Ventana Viewpoints | September 2017

Welcome to Ventana Viewpoints.

This monthly newsletter from the Ventana Parents Association complements The Weekly by taking a closer look inside our school. We'll peek into classrooms to see Reggio education in action, explore our curriculum and values, and share relevant parenting articles. We'll highlight important events at the school too.

We'd love to hear your feedback. Please email any comments to

Thanks for reading!

Your VePA Executive Team


- Update from Annette Munkeby

- In the Classroom: The Question 
of Identity

- Chapel Curriculum for September

- Teacher Spotlight: Jess Goodman

- How to Access the Parent Directory

- Why Kids Shouldn't Sit Still in Class

- What Preschoolers Need from Grownups (But Aren't Getting)

- Special Offer from Good Eggs

Update from VePA President Annette Munkeby

Dear Ventana Parents,

I am truly honored to be serving as your VePA president this year! I look forward to working with all of you to make this a year of wonder and excitement. As you are settling into your new routines this fall, I am encouraged to see so many of you stepping up to contribute your skills, time and energy in support of our school. Ventana School thrives because of you!

All Ventana parents are members of the Ventana Parent Association (VePA). We support our school in numerous ways, through community building, fundraising, parent education and operational support. The VePA board meets regularly with school officials to plan various initiatives and provide feedback. We meet every other Friday after drop-off and welcome interested participants to attend. Room parents coordinate classroom assistance and serve as your link to the VePA board. I am very encouraged to have a strong group of both room parents and VePA board representatives to work with this year! Thank you all for your support!

As a result of our continued effort to provide opportunities for parents to engage and participate, we are introducing Fridays as our main days for our community events this year. Look for changes to the event schedule as Coffee and Conversations, Brown Bag Lunches and First Fridays in the Classrooms will be redistributed throughout the year. 

Our parent community is filled with engagement, talents and resources. Please don't hesitate to contact us with your ideas, suggestions or concerns. Together we support Ventana in providing the most exciting school experience for our children!

For the VePA board,
Annette Munkeby

In the Classroom: 
The Question of Identity

As you may know, Ventana's curriculum is shaped by the "Big Questions" we use to guide inquiry. They provide a framework for classroom discussions and project work, and become a common point of reflection throughout the school.

This year's Big Questions relate to the concept of identity. Our students will explore this idea in a variety of ways, depending on their ages and interests. For example the fifth graders are beginning with the question "How do we identify?" and using it in art projects.

The preschoolers in the Moon room are looking at more concrete aspects of identity. Teachers Carlie and Lynn tied the concept to math and helped the children measure themselves to find out how tall they were. (Doing so required a lot of discussion and collaboration!) In literacy, they created family trees to explore their identities as members of a family.

What questions are your children exploring? Be sure to check your classroom blog on our Parent Portal for the latest, and then ask your kids these questions at home too. We hope they lead to some interesting discussions.

Chapel Lessons: 

Each month, the Wednesday chapel lessons led by Rev. Claire explore a different Ventana Value. September's lessons are focusing on "Relationships." Here's that value in full:

We value relationships. We consider each moment as an opportunity to connect with one another. Through individual interactions, partnerships, group collaborations as colleagues, and with regular community events we build a sense of belonging and acceptance where every person experiences the feeling of being highly regarded by others. Our school climate of mutual respect and kindness is governed by investment in relationships between and among children, parents, teachers, administrators, the church, and the surrounding community. Further, in our teaching and learning, we invest in constructing relationships between ideas, concepts, skills, and discoveries. 

This year, each elementary class has been asked to lead a session of chapel. The Sapphire room (5th grade) is reflecting on relationships with a presentation they developed through a collaborative process. They decided their goal was to help younger kids build stronger relationships, and to teach them strategies for making new friends and creating an inter-school bond. They prepared four skits: "Smiling", "High-five", "Conflict Resolution", and "How to Ask Someone to Play". They're excited to perform these for the elementary classes on Sept. 27!

