We received weekly and daily communication from the B.E.N staff about events and important dates. Events were fantastic opportunities to connect with fellow families (both from times past and present) and allowed us also to connect socially with the staff. On top of these events, Ilaria and Isky would also host parent information evenings on various topics to help support parenting and learning at home. We always felt very included in the daily goings on in the school and in the loop of the various events as they unfolded. One of the only areas that I would have liked to see more developed were more field trips. The school location does make it somewhat challenging to take public transit to various locations, however, given the small size of the classes it would have been nice to have the kids out more in the greater community at arts events, and other activities.
Parents at the B.E.N. are offered many opportunities to be involved - whether it is accompanying a field trip, attending one of the many community events held, attending an information workshop offered by Ilaria and Iskander, or going to a student project presentation. I have formed many friendships over the years with other parents, and find the community warm and welcoming. There are families of all sizes and backgrounds who, I have found, share a philosophy that school can be so much more than it is in its 'standard' format - and who are not necessarily wealthy, but appreciate what the B.E.N. does and are willing to make the choices or financial commitments they need to make in order to give this environment to their children.
Over the last twenty years, I've had the opportunity to work professionally with schools of all kinds, and as a mom of four, I have been part of a lot of different school communities... but it wasn't until we found the B.E.N. School-house that we discovered how engaged and supportive a school community can really be. And it was exciting to see the power of that strong sense of community for all of the students! Each year, The B.E.N. has a number of different celebrations and community events. And it's always such a treat to see so many families and students from years past out at the events. The sense of community and support is an absolute treasure and we are still so thankful to be part of the community - even after our children have moved on.
Each year at the Annual BEN Pancake Fundraiser we get the opportunity to spend quality time with current BEN families and families whose children previous attended the BEN. It's clear to us, how well loved the BEN is by past families that they continue to support the BEN and share positive experience about their children time at the BEN. Past grads come help at the Pancake Breakfast with the kids games, face painting and magic show. There are bi-monthly Parent evenings where parents of current students, past students or friends are welcome to attend to continue widening their scope of learning around raising children. It's another great way the parents can get to know each other and learn about the BEN and the vitamin philosophy that underpins their curriculum. The school provides many opportunities for parents to be involved on class field trips and other school outings like the family skate, movie night, dinner theatre, solstice celebration, pancake fundraiser and in the classroom.
Parents are very much welcomed into the BEN School-House community. The community is warm and welcoming and fun to be a part of. There are special events held several times throughout the year (pancake breakfast, dinner theatre, winter holiday concert, spring concert); these are opportunities for the parents to get involved in the school community, help raise money for the school, get to know the teachers and other families, and have fun. Parents are also welcome to stay with their child if the child is feeling shy/uncomfortable when being dropped off (our son experienced this at the beginning of the year but after a couple of weeks, loved being taken to the BEN). There are also lectures/workshops held periodically for parents to learn about a parenting-related topic.