Program Profile: Rainbow School in Stanford, California
Rainbow School’s one-room schoolhouse helps build a truly international community of families.
Diversity is vital to Rainbow School’s philosophy. Families and their young children come to Rainbow School from countries across the world, bringing to Rainbow a variety of beliefs and practices around childrearing and schooling. Children, staff, and parents work to embrace each other’s differences and similarities. The Parent Handbook states, “The Rainbow School honors all groups represented in our classroom population. In addition to general curriculum planning, our staff will plan activities which incorporate your family traditions…. Sharing your family’s culture, while being respecful of the culture of others, allows for an enriching experience for all.”
The program is a parent cooperative program with three to five parents working each day with teachers. A father points out that the Rainbow School was “a perfect way for our family to integrate in America and in the Bay Area, for our kids as well as for us since co-oping at school allowed us to feel socially integrated and meet a lot of other parents.”
Family Engagement Program Practices
Family participation at Rainbow helps parents practice their English in a welcoming and supportive immersion setting. An ESL class is co-located so that Rainbow parents can learn there more formally and then practice what they learn at Rainbow. For Rainbow children, particularly international children experiencing the US celebration of Halloween for the first time, it has been a fun cultural exchange to parade in costume to the ESL class. For the finale, the adult English language learners sing Halloween songs to the children in a room full of lighted jack o’lanterns.
Teachers also engage parents in activity planning: One child and his mother shared their favorite Japanese children’s song, and the teachers and children made up gestures to go along with the words. The song is now a Rainbow favorite. A mother drew a human body, complete with transliterated Korean words for the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song, and the children and teachers now know the words. Parents have also participated in:
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.