Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. -Yeats
Our Beliefs About Children and Learning del Sol’s program is based on the assumption that children are important people. We believe that children have a right to be nurtured by teachers who honor them for who they are—unique, creative individuals, rich in being & potential, capable & powerful, loving & giving, possessing a natural sense of wonder, curiosity, desire, excitement, and joy in living & learning. We know, from our own experience and from child development theorists, that children are impelled to learn, most effectively by doing and reflecting upon it. Knowledge is not something that is given to children, but is actually constructed by the individual child through a playful and purposeful use of his/her multiple intelligences when interacting with objects, people, and ideas. Because children are highly motivated to make sense of their world they do not need to be forced to learn. They are natural learners. Each child is viewed as a unique person with an individual pattern and timing of growth and development Differences in abilities, development, interests, gifts, and learning styles are expected, accepted, and used to design appropriate activities which will nurture the development of ‘the whole child.’ SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS As a natural part of every day children have many opportunities to develop their social skills through talking, listening, negotiating, helping, cooperating, making suggestions, voting, taking turns, sharing space and/or materials, being the leader or follower, standing up for one's self, expressing needs and feelings in pro-social ways, etc. del Sol teachers understand the importance of facilitating and promoting these social skills at all times, as part of the curriculum. Invariably, children run into conflicts with people and other obstacles. The teacher's role in these difficult situations is not to take over and distract, judge, shame, or punish, but to serve as a magnifying glass for others by empathetic listening, clarifying, exploring, and guiding. The teacher’s goal of facilitating the construction of each involved person’s understanding of their own and every other involved person’s valid needs, allows the child to evaluate the situation for him/herself and construct a moral belief system within the context of pro-social values. Acceptance, respect, and trust from caring adults are essential to the learning and growing process. Experiencing acceptance, respect, and trust from important adults helps children to develop these qualities in themselves. Believing in oneself is the basis for all growth. Conflicts between children are not seen as problems that teachers must solve, but as opportunities for children to learn the skills necessary to become responsible problem solvers in their own lives. Therefore, children are encouraged to work out conflicts among themselves from a non-power based approach with teachers serving as facilitator, assuming a less directive role as independence grows. We model/teach the children to use “I- messages” in a form of communication called Nonviolent Communication which focuses on expressing and listening empathetically to the facts, feelings, needs, and requests in a situation. We also utilize a technique called ‘mirroring’ to check, clarify, and validate understanding and Thomas Gordon’s win-win Creative Problem Solving method. Various techniques are used as the situation calls for it. Children know they can always call upon teachers to serve as facilitators in their problem solving and conflict resolution experiences. Fostering nonviolent communication and peaceful conflict resolution impacts the children’s lives in very positive ways. Parents wanting to read more about effective communication and how to address a conflict in needs between them and their children or between children or within themselves (negative emotions/reactivity), are encouraged to read Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, Parent Effectiveness Training, 30th Anniversary edition by Thomas Gordon, Giving the Love that Heals by Harville Hendrix & Helen Hunt, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Maslich, Inner Bonding (book or video) by Dr. Margaret Paul (also see www.innerbonding.com.), and Social Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. These items are core literature for del Sol parents and contain the fundamental relationship principles and approaches which we embrace. NURTURING STUDENTS’ INNER LIVES Note: del Sol does not espouse any particular religion or spiritual path, but does not avoid “existential” or “spiritual” questioning and discussions. Our goal is to honor and integrate all aspects of life experience and development into a holistic philosophy and program whose mission is to facilitate optimal self – development and self – investigation in an environment of social constructivism. Children, as well as adults, naturally ask life’s big questions as life unfolds. Discussions spring up based on the children’s interests and questions of events in their personal life, with family and friends, their studies of science, history, and awareness of current events. We support this pursuit of meaning-making, of grappling with life’s complexities. del Sol’s role is not to ‘hand-out’ definitive answers, but to honor the pursuit of questioning, reflective thought, and the sharing of one’s paradigm in an environment of social co-construction. As a part of our goals for the development of Emotional and Existential Intelligence, we encourage children to investigate their own answers for understanding life and their relationship to it is through an intra-personal time after lunch. Students devote up to 20 minutes using various techniques of “turning inward” with the goal of developing a strong sense of an empowered self – understanding feelings, needs, intentions, choices, behavior, strengths, dreams, and finding joy & purpose in one’s life. Relationships between peers and teachers become intimate with the opportunities for sharing one’s self awareness, growth, and personal truth in an environment which is supportive and honoring. We invite you to come observe our children’s day school and experience ‘the dS difference’ for yourself.