Program Information

Rainbow Learning Circle: Early Learning Arts 2013

 What is the philosophy of the Rainbow Learning Circle?

The philosophy of the Rainbow Learning Circle centers on the belief that children are capable and active participants in the construction of their understanding.  Teachers and parents, at school and at home, will guide children in their expressions and vocabulary, in the languages of symbols, arts materials, play and conscience, to the foundation of a caring learning community.  Identifying and assessing children’s strengths and helping parents advocate for the best learning situations to build on these strengths in the future, are the two educational strands braided into the exploration of expressive materials.

 What does this philosophy look like?

Experiences of expression and exploration will be balanced with the creation of a community, through rituals of meeting and sharing, planning and playing.  Children will learn to adjust to a small group of peers and express their intentions in Morning Circle, which includes story-telling, melody and rhythm explorations and calendar.  Foundations in literacy and numeracy will be expressed through the children’s emergent skill and interest in 6 basic materials (clay, paint, wire, light/shadow, woodworking, textiles), and the artifacts and documentation to be found on the blog and in the emails sent by the teacher/parents, as well as in the Daily Plans binder found onsite.  On a weekly basis, parents will be given portfolios of their children’s work, which they may use as entry points to discuss their sons’ or daughters’ interests and experiences, and which will identify pathways for their children’s growth.  Written assessments (often required by elementary schools) will be furnished upon request.

Why call it the Rainbow Learning Circle?

The Rainbow Learning Circle is a path.  The circle of connection between parent, teacher and child starts with conversations at the door, during pick up and drop off.  Family Binders, composed by children when they begin a new year at RLC, encourage the home/school continuum.  As children negotiate their adjustment from free play with their peers to the expectations of broader social institutions (like elementary school), we will together create a colorful interface of diverse experiences.  Parents’ willingness to exert influence on the school environment and to partner in relationship-building with their children and children’s teachers will pave the way for collaborations and transformations in many future learning environments.  The circles of support which surround the child will vary, as a matter of course, and at Rainbow Learning Circle a consistent provision of respect and care will solidify the “new” encounter with schools.

 What is the Daily Schedule?

The classroom we rent from the Orange Grove Meeting (the Quakers) is available Monday through Thursdays, from 9 – 3 pm.  (We also have a part-time program which ends at 1 pm.)

8:30 – 9 am      Families arrive.

9 – 9:30       Free Play/ Morning Circle/ Sharing or Story Circle/ Plans

9:30 – 10     Snack

10 – 10:30   Small group exploration of expressive materials (per plans), dramatic play, etc.

10:30 – 12   Free Play, focused construction, small or large motor games

12- 1pm      Lunch/ Goodbye to those that leave after lunch

1 – 3pm       Afternoon art projects and play / Goodbye Circle (reflections) and Song

Where is the program located?

Rainbow Learning Circle (RLC) is located in the remodeled “garage” classroom on the site of the Orange Grove Meeting (Quaker meeting house) at: 524 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA.  91104.  The early learning arts program rents classroom space from the Quakers.  RLC’s daily and yearly schedule is coordinated with the Friends Western School (also tenants on this site), for the sake of siblings attending both educational programs and to ensure that all children have access to the greatest amount of space for free play/recess as they may require.

 Contact Information?

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit, please call 626-298-5812.

 What does this 4-day early arts program cost?

Costs vary depending on how many days per week and hours per day a child attends Rainbow Learning Circle. Contracts and applications are due prior to enrollment and participation in the program.  Payment is required the first of the month.

Who are the teachers?

The lead teacher is Karen Merchant-Yates, who for the last 16 years has worked with various multi-age groups, primarily in early education. Students in her care experience the Reggio-Emilia inspired commitment to the examination and exploration of everyday life through the collaborative use of expressive media, pioneered in Italian preschools by Loris Malaguzzi.  Karen has been an early childhood educator in preschools embodying the Reggio-Emilia philosophy in Santa Monica and Echo Park in LA.   Also, she has been a visual arts teaching artist in elementary schools, and implemented K-5 classroom arts in Boise’s Hidden Springs Community School, coordinated the Trash for Teaching visual arts program for LAUSD and the Arts-in-the-Classroom Parent Volunteer program at Odyssey Charter School.  She is an on-site teaching artist (K-2) for LACMA in their LAUSD Bing Outreach Program.  She recently completed certificates for Parent Educator at the Echo Center and for the Teaching Artist Apprentice Program (TAAP) at the Music Center, and is a credentialed teacher and site-supervisor in Early Childhood Education.  She has an MA, with a specialization in art education from Pacific Oaks and a BFA in filmmaking.

Jamie Ramos co-teaches the class with Karen. She is fantastic. (Bio coming soon!)


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