Full Parent Guide
Welcome to the Soaring Wings community!
Soaring Wings has grown from only 2 students when Duna opened the doors of her home in 1987 to 200 students today from infants up through middle school. As we’ve grown we have worked to maintain the close-knit atmosphere, not only of the classes but of the school as a whole. We welcome you to this community and look forward to getting to know you better. Some of the best work we do as a school depends upon parental contributions, from coming along on field trips to putting on events such as the Park City Children’s Fair. We have all gained lasting friendships and wonderful memories through the school and are happy to be able to include you and your family. Please be sure to read the school newsletters that are posted online monthly so you won’t miss a thing!
By now you may have had an opportunity to tour the school, ask questions about our program and possibly observe a class. Before enrollment, children four years old and older are required to visit class without the parent to give the teacher a chance to assess the child’s needs and abilities. If you have not yet observed a class or have questions, please schedule a time with your child’s teacher. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the Montessori method of education by reading some of the literature listed in the reference section.
We need the Application for Enrollment and Authorization/Release Forms completed, signed and returned to us before we can accept any child on campus. Make sure these include current phone numbers and addresses. If any of this information changes, please notify your child’s teacher immediately. When the child is admitted we also need the Enrollment Agreement, Smart Tuition Management Form and registration fee.
What to Bring
Toddler students should bring a backpack or bag with a change of clothes and a supply of diapers, if necessary. A pair of slippers is nice for the winter months. Toddlers also need to bring one snapshot-sized photo of themselves and one of their family.
Early Childhood (EC)
Early Childhood students should bring a bag or backpack with a change of clothes and slippers for indoor wear.
Enrichment & Elementary Prep
Enrichment & Elementary Prep students should bring a backpack or bag including extra clothes, slippers and a lunch.
Elementary students will need a backpack or bag in which to transport their planner, folder, homework, lunch, water bottle, plus extra clothes each day.
Elementary students also need to bring the following items to be kept at school. All items can be purchased at Wal-Mart for around $50.
- Wooden pencils #2 (no mechanical pencils; the lead falls out and makes a mess)
- Pencil box
- Big pink erasers
- 12″ ruler with inches and centimeters (no letter templates)
- 4 glue sticks (no liquid glue or tape)
- Water bottle or “Camel Back”
- Hand-held pencil sharpener
- Calculator with basic functions
- Lunch box
- Compass for geometry
- Kid’s scissors with sharp points
- 5 two-pocket folder for Lower El students, 6 for Upper El students
- Park City Library card
- Camping gear: tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, emergency whistle, hiking shoes and rains gear.
Children should wear clothing that they can manage themselves and bring a backpack or bag in which to keep things when not in use. Even the youngest student will be responsible for keeping track of belongings. A primary goal in Montessori school is to encourage autonomy. The child’s self-confidence grows when she can successfully dress and undress herself and locate her mittens when she needs them. Please offer clothing choices that are not only appropriate for the weather, but that do not include laces, buckles or ties that your child cannot do herself. Children under the age of five usually cannot tie shoelaces so until then, buy shoes that have Velcro, easy buckles or can slip on.
There are plenty of opportunities each day to work with paint, markers, play dough, sand and water; expect your child to get dirty.
We go outside on all but the most severe weather days. Make sure your child comes equipped with snow pants, jacket, hat, mittens and boots in winter. The playground stays very wet in the fall and spring so waterproof boots are a must. In warm weather we enjoy water play so a change of clothes in the car is probably a good idea. Elementary students take field trips every Friday which often include hiking and getting wet. Your child will receive a school t-shirt which should be worn on all field trips.
Clothes featuring violence, profanity or action figures are not allowed in school.
Your child should have a low bar or drawer in the bureau with clothes that are appropriate choices for school. Out of season clothing or very special things should be put away. Your child can help sort, fold and put away laundry as well as dressing himself and putting dirty clothes in a hamper. Elementary students should be able to do their own laundry as soon as they can reach the settings on the washer!
Remember, when your child comes to school in a backwards, mismatched outfit that he chose himself, we teachers all know you did the right thing by allowing him to be independent!
Parent/Infant (prenatal to 1 1/2 years)
Infants and their parents are welcome to drop in and out any time between 9:00 and noon on Fridays. Please advise the instructor of your likely schedule so she can be prepared for you and your child.
Toddlers (1 1/2 to 3 years)
Toddlers are dropped off at the playground gate, from 8:45 – 9:00 AM. Pickup is in the classroom, from 11:45 AM until noon.
