We loved our time at the B.E.N and were sad to leave such a tight knit loving community. That being said, we feel strongly that the solid foundation that the B.E.N provided was integral to facilitating a fantastic transition to public school for grade one. Both of our kids transitioned very well to public school (they went from a 30 child micro school to an 800 student public school) and this transition was developed through the teaching and modeling of self regulation, social, emotional, and academic skills. Both of our kids were diagnosed with high functioning Autism and anxiety and we were very apprehensive about the shift into a public school environment. However, through the modeling of strategies, social stories, play based learning as well as a constant attention to the individual needs of each child, our kids have managed to thrive in a public school setting.
My children loved the B.E.N. My youngest was upset she couldn't graduate from the school, and is adamant that we bring her back for community events - which we all attend. I'm not sure how the B.E.N. could improve its quality of life - I truly haven't found or seen a school like it. In all of the things I appreciate, the quality of life there is the highest. For anyone interested in school life at the B.E.N., I would recommend you go see an average school day, and then go to a community event like the annual Pancake Breakfast. You will see, at the Breakfast for example, over 100 people who are a mix of current families and families whose children left many years ago - but that continue to come back because of what the school has meant to, and done for, their children.
As a mother of four, with experience in public, alternative and private schools, with children ranging from grade school to university, I can say that without a doubt, I have never experienced a school where my children so consistently couldn't wait to get up and out the door each morning to get to school... and they never wanted to leave! Often at the end of the day, I would enjoy watching them play as they wound down the day, giving me an opportunity to really get to know the other families, students and teachers. The B.E.N. School-house is truly a place where children love to learn. The students are happy there because they feel supported and cared about. They are listened to and respected through the fun and easy times, as well as the challenges and struggles that sometimes come with all the learning and growth of childhood.
Our daughter loves attending the BEN. She enjoys the freedom to follow her curiosity and imagination with the Go Stations. The BEN really embraces the arts and singing and little rhymes are often part of the learning. Our daughter has taught us many fun ways to remember how to draw her letters and numbers with song and rhymes. Our daughter is always bringing home drawings and interesting art projects. The art materials the children are exposed to is quite diverse. I think back to how I learned those things and wish I could go to the BEN and learn and learn how she is!! Our daughter enjoys the outdoor time at the BEN and they will go out side to explore nature She started at the BEN at 2 years old and she's 5 now. We tried Montessori for 1 year and our daughter did not thrive there the same as at the BEN. The lack of communication between the teachers and staff was frustrating to us and other parents we got to know. The feeling of the Montessori school was much more of an "institution" whereas the BEN really embraces everyone and it has a real community energy and warmth. Lots of communication.
The quality of student life at the BEN School-House is unsurpassed. The warm, inviting atmosphere and caring and knowledgeable staff make it a sanctuary for the children and their families. My son loves going to the BEN and has made many friends and many memories to last a lifetime. He loves the activities, art, play time, everyday routines, field trips, teachers (he was quite attached to a few in particular), outdoor time, the school grounds including the huge tent out back, and parties/special events that are held periodically at the BEN. I honestly think it has given my son the best possible start in life, and I will be forever grateful!