A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2016 March 2016

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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, the Rainbow Class uses a prism. 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. When Lina and Leith moved into their own homes in SLC, we were grateful for the closeness that we cultivated then and continued to enjoy despite the physical distance between us.

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El Nido News

News from the Parent/Infant Class

The Spring Session has begun and it is not too late to join us! Our schedule includes topics on supporting the child, parent and family at home. Classes include yoga, massage and tips for healthy living by Montessori teacher, mom and Holistic Health Coach, Lina Singleton. If you are planning or expecting a child or have a baby under 18 months contact lina@soaringwings.org about attending our next class.

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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 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 1st. Your whole family is invited to explore this infusion of arts, sciences and geography. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – I are invited to attend between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00.  The toddler classes will be representing Africa. Details on costumes to follow.

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Early Childhood Calendar

News from the Peacock, 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. 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.

Our next school event is our Earth Day Celebration coming up on Friday, April 1st. Your whole family is invited to explore this infusion of arts, sciences and geography. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – I are invited to attend between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00. Cottonwoods will represent Europe, Rainbows will represent Asia, Turquoise will represent North America and Peacocks will represent South America. Early childhood graduates will present ancestry reports. This is a good time to begin talking with your ec student about where your family came from. Details on costumes will follow.

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 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.

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 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 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 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.

Our next school event is our Earth Day Celebration coming up on Friday, April 1st. Your whole family is invited to explore this infusion of arts, sciences and geography. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – I are invited to attend between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00. Elementary students will present an Earth Science Fair and participate in a dance piece.  Details will follow.

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 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 a culinary journey through Europe. Each student has picked a country to portray through native foods. 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 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 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.

Our next school event is our Earth Day Celebration coming up on Friday, April 1st. Your whole family is invited to explore this infusion of arts, sciences and geography. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – I are invited to attend between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00. Owl’s Nest students will take the lead as Tour Guides explaining the migration of humans from Africa as they lead guests on a tour of each continent. Scripts and costume details will come home soon.

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 4th & 18th
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 8th
23rd Annual Park City Children’s Fair planning meeting, 2:00 pm, front office. All Fair Committee and interested parents, please attend.

March 14th
Pajama Day for all classes!

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!

April 1st
Earth Day Celebration! Families whose last names begin with A – I come between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00. Costume notices will come home soon.

April 4th – 8th
Spring Break, no school

April 18th – 22nd
SAT testing for all students who were 5 years old as of 9/1/15. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.


SWPTSO News

Teacher Appreciators 
Special thanks to Jill Warburton, Jenny Samuelson, Laurie Podmilsak, Heidi St. Perry, Kristin Hale, Kirsty Pickering, Deb Schillinger, Annie Cashiola, Carolynn Nir, Kelsi Mellor, Jessica Darby, Nancy Nichols, Meagan Gitlin, Molly White, Maren Mullin, Maressa Hernandez, Tamar Economides, Kelly Davis, Bree Martin and Tyrene Christopulos and the many more who helped organize surprises for our talented, hard-working, loving teachers this week. You complete us!

23rd Annual Park City Children’s Fair
Plans are underway for our Fair on June 5th. Lina Singleton and her enthusiastic committee, Jill Warburton, Phil Kaplan, Courtney Williams, Lee Singleton, Bree Martin, Christine Eschenfelder, Ari Alba, Amy Warren, Leah Linebarger and Michelle Aldrich 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 come to the next Fair planning meeting March 8th at 2:00pm in the front 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 

Congratulations, Montessori Mamas!
How cool is it that all of these bright and beautiful women will be adding new life to our Montessori community this summer? Early childhood teachers Leigh Ann Gray, Molly McDowell and Leah Morisi along with Lower El teacher Leti Burns are all expecting little ones this summer! And talk about great timing – every teacher aims for a summer birth but few have nailed it so perfectly! We are delighted, as you can imagine. Well done, friends.

Welcome, Nichol!
We welcome Nichol (pronounced “Nicole”) Tillman to the faculty as teaching assistant in the Cottonwoods Class. Nichol holds a BS in Microbiology from Colorado State University, having switched from an education program. She has had experience working with children of many ages and is drawn back to her education roots. She is a natural at picking up “the Montessori way” and the children immediately took to her. Please join us in welcoming Nichol to the Soaring Wings family.

Planning for the Future
It seems as if almost everyone on the faculty has big plans afoot. Leah Linebarger is off and running with her Master’s in Montessori degree at St Catherine’s in Minnesota. Natalija Djunic is coming down the home stretch of her Masters in Education at Westminster College. Tama D’Angelo, Leah Linebarger and Duna Strachan are preparing to teach the first college-based Montessori infant/toddler teacher training program at Westminster College. Michelle Aldrich is preparing to spread her expertise through consulting work with Westminster College.  After five years honing her skill in the classroom Leah Morisi is planning to take some time off with her new baby. At the same time Molly McDowell is eager to lead her own class so she will take on the Turquoise Class in the fall. Ari Alba is nearing her goal of snowboarding on every continent. Lina Singleton is starting a Master’s degree in Health Science and Bruce King is working with an artist to bring our middle school plans to life. So much to do – so little time!

Parent/Teacher Conferences
Conferences are scheduled for March 4th and 18th. 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!
Due to all the summer babies and other plans summer school will be offered for just four short but fabulous weeks during July this year. Flyers will go out soon!

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 1st. Your whole family is invited to explore this infusion of arts, sciences and geography. In order to ease parking lot congestion, families whose last names begin with A – I are invited to attend between 8:30 and 9:30am, J – R between 9:45 and 10:45, and S – Z between 11:00 and 12:00. Costume details will come home soon. Please let us know right away if you and your child will not be attending.

Registration for ’16-’17
You should by now have received your re-enrollment confirmation via email. If not, please contact duna@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…

What’s at the end of the rainbow?

(asked of the Rainbow Early Childhood Class)

Kasper: Purple.

Mattias: A pot of gold.

Jackson R: Blue

Brooks: Gold money.

James: A pet dinosaur.

Joshua K: My dad.

Chloe: Elsas.

Harrison: My dog, Holly.

Dean F: Skittles.

Aiden P: Light.

Nikola: Trust.

Sofi: Love.

 

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