Class 1/2 have been busy making posters collaboratively today after a class discussion about the importance of taking care of each other by understanding the allergies we have in our community and what we need to do.
The posters will be displayed in the building as a gentle reminder to all to check the ingredients for everything we bring into Beechtree as we have a child and a staff member who are both severely allergic to nuts.
It’s been just over two years since August 2017 when Beechtree took the big step of expanding to become an Independent School and this has been a time of laying the foundations to ensure that the school is as solid as possible. From our tiny beginnings as a parent and child group in a front room in Woodhouse and as a well established Early Years Setting our aim has always been to provide high-quality Steiner Education and an alternative method of teaching and learning for families in Leeds.
Becoming a school was the natural next stage of the journey albeit a daunting one especially as it was also accompanied by a move to new premises in Chapeltown,
As we grew, we kept much of what has always made us unique; the children at Beechtree are at the centre of all we do and they are surrounded by a community made up of staff, trustees and parents working together to make the setting robust. Staff use an in-depth curriculum rooted in child development that is also reflective of the needs of the specific children in the school and designed to cultivate motivated, responsible and competent young people with a life-long love of learning. Parents work hard to provide much-needed resources and funds to Beechtree and were instrumental in our move from packing to painting to bringing to life our outdoor space, and trustees provide the support and legal governance necessary. Staff have a genuine love of teaching and many have moved from mainstream settings, drawn to the child-centred education we offer, with a methodology backed up by current research and to the skilled and professional staff team we have.
The community at Beechtree has sustained us all as we have tirelessly laid the foundations for the future, working with Ofsted to ensure we have everything needed in place, making sure that our curriculum is reflective of and right for the children at Beechtree, and that we have enough of the recourses needed and our latest Ofsted Inspection that took place in November 2019 in which we achieved a Good judgement across the board is a testament to the solidity that we now have in place and a tribute to the school we have established. We are clear that we couldn’t have achieved this without everyone in our community working together and we are grateful for all the support and trust we have received from our parents and trustees, for the hard work of the staff team and for the children who teach us so much every day and who arrive at school ” with happy and beaming faces ” (Ofsted report November 2019)
by Cath Thurlow, General Manager, Beechtree Steiner Initiative
If you were to walk into any of the 1,200+ Steiner classrooms around the world, your eyes will likely be drawn first to a beautiful chalkboard drawing.
These wonderful, whimsical images are created by the class teacher to illustrate the main lesson each day. They might take the form of a letter or number worked into a fable or fairytale design or they might represent a festival that we are preparing for.
In the early years, we introduce a subject that we wish the children to learn in the same way people have learned throughout human history. First, we tell a story, then we create an image of it and then we write it and read it. Writing may start bodily with tracing the letters in the air, walking them on the ground and then writing them on the page. We revisit the subject over the coming weeks until the message is gradually learned through the children’s heads, hearts and hands in a way that appeals to their imaginations.
The aesthetic of the Steiner environment is to inspire creativity and instil reverence in the children. Their play materials in Kindergarten are natural, hand-made, beautiful and tactile. Our classrooms are warm, nurturing and aid concentration by not being over-stimulating.
We hope you enjoy this small selection of chalkboard images. Can you spot the shapes of the letters or numbers in the pictures?
Today our two Kindergarten classes came together to learn about Diwali, the festival of lights – an ancient Hindu festival which we celebrate every Autumn.
For Kindergarten children (aged 3-6) understanding an abstract concept such as Diwali is possible when we make it more tangible for them, and so we introduce elements which the children can see, hear, touch and taste as part of our learning.
Teacher Ziggy told the children the story of Sita and Rama, a Princess and Prince who are banished from their home in India, and Sita kidnapped by the King of the Demons. Sita then dropped a trail of jewels behind her and so the children are given beautiful bindis to wear which helps to illustrate the story. Over time all the animals in the world work together to build a bridge to rescue them and then Sita and Rama begin their journey home. It is traditional for people to light candles in the window of their houses to light their way and so the Kindergarten children made clay pots to hold tealights.
We were welcomed by our neighbours the Sikh Temple to visit and have a snack of jelappia. The children wore head coverings and watched the preparations for the festival with interest. We especially liked the decorations – strings of lights against the Autumn trees look pretty as the evenings draw in.
The Kindergarten children made chapatis to have with their lunch of dhal and rice. They were joined for this meal by the Class One and Two children and afterwards we painted mehndi, which is applied to bring good luck, health and prosperity. The little hands showed great patience whilst their henna dried. It was lovely to celebrate Diwali as a school community.
The festival of Diwali spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.
Class One and Two have been working with these themes both consciously and unconsciously over the last few weeks as we strive to conquer fears, be brave and embrace learning with our heads, hearts and hands.
Our usual Wednesday walk was to Laurel Park today where we created the image of a diva lamp with Autumn leaves. We looked at the beautiful colours which nature gives at this time of year and used them to reflect the earthy tones of the diva lamp and the fiery flame.
We had a tour around the outside of the Temple, looking at the colours, patterns and shapes we could see. We then created rangoli patterns inspired by what we had seen on the pavement using chalks.
Like the Kindergarten children, the School children made clay lamps, decorated with tiny beads and fashioned a wick from wool, which would traditionally sit in oil.
Michaelmas is a festival of inner strength. A time to conquer anxiety and fear. It’s apt that it’s the first festival in the Steiner school year!
In the legend, the archangel Michael offers four gifts – strength, courage, the will to do good deeds and love.
In Class 1 and 2 we celebrated by working together to create a conker dragon and making dragon bread.
