Rainbow Class finds success with virtual connections

  • photo submitted by Rebecca Hart

    Students in the Rainbow Class take a screenshot while conducting virtual school due to COVID-19 restrictions.

HANALEI — Starting the day with yoga is routine for the kids in Rebecca Hart’s Kaua‘i north shore Rainbow Class, but since the class has gone virtual, it’s a good way to get the wiggles out before it’s time for math.

And it’s a good way to get the wiggles out during math, if you need to.

The Rainbow Class is a collection of elementary students that have been physically meeting for several years in the mornings, learning core subjects as well as writing music, doing yoga and talking about subjects like social and emotional health and wellbeing.

When the virus pandemic clutched the world and COVID-19 regulations pressed pause on conventional classroom education, the Rainbow Class — like many other classes across the U.S. — went online.

Now, every day from a quarter after nine in the morning to 1:15 p.m., about 12 elementary students join together using the digital platform Zoom and they’re still doing yoga together, talking about emotional and social health together, and learning math and reading together.

They’re also still writing rap songs — most recently about little water bugs called tardigrades — still writing in gratitude journals every day and keeping their classroom connection strong.

“We support each other,” Hart said after a recent education session with the Rainbow Class. “We love to see each other and communicate real time. It’s been super helpful getting through these crazy times.”

Hart’s students said they appreciate being able to connect daily with each other. Student, Naia Woodruff, said: “It’s fun. I’d rather hang out in real life, but at least we have school.”

After a morning stretching session and in between learning about money and time management, science and reading — the class is currently going through the book “A Wrinkle in Time” together — the Rainbow Class plays games to break up the day.

“I like when we play musical yoga mats,” said student Malakai Belz. “We hop around and do poses.”

In addition to white boards and markers, arithmetic and reading, Hart has partnered with Kaua‘i resident CJ Macias to teach the kids some Spanish and student Reece Doland, bilingual in English and German, teaches his fellow students words in the latter language.

Students also encourage each other to take part in community service projects, like a mask distribution campaign taken on by student Axel Irons and family.

“Miss Hart challenges us to be better,” said student Aria Godinez.

The Rainbow Class’s youngest student is first grader Skye Dana, who said daily gratitude journals are among her favorite things about the class.

“We talk about what we are grateful for,” Skye said, explaining that day’s gratitude journal was inspired by the class’s “Wacky Wednesday” outfits. “Today I thought ‘being weird is awesome because everyone’s different when they’re weird.’”

As the class has shifted online, it’s garnered another student — Sarai Aiko Nathan, a third grade student from Arizona and daughter of Buti Yoga founder Bizzie Gold.

And after 1:15 p.m., class is done and the kids are free to do other things.

For Tanner Miller, that means riding bikes or climbing trees — the classic after-school activities for youngsters.

Hart said she and her students value the high amount of face time they get from their classes, and all of them enjoy the virtual hang out classroom sessions. “The class is a place for us to go and find happiness when there’s a lot of fear in the world.”

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