Happy New Year! We begin a new year with warm thoughts of the many generous and loving contributions that are invested into our school each day, whether in a word, a gift, or a smile. Soaring Wings flourishes because of our shared wish for educating your children to their highest potential. Our goal is to grant each child the skills necessary to live a peaceful, productive and fulfilling life. Our dream is to ensure that when this future generation matures, our world will pass into the most capable of hands. In these times of uncertainty it is more important than ever before to raise a generation who can reach out to those of different cultures and find peaceful solutions to problems. As world events alarm us people voice their concern about bringing children into a place like this. But really, it’s only our children who can straighten things out. To prepare for what awaits them these children need more than the ability to work at a job and make money. They need conflict resolution skills, intrinsic motivation and an understanding of how cultures and ecosystems must balance to support the biota of our planet.
Maria Montessori began this dream over a century ago. She opened her first school, Casa dei Bambini, in Italy on January 6, 1907. Many recognized the potential of her ideas. Maria succeeded in establishing several schools throughout Europe in only a few years. However, the world wars ripped through the continent and Mussolini evicted Maria and her educational philosophy from Italy. The wars, however, gave Maria a greater incentive to continue to develop a process which would not only educate people to their fullest potential but would produce generations with such well-developed communication skills and appreciation of cultural diversity that war would become a thing of the past. Only in the last decade have Maria’s ideas begun to become incorporated into traditional American school programs. As classrooms become more child-centered and education slowly becomes more individualized, we are seeing a more mindful generation arise. Just in the nick of time, there is a new awareness of the importance of including cultural awareness, conflict resolution and emotional literacy into the education of even the smallest children.
In the classroom we set up each activity with a control of error so that the success of the child is guaranteed. With improving skill, the self-correcting factor is gradually removed so that the child’s own skill becomes the control of error. This applies to social as well as academic skill development. We are equipping these children not only for academic success but for success in life as well. With the incredible technological tools at their disposal combined with a respectful approach to the balance of life on this planet how can these children do anything but succeed?
Our community of infants and their parents continues to grow, with teacher Lina Singleton leading weekly discussions on child development and the Montessori Method. The next session starts January 9th, 8:30 – 11:30 am, when we will discuss Sensorial, Language, Socio-emotional and Artistic development. If you have a baby or know one who may be interested, please contact Lina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes
As we all know, toddlers enjoy a regular routine. We appreciate January because, although some students may need to readjust to the school routine again after the long break, it is typically a quiet month in which to get back into the routine of the work cycle. It is a time to learn new Practical Life skills such as pouring a glass of water or preparing a snack. Old songs and stories are enjoyed and new ones are added. Art media is expanded and new ideas are introduced. The oldest class members are starting to become more aware of social opportunities which puts a new perspective on class time. The uninterrupted class period provides time for lessons in Language, Math or Sensorial concepts. Science activities may involve studying the properties of snow. Take time to stop and see the snowflakes with your toddler this month and enjoy the peace and quiet of January.
If you dads haven’t been in for a Parent Day yet this school year, please schedule a time with us right away. We look forward to seeing you!
News from the Turquoise, Rainbow and Cottonwoods Classes
Montessori is a method that has been misunderstood for almost a century. It seems that criticism comes from those who think the Montessori method of education is too structured and those who think it is too unstructured. Those who understand the principles see that a true Montessori class employs a complementary blend of structure and freedom.
At the beginning of the year most of the students in the early childhood program spend a great deal of their time with crayons, blocks and puzzles. During the school year, although the materials offered are changed only slightly, the interest of the student gradually turns towards academics. We do lessons with each child every day, usually allowing the child to pick the activity but keeping in mind the child’s age, health, developmental capabilities and interests. A “lesson” is never a drill, but a demonstration of precisely how an activity is done, from rolling out the work mat to wiping up every drip of water and replacing the activity on the shelf. All lessons are aimed at coordination, concentration, organization and independence. The theory is basically to offer a wide array of avenues of interest and allow the child to decide when the time is right for each one. Our classrooms are set up to provide for all types of learning styles so that, for instance, those who learn best through movement are provided plenty of opportunities for practicing motor skills and those who are auditory learners hear the carefully chosen words of the teacher. The Montessori child typically seeks out the academic lessons in the classroom just as s/he seeks out dolls, trucks and blocks, because they offer a learning opportunity. And as children are infinitely different, so they are the same in at least one respect; their love of learning.
Monday – Art
The children have been intrigued with Georgia O’Keeffe and her enormous flowers and floating bones. Her definition of art is… “to fill a space beautifully.” The artist of the month for January is a friend of Georgia’s, Ansel Adams. This is a good time to give your child a lesson on how to use a camera carefully and allow him to take some photos of his own. Smart phone cameras and most small digital cameras are simple and easy for a child to use with supervision. Print out a few of your child’s photos to bring class for our photo exhibits.