We have also been practising several verses and our brave Class 1/2s acted out a scene from a Michaelmas play. Our favourite verse “Brave and true, I will be, Each kind word sets me free, Each good deed makes me strong, I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong” echoed out around the hall as the children recited it with tremendous vigour to the watching Bud children and Kindergarten teacher Ziggy,
Our Kindergarten and outdoor Parent & Child Group children enjoy a cheerful cluster of sunflowers towering over their outdoor space, casting interesting shadows and dropping their precious seeds.
Those on their way to our indoor Parent & Child Group may notice the bright glow of more sunflowers as they pass the nature table in our lobby.
The theme continues to include our School children. Each child was handed the gift of a sunflower from teacher Nicola to welcome them to their new term at Beechtree Steiner Initiative. What a lovely way to hold on to the last sunshine of the year as we prepare to welcome in the Autumn.
In this first week, our School children have worked together to create some classroom rules based on what they have experienced as they have played and worked in the classroom, on walks, during games and at lunchtime.
Each child was given the opportunity to suggest a rule and the other children listened whilst they talked and then everybody agreed upon the rules and signed their names.
How to be a happy class 1. Be fair and kind and look out for other people 2. Compromise 3. Take turns 4. Share 5. No snatching – use your words, not your hands or feet 6. Listen to each other 7. Kind hands, feet and mouth 8. Ask before you leave the classroom 9. Look after our world 10. Find a way to be sorry
We hope you enjoy what our blended Class One and Two came up with as their own version of our behaviour policy.
“Being different is good, but being together with other different people is beautiful and precious and the only way to peace and happiness.“
As the sun sets on another beautiful day at Beechtree, we are very grateful to our parent community for their hard work transforming our outdoor space.
The outdoor area at Beechtree is used by both our Kindergarten classes and our outdoor Parent & Child groups. On any given day the children are outside, climbing, building their own play equipment from logs and tyres, helping tend to the garden through the changing seasons or playing in the sandpit or mud kitchen. The worlds they create during outdoor play are a joy to behold.
When we moved from the wild woodland of Moor Road, we were sad to say goodbye to all that greenery and to the climbing trees. After a year of getting to know and love our new premises, however, Kindergarten parent Charlie had some great ideas for how to evolve the space to add some much -needed verticals!
Over the last half term (plus many additional weekends and evenings!) he and his team of parent volunteers worked tirelessly to transform the mud shelter into a two-story play space. Raising the roof was an interesting challenge – thankfully our parents are two-time Total Warriors and quite capable of holding it up!
With our beautiful new sign, it’s really starting to take shape. We are so grateful to our parents and especially Charlie for sharing his vision and time with us. Our parent community is so dedicated and we’re very proud of them. Beechtree is a success because teachers, trustees and parents work together in order to make the setting run smoothly with the children at the centre. We believe in our ethos of children learning by imitation so it is important that they see the parents and staff contributing equally to the running of their school. With such a fantastic example set to them, it’s no wonder we are blessed with such wonderful children!
You can visit our new premises at our upcoming Winter Fayre on 1st December. Staff will be reading stories, helping children craft gnome gardens, there will be a festive photobooth, craft stalls, an amazing raffle with prizes from local businesses and wholesome vegan and vegetarian food made by our parents.
In order to celebrate National Apple Day class 1/2 went to the Yorkshire Show Ground at Harrogate for a school trip.
We were shown the orchard and discovered that all apple trees do not look the same. Some like to stand up tall and straight, like the Fillingham, the seed of which was originally planted by a butcher in Hull and others like to spread their branches wide, like the Yorkshire Beauty.
One tree’s branches were laden with red fruit and hung down like a weeping willow tree. This was called New Bess Pool. The guide was full of very interesting facts and the children listened to him intently. They were amazed to learn that apples from a tree called Hunt House were originally grown in Whitby and Captain Cook took them on his voyages as they contained more vitamin C than oranges and helped reduce the risk of scurvy for the sailors. The apples on the Sharkton Pippin looked lumpy and gnarly because a beetle chews on its skin. The children were glad we didn’t taste that one.
We did, however, taste Acklam Russet, which had brown skin like a potato and was very sweet. Dog’s snout tasted delicious and we were not sure if it looked more like a lemon shape or a dog’s nose. Arthur Barnes appealed to those who preferred a sharp flavour but the star of the show was a bright red apple called Red Devil. Our least favourite was the Rubinola which was light yellow in colour and had a vague honey flavour. There was also a Japanese variety in the mix called Mutsu.
Before we moved on to make some juice the guide cut an apple in two and we could see the 5 pointed star shining out. Amazing how that fit in with our number work at school. It was just as if it had been planned!
The children enjoyed crushing the apples and turning the apple press. Most of us agreed that the apple juice tasted delicious, although it looked like tea. We then cored a cooking apple and filled it with oats, butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins and brought it home to cook and enjoy later.
Thank you to parents Kylie and Kana for their help. It was a pleasure taking such well behaved, polite children on this trip. Their enthusiasm and ability to observe details was a joy to see and we had such wonderful feedback from the venue about how engaged and enthusiastic the Beechtree children in particular were.
At the beginning of this week the children and staff took great joy in exploring our outdoor space, completely transformed by a layer of snow. They discovered new physical boundaries as ice made climbing and running different, they made impressions in the snow and sang songs about the season.
Despite our all-weather approach to learning through play, the safety of our staff, the children and their parents and carers comes first so rather than encourage driving in dangerous conditions we closed the school for a snow day on Thursday and Friday.
Teacher Ziggy was delighted to announce the news, Steiner style in the form of song. We hope you enjoy it!