A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2017 March 2017

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It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

The Montessori Experience From a Parent’s Perspective

by Julia Pettit, Attorney at Law and Soaring Wings Mom

The following is condensed from the keynote address at the 2006 Utah Montessori Council Conference.

Villages have been the normal unit of community living in most areas of the world. Each resident plays a role to provide for the peoples’ needs. In today’s fast-paced society the concept of the village is important because of such factors as the erosion of the nuclear family, the high incidence of divorce, technology that distracts from family time, bombardment with commercialism and materialism and continuing pressure to work long hours or for households to have two wage earners. With these changes in the social fabric of our culture parents must work harder to maintain a village for their families and depend more on schools to prepare our children for their roles in the global village.

Perceived deficiencies in or limitations of traditional schools include:
-Traditional schools are modeled after factories
-Treat children as though they are the same
-Children are sorted into classrooms by age eliminating opportunities for modelling and community building
-Children are trained to compete rather than to collaborate
-Rigidity in classroom schedule
-Limits freedom of movement
-Operates on the notion of the child as an “empty vessel” or a “blank slate”
-Relies heavily on rote memorization
-Teaches to the test

What are the strengths of the Montessori school?
-Founded on respect
-Warm and supportive environment
-Teaches children to be kind and peaceful
-Bright and exciting learning environment
-Students manage their own community; develop leadership skills and independence
-Assumes children are intelligent
-Learning accomplished through hands-on experience rather than rote drill and memorization
-Challenges and sets high expectations for every child
-Children develop internal sense of purpose, motivation and self-discipline
-Promotes diversity, mutual respect and global perspective
-Students develop love for the natural world and appreciation for the environment
-Enhances critical thinking, composition and research skills
-Role of teacher as coach/guide facilitates learning
-Creates a safe environment for learning where children are not afraid to make mistakes
-Students learn through collaboration; not by competing against one another for the highest grade
-Focus on community service; learning to care for others

The factory model of the traditional school makes a pretty good product. Some of the pieces might break or are defective in some way, but most are pretty good. The Montessori school focuses on the individual development of each child, just as a craftsman creates one piece at a time. The craftsman takes the time to make sure that every product is an excellent one. If you have a choice between a factory product and a hand crafted one, which would you choose? We are a village, each with our own strengths and talents, responsible for drawing on our best resources for the sake of our children.

 

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The Peace Object

 

We use a simple tool daily in our classrooms which has become the foundation for the emotional literacy and conflict resolution skills which our students practice confidently. This is the “Peace Object”. The Peacock Class uses a peacock feather, Turquoise Class uses a turquoise stone, the Cottonwoods Class uses a cottonwood branch. This object is used whenever there is a problem or simply to give each a turn to speak. The holder of the peace object speaks from the heart and is given respectful attention by the rest of the group. When the conflict is resolved, the object is carefully returned to its special place. Even the youngest children fetch the peace object and work out differences without an adult’s help. At some point the need for the object fades as the children become more able to speak respectfully and listen to each other.

Parents have reported that the peace object works well at home, too. Any simple object will do but it must be kept in a special, central place where it can be reached quickly when a conflict arises. Duna and Bruce made good use of the peace object and the “family meeting” as our children were growing up. When our children were young we held family meetings each Sunday night after dinner. We liked to include the ceremony of lighting a candle, reading a poem, passing a Native American “talking stick” and giving each person a turn to speak to every family member. We sometimes requested that each person say one nice thing about everyone else or that they think of one great thing about our family. We found that we could address problems before they reached crisis level and approach the new week as a team. With Lina and her family living in Salt Lake City and Leith and his wife now living in Germany, we are grateful for the closeness that we cultivated then and continue to enjoy despite the physical distance between us.

 

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El Nido News

News from the Infant Class

 

El Nido is Italian for “The Nest,” a classic term coming from Maria Montessori’s concept of education from birth. Our happy little nest of babies continues to flourish, with children finding fascinating materials to experiment with, food available when they are hungry and a cozy nap space ready when they are. The day is at a baby’s pace in a world where everything is safe and interesting and educational. In addition our Parent/Infant class continues on Fridays and a couple of Thursdays. For availability contact lina@soaringwings.org. And be sure to join us for our Earth Day Celebration on Friday, April 7th. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – M are invited to attend between 9:30 – 10:30am, N – Z between 10:30 and 11:30am. All families should plan to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance. All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts.

 

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Toddler Time

News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers Toddler Classes

 

It is satisfying to look around the room and see children easily carrying things to and fro, rolling up work rugs, taking care of spills, serving themselves snack and using the toilet independently. Teachers spend more time observing and less time helping. The classes are peaceful, productive and happy. As spring approaches we look forward to spending more time outside in our outdoor learning environment. The children have gotten quite adept at dealing with  winter clothing and as we let go of some of these layers we have more time to spend attending to the tasks of maintaining the outdoors just as we do the indoors – sweeping, shoveling, washing and gardening.

