Children and teachers in the Rainbow Garden community work together to accomplish goals both on a daily basis and long-term.
Daily goals include:
- science projects
- daily chores (folding laundry, caring for classroom animals, cleaning up after ourselves, emptying the compost bucket).
Our daily goals aid in the accomplishment of our teachers’ long-term goals for our students and uphold the community values of respect, independence and communication. By long-term we mean over the course of the time the children are in our care. Our long-term goals reflect our philosophy of children as naturally busy and curious beings with the will and drive to learn as long as what is being taught is developmentally appropriate for them.
Our long-term goals are:
- To introduce children to a cooperative learning and social environment.
- To encourage creative expression (artistic, verbal, physical, and musical)
- To help increase communication skills.
- To encourage independence, both functional and emotional.
- To introduce, through hands-on, individualized, experiential activities, basic phonetics, beginning mathematics and natural sciences.
- To ultimately show complete respect for the children as unique individuals.
We understand that each child comes to Rainbow Garden with their own particular background, interests, needs, challenges and offerings. We strive to assist in the development of the children as individuals. We also strive to attend to the children as whole beings taking into consideration their physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual development.
Respect, independence, and communication. These are crucial components in our comfortable and cooperative learning environment. We believe that these components make for a positive and successful experience which will leave a lasting impression on children as their first experience in school.
What better way to learn respect than to be offered it wholeheartedly? Teachers at Rainbow Garden model respectful behavior and encourage the children to do the same. The children are responsible for showing respect to each other and the materials and animals both in the classroom and in our outdoor environment.
A large part of our program is based on encouraging children to be independent both functionally and emotionally. Functional independence is being able to take care of one’s own personal needs (dressing and undressing, cleaning up after one’s self, using the restroom alone and taking care of one’s own body) as well as actively participating in taking care of their environment. This form of independence is very important for children entering a cooperative learning community. We strongly encourage parents to allow their children to take care of their own shoes and clothes (coats, etc.) upon entering the classroom so as to set a precedence of independence.
Emotional independence comes from learning to be OK on one’s own. This can, at times, be a challenge for children entering the community and, for some, it can take a lifetime to learn. At Rainbow Garden we are very sensitive to the challenge of moving toward emotional independence and recognize our environment as being an introduction to this process.
When dropping off, we encourage parents to stay for a bit and read a book or do a puzzle with their child. This helps the children feel even more safe and comfortable being at school. During the school day our students are encouraged to make their own choices for activities and problem solving. Our intimate, community environment allows our teachers to be involved in supporting the choice process while not dominating it.
Learning to be a successful communicator is a life-long process. At Rainbow Garden we are committed to helping children develop communication skills. We aim to accomplish this by listening to the children first and foremost. We believe when children feel as if they are being listened to it will encourage them to communicate. We listen to and often rephrase a child’s statement. This gives the child the understanding that they have been heard while offering them another way to successfully express themselves. This process, along with the understanding that every child in the school community has an equal voice, helps children to build self-esteem and expand their vocabulary while increasing communication skills.