-appropriate play is selected related to the current curriculum. As well as acting out the pedagogical themes of their main lesson work, the students begin to develop dramatic skills, empathy being the most important. Plays become more complex in detail as the students grow. By the time they reach their seventh and eighth grade years, they are capable of producing Shakespeare and having a fully costumed play. In any production, music is a major component. This effort is always performed for the school community and the upper classes perform for the general community and may invite area schools to attend as well.
Agricultural Arts Curriculum
On a buggy 2009 May Fest weekend, the Bay School community raised a greenhouse landmarking the launching of our Agricultural Arts program. Our main goal of the Agricultural Arts program is to teach sustainable interdependence with the natural world. We seek to integrate Agricultural Arts into the daily life of every classroom, that every child graduate with this natural will-based work as a part of their life experience, and that each be given a chance to feel respect for the earth. This is a progam in which Nature is given a voice as one of the children's teachers. The following bio of our Agricultural Arts teacher is a reflection of the wealth of unique and special adults we are blessed to find within our school community.
Heather McCargo is a Bay School parent with a professional background in horticulture and design. She has worked professionally in landscape architecture and public horticulture and is the former plant propagator for the New England Wild Flower Society. She has been a team member on several educational grants, including a National Gardening Association grant to develop middle school curriculum on plants, mountains and people, and a Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener Association grant to educate organic farmers in the cultivation of medicinal herbs. Heather's writing has been published in a variety of horticultural journals, including "Horticulture," "American Nurseryman," and the "Brooklyn Botanic Garden Series." She has a B.A. in Plant Ecology and a M.A. in Landscape Design from the Conway School. with a p