The next school event is our Earth Day Celebration coming up on Friday, April 7th. Your whole family is invited to attend this celebration of the Earth and her people. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – M are invited to attend between 9:30 – 10:30am, N – Z between 10:30 and 11:30am. All families are invited to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance.  All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts.

 

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Early Childhood Calendar

News from the Peacock, Turquoise and Cottonwoods EC Classes

 

Monday – Music
In February we launched into the realm of music with some practice at rhythm, marching, dancing, the scale and the instruments of the orchestra. Children practiced playing simple rhythm instruments and we heard a variety of recorded music in the classroom. We begin our study of composers with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you have a Mozart book or music you’d like to share, please send it in.

Tuesday – Time/Seasons
We began our study of time by learning the parts of the clock, discussing why we use clocks, looking at different kinds of clocks, and defining “second” (a clap of the hands), “minute” (60 claps) and “hour” (3600 claps!). From here we’ll move into telling time to the hour and half hour. At home you can try building a sun dial by erecting a pole or using a narrow tree and marking it’s shadow at different times of the day. Give your child a stick or a paper cup with which to run out and mark the shadow at different times of the day. We like to collect as many types of timepieces as possible. If you have an old clock that is no longer in use, consider donating it to the school. If it is not functional we will be happy to dissect it!

Wednesday – Geography
Our study of Asia culminated with our annual Asian Celebration in February. Check out the photos on our Soaring Wings International Montessori School Facebook page! We integrated Asian stories, songs, crafts, clothing, traditions and foods into a memorable celebration. We conducted a Dragon Dance down the hall involving every class – a Chinese tradition aimed at scaring away the bad luck to welcome in the good luck, good health and prosperity of the new year. The next time you go out to a Chinese restaurant your child may entertain you with fables about the dragons, the phoenix bird and the symbolism behind the colors. In March we will study Europe and celebrate European culture with a “Wearin’ o’ the Green” on the 17th.

Be sure to join us for our Earth Day Celebration on Friday, April 7th, “Connecting with the Earth.” In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – M are invited to attend between 9:30 – 10:30am, N – Z between 10:30 and 11:30am. All families should plan to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance. All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts. Leadership Year (third year) students will present ancestry reports and should plan to attend from 9:00 until 11:30am. This is a good time to begin talking with your third year ec student about where your family came from.

Thursday – Biology
We wrapped up our look at characteristics, habits and adaptations of amphibians and move into a study of reptiles. We currently have a snake and three turtles in our school zoo, but we’d love to borrow another reptile if anyone has one to share. We are planning a visit from Kim’s Cold-blooded Creatures soon so we can get up close and personal with a variety of amphibians and reptiles and notice their differences.

Friday – Poetry
We began our study of poetry by reading many different types of poetry and playing with rhyming words. This month we will examine the work of one poet in particular, Robert Louis Stevenson. If you have any of his poems at home, they make for good reading at bed time.

The EC Student at Home
Your child is growing more independent each day! Most children between 3 and 6 years old are capable of making their beds, keeping their rooms in reasonable order, helping with laundry, setting and clearing off the tables and preparing part of the family meal such as chopping vegetables for salad. These responsibilities contribute to your child’s sense of confidence, responsibility and importance in the family. But even though they are much more capable than ever before ec children still need lots of cuddling time. Reading aloud with your children is a ritual that is important right up into adolescence. Find books that are a little above what your child can read so the whole family can enjoy them. The original Winnie-the-Pooh and Mary Poppins are good places to start, but just try for a page or two each evening until your child is used to listening rather than looking at pictures. This is the time to snuggle together and re-establish the physical bond. Make it a priority especially if parents travel frequently or miss the evening meal together. When a child displays unusual behaviors the first things teachers ask are about diet, sleep, screen time and snuggle time. Very often just paying more attention to these details can right whatever was amiss and give your child the foundation she needs to make the most of every day.

 

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Lower Elementary Lowdown

News from the Moose Tracks Lower El Class

 

Monday – History
In March the Moose Tracks Class will study the history of story-telling. We will examine mythology, folk tales, fables and fairy tales leading into recording the history of the school year by creating this year’s yearbook.

Tuesday – Geography
This month we will be taking an imaginary journey through Europe. We’ll stop in various countries to take a look at their customs and literature. The unit culminates with a “Wearin’ o’ the Green” on the 17th.

Wednesday – Art
We’ve been dabbling in paint and will begin preparations for the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show at the Kimball Art Center. We will send home your child’s entry and ask for your help in framing it for hanging. It is always satisfying to see the fruits of the year’s practice on display at the Kimball.

Thursday – Zoology
We study reptiles in March. We have a snake and two turtles as our study specimens. If you have another reptile that could come for a visit please let us know.

