A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2014 March 2014

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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 Montessori 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 Turquoise Class uses a turquoise heart, the Cottonwoods Class uses a cottonwood branch, the Eagle’s Nest Class uses a feather. 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 Leith now in their own homes in SLC, 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 Parent/Infant Class

Our schedule in March includes topics on the process of becoming independent – Weaning, Toileting and Practical Life: Care of Self and Envriironment. If you are planning or expecting a child or have a baby under 18 months, plan to join us Friday the 14th, 21st and 28th this month. Lynn Chadderdon will lead discussions on these topics and more including the importance of helping your child become more independent in your home.

 

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Toddler Time

News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers 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 and developing 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.

Our Open House is Tuesday, March 25th from 5:00 – 6:00pm. This year we present “The Science of Montessori”. Toddler students will focus on the scientific aspect of the activities they enjoy every day such as working with soap and water, magnets, tracking and the characteristics of reptiles. There will be science projects and activities to explore in every class. We look forward to seeing you and showing you what your toddler have been learning this year.

The next school event is our Earth Day Celebration is coming up on Friday, April 11th. Because we do not have access to a stage this year we are changing tactics for the celebration. Instead of presenting a play we will present “All Around the World with a Song”, a pageant of cultural performance art. Each class will represent a continent and toddler families are welcome to come to school from 9:00 – 10:00 am to visit each class and enjoy songs, crafts, foods and games from around the world.

 

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Early Childhood Calendar

News from the Turquoise, Rainbows and Cottonwoods 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. 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.

Our Earth Day Celebration is coming up on April 11th. Because we do not have access to a stage this year we are changing tactics for the celebration. Instead of presenting a play we will present “Around the World with a Song”, a pageant of cultural performance art. Each class will represent a continent and early childhood families are welcome to come to school from 10:00 – 11:30 am to visit each class and enjoy  songs, crafts, foods and games from around the world. Early childhood students will prepare by researching their own ancestry and making flags, maps and reports from the countries that their families came from. Be sure to pull out the old photos, family mementos, interview grandparents and talk to your child about your family roots in the next month. Instead of dressing up from their country of origin this year ec students will dress in native costumes from the continent that their class is portraying. Each class will prepare food, crafts and games from their continent. So an individual child may draw a flag of Germany and write a report about his grandfather’s boyhood in Germany while at the same time he is helping to prepare the classroom to represent South America and planning a costume from South America. Details will follow as we develop this idea.

Thursday – 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.

Friday – Biology
We wrapped up our look at characteristics, habits and adaptations of amphibians and move into a study of reptiles. We currently have two snakes, a few turtles and a couple of lizards 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.

 

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Lower Elementary Lowdown

News from the Moose Tracks Class

Monday – History
In March the Elementary 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 bearded dragon lizard, a gecko, two snakes and three 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 preparations for our Earth Day Celebration lined up for Fridays in March. Remember February 28th and March 7th are Parent/Teacher Conferences. Be sure to sign up for a conference time.

Our Earth Day Celebration is coming up on April 11th. Because we do not have access to a stage this year we are changing tactics for the celebration. Instead of presenting a play we will present “Around the World with a Song”, a pageant of cultural performance art. Each class will represent a continent and elementary families are welcome to come to school from 11:00 – 12:00 to visit each class and enjoy  songs, crafts, foods and games from around the world. Elementary students will prepare by researching their continent, preparing songs, games, food and crafts and dressing in costume.  Details will follow as we develop this idea.

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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Upper Elementary Update

News from the Eagle’s Nest Class

Monday – History
In March we continue our study of US History focusing on presidents, and moving on to record the school year’s history by creating this year’s yearbook.

Tuesday – Geography
We have begun a survey of the topography, biomes and cultures of  Oceania focusing on Australia. From the outback to the rainforests, we will look at not only the physiography, but the endemic plants, animals and people as well. We will take advantage of the Australian heritage of our class to add depth to our study of Australian culture.

