Learning Through Relationships

Our Program

The Rebecca School experience is one of support and challenge. By organizing our classrooms into sensory, symbolic, and semi-structured spaces, daily work is kept appropriate to a student’s needs and interests. Near each classroom, there are also Quiet Areas for any time when a student requires a calming atmosphere.

As the day progresses, students engage with activities that address their individual developmental capacities and guide them up the developmental ladder. Learning expands beyond the classroom to include our hallways and kitchen, weekly shopping excursions and trips to public playgrounds and beyond – anywhere that can deepen their experiences and foster relationships with the greater community.

From piano, drums, and guitar to paintbrushes and paper, creative arts are deeply integrated into Rebecca School’s culture. Music and art cultivate social interaction and pave the way for developmental growth.

Rebecca School helps our students relate, communicate and become creative, logical thinkers, tailoring our instruction so that every student can thrive. Important foundations are established using developmental curriculum such as Thinking Goes to School, and for students at FEDC 6 and above, we adapt standard curriculums to emphasize thinking based activities rather than memorization skills.

These curriculums align with Common Core Standards. Some examples of the standard curriculums include Lindamood-Bell, Handwriting without Tears, Everyday Math and Center for Hands-on Science. Thinking Goes To School exercises are also a key component in every student’s day as a means to improve motor planning, visual-spatial thinking, and sequencing skills which are all precursors to academic learning.

Parents, family, and caregivers are always welcome at the school by appointment and are invited to complete a four-week Floortime™ Certificate Program. It is important to us that the whole family benefits from the Rebecca School experience.

Understanding DIR® Floortime™

The acronym DIR stands for “Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-based approach®,” a therapeutic intervention model developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan.

Developmental refers to the capacities on the FEDC chart. It provides a standard way to measure milestones in our students’ development over time.

“Individual-Difference” refers to the unique way a child processes information. This means that we account for the individual strengths and needs of every student.

“Relationship-based” refers to our understanding of the learning relationships that enable a child to progress in their development.

The Rebecca School utilizes the Developmental Individual Difference Relationship-based (DIR®) model. The DIR® methodology, developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, proceeds from the core belief that relationships are the foundation of learning.  Academics at Rebecca School foster a child’s ability to relate, communicate, and think.  Our academic program is focused around the student’s passions, interests, and lived emotional experiences.  Teachers create individualized lessons to address both the developmental and interest levels of each student.

Academics in the classroom aim to address the student’s core developmental and learning challenges. Skills taught in a dynamic relationship within 1:1 interactions with a teacher, small groups, and large classroom activities. Our goal is to create classrooms that promote a child’s ability to think critically about their world.

For students working at the beginning developmental capacities, an academic program includes a focus on a functional communication system using initial sight words, self-regulation, and remaining in frustrating and/or joyful interactions for longer periods of time with both children and teachers. For children who are symbolic, classroom curriculum focuses on perspective taking, empathy, and multi-causal reasoning.

Unlike more data-driven behavioral approaches, the DIR®/Rebecca School intervention promotes a child’s ability to think critically rather than perform for trials or discrete tasks. Stanley Greenspan explains, “The job of schools should be to help children relate to others in a meaningful way, use language and ideas creatively, and become abstract as creative thinkers, as well as master academic subjects.

A detailed breakdown of the DIR® Model can be found at the website of The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning.

Floortime™ is one component of a comprehensive DIR®-based intervention program. Floortime™ focuses on creating emotionally meaningful learning interactions that encourage mastery of the developmental capacities. The DIR® model has helped many children with developmental delays such as autism spectrum disorders learn to relate to adults and peers with warmth and intimacy, communicate meaningfully with emotional gestures and words, and think with a high level of abstract reasoning and empathy.  The DIR® model allows us to integrate emotional, social, intellectual, and educational goals for each child.

Greenspan, Stanley I., and Serena Wieder. Engaging Autism: Using the Floortime Approach to Help Children Relate, Communicate, and Think. Philadelphia: Da Capo Lifelong, 2009. Print.