This weekend, the Thrower family joined the Richardsons and their boarders to make use of our new outdoor pizza oven.
Boarders spread their own bases and selected the favourite toppings to make personalised pizzas. Everyone enjoyed chocolate baked bananas for dessert, which gave them all plenty of energy to explore the woodland challenge area - balancing, climbing and building different tyre configurations.
The family dogs joined in too, very hopeful of sharing pizza. It will take a bit longer to train them to jump in and out of the tyre formations - the cucumber treat incentive didn't quite hit the mark!
Fun in the sun
The sun has been like a beacon, beckoning us outside - and outside is a great place for childhood experiences and memory making. We have been enjoying our outdoor spaces with both physical and creative skills being unleashed throughout the grounds.
There has been lots of scooting and skateboarding on the sports courts, tree climbing around site and games such as hide and seek. The boarders were also introduced to a new game with a similar concept-Around the World. This involves staying hidden from view but moving to different bases while the seeker counts.
Our garden party one sunny Sunday afternoon was a great hit too, with lots of 'minute to win it' games and outdoor sound set up as we chilled. Let the glorious weather and outdoor fun continue!
Books for the Boarders
Following World Book Day, our boarders were overjoyed to find a book waiting on each of their pillows when they came back after half term - each one chosen especially for them by our houseparent, Emily. They were all immediately absorbed and are now looking forward to today's book fair, where they can seek out more titles by the authors they've come to love. Not only has the flame of reading been ignited, it's really added to the sense of family and belonging in the boarding house.
World Book Day
Food plays an enormous role in the boarding environment. It can be a comforting taste of home, a shared experience of preparation, a boarding family meal around the table, a chance to explore new flavours, cultures and much more. We love receiving requests from boarders and sourcing what they would like and sometimes they surprise us. We have homemade pizza every Saturday and this week had prawns as a topping on one person’s recommendation but it turned out to be something everyone enjoyed!
We also had enormous amounts of fun playing food roulette recently for our evening entertainment. It was great to see such enthusiasm and willingness to participate, children pushing their own comfort zones and challenging themselves, as well as understanding the feelings of others and, along with a small helping of glee, supporting and encouraging each other.
The children have been really keen to get involved with various tasks and practised or built upon kitchen skills. We have sliced, blitzed, grated, skewered and concocted a range of snacks and meals together. It’s great to be hands-on together – food for the soul as well as our tummies!
Full STEAM ahead!
This term has launched with an array of STEAM activities for our Boarders. A trip to Bristol’s 'We The Curious' was a brilliant opportunity to see science in action. Back at the Boarding House, they explored motion and mechanisms with hot wheels cars, invented a ball rolling game on the pool table and were amazed at how high they could make a stomp rocket fly.
Last week’s Year 5/6 Science fair inspired our new Houseparents to buy electrical circuit materials for the boarders and these boys got straight to business connecting batteries to lights, adding switches and generally testing out the kits - experimenting with brightness and working out best solutions to meet needs.
The Benefits of Boarding
After the quiet and tranquillity of the first week in January, the boarding house has burst back into life with the hubbub and energy of children – just as it should be. It has been a wonderful seven days getting to know the different characters we have in the boarding house, finding out what makes them tick, what their interests and passions are and how we can make their time with us as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. One of the joys for us has been seeing how quickly the boarders have involved our own children in their house life, playing with them and welcoming us as a whole family.
It is great to get stuck into a new challenge as far as boarding is concerned. Having worked in prep schools which were either full boarding or which retained a full-boarding element for the past 10 years, it is safe to say that we are firm believers in the benefits that boarding can have for children. To have the opportunity to use that experience at Dean Close St Johns and to build on the provision offered here is very exciting.
So why do we love Boarding so much? Well, the skills and independence it fosters in a child are second to none. It gives children the chance to learn how to manage their time in a safe, friendly and homely environment, whilst also building lifelong friendships and relationships. It teaches them how to interact with a range of people from different backgrounds and ages and gives children multiple extra ‘siblings’ with whom they can play and grow, all within the setting of a second family.
Of course, full boarding is not for every child, but with increased flexi-boarding provision, there is also the opportunity for children to gain some of the benefits of boarding without needing to commit to a full-boarding model. The confidence a child can gain from staying in the boarding house, even for one or two nights a week is huge. They can gain experience of routines and living with their peers which can help prepare them for senior school and, in the longer run, university. It is no coincidence that those pupils who have had some experience of boarding are often the ones who settle best at senior schools. They develop the independence and interpersonal skills that stand them in such good stead as they move through their teenage years and into adult life.
Of course, all this is underpinned by a loving and fun environment. We aim to make each child’s experience as enjoyable and fun as possible. With activities every night and regular trips and outings at the weekend, as well as the range of facilities on site, there is always plenty to do. When combined with family-style activities such as pizza making, board games, countryside walks and Mrs R’s famous home-made Biscoff rocky road, a real homely atmosphere is created.
The benefits of boarding are huge and we would encourage you and your children to give it a try, if they have not done so already, or for a while – particularly those in Years 7 and 8 who are preparing for senior school. They will be very welcome indeed in the house and we look forward to having them as part of our boarding family.