Wednesday – Art
Upper elementary students 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 are continuing with our study of Kingdom Animalia building up from the cellular level to get a look at how animals differ from plants. We built cells in class and will move to the whole animal, it’s morphology, nomenclature and characteristics.

Friday – Field Trips and Other Cool Stuff
We want to thank you for helping us get to the Valentine’s Day Dance at Montessori Community School. Our students displayed lovely manners and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with 40 other Montessori students from across the valley. It was a unique opportunity to practice social skills in a comfortable setting. We all have awkward memories of our first dances, but these children made it look easy. Details will follow on upcoming field trips.

Our Earth Day Celebration is coming up on April 11th. Because we do not have access to a stage this year we are changing tactics for the celebration. Instead of presenting a play we will present “Around the World with a Song”, a pageant of cultural performance art. Each class will represent a continent and elementary families are welcome to come to school from 11:00 – 12:00 to visit each class and enjoy  songs, crafts, foods and games from around the world. Elementary students will prepare by researching their continent, preparing songs, games, food and crafts and dressing in costume.  Details will follow as we develop this idea.

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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Luck o’ the Irish to you!

 

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Mark Your Calendar

February 28th and March 7th

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. Please do not leave children unattended in the hall.

March 10th – 14th

SAT testing for all students who were 8 years old as of 9/1/13. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.

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 a story or two!

March 19th

21st Annual Park City Children’s Fair planning meeting, 2:00 pm, front office. All Fair Committee and interested parents, please attend.

March 25th

“The Science of Montessori” Open House 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Look for invitations to come home in the next couple of weeks.

April 11th
“Around the World with a Song” Earth Day Celebration 9:00 am – noon at school. Toddler families 9:00 -10:00, EC families 10:00 – 11:30, Elementary families 11:00 – 12:00

April 14th – 18th
Spring Break, no school

April 21st – 25th

SAT testing for all students who were 5 years old as of 9/1/13. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.


SWPTSO News


Conference Refreshments
Special thanks to the many parents who are helping to provide refreshments for Parent/Teacher Conferences. A little sustenance is much appreciated on such a busy day!

21st Annual Park City Children’s Fair
Plans are underway for our Fair on June 1st. Lina Singleton and her enthusiastic committee, Jenny Samuelson, Melissa Filippone, Karen Mertens, Sarah Barnes, Jill Warburton, Shannon Buist, Christine Escehenfelder, Jules Manning, Michelle Aldrich and Leah Morisi are already at work lining up another great day in the park to beneift our Children’s Planet Fund. All committee members and interested parents please come to the next Fair planning meeting March 19th in the office. 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

Parent/Teacher Conferences 

Conferences are scheduled for February 28th and March 7th. 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.

Transitions 

It’s been a wonderful school year in our new home with our old friends.  Our school community is close and our faculty is like a family. Although it is rewarding to see family members move along their life’s paths, it’s always hard to say good by. So it’s a good thing we have a few months to get used to the idea.

Jules Manning, teacher of the Turquoise Class, has decided to spend some time at home with her boys. Jules has mastered the art of teaching and now intends to master the art of raising a family. Leah Morisi, who jokes that she is Jules’ clone, will continue teaching the Turquoise Class next year. We’d like to think we won’t even know Jules is gone, but we will.

Anne Weinrauch has been a good friend for many years, starting out as an assistant in the toddler class, leaving to start her own business, then coming back to sub and eventually train as an ec teacher, leading the Rainbow Class. She has decided to spend more time with her “very best friend” and husband, Frank, now that their children are grown. She plans to do some traveling but be our number one sub when she is in town. Lina Singleton, our School Director who never quite got done teaching, is literally bouncing up and down at the idea of taking over the class. We no sooner processed Anne’s decision than Lina pretty much begged, “Put me in, coach!” Lina will spend some time in class throughout the spring to prepare for taking over in the fall.