Early Childhood ( 3 to 6 years)
Early Childhood students are dropped off in front of the school from 8:45 – 9:00 AM. Pickup for early childhood students is at the playground gate from 11:45 AM – noon.
Enrichment & Elementary Prep students are dropped off at the front of the school between 8:45 – 9:00 AM. Pickup is on the playground from 2:45 – 3:00 PM.
Elementary (6 to 12 years)
Elementary students are dropped off in front of the school from 8:45 – 9:00 AM. They are picked up in front of the school from 3:15 – 3:30 PM
Please do not drop off a student unless you see a teacher in attendance. Greeters will be at the front doors from 8:45 until 9:00 AM each day. Be sure to have your child say good-bye to her teacher when leaving as a matter of etiquette and for safety reasons.
If this is your child’s first school experience, you may want to role-play saying good-bye to your child at school so he will know what to expect. When it’s time for the real thing, a quick and loving good-bye is best. We know the temptation is to linger particularly if your child is having a hard time saying good-bye. Practice a simple routine such as “hug-kiss-snuggle” and then do it just as you’ve practiced. Tears only last a few minutes and will worsen if you hesitate. Let your child know that you feel confident that school is a good, safe place for him to be and that you will be back soon. Then make sure you are on time for pickup. Being the last one to be picked up can be scary for a young child. We expect that children may take some time to adjust to a new routine. Our teachers are skilled at easing this transition.Feel free to come in to the classroom after class and ask your child to show you what she has been working on.
Although a young child may need to bring a special toy or blanket to school during transition, toys in general are not allowed in the classroom. Toys very often end up lost, broken or confiscated. If your child would like to bring something to share with the class, a nutritious snack of fruit or muffins would be welcome (plan 20-25 servings). We allow “sharing” time each day during circle for children to share a thought, story or educational item, especially if it pertains to the lesson of the day. The newsletter announces lessons for the month. A rock, shell, fossil or book are often good sharing items. Please help us keep toys out of the classroom.
Elementary Prep and Elementary students bring a lunch each day. Not only does this provide needed nutrition, but also a refreshing touch of “home” in the middle of the school day. We study the food rainbow throughout the school year helping children to practice making healthy food choices. A half sandwich, fruit and juice are plenty for most students. We are a “no sugar, no nuts” school. Candy, gum, soda pop, sugar and nuts are not allowed in school.
Elementary Prep and Elementary students should be able to pack their own lunches with a little help. Choose a cupboard in your kitchen within your child’s reach as a snack cupboard. Keep it stocked with healthy snack/lunch choices such as fruit, individual packets of crackers, real fruit leather and granola. A special shelf in the refrigerator can contain small yogurts, juice, string cheese, containers of left-over pizza, soup and pasta (students can heat these in the microwave). While you’re getting breakfast together in the morning or doing dishes at night, your child can be packing his own lunch box. Keep a food rainbow posted inside the cupboard door so he can check to make sure he’s got something from each level and nothing from the “junk” level.
We compost and recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastic. Please try to choose drink containers that are recyclable or reusable.
What to Leave at Home
Soaring Wings is a nut-free, sugar-free school. Candy, gum, toys and weapons of any kind are not allowed in school. Other items that often become problems in class include; money, stickers, tattoos, make-up, crayons and coloring books. Not only are these distracting to others, but we feel that your child can play with her toys at home. At school there are hundreds of unique learning activities ready for your child to discover.
A child’s birthday is the most special day of the year. We like to celebrate it in a special way. Please talk to your child’s teacher in advance about which day to celebrate. Then plan to bring 20-25 snacks (one for each child, each teacher and extra in case of disaster!). SWMS is a sugar-free, nut-free school. Fruit cups, fruit kabobs and yogurt parfaits are some ideas for birthday snacks that all can enjoy. Ask your child’s teacher for acceptable birthday recipes if you need more ideas. Don’t bother with drinks – they usually just get knocked over. And bring a picture for each year of your child’s life. If you can be there it will be even more special. We encourage you to help your child to create a scrap book with one page for each year of his life so that each year the pages can be removed, laid out in a timeline side-by-side and replaced in the binder to be enjoyed over and over again. This way birthdays become a concrete history lesson as well as a special celebration. If you supply art materials and some of the scrapbook aids that are available, your child can create a wonderful autobiography. This will become a book that is uniquely your child’s rather than the baby book or the family album made by someone else. It can be added to each year and cherished forever.