Friday – Field Trips and Other Cool Stuff
We have field trips and rehearsals for our Earth Day Celebration scheduled through the month of March. Remember to sign up for a conference time if you’ve not already done so.

And be sure to join us for our Earth Day Celebration, “Connecting with the Earth” on Friday, April 7th. Elementary students will present an Earth Science Fair and participate in a dance piece. Elementary students should plan to arrive at 9:00am to set up their experiments for their Earth Science Fair and stay until 11:30. Families are invited to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance.  All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts.

It’s almost time to begin work on our school yearbook which every elementary student will take part in producing. Please send in any great photos you may have taken over the school year and let us know if you’d like to help. No experience necessary!

 

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News from the Owl’s Nest Upper El Class

 

Monday – History
In March the Owl’s Nest Class will study the history of Europe including the mythology, folk tales, fables and fairy tales. This leads us into recording the history of the school year by creating this year’s yearbook.

Tuesday – Geography
This month we will be taking an imaginary journey through Europe including a “Wearin’ o’ the Green” on the 17th. If you have European artifacts to share, please send them in.

Wednesday – Art
We’ve been dabbling in paint and will begin preparations for the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show at the Kimball Art Center. We will send home your child’s entry and ask for your help in framing it for hanging. It is always satisfying to see the fruits of the year’s practice on display at the Kimball.

Thursday – Zoology
This month we wrap up our look at the flora and fauna of South America and compare the differences in the species of Europe.

Friday – Field Trips and Other Cool Stuff
We will visit the lab at Zaniac on March 17th and we have field trips and rehearsals for our Earth Day Celebration scheduled through the month of March. Remember to sign up for a conference time if you’ve not already done so.

And be sure to join us for our Earth Day Celebration, “Connecting with the Earth” on Friday, April 7th. Elementary students will present an Earth Science Fair and participate in a dance piece. Elementary students should plan to arrive at 9:00am to set up their experiments for their Earth Science Fair and stay until 11:30. Families are invited to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance. All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts.

We are working on a new entrepreneurial scheme – “Reduce, Reuse, Re-read Book Drive” selling used books at Parent Conferences on the 24th. Come prepared to shop!

It’s almost time to begin work on our school yearbook which every elementary student will take part in producing. Please send in any great photos you may have taken over the school year and let us know if you’d like to help. No experience necessary!

 

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Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

 

Luck o’ the Irish to you!

 

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Mark Your Calendar

March 4th
Happy Birthday, Shannon!

March 3rd & 24th
Parent/Teacher Conferences, no school. Parents only for all conferences. We recommend getting in touch with those scheduled before or after your conference to arrange supervision of children.

March 6th
“Reduce, Reuse, Re-read Book Drive” begins! Please deposit any books, any condition, any level in the box by the front door until March 20th. Our entrepreneurial Owl’s Nest Class will sort, price and arrange these books for sale during Parent Conferences on the 24th keeping profits for class field trips and projects. Thank you!

March 17th
“Wearin’ o’ the Green” in all classes during normal class times featuring crafts, stories, games, songs and foods. If you have a great Irish accent please let us know if you can tell us an Irish tale or two!

March 27th – 31st
SAT testing for all students who will turn 9 by September 1, 2017. Letters with practice books will come home soon.

April 7th
Earth Day Celebration!

  • Families whose last names begin with A – M come from 9:30 – 10:30am, N – Z  10:30 – 11:30am.
  • All families should plan to be on hand at 10:30 for a musical performance.
  • All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts.
  • Exception to above: Leadership Year (3rd year) ec students will dress in the costumes of their ancestors (details to follow).
  • Elementary students will present an Earth Science Fair (details to follow).
  • Leadership Year ec and Elementary students should plan to arrive at 9:00am and stay until 11:30 to present their projects.

April 10th – 14th
Spring Break, no school

April 24th – 28th
SAT testing for all students who will be 6 years old as of September 1, 2017. Notice that we do need them with us on Friday to complete the test. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.


SWPTSO News

24th Annual Soaring Wings Children’s Fair
Plans are underway for our Fair on June 4th. Lina Singleton and her enthusiastic committee, Jill Warburton, Steph Murray, Christina Boyle, Jenny Samuelson, Kelsi Mellor, Angela Elstein, Rebecca Halliday, Grady and Sophy Kohler, Brett and Samantha Levy, Amy Warren and Leah Linebarger are already at work lining up another great day for children to beneift our Children’s Planet Fund. All committee members and interested parents please contact lina@soaringwings.org. This is our biggest school event of the year and we’ll need all the help we can get! (Plus it’s lots of fun!)


School Bulletin Board 

Congratulations!
Welcome to the world, Felix. And best wishes to Bode Gitlin and his family on his new little brother!

