The B.E.N. School-House showed our family the power of a nurturing school community - and it's ability to foster each student's innate capacity for learning, growth, compassion and resilience. My children cherished the time they spent at the school, and now that they've moved on, even they can see how their B.E.N. experiences have helped to shape them! After an incident at her school recently, my ten-year old daughter commented that "If only every student here [at my new school] had the love and attention that we had at the B.E.N., everything would be different for them." The B.E.N. is a really special place where each child truly benefits from the caring, conscious and intentional interactions and curriculum that the community provides.
My daughters both attended the B.E.N School-House, until the eldest graduated from grade 6. What my children loved the best, and they truly loved the school and its teachers, was the way they could explore the subjects presented. For example, Art wasn't just philosophy and application, although there was that too; it was finding a subject to draw in the nearby park and cemetery, it was quick pieces (spontaneous work) and pieces that took weeks (allowing for in-depth thought and time to create.) It was also presented through diverse mediums - textiles, ceramics, painting and drawing, architecture, etc. The other aspect that my children loved, was that they were in an environment where they could interact with children of all ages, and be outdoors and active very often. This outdoor and active time helped them develop great physical skill (lots of playing and running, etc.) but also made concentrating and being indoors that much easier. Being with children of all ages allowed them to learn and have friendships that were fulfilling in different ways - like getting to read to a younger child and be the 'bigger kid', and then getting to play and interact with older children they admired.
We were looking for an early learning program that would support both of our twin five year olds in developing a great foundation for social and academic success. The B.E.N was the perfect place for us. The small classes and unrelenting dedication of all of the staff members in fostering a strong sense of community for the students and families was a profound experience for our family. Our kids transitioned very well to the school and we had regular communication with all of their teachers in order to continue to problem solve and create environments of success for both of our kids. Each of our kids made strong friendships at the B.E.N and developed their own unique learning styles in a supportive, safe, and caring atmosphere.
Our families experience at the BEN has been spectacular. The community spirit of the school is very welcoming and the staff's energy is positive with both students and parents. My daughter loves all the outdoor time she receives there and her love of learning is clearly being fostered as she is coming home and asking for me to create 'homework' like her work at school. She is eager to share what she has learned and able to apply it in a real world context already. As a parent the engagement of the teachers is beyond what I could have dreamed. There is always a teacher available to discuss your child's day if you have any questions and if something occurs later they are receptive to receiving and responding to email. The way they encourage older students to mentor and help the younger ones fosters a great dynamic and it shows in the respectful bevhaviours I have witnessed. All schools have flaws, though I'd really have to dig hard to find one here. We love it!
My child loved all of his teachers at the BEN; he felt safe with them and grew quite attached to a couple of them in particular. He looked forward to going to the BEN every day and was often hesitant to leave when I went to pick him up. The loving and positive atmosphere nourished my child's curious and creative nature. The teachers were always warm and welcoming, present with the children, and they consistently responded authentically and thoroughly to the children's inquiries. My child's favourite aspects of going to the BEN were outdoor time, field trips, art, regular routines such as snack time and quiet time, and playing with his friends. To my knowledge, there was nothing my child found disappointing about this school.