A typical day at The Beehive.
Each child is greeted individually at the door of the classroom and then joins ‘circle time’ in the large, bright, main hall, where the children congregate. Circle time takes the form of a music, story or discussion session. The pupils are then invited to begin their self-directed learning.
The children each determine their own activities for the day. They may choose to start with a drink and a chat with friends at the self-service snack table, then complete a puzzle, sort objects according to shape, practise spooning beans into a pot, polish their shoes, feed the fish or, perhaps, join a few of their friends in a small spontaneous group led by a Directress or a friend. They may, however, choose simply to observe the other children or sit quietly in the reading corner exploring the books. Another day, the same child may start the day working with one of the teaching staff learning the shapes of letters by tracing their finger around sandpaper cut-outs, wash dishes, investigate how a light bulb turns on or off, discover which animals live on the land or in the water (using the model land and water forms) or play with their friends in our Chinese Restaurant, Vet’s, Post Office, Garden centre, etc. Children are free to choose their own tasks and to repeat them as many times as they feel compelled to. These work periods fill the hall with an air of calm and contentedness and intense concentration on purposeful activity.
During the session, a small group may join with a teacher to engage in an art project or bake cakes or make pizzas at the cooking table. Meanwhile, a group may be working, with another of the adults, to sort objects according to their ability to float or sink whilst a child is busy sewing or cutting at another table .
During the ‘work’ periods, the Directress may introduce the individual children to a new activity or give them some guidance with one they are mastering or help them to think through answers for themselves – just enough to assist but not to spoil their precious moment of discovery. At other times, if no support is needed, we may just observe. While children work independently and are progressing with their task, they are left undisturbed in order to encourage their developing concentration.
Towards the end of the session, the children re-group for circle time or play in the garden until their parent/carer comes to meet them.
Each week, the whole group goes on a walk, either to the local park to practise their skills on climbing equipment or on a nature trail to collect, for example, leaves or conkers. On most days, the children make good use of the secure outside play area. The children have a wide range of equipment and activities from which to choose, e.g. a large sandpit, bikes, climbing frame , slide a well-equipped play house , a water table, They can practise catching, throwing and balancing balls to nurture physical development or make their own dens; they may join in with gardening or searching for creepy-crawlies. Sometimes, they bring chairs outside to form a ‘bus’ and let their imaginations take them for a ride!
Music and movement, singing and drama , cooking and craft also play a big part for the child’s time at the Beehive.
In the Summer Term, we go on an outing to somewhere special, e.g. Mead Open Farm, Woburn Safari Park, Paradise Wildlife Park.
Parents are invited to various events throughout the year such as Nativity plays, End of term gatherings, Pancake Cafe, Apple Pie Cafe (!), Autumn or Spring Mornings, Outings and to our termly Parent Open mornings, where their child can show them all the things they enjoy doing at school and have an opportunity to talk to their Key Worker.
The children’s behaviour is always very good. They are polite and show kindness and consideration for others. We teach them to express themselves verbally through role-play and discussion. Grace and Courtesy sessions play an important role in helping the children with their social behaviour and independence. Fun scenarios are set up which allow the children to practise and gain, for example, the correct language to use in specific situations, e.g. when we might say ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Excuse me’, ‘Good morning’, ‘I am sorry’. They might be shown how to carry scissors, tuck their little chairs under the table, pour their own drink, wash up their cup, etc. They are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves, washing their hands after using the bathroom, helping themselves to drinks and fruit and tidying away their activities ready for their friends to use.
We have a structured arrival and departure system whereby a teacher greets each child individually upon arrival and bids them farewell once the parent comes to pick them up. This ensures safety and reinforces positive social skills and makes the child feel special.