Thank you!
We are grateful to the Backman, Davis, Murray and Semrau families who not only helped their children to be more independent at home but also contributed to new classroom materials by ordering from the Small Hands catalog. If you missed the fall catalogs you can order online at www.montessoriservices.com. Montessori Services is one of our main suppliers who carry all the  child-sized equipment like the fabulous little carpet sweepers we use in class. Add a few child-sized tools to your home and notice how helpful your children can be!

Planning for the Future
This is the time of year when we evaluate the school and ourselves and think about how to prepare for the new school year. We are so proud of our teachers and all they continue to achieve.  Tama D’Angelo, Leah Linebarger and Duna Strachan are preparing to open the first college-based Montessori infant/toddler teacher training program in the country at Westminster College this summer. Carmen Olivera will be one of our first students to complete this course. At the same time Tama is moving into an adult education role and retiring from a wonderful 7 year career with the little people here at Soaring Wings. As much as we will miss Tama’s sunny presence every day this gives Ari Alba a chance to spread her wings in leading the Tadpoles Class. Ari has 5 years’ experience in the toddler classroom plus many years working with special needs children. She is excited to transition to the Tadpoles Class and has already begun this process. Amy Warren continues to build her reading expertise and Lina Singleton is beginning her master’s degree in Health Science at the U. Molly McDowell is coming down the home stretch on her master’s in Education at Westminster College. Lori Whistler is working steadily at her master’s in Education also at Westminster College. Michelle Aldrich is enjoying her consulting career, contributing her talent to local schools. Bruce King is working on future middle school plans, advocating for private schools and building the greater Montessori community through his work with the Utah Montessori Council. So much to do – so little time!

Parent/Teacher Conferences
Conferences are scheduled for March 3rd and 24th. There is no school on these days. If you’ve not yet scheduled a conference time, please give us a call right away – 435-200-8248.

Children do not participate in conferences. We suggest you arrange with parents signed up before or after your time slot to watch children so they are not left alone in the hall.

Summer School is Cool!
We’ve expanded our summer school options this year, offering 10 weeks of themed activities, Mondays – Thursday, full day or half days. Space is limited so register right away to reserve your child’s place. Registration forms are available in the front office.

Your Child is an Honor Roll Student
At Soaring Wings we practice mastery learning. Students work on a concept until it is mastered and then move on. This would be equivalent to an “A” level of performance in a traditional school. In other words, all of our students are honor roll students at Soaring Wings. In order to insure the quality and effectiveness of our programs and to give the children a practical experience in testing, we will administer Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT SEASAT 2 and Primary 3) to all children who would be in kindergarten or 3rd grade in public school, or turning 6 or 9 by September 1st . If your child falls into this group, we will notify you of the exact dates and times in the coming weeks.

Earth Day Celebration!
Our next school event is our Earth Day Celebration coming up on Friday, April 7th. Your whole family is invited to “Connecting with the Earth.”

  • Families whose last names begin with A – M are invited to attend between 9:30 and 10:30am, N – Z between 10:30 and 11:30.
  • All families should plan to be here at 10:30 for a musical performance. 
  • All students should wear SWIMS t-shirts – except Leadership Year (3rd year) early childhood students who will be presenting ancestry projects in the costumes of their ancestors.
  • Elementary and Leadership Year (3rd year) ec students should plan to arrive at 9:00am and stay until 11:30.
  • Please let us know right away if you and your child will not be attending since everyone has an important part to play.

Registration for ’17-’18
Re-enrollment confirmations are being sent via email. If you have not yet re-enrolled your child for the ’17-’18 school year, please pick up a re-enrllment form in the front office to reserve your child’s space.

…Death and Taxes 
For your tax preparation enjoyment, our Federal Tax ID;
SWIMS: 45-0949195
SWPTSO: 26-1693961

All Weather Clothing 
Remember, even though the sidewalks may be clear and dry the school grounds are usually very wet all through the spring. It is a good idea to keep a change of clothes in the car. Waterproof boots are a must!


Out of the Mouths…

What is your favorite imaginary animal?

(asked of random people in the hall, roughly youngest to oldest)

Sophie: Unicorn.

Aster: Piggy.

Bridger: Horse-piggy.

Graham: Giant bull.

Gianie: Zoomacorn (fast-flying unicorn)

Wren: Pegasus.

Grace: Zorse (Zebra+horse)

Finley: Pegasus.

Sawyer: Dragon.

Zoey: Pegasus.

Peyton: Blue jaguar.

Billy: Pegasus.

Tarver: Phoenihorse (phoenix+horse)

Blake: Griffin.

Margot: Alicor (unicorn-pegasus)

Amy: Centaur.

Lina: Sasquatch.

Tama: Zax (from Dr. Seuss)

Lori: Unicorn.

Duna: Loch Ness Monster…or is he imaginary…?

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