Tag Archives: mindfulness

Winter is Here

Winter is here and just like the building where Beechtree lives , we are having to hibernate. We are staying at home and once more connecting and communicating in different ways to normal. Songs are sung, lessons are learned, news is shared and stories are told via Zoom.
Even though we are missing each other, it cheers us immensely to be able to see the children and sometimes even the animals we live with. For those who don’t want to Zoom and who watch later, it’s lovely to be able to send and receive catch up emails and phone calls and to hear how you are doing.

Our overarching aim with the remote learning we are offering is to stay in contact and to give the Beechtree children familiarity and security, and the families support. Relationships and connections always have been fundamental to our work and always will be the foundation stone for everything we do. With our remote learning, we don’t want anyone to feel under pressure though. There is no rush and no one is going to be left behind. Please do continue to keep in touch and remember that what we are all being asked to do is almost impossible and to navigate this time, we need to keep hibernating, to slow down, to breathe, to be gentle with ourselves and to keep checking in and looking after each other.

Our Beechtree winter feels deep, heavy and dark some days. Not only are we in lockdown but we are currently without a usable building. Not being able to open for the children of critical workers yet feels hard. Exploring options and processes for sorting our current premises and looking for other options is stymied and slow, there are lots of phone calls, emails and meetings, it’s out of our control and it’s just taking time. Today I found myself thinking of the seeds and the root children who are unseen but busy deep down in the earth preparing for the abundant growth of spring, and in remembering this, I could start to trust that all the work we are doing is like the seeds buried deep but still growing, developing and reaching out; we can’t see the progress but it is will be there, unfolding, just like the tiny snowdrops slowly awakening in our gardens under the blanket of snow, something will emerge when it’s ready.

As I try and do what feels impossible – work from home, managing a school and support my child with his school work and through exam disruption, I find myself looking for the joy in tiny moments, in the snowy trees, the blue skies, the warm fire, a lit candle, fairy lights, a message from a colleague. These moments are sustaining me, along with the knowledge that Beechtree has always been more than a building, it is a community with a shared vision for a gentle, unhurried, much needed, alternative education; we will keep each other going and spring will come.

September term 2020

Just like the beech tree that we planted when we moved into these premises three years ago, the children have grown so much during lockdown and over the summer. It has been absolutely joyful to have the children back at Beechtree, to welcome all our new starters and to be operating more fully again. The building and garden are once more resounding with the sounds of laughter, chat, singing and general busyness, the children are loving playing with their friends and their increased resilience is clear to see.

Class Years

For Class 1/2/3 the first week back to Beechtree felt as though we’d never been away. The children moved into their sunny new classroom eagerly and almost effortlessly and began the journey of gelling together as a new class, with the class staff team for this term, Nicola, Ziggy, Gabriella, and Victoria. Already the class has ridden the waves of some of the inevitable changes that will characterise this period. Nicola is especially proud of how the children have adapted to a different rhythm in their own unique ways and also of how their increased resilience shines through everything.

We are all so excited for the term ahead, for the golden autumn sunshine, the falling leaves and the start of a whole new year together.

Learning through lockdown at Beechtree

This week we marked the end of what we think has been the strangest year in Beechtree’s 20 year history.

Keeping our staff and families safe from Covid-19, both in terms of their physical and mental health, has of course been our first priority, but rising to the challenge of providing continuity for the children in our care and support for the parents as they switch to home-learning instead of attending our setting has meant some big adjustments for our whole community. Particularly going from a screen-free world to having to make use of technology!

We are so proud of our staff’s incredible resilience and leadership. The way they have managed to deliver their Beechtree magic via live Zoom sessions or by sending stories and songs via audio recordings and videos has been so inspiring. For teaching the Waldorf Steiner curriculum remotely via the parents, by preparing lesson plans that work from home and creating support groups to monitor progress and keep that sense of community going, all whilst creating new policies for these changed circumstances… what amazing staff we have! Thank you for all you do.

We’d like to especially thank our parent community for their continued support and trust during these strange times. We are planning to be open this September, with some adjustments, of course, to ensure we follow the government guidelines to keep our staff, children and their families safe for the duration of this pandemic.

For now, though, we hope you all have a magical and relaxing summer.

With love

Lianne Marie Mease
Trustee at Beechtree Steiner Initiative

Creating a new normal

Some wise words to our community from Beechtree’s General Manager Cath Thurlow.

After these first weeks of acclimatising and trying to build a new routine, I’d like to share some things that have helped me to create a new sense of normality.

In a web conference with other Waldorf Steiner Kindergarten teachers, the lead host Janni Nichols shared something that really inspired me. She talked about finding our own rhythm and routine in whatever form that may take – be it starting with a morning verse or meditation or having meals at regular times and making time for movement, and remembering to find time for yourself, and taking care of yourself. This may not always be possible, but as little as five minutes can make a world of difference – a part of my new routine is to sit outside for at least five minutes with a cup of tea and enjoy the sounds of the birds and the stillness around us.

Janni also spoke about working with gratitude, and I think with all of the negative influences around us (from social media and the news) this is more important than ever. I have started to make a mental list of three things I am grateful for every morning, and this could be as simple as being thankful for the new day, for being well and being grateful for all that I have.

A friend recently shared an article which also moved me; here is a snippet from it:

“There are distances that bring us close and solitudes that unite. We are learning that our life and well-being depend on the life and well-being of the other; that the fate of the people we love and the whole community also depends on my fate and actions; that personal interest must be overshadowed by the collective need. It is an important evolutionary step. We had to stop in order to hear … And understand. When we stop to listen we hear everything that happens, inside and outside ourselves. Anger, helplessness, frustration, anxiety, despair, fear … but also empathy, compassion, love, gratitude, kindness, silence. Everything. There is the whole life inside ourselves that just waited to be listened to and welcomed, to allow us to return to the natural rhythms of life and to cultivate those values so important to the survival of this planet and in this planet.”

The article made me think about our own rhythm, and the balance that we need between in-breaths (periods of business!) and out breaths (moments of pause and rest), and the gift that we have been given, of time to be with our families, to stop and listen, and to come together as communities, even if we are a few metres apart!

In all of the negativity around us, it is more important than ever to focus on the light – the silver lining in the clouds above!