Q: What are the advantages of attending school four or five days per week?
A: In keeping with the standards of the American Montessori Society and our many 25 years of experience we find that a four or five day per week schedule is best for the Early Childhood (3 to 5 year old) student. There are many reasons for this:
1. Consistency is important to a young child. Between 3 and 5 years of age the child is just beginning to grasp the concept of time; today, tomorrow and yesterday. In order to ensure a smooth transition and normalization period the child needs to attend school consistently so there is no confusion each morning as to whether this is a “school day” or not. We find this is important to toddlers as well, but we offer the partial schedules for them to ease the transition into the school routine for the whole family.
2. Our comprehensive curriculum covers a different topic each day of the week. This curriculum is designed to begin with the most basic concepts at the start of the school year and slowly build on each of them, integrating each subject into the rest of the classroom so that the child can discover how each is interrelated. For instance, at Thanksgiving we combine Monday’s lessons on art with Tuesday’s lessons on seasons and the Thanksgiving Timeline, Wednesday’s study of North America, the original inhabitants and endemic species, Thursday’s literature including stories about Native Americans, Pilgrims, and North American plants and animals and Friday’s study of Botany which includes parts of the plant and which edible plants will be included in our Thanksgiving Feast. If a child has missed only Tuesdays and Thursdays, she has missed a huge portion of this lesson.
3. Our teaching methods are based on the concept of allowing the child plenty of time to practice each skill. In Early Childhood we have found that if a student is attending sporadically his academic, social, and emotional progress will be sporadic as well.
4. Each day the entire class is introduced to new lessons, participates in community roles, such as caring for the pets and updating the calendar, and listens to announcements, often told in storyteller fashion about upcoming events. The class assumes a family like closeness with each member relying upon the others to perform their role, and all working together toward a common goal such as putting on a play or planning a party. A child who is frequently absent often feels left out.
5. Parents occasionally worry that their child is not yet mature enough to attend school five days each week or simply that the parent will miss the child too much. Over time we have seen that when the child is allowed to attend school every day, she quickly becomes more and delights in her. With the child in school the parent has time to get work, shopping, and other adult oriented tasks out of the way so that the rest of the day can be spent on more child oriented activities.
Q: When is my child ready for school?
When your child is walking independently and beginning to use and respond to verbal cues she will benefit enormously from spending some time in our Toddler Classroom. Toddler Class is for children 18 months to 3 years of age. As the child’s first school experience, the nurturing classroom environment offers many enticing activities that facilitate the child’s growth and independence. The teachers are skilled at easing the transition for the new students, introducing them to the possibilities of making their own decisions and moving at their own pace. The child soon recognizes the classroom as a place where everything is to be touched, experimented with and explored.
The Toddler student is free to choose from a variety of activities carefully prepared to offer experiences in large and fine motor control, discerning shapes, colors, textures, tastes, and sounds. The child enjoys didactic materials which focus on developing independence skills such as pouring, sweeping, sponging, and buttoning. The child’s confidence grows noticeably with her autonomy.
As in every Montessori classroom, the entire room is designed to meet the needs of the child. Everything is safe and meant to be touched. Adults use simple, respectful language and always get down to the child’s level to communicate. Fine art and music are a part of the rich classroom experience.
The student emerges from Toddler Class with a strong sense of self. The child is responsible for making choices, putting things away, dressing himself, and taking care of his own hygiene. He feels confident in trying something new and knows how to ask for help when he needs it. He has explored many concepts sensorially and creatively and is ready to build upon these as well as social and academic skills in the Early Childhood Class.
Q: What is Montessori?
The Montessori education system is based on the philosophy of Maria Montessori. She was the first woman to graduate as a doctor of medicine in Italy at the turn of the century. She began working with poor children, establishing a school, or “Casa de Bambini”, which provided a child-oriented environment in which the children worked on specific skills such as buttoning, sweeping, reading and math. This class of underprivileged children soon exceeded the goals for children in the traditional schools. The Montessori Methodtoday is world-wide and very much the same as it was 100 years ago. For more details, visit our Why Montessori page.
Q: Is Montessori a franchise?
Since “Montessori” is a person’s name it cannot be copyrighted. Anyone is free to use the name whether or not their program includes Montessori techniques, equipment or certified staff. The test of a true Montessori school includes asking for American Montessori Society (AMS), International Montessori Council (IMC) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) credentials for staff members and for the school as a whole. Parents should be welcome to observe classes and will notice a happy, harmonious atmosphere, respect of teachers for children, respect of children for teachers, and a full complement of well-cared for, authentic Montessori materials in each class.
Q: Is Montessori education religious in nature?
We honor the spirituality of the child at Soaring Wings but do not espouse any particular religious belief. As a school we celebrate human diversity and incorporate traditions from many different cultures and religions into our classroom studies.
Q: Should I sign my child up for early childhood or elementary prep?
The Elementary Prep Class allows the 4-6 year old to enjoy a morning work period including practical life, sensorial, art, music, science, geography, language, math and penmanship. During lunch the focus is on etiquette, nutrition, and the practical life activities of setting a table and washing dishes. Free time follows lunch and many include sledding in winter, large motor games, and nature walks. During the final portion of the day the child enjoys a work period focusing upon academic skills. This provides the opportunity to practice reading, writing, and math operations. Group lessons, spelling, grammar, and gloden bead math are also presented. The Elementary Prep class also joins the Elementary class for occasional field trips or cultural lessons.
To be eligible for Elementary Prep, the child should be at least 4 years old, competent with the sounds of the alphabet, world building, and numerals and quantities. The child should also be socially and emotionally mature enough for a longer day and the accompany responsibilities.
Q: When is the best time to transfer to another school?
Each program is designed to build upon the foundation of the one before it. The Toddler Class graduate comes into the Early Childhood Class with a sense of independence and responsibility that gives her a head start into the many discoveries awaiting her in the Early Childhood program. After three years in the Early Childhood program the child has worked methodically through many concrete experiences and is in the process of moving into the more abstract world of reading, writing and math. The Elementary program offers the opportunity to continue developing the child’s expertise in all areas at her own individual pace. By the time she reaches Elementary, teachers know the student’s strengths and weaknesses well and provide her with many challenges to continue her development in social, emotional and cognitive growth. We highly recommend the student complete the Elementary and Middle School programs to enjoy the full benefit of Montessori education.
Q: How will our child do when s/he transfers to another school?
Our graduates are prepared to enter any new school with academics firmly in place, often testing far above grade level, and eager to learn more. She gets along easily with others and knows how to solve a problem on her own. Our graduates, whether in public or private school, stand out as artists, musicians, athletes, scholars and leaders.
Q: Is Soaring Wings financially stable?
Soaring Wings is fully funded with registration fees and tuition. We do not ‘nickel and dime’ parents with other fees or charges. Parents and grandparents are sometimes reluctant to become involved in their child’s private school due to expectations of contributions beyond tuition. This is not the case at soaring wings, so feel free to participate to your heart’s content.
The best way to answer all of your important questions is to schedule a personal tour of either of our Park City-area campuses. Contact Soaring Wings today and come see what we’re all about. We look forward to meeting you!
Our friend Andrew Kutt, author, composer and founder of the Oneness Family School in Maryland, keeps in touch and comes often to our local Montessori gatherings lending his wisdom and talent. Since Montessori schools around the world vary in their affiliations and backgrounds, we have come to identify “authentic” qualities that we all strive for….Continue Reading...