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.
The principal is an excellent communicator and is extremely supportive of the children and their families. I truly feel that she appreciates my child's unique personality and that her top priority is to foster each child's development into caring, socially conscious, and curious people. She is always available for one-on-one discussions about parenting and/or education-related concerns. She holds workshops/lectures for parents of the students. When my son was first starting at the BEN, she communicated with me via text or email regularly to reassure me that he was fitting in well - this really helped with the transition and helped reassure us that our son was in good hands. I know she has done this for many other families as well.
The teachers at the BEN School-House are all amazing and provide extremely high quality instruction to the children. They are always very patient, positive, and caring with the children, and they help to foster the children's curiosity and creativity through different interesting and stimulating activities, play-based learning, reading, art, and outdoor field trips involving nature exploration. For example, the children explore their senses through an activity involving hiding objects in a bag and having the children touch/smell the objects and trying to guess what they were. The teachers helped my son deal with his challenges (e.g., having difficulty at drop-off time, not listening, occasionally hitting the other children, etc.) in a very positive and effective manner that allowed him to learn skills in self-regulation. The teachers are highly qualified teachers who are passionate about art, nature, science, and other topics.
I definitely feel the BEN has helped to prepare my son academically. I have no concerns in this regard, as the instruction is very high quality. The lesson plans are grounded in a highly rigorous pedagogy that nurtures each child's unique characteristics and strengths while ensuring the development of key skills and abilities that all children require to be in the world and at school in particular. In addition to the main school curriculum that is taught at the BEN, the children learn to follow the everyday routines and are taught to be respectful, helpful, kind to one another, good listeners, caring towards their friends, and curious about the world and all of its wonders. The ratio of children to teachers is consistently small, which allows for focused attention on each child.
The students at the BEN are exposed to sports, arts, nature, and many other subjects. There are many extra-curricular events such as field trips and musical/theatrical concerts. The students perform musically at the school concerts, with each class having the opportunity to showcase their talents. Students sing, dance, act, and play the ukelele. My son's class had gone on field trips to a play and to the park and local fire station.
The vibe at the BEN School-House is a very positive and wholesome one. The children are very mature, grounded and very caring and respectful of one another, and the older children seem to take the younger children under their wing (they're encouraged to do so). For example, at a school fundraiser/bake sale, the older children each helped a younger child purchase things at the sale. The older kids also helped run/oraganize the fundraiser. There are special events several times per year - pancake breakfast, dinner theatre, etc. which allows for students of all ages to interact with each other and build community. The older children are excellent role models for my son and the other little children. It has meant so much to our family to be a part of this lovely community!
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!
The school is in a residential neighbourhood, which gives it a cozy, community feel. It is located near a park/splash pad and is also within a safe walking distance to a main bus route, which allows for field trips via public transportation. The grounds of the BEN School-House themselves are very inviting; there's a large tent in the back yard, which allows for outdoor play and special events, even when it's raining. There is beautiful landscaping and a sand pit in the back yard as well.
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.