It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
The Montessori Experience Through 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
-Smaller class sizes; 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.
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.
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 15th, 22nd and 29th 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.
News from the Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes
Our Earth Day Celebration is coming up on April 19th. Toddlers have a small but important role to play and will prepare by practicing creative dance movement in class, attending rehearsals and practicing dancing on stage as they did at the Winter Celebration. Toddlers add so much to these all-school celebrations and the experience is an extension of their gross motor development lessons and helps to build their confidence. They are often hesitant to participate when the audience is present and this is to be expected. We find that watching the play unfold from the security of the parent's lap in the audience adds to their understanding and confidence when it comes time for the next performance. We suggest you sit near the aisle in case your child needs to leave the stage and can't sit quietly through the rest of the play. We invite you to bring a dish and stay for the International Buffet lunch afterwards. As we did for the Winter Celebration we invite all toddlers to report to the Park Avenue Campus in costume at 10:30 am on April 19th. Watch for a costume notice to come home soon. Be sure to invite the whole family for another fabulous pageant!
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 Lion 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 "European Celebration" on the 20th.
On Friday, April 19th we will host our unique Earth Day Celebration in the Santy Auditorium at 11:00 am. Every child will perform a role in the play followed by an International Buffet lunch. EC students prepare for this celebration of the Earth and its human diversity by choosing a country to represent. The country should be one from which your ancestors originated. (Only those with Native American ancestry should represent North America). This will provide you with the opportunity to dig out old photographs and family mementos, research your family's roots, tell family stories and interview grandparents. In selecting a country for your child to represent, keep in mind that a native costume and dish will be requested. Please add your child's country to the classroom sign-up so we can begin rehearsing songs, creating maps, flags and reports about each country.
As we did for the Winter Celebration we'll hold the last few rehearsals with all students at the Park Avenue Campus. It takes some extra coordinating, but the outcome is fabulous! Details will come home soon.
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 a turtle at JR, and a lizard and two turtles at PA in our school zoo, but we'd love to borrow another reptile if anyone has one to share!
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 the story-telling of theater in April.
Tuesday - Geography
This month we will be making 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 European Celebration on the 20th.
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 at school and two painted 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 lined up for Fridays in March. Remember the 1st and 8th are Parent/Teacher Conferences. Be sure to sign up for a conference time.
Our class provides the cast of the Earth Day play, helps devise the story line, creates sets and helps direct the younger children. Watch for costume notices to come home soon and plan to be in the Santy Auditorium Friday, April 19th at 11:00 am for the play. Sign-ups will be posted soon for the International Buffet lunch to follow the play. Guests are welcome!
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!
Upper Elementary Update
News from the Eagle's Nest Class
Monday - History
In March we study the history of Africa, focusing on Egypt.
Tuesday - Geography
We have begun a survey of the topography, biomes and cultures of Africa. From the sand dunes to the rich rainforests, we will look at not only the physiography, but the endemic plants, animals and people as well.
Wednesday - Art
We've finished our South American needle/woodwork 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'll look at morphology, nomenclature and adaptations of our school specimens Puffy, the bearded dragon lizard, and Peanut Butter and Miss Butternubs, the painted turtles. If you have another reptile that could come for a visit please let us know.
Friday - Field Trips
We have field trips planned to the Kimball Art Center on March 15th, the Secret Inner Workings of the Marriott (a look at how a hotel works on the inside led by Erin's husband, Dave) on the 22nd and the Leonardo on the 29th. Talk to Erin if you'd like to come along.
Mark Your Calendar
March 1st & 8th
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.
20th Annual Park City Children's Fair planning meeting, 2:00 pm, Park Avenue Campus. All Fair Committee and interested parents, please attend.
March 18th - 22nd
SAT testing for all students who were 8 years old as of 9/1/12. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.
March 25th - 29th
SAT testing for all students who were 5 years old as of 9/1/12. Please make sure your child has plenty of rest and a good breakfast on these days. There are no make-ups.
European Celebration in all classes during normal class times. Since St Patrick's Day falls on Sunday this year we decided to celebrate more of the great continent of Europe with crafts, stories, games, songs and foods from a variety of countries. If you have something to contribute please contact any teacher.
Open House 6:00 - 7:30 pm. Look for invitations to come home in the next couple of weeks.
April 17th & 18th
Earth Day Celebration rehearsals at Park Avenue Campus, 1255 Park Avenue. All students from both campuses will participate!
PA Campus schedule will remain the same.
Jeremy Ranch Campus Toddlers: Sunflowers Classes drop off on playground on 12th Street, pick up on 3rd floor.