Unbeknownst to her sister (Anne), Lynn Chadderdon, Tadpoles Class teacher, also decided to switch courses as of fall. She has also been with us for many years and has grown from assistant to teacher and has developed the parent/infant class for us. She wants to do something different and help her very best friend with his booming business. She feels like she has a perspective on people – perhaps from sitting on the floor eye to eye with so many little people over the years – that will help them grow the business. Tama D’Angelo will continue to teach the Tadpoles Class.

Erin Martin, Eagle’s Nest teacher, has also come to a point in her life where she recognizes that it’s time for a change. She intends to move closer to her family in Florida. She has built the upper elementary program into a beautiful, rich experience for every student. Amy Warren, our Administrative Assistant, is eager to take it over as is Lori Whistler, Tadpoles Assistant. Details remain to be determined, but some combination of Lori and Amy will teach the Eagle’s Nest in the fall. They have already gotten started getting to know the students and the routine.

Stevie Harrison, Cottonwoods Teacher and Program Director, has poured her talent into the school for a number of years and tried on many hats from assistant to teacher to administrative assistant to program director to workshop presenter. She stepped into the world of education, moved rapidly through every possible role and has now decided to move on to something completely different. She is an astoundingly motivated person and wherever she ends up it will be a good place. Kim Norman will continue to teach the Cottonwoods Class in the fall.

We are so very impressed with the honorable way in which each of these  people made their decision. And we are grateful to them for staying with us as we settled into this new school. They saw the hard work ahead and they stayed on until everything was running smoothly again. We have ideas for teachers, interns and assistants to fill in where needed and will announce them when we have decided who fits best where. They will be getting to know you and your children throughout the spring.

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, 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
Our annual Earth Day Celebration is scheduled for Friday, April 11th. We have developed a unique celebration over the years that combines the traditional Earth Day elements of caring for the planet with a celebration of our cultural history.  Our signature Earth Day play is one of our favorite school events, but because we do not have access to a stage this year we are changing tactics for the celebration. Instead of presenting a play we will present “All Around the World with a Song”, a pageant of cultural performance art. Each class will represent a continent and  families are welcome to come to school from 9:00 – 12:00 to visit each class and enjoy  songs, crafts, foods and games from around the world. Students will prepare by learning about their continent on an age-appropriate level, preparing songs, games, food, decorations and crafts and dressing in costume.  Early childhood students will also research their own family histories and work on flags, maps and reports. Elementary students will add their own creative piece. Details will follow as we develop this idea. Let us know if you have something to contribute.

News from Our Friends at the Kimball

The Kimball Art Center offers a wide variety of classes for all ages in mediums ranging from Acrylic, Oil and Watercolor Painting, Drawing and Illustration, Digital and Darkroom Photography, Videography (seasonal), Fused and Stained Glass, Mosaics, Ceramics, Mixed Media, Printmaking, Fashion Design, Fabric & Textiles, Sculptural Welding (seasonal), Encaustics, Sculpture, Woodworking and special classes for holidays.

The Kimball Art Center’s newest exhibit is Art of the Timepiece has filled the Main Gallery with restored timepieces centuries old, and in the Badami Gallery is a family-friendly, less fragile, exhibit on educating kids on time zones. Stop by during our regular hours to experience the craftsmanship behind these delicate timepieces.

For more information go to our website, www.kimballartcenter.org, or call our front desk at 435-649-8882.

Registration for ’14/’15

You should by now have received your re-enrollment confirmation via pmail. If not, please contact Bruce at 649-3626 or bruce@soaringwings.org.

…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…

Who is your favorite president?

(asked of the Eagle’s Nest Upper Elementary Class)

Tom: My favorite president is Franklin D. Roosevelt because he was the first paralyzed president of America and was the longest president to lead. And Pearl Harbor was bombed during his presidency.

Anastasia: I like Obama because he fights for freedom.

Jordi: Franklin D. Roosevelt is my favorite because he showed that you can achieve anything, even if you are disabled.

Gus: Obama is my favorite because he is the first president with dark colored skin.

Zev: Obama because I was alive when he was voted in.

Harry: My favorite president is Obama because he was the first black president.

Tobianna: My favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt because the teddy bear was named after him.

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