If your child’s birthday falls during a school holiday we can celebrate it anytime during the year as an “unbirthday”. In Duna and Bruce’s family each member has an “unbirthday” celebration complete with cake and small gifts approximately six months after the real birthday. It’s a great way to perk up an otherwise dull month!
Montessori at Home
Our education method is most effective when the principles are carried over into the home. Classrooms are carefully planned and equipped to include everything the child might need developmentally and academically. Materials are arranged on shelves in order from left to right, top to bottom, easiest to hardest, like words across a page so not only does the child get used to moving from left to right in preparation for reading, but she is able to see her progress as she masters one activity and moves on to the next. Each child is responsible for using and replacing equipment just as she found it. First lessons include how to sweep, sponge and wipe dry so that they can remedy any spills themselves.
Even before a child is old enough to come to school you can begin to assist her independence by replacing cribs, high chairs, playpens, and walkers with furniture that is made for the child rather than for the adult’s convenience. Generally, Montessori education takes the approach of assisting the child in her development rather than the common modern view of containing the child so the parent can go about the day without worry.
At home the child can be encouraged to keep her things in order by providing shelves instead of toy boxes or baskets. If there are too many things for shelves, some toys should be put away. Even a toddler can make a bed if it is made with a fitted bottom sheet and a comforter so that the comforter only needs to be drawn up. Consider a junior bed instead of a full sized bed, or even a small mattress on the floor so that a very small child can get in and out of bed safely and can make the bed, too.
A sturdy step stool in the bathroom enables the child to wash, brush hair and teeth and get drinks of water independently. (Better yet, if you are in the process of building a house, plan a child’s sink in the bathroom.) In our classrooms, we found that the children kept their faces remarkably cleaner after we installed mirrors by the sinks!
In the kitchen provide a small table and chairs so your child will have a safe place to prepare and eat foods. In the Early Childhood classes children learn to make orange juice, cut vegetables, spread jams and butters and prepare simple recipes. At dinner time your child can help prepare a salad or chop vegetables as well as set the table and arrange flowers for a centerpiece. A small juicer and a few cut oranges enable your child to make orange juice for the family breakfast. A small container (such as the tiny dishes used for condiments) of peanut butter, one of jam, a small spreader (such as for canapés) and bread cut in halves or fourths allows your child to make sandwiches with a minimum of mess. An Elementary student might be assigned a certain day of the week on which he is responsible for preparing a meal, a side dish or a dessert for the family meal.
For clean-up provide a small bucket or spray bottle of water (you will need to control quantities of soap and water until the child is able to), a sponge cut in half, a small scrub brush (a nail brush is just right), a small whisk broom and dust pan and cloths made from a dish towel cut into 4″ squares all kept in a low cupboard. In class we use a regular broom and roller-type mop with wooden handles cut down to child’s size. With scaled-down tools a child can handle almost any cleaning job. But remember, when we give a lesson on floor scrubbing in the Early Childhood Class we are focusing on scrubbing one tile at a time. The smaller the child, the smaller the tools and the smaller expectations should be!
Class rules are clearly stated from the child’s first day. They are simple rules such as; careful hands, inside voices, careful feet and respect for all. Breach of rules results in a warning from the teacher. Repeated problems result in the child being asked to sit apart from the group until the child decides she has regained control of her body (as opposed to “time outs” in which the adult decides when the child is ready to return to the group). If the problem continues, the child may be asked to sit in another classroom until control is regained. If the child still does not seem to be able to stay in control of the situation, parents will be called for conference and subsequent problems may result in expulsion.
Generally, teachers strive to allow the child to make the choices unless the child demonstrates that she is not able to make appropriate choices. Discipline problems often result from dictatorial discipline techniques in which the adult retains complete control. Power struggles usually result. When the child is allowed to make her own choices and to experience the natural and logical consequences, she learns more readily which are the better decisions in life. (For instance, a child may choose to eat dinner because, if she does not, she will be hungry until breakfast, rather than because “Mommy says you have to”.) Rather than adult-inflicted reward and punishment, focus on the simple reward of a job well done. The frustration of making mistakes is punishment enough.
Emotional literacy is stressed from the child’s very first attempts at using words. Even toddlers are encouraged to “use their words” to express feelings (i.e., “I don’t like that!” or “You may not push me!”). Social skills are a large part of development with the goal being the independence of the child in solving her problems peacefully.
We are happy to talk with you any time about discipline problems or concerns. You may also check the reference section for books on discipline.
