Our building was created with wall-to-wall windows to let in as much natural light as possible, allowing the children to enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains and Boulder itself. Each room was created to foster a specific type of developmental play. They are kept full of resources which are geared to captivate curiosity as well as creativity.
Careful attention to the environment is an essential element of Rainbow’s philosophy. We know that when children are in an environment that respects all aspects of who they are; as a young learner, full of potential, a competent and capable being and thus has the right to be recognized as such. A child who is in a mindfully healthy and respectful environment will indeed thrive.
We draw much of our inspiration from the Reggio Emilia theories:
Reggio Emilia views the school as a living organism, a place of shared relationships among the children, the teachers, and the parents. The school produces for the adults, but above all, for the children, a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic. (Malaguzzi, 1994, p.58)
The layout of the physical space in the schools encourages encounters, communication, and relationships. The arrangement of structures, objects and activities encourages choices, problem solving, and discoveries in the process of learning. In preparing the space, teachers offer the possibility for children to be with the teachers and many of the other children, or with just a few of the children, or even alone. Teachers are aware, however, that children also learn from their
peers, especially when they can interact in small groups. (Gandini, 1993, p.6)
Visitors who only come to spend a few hours just begin grasp the depth to which this environment generates all of this for children. Everyday children are baking in the kitchen, creating with a variety of mediums in the art room, making scientific discoveries in the science center like watching butterflies “hatch”, doing gymnastics on crash mats in the big room, playing basketball inside and outside, relaxing while floating on the magic carpet or in a huggle pod, looking at books on the couch or in a glider, climbing in a sunken ship, or playing “family” in the tree house. Did you know we have a 25-foot fairy garden for the children to arrange and care for?
Our environment is in every way a living organism. We use every inch and every season as a respectful, hands on learning tool for the children. We plant flowers surrounding the lunch and play areas outside. We talk about and watch as the plum tree at the entrance gate blossoms and then fills with fruit weighing the branches down. We encourage the parents and children to pick the plums on their way passing in and out everyday to challenge the branches back up into their original place. We plant the seeds for the giant sunflowers you might have noticed by the parking lot, care for them, watch them grow and then watch the squirrels balance on them to eat
the seeds (which by the way is very funny for a 3 year old).
There are conditions under which children thrive, and conditions under which children do not. It is fundamental to Rainbow to maintain the integrity of our environment. The environment of a school is absolutely essential. We see everyday that when this environment is strong, teachers, parents and most importantly children flourish.