Teacher Spotlight:
Jess Goodman

We're happy to welcome several new teachers to Ventana this year, and this month we'd like to introduce you to our art specialist (in Reggio terms, our  atelierista) Jess Goodman.

Prior to arriving at Ventana, she taught art at The Marvegos Fine Art School, and kindergarten at Hillbrook School. Her attraction to Reggio Emilia education began when she was an art student at UC Berkeley and influenced her choice to become an educator.  

She completed her Masters of Education in the same class as fellow Ventana teacher Julie Oh. Last year, she was able to attend a workshop at Opal School in Portland and complete her Early Childhood certificate with a Reggio-based focus.

In college, she mainly worked in intaglio, painting, and installation, but these days she finds herself working more with clay and text. Regardless of material, she's inspired on a daily basis by the freedom that children demonstrate through artistic processes.

Be sure to say hello when you see Jess on campus, and don't miss her Art blog on the Parent Portal, which is packed with photos of our kids at work.

Parent Portal Tip:
School Directory

Are your kids asking for playdates with their new friends? Are you wondering how to contact their parents? Don't fret: The Ventana school directory is now posted on our Parent Portal. To find it:
  1. Go to
  2. Choose Parent Portal > Parent Portal.
  3. Click the Family Directory link at the bottom of the page.
As a reminder, all pages in the Parent Portal -- classroom blogs, specialist blogs, etc. -- use the same password: wonder.

Parenting Education Articles
Why Kids Shouldn't Sit Still in Class

It's easy, when children are working quietly and carefully at their tables or desks, to think that stillness is a key to learning. But mounting evidence shows that brief "movement breaks" throughout the day help children concentrate and learn more. 

A growing number of schools are including short breaks for movement throughout the day, in addition to regular PE classes. According to a recent article in The New York Times:

2013 report from the  I nstitute of M edicine  concluded that children who are more active "show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active." And a  study released  in January  by  Lund University  in Sweden shows that students, especially boys, who had daily physical education, did better in school.

Neither children nor adults are wired to sit still all day. But unfortunately the push for achievement on standardized tests has crowded out time for physical breaks and led to kids sitting at their desks for longer stretches. Happily, more and more schools are looking to correct this trend, particularly now that research supports the notion that movement improves academic performance. 

To learn more, read the full article at The New York Times.

What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups (But Aren't Getting)

If kindergarten is the new first grade, then preschool is the new kindergarten, argues Erika Christakis, a lecturer at the Yale Child Study Center. And that is "a real threat to our society's future," she says.

In an interview with NPR, she bemoans the recent focus on "academic" skills in preschool which, in her view, are a complete mismatch with early childhood:

Children need to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.

She also finds that doing worksheets and other seemingly academic tasks requires only  unidimensional, simplistic thinking, unlike the complex skills children use when, say, building a fort.

Christakis makes a strong case for giving young children long stretches of unscheduled time so they can engage in activities at their own pace and stretch their imaginations with fantasy play. Let them lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling if they want to, she says. However kids who've been shuttled from lesson to lesson for the most part might need a little support to reengage these parts of their minds.

For more, read or listen to the full interview on NPRed.

(And thank you to our Ventana teachers, who help our kids with playful learning every day.)

Support Ventana and Get $15 of Free Groceries!

Participation is easy:
  1. Fill your basket with all the best food (meal kits, fresher than fresh produce, meal, sustainable meats and seafood, kid-friendly staples and more) for same day delivery on Good Eggs.
  2. At checkout, enter the code VENTANA to get $15 off and automatically enroll.
  3. Enjoy! You just discovered the easiest and most delicious way to support Ventana. All your orders during October and November will automatically count toward the fundraiser that gives 10% back.

*Sign up by October 15th and enter to win a week of free dinners*

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Ventana School | Nurturing Minds and Hearts