Toddler to Early Childhood
When the toddler is toiling independently and three years of age, teachers begin to assess his readiness to move up to the next level. We look at the individual child socially and emotionally as well as academically and developmentally to determine when the time is right. Generally, our list of considerations includes the following;
- The child should be three years of age.
- The child should be able to use the toilet independently.
- The child should be able to manage clothing unassisted.
- The child should have a sense of responsibility for work and belongings and be able to put things away.
- The child should have a sense of responsibility for following rules, such as staying inside the classroom.
- The child should be able to verbalize needs.
- The child should be past the age of oral explorations, that is, to be able to recognize what should and should not go into the mouth.
- The child should be able to deal with conflicts without hitting, biting or pinching.
- The child should be able to follow simple directions.
The Early Childhood class offers further opportunity for the child to practice social and communicative skills and to move from concrete manipulative to abstract concepts such as Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies. Every child progresses at a pace that allows for development of the whole child. The materials are engineered to ensure continued success. We strive to make your child’s transition to this class as smooth as possible to contribute to her feeling of accomplishment.
Early Childhood to Enrichment
Enrichment class is for the Early Childhood student who is socially and emotionally mature enough for a longer school day, but not academically ready for Elementary Prep.
Enrichment students practice practical life, sensorial and penmanship skills. They practice the letter sounds and move into word building as well as number and quantity recognition. When evaluating a student for Enrichment, we consider the following:
- The child should be able to manage the steps of lunch at school such as setting a place, using the microwave, washing dishes, cleaning up spills and crumbs.
- The child should be able to use the restroom unassisted.
- The child should be able to recognize boundaries and observe indoor and outdoor rules.
- The child should be no longer in need of an afternoon nap.
Enrichment to Elementary Prep
The Elementary Prep class provides the 4 to 5-year-old the opportunity to practice reading and math skills in preparation for the transition to the Elementary class. Not only should the child be ready to progress with these academic skills but also he should be mature and independent enough for the increased responsibility of lunch time and a longer school day. Elementary Prep students spend the afternoon focusing on Literacy, Math and Penmanship. They are responsible for good table manners, eating a healthy lunch and leaving their lunch space clean. They have several opportunities over the school year to go on field trips and participate in joint activities with the Elementary class. When evaluating a child for admission to this program, we consider the following:
- The child should be over four years of age.
- The child should have mastered reading and writing phonetic words and numbers to 100.
- The child should be responsible for possessions.
- The child should be able to dress independently.
- The child should have a good understanding of physical boundaries.
- The child should be able to resolve conflicts independently.
- The child should be intrinsically motivated to excel in academics.
Early Childhood/Elementary Prep to Elementary
At age five we begin to assess her social, emotional and academic readiness for our Elementary class. Generally, we look for the following;
- The child should be five years old.
- The child should be able to deal with a variety of social situations independently.
- The child should show responsibility for her own work, belongings and behavior.
- The child should show respect for all living and non-living things.
- The child should be an emergent reader, reading and writing independently.
- The child should be able to write letters properly.
- The child should be able to count, recognize and order written numerals up to 1000.
- The child should be familiar with the decimal system through the golden bead work.
- The child should be able to identify quantities up to 1000.
- The child should be familiar with mathematical operations.
The Elementary class entails Math and Literacy work each morning, Science, Social Studies, History, Healthy Lifestyles, Fine Arts and Spanish lessons in the afternoon, daily meditation and emotional literacy sessions and frequent field trips resulting in a cooperative family-like atmosphere. We recommend you schedule a class observation and a visitation for your child as enrollment time approaches.
Graduates of our Elementary program consistently test above grade level. The advantage your child gains in attending Montessori school is the opportunity to progress academically beyond what traditional schools allow. The ability to make good choices, solve problems, expand interests in all directions and a love of learning are all characteristics of the “Montessori Child”. Our students typically go on to be the role-models at their new schools having gained confidence as well as academic insight.
Remember that the “Montessori advantage” requires a “Montessori commitment”. Each class involves a two- to three-year program, which allows the child to become familiar with lessons, master them and extend them in unique ways. Foundations are laid in the first year that and built upon with each subsequent year resulting in development of the whole child. A child who is only present for a fragment of the program may miss significant portions. When a child must leave the school before the end of the program, we teachers often feel that we are letting go of an unfinished work of art.
Lost and Found
There is a “Lost and Found” drawer in each classroom and also on the first floor in the north stairwell at Park Avenue Campus. Please check it periodically.
