Educational Learning Environment
Constructivist Learning theory states that people are active creators of their own understanding and knowledge of the world. When students have interesting experiences, engage in problem-solving, ask questions, explore, experiment, reflect, assess, and discuss, they not only learn the material more deeply and remember it better, but they gain important life skills. Perhaps the most important of these skills is that they learn how to learn.
At Indigo, lessons incorporate fine arts and technology, opportunities for collaborative learning, and in-depth, extended projects, which take into consideration developmental levels and interests. Teachers encourage students to use open-ended questioning and to develop and employ learning strategies so that they become “expert learners.”
A developmental approach honors each child. Just as each child cuts a first tooth or takes a first step according to a personal inner clock, so each child breaks the reading code, skips, or associates an abstract symbol with a particular concept at the right time for that child.
In this context, a child’s development can best be maximized by providing an experiential hands-on approach, promoting an awareness of self and one’s relation to others, and providing an opportunity to learn at their own pace within an integrated curriculum. Our program is based on these premises.
Research shows that a basic education must address the needs of the whole child; social, physical, emotional and academic areas of growth are interrelated and are of equal value. When a child’s whole being is honored and respected, the innate desire to learn is developed and enhanced.
Social / Emotional Learning is supported throughout the program. As a community we strive to use a common vocabulary to provide our students with a safe and supportive atmosphere in which to learn not only academics but also interpersonal, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills.
Strategies used at Indigo to support children’s social and emotional growth include:
- Class Meetings- Provide students with chances to recognize things that are going well and to problem-solve areas of difficulty
- Communication Lab: A weekly lab is held at each grade level to promote effective communications skills. Topics range from eye contact and body posture to the effects of gossip, depending on grade level.
- Morning Meetings: Students meet daily to foster community. Morning meetings include schedule, news and announcements, sharing and community building activities to further develop cooperation and collaboration.
- Choice wheel: The choice wheel is used in classes, during class meetings, and on the playground to help students identify choices they can make to deal with situations.
- Project Cornerstone: Project Cornerstone is a community agency with a mission to train and mobilize adults throughout Santa Clara County to develop healthy, caring, and responsible children and youth. Project Cornerstone works directly with students, staff, and parents at Indigo on the following initiatives:
- ABC (Asset Building Champions) – training parents to facilitate monthly lessons in grades K-5 that focus on bullying prevention and promoting positive peer interactions.
- “Expect Respect” student workshops – middle school students attend workshops and prepare classroom presentations to share important lessons they learned about creating a positive and respectful environment at our school.
- Staff and parent training on bullying prevention and asset development.
Our close-knit community offers a nurturing learning environment for the children and a support network for the teachers and families. The nature of mutual support amongst the Indigo community exemplifies the often quoted proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
Indigo is structured to provide teachers, parents, and children the opportunity for positive interaction both inside and outside the classroom. The entire community works to create a harmonious environment that promotes wellness.
A family picnic, summer park days, service learning, talent show, harvest festival, and guest speakers, for example, all contribute to a sense of interconnectedness. Through training and seminars, a consistent message of self-improvement for our children is encouraged at home as well as at school.
A buddy program teaches our older students how to role model for, and be considerate of early primary grade students. Our social committee hosts several “Linger Longer” morning coffee mixers throughout the year. Even fundraising brings people together. Dinner Nights Out, the Fun Run and the Art Show and annual Music in the Park are all opportunities for families to work and play together.