A Day at Fairplay House

Children are asked to wake, to be up ready and dressed for breakfast by teachers for 8am. Bedrooms are spacious with lovely views of the Fairplay house garden. Bedrooms contain bunk beds and children are responsible for keeping their beds made and room tidy. The largest bedroom will have eight children sharing and the smallest room four. Each bedroom has a name which gives a sense of belonging during their time at Fairplay. The children will often carry out their house duties in these groups. Bedrooms are on both floors, boys are usually upstairs and girls downstairs they have a bathroom for each floor and are able to shower generally in the evening after activities.

At the end of the first activity of their stay they will be shown how to make their beds and will be expected to work together in their bedroom group to help each other complete this task. This builds the team relationships and helps to grow the child’s independence while still learning to listen and cooperate within this small group. Other house duties will include clearing the dining room, cleaning tables, sweeping the floor and drying up utensils after each meal. Each group will usually only have one duty time for their stay at Fairplay.

After breakfast the duty group will remain and clear away while the rest of the children go to bedrooms to have some time before the day ahead. The duty group will know in advance which duty they will be doing so they know to prepare in advance.

The lunch Duty group will arrive once the dining room is cleared and help to prepare food for lunch this will be tasks such as buttering rolls, writing the names on the lunch bags and helping to pack all lunches away, they will then help to serve the food to the groups.

Instructors will help supervise duty groups this helps build confidence and independence in household tasks and creates good working relationships between the instructors and the children.

At 9.30am when everyone including teachers have made their pack lunches children will assemble in the lounge space which they also use for downtime reading and playing games. The Instructor will give a briefing on the day’s activities and also answer any questions from the children. This time is also used for the children to discuss and share their experiences so far.  During this time children begin to develop a sense of teamwork and leadership skills through evaluating their own experiences in this way.

The children are then sent off in their activity groups to go through the cloak room where all outdoor shoes, boots and coats are stored. (the children are very good at using their ‘indoor’ shoes while in the house). The instructors will meet them at the turning circle area as they come out of the cloak room. Instructors will check that correct clothing is being worn for the weather and once all groups are ready instructors lead the way to the first activity with the accompanying teacher.

After the morning’s activity, groups will return to the house between 12.30 – 1pm for lunch, children enter and leave the house through the cloakroom at all times and are reminded to wash their hands when they get back.  Lunch will either be in the dining room or the picnic area outside depending on the weather. After lunch there will be down time while the lunch duty group tidies the area.  A short briefing is held about 1.40pm with an instructor back in the lounge, these are important and unique Fairplay moments when the children can express their feelings and share some of their amazing experiences telling each other how they appreciated or inspired them.

This is where the real magic at Fairplay happens in these moments, sparks of wisdom are nurtured and nerves are set aside.

At 2pm children meet up outside with their afternoon Instructors to go to the next activity.

The afternoon activity finishes by 4.30-4.45pm and the group return to the house.  Summer evenings can be spent playing on the football pitch or just throwing a ball around with friends in the garden.  Darker winter evenings are spent playing cards or board games in the lounge; often children will use this time to read or write up a Fairplay diary.  Teachers sometimes plan discos or a talent show night. On a clear evening the teachers are able to use the campfire area for an evening singsong toasting marshmallows.

At 5.45pm the evening meal is ready, for all meals children queue at the servery.  Instructors and teachers ensure everything runs smoothly as children take their meals through to the dining room.  Children are served the main meal by the domestic staff and they then serve themselves to a choice of extras.  Teaching staff eat in the dining room with the children and when finished each table is responsible for stacking dishes and leaving their table as tidy as possible for the duty group.

At Fairplay house there is a set menu for the week with meat, vegetarian or halal options.  Children and teachers make their meal choices during the morning briefing and the catering team prepare the meals for the evening.

The second overnight sleep at Fairplay is often quieter then the first as the day is packed with exciting activities.  The memories the children make at Fairplay will be some of the core memories that stay with them for their whole lives, the amazing experiences they have and friendships they make. This is an invaluable part of a child’s development that can help them grow as an individual and strengthen their independence.