Children should not be in school if they show the following symptoms of illness: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, persistent cough, or discharge from nose or eyes. If they need acetaminophen or cannot go outside, then they should not be in school.
Please call us when your child is sick so we won’t worry and can be aware of what’s “going around”.
Parent / Teacher Hotline
Please call 640-4858 (PA) or 640-1350 (JR) and leave a message whenever your child will not be in school.
Listen to KPCW 91.9 FM on snowy mornings. If the Park City School District closes because of snow, so will we. If PCSD closes for any other reason we will take this into consideration and let you know if we decide to follow suit.
Newsletters will be on our website around the first of every month and you will be notified via email. If you do not have email, ask for a hard copy. Read the newsletter and check the Events and Holidays Calendar on the website for “party days”, field trips and school celebrations that may mean a change of schedule.
Parent Responsibilities – Parent Education
Bring your family to see your student’s classroom and meet teachers, parents and students on the Sunday before the first day of school. This is a good opportunity to ask questions and let you child get to know the set up for the new school year. Watch for the August newsletter to announce the time of this year’s Open House.
All parents and children are invited to attend this informative evening on the date and time indicated in the Events and Holidays section of the web site. This is your chance to get an overview of what your child has been working on so far and what will come.
Each class will begin scheduling Parent Days in October. This is your chance to come to school and see first hand what your child is learning. Visits usually include observing a class and having a lesson with your child. It is also an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Montessori method. Each student eagerly awaits the day his own parents will visit him in class. We look forward to seeing you!
Spring Open House
Every student will take part in preparing a special presentation for you at our Open House. It is your child’s opportunity to show you what she’s learned this year. The evening is usually planned around a theme and you are invited to try activities in every classroom.
Be sure to read the monthly newsletter posted on the web site. at www.soaringwings.org for important event dates and times.
The school provides Tomorrow’s Child magazine to every family enrolled in Soaring Wings. This Montessori magazine produced by the International Montessori Council features articles and photos that closely follow what we are doing at Soaring Wings. Be sure to look through your copy for interesting articles, books and handy recipes – sometimes from SWMS.
Utah Montessori Council Fall Workshop and Conference
SWMS is the founder and an active member of the UMC. If you would like to learn more about Montessori you are welcome to attend the annual workshop in September and conference in January. These will be announced in the newsletter or ask any teacher for details.
The child’s most fundamental and earliest education is from his/her parents; therefore, learning about the Montessori theory and its application will be most helpful to you. Many Montessori resources are available on the Soaring Wings website (www.soaringwings.org), and we have donated many volumes to each of the local libraries.
We depend on you to inform yourself about the Montessori philosophy. By doing so, you will better understand your child’s experience at school, you will benefit more from Parent Conferences, and you will be able to offer your child greater consistency at home.
Parents are invited to observe their children any time after the first six weeks of a new school year. One of the best ways for parents to find out how their children are doing in the classroom is to observe. In order to support you in this process, we invite you to visit the classroom, if you so choose. You are asked to speak directly to your child’s teacher to schedule your observation.
Although both parents are invited to observe at least once during the school year, the observations should take place on separate occasions, so as to minimize the distraction for the students.
Communication between parent and faculty is of primary importance in the development of the child, so Parent/Teacher Conferences are scheduled in October and March. Conferences serve to keep us all informed as to the child’s progress at school and at home, so we encourage both parents to attend. Please be sure to sign up for a conference time with your child’s teacher during the regular conference time. Teachers spend much time preparing and prefer not to have to squeeze them in during a regular school day.
SWMS and the SWPTSO appreciates the assistance of parent volunteers. Parent volunteers may assist in a variety of ways in the manner that is most consistent with their time and talents. Ask any teacher for details. SWPTSO projects include;
September – Cider Social
October – Parent/Teacher Conference Refreshments
November – Fall Food Drive to benefit Adopt-a-Native Elder
December – Angel Trees to benefit Peace House
March – Parent/Teacher Conference Refreshments
April – Yearbook
May – Teacher Appreciation Week
June – Park City Children’s Fair
Your volunteer hours benefit the school and are greatly appreciated.
Cleansing, Wikipedia defines this term as ‘the elimination of undesirable elements’. When you think about it, this could relate to anything – food, drink, people, clutter, even your own thoughts. Anything that you find ‘undesirable’ can and should be cleansed out of your life. But how motivated are you to make it happen? Spring is [...]Continue Reading...