JR EC: Cottonwoods Class drops off at north door. Pick up is on the playground on 12th Street.
Earth Day Celebration 11:00 am, Santy Auditorium, Park Avenue Campus, 1255 Park Avenue. All students from both campuses will participate. Bring your friends and family!
* All Early Childhood and Elementary (Turquoise, Rainbows, Cottonwoods, Moose Tracks and Eagle's Nest) students drop off at Park Avenue Campus in costume at 9:00 am for dress rehearsal.
* Park Avenue Tadpoles Class toddlers meet in their classroom in costume at 10:30 am
*Jeremy Ranch Sunflowers Class toddlers meet on the 2nd floor at Park Avenue Campus in costume at 10:30 am
International Buffet lunch to follow, see class sign-ups.
Early dismissal at approximately 12:30 pm
Spring Break, no school
Soaring Wings PTSO News
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!
20th Annual Park City Children's Fair
Plans are underway for our Fair on June 2nd. Lina Singleton and her enthusiastic committee, Jenny Samuelson, Amy Lineen, Karen Mertens, Brooke Brink, Jill Warburton, Sandy Geldhof, Leah Linebarger, 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 13th at 2:00 pm at the Park Avenue Campus. 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
Parents of Children with Food Allergies!
Beth Silvero has founded the Summit County Chapter of Utah Food Allergy Network. If your child is allergic to nuts, gluten, dairy, fish, dyes or anything else, and you'd like to pool resources with other parents in the same situation contact Beth at email@example.com or come to the first meeting Thursday March 28th at 6:00 pm at the Park City Medical Center Cafeteria.
Registration for '13/'14
You should by now have received your re-enrollment confirmation via pmail. If not, please contact Bruce at 649-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
...Death and Taxes
For your tax preparation enjoyment, our Federal Tax ID;
Park Avenue Campus: 87-0495076
Jeremy Ranch Campus: 20-5969965
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!
Conferences are scheduled for March 1st and 8th. There is no school on these days. If you've not yet scheduled a conference time, please give us a call right away - JR 435-640-1350, PA 435-640-4858.
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.
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 8 by September 1st . If your child falls into this group, we will notify you of the exact dates and times in the coming weeks.
Our annual Earth Day Celebration is scheduled for Friday, April 19th. This is a unique celebration at Soaring Wings in which we not only celebrate the beauty of the Earth but of the human family as well. Every student will play a part in an all-school play. (Please let us know right away if your child will not be able to attend on April 19th.) Toddlers will set the mood in their usual inimitable style. Early Childhood students will represent the countries their ancestors came from. Elementary students will tell the story. Each child will need a costume and a dish for our International Buffet lunch following the performance. Early Childhood students will wear costumes from their ancestral countries (see EC Calendar section for guidelines). Toddler and Elementary parents should watch for a costume notice to come home soon. Sign up with your child's teacher to bring a dish for the buffet.
As we did for the Winter Celebration we will hold the last few rehearsals on stage at the Santy Auditorium. Please plan to drop off Jeremy Ranch students at the Park Avenue Campus at their normal class times on April 17th and 18th.
On April 19th all Early Childhood and Elementary students need to arrive in costume at 9:00 am for dress rehearsal. Toddlers arrive in costume at 10:30 am. Please bring your dish with you when you come and drop it off at the buffet in the Santy Auditorium (don't forget serving utensils and extension cords!). Guests are welcome. This is a spectacular event, not to be missed!
Out of the Mouths...
What do you love most about spring?
(asked of the Cottonwoods Early Childhood Class)
Devin: I like snow storms.
George: I like spring, winter and fall.
Payten: That it's warm.
Aidan: I like that it's hot.
Jack: I like jumping on the trampoline.
Keira: I like it when the flowers start to open up.
Rudger: I like to go to the club.
Matthew: I like the trees.
Pierce: I like to watch the lake when the snow melts.
Georgia: I like the pretty flowers.
Szander: I like summer.
August: I like bringing my bike to school.
Dylan: I don't know.
Liam: I like that the flowers grow.
Evan: I like to eat peanut butter and jelly.
Rhys: I don't want to talk about it.
Lily: I like flowers.
Julian: I like playing outside.
Van: Riding bikes.
Stevie: Everyone comes out of hibernation.
Leah: The days are getting longer.
Kim: Planting my garden.
Ari: The snow!
What shall we name our fish?
(asked of the Tadpoles Toddler Class)
Axel: Luke Skywalker.
Lilia: Santa Claus.
Luck o' the Irish to you!