Tuesday – Time & Seasons
This month we will be looking for signs of winter in the weather, plants and behavior of people and animals. We plan to celebrate the next big snow storm with snow ice cream!
Wednesday – Geography
Last month we extended our study of North America to its winter celebrations, as well as those around the world. In January we learn about South America and its plants, animals and people. If you have any artifacts to share from South America please send them in.
Thursday – Literature
The kids became familiar with Dr. Seuss last month and most noticed that he usually wrote books that are silly, but have a message for those who listen carefully. His messages can be as simple as… “a host above all must be nice to his guests” (Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose) and as profound as… “maybe Christmas…doesn’t come from a store” (How the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Eric Carle is January’s author of the month. His books (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider & The Very Quiet Cricket) are creatively illustrated and fun for kids this age. If your child has a favorite Eric Carle book, this is a good time to share it with the class. We will hold our own Eric Carle film festival about the time Sundance comes to town this month.
Friday – Biology
A seafood meal is a good way to review which edible sea animals are invertebrates (clams, oysters, shrimp, crab, lobster, calamari) and which are vertebrates (fish) for the transition into the study of fishes this month. Any fishes, living or dead, or parts thereof would be most interesting as sharing items this month. We could use three nice, whole, medium-sized fish with which to do fish prints. Any fishermen want to contribute something from the freezer?
Each spring we administer the Stanford Achievement Test to our Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 6th grade students. You may view those results on our website (www.soaringwings.org). Testing is scheduled for March this year. If your child is eligible you will receive an information packet in February.
If any of you haven’t already been in for your own Parent Day, please talk to any teacher about scheduling a time right away. We look forward to seeing you!
News from the Moose Tracks Class
January is a great month to re-evaluate your elementary student’s role in the family. By now even the youngest child should be in charge of keeping his room and bathroom clean, making the bed and helping with the laundry. As soon as the child is tall enough to reach the knobs on the washer and dryer he can take over his own laundry. Until then he can at least fold and put it away.
If you are having recurring problems with keeping possessions and toys picked up, evaluate your storage system. Baskets of toys ask to be dumped on the floor and then no one wants to pick them up. A simple shelving system can hold books, music, art supplies, games and smaller toys sorted into small bins. For instance, all space Legos in one bin, pirate Legos in another, and doll clothes in another so you never have to take out too much to find what you are looking for. If you have trouble with space, put away or give away some toys. The simpler the arrangement the easier it will be for your child to keep neat.
An elementary student should also have a few family responsibilities such as feeding the pets, taking out the trash or changing light bulbs. These jobs can be tied in with an allowance system so that the child can learn budgeting for things for which she wants to save up. If you decide to do this, figure out the amount of allowance you pay per job so that your child can conceivably save up for a big item in a reasonable amount of time, but so that some sacrifices will have to be made to that end.
Another consideration for an elementary child is giving him a night to cook for the whole family. He can start with simple meals like pasta and pizza. At this age children are eager to contribute to the family’s well-being and in only a few more years, when they become adolescents, they’ll rarely be home in time for dinner! So take advantage of teaching your child to cook while you’ve got him hanging out in the kitchen with you.
Monday – History
We will study biographies this month as collections of information recording history. Students will chose someone to research and prepare a presentation for the class including costume. This is the child’s chance to become an expert on a hero, an artist, an athlete or an intriguing historical figure. Look for more information to come home soon.
Tuesday – Geography
We study South America this month including endemic plants, animals and cultures. If you have any books, music, artifacts or a guest speaker from South America to share, please send them in. This unit will culminate in a South American Carnaval celebration at the end of the month.
Wednesday – Healthy Lifestyles
Our ski program begins on January 7th. Please label your child’s ski gear and keep it in one bag for easy transport. Thanks for your support.
Thursday – Zoology
Zoology studies this month will build on our definition of an animal with a closer look at invertebrates. This will lead us into an introduction to vertebrates beginning with fishes.
Friday – Field Trips
Ski classes take the place of field trips through January. Thank you for your help in making it happen! We’ll spend Friday class time working on new projects.
Look for details to come home the first week of January regarding this month’s book report project – biographies. Students will choose books about a person of interest to them, then become that person to present the book report in class. We look forward to the individual interpretations of famous figures.
We continue to add to our vocabulary including simple conversational phrases. Try having a dinner conversation in Spanish or naming things you see while driving to school. Que es ese? Por favor pase el pan.
If anyone hasn’t yet been in for a special day in our class, please schedule your visit with Michelle or Lori right away. We look forward to seeing you!