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our mission

The Cottage School is a multicultural, non-sectarian and non-selective learning community that values and fosters the children's spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured.

a unique approach to education

Organic education embraces the natural desire to learn that comes from within the child when the child is intrinsically motivated. 

  • Respecting the child’s natural development and pace
  • Considering individual needs, desires, passions, and ways of learning
  • Supporting all areas of the child’s development: physical, social-affective and cognitive
  • Teaching through immersion to learn organically, to learn from the whole

 

The Cottage School teaches children ages 2 through 14, with its unique, well-established education programs for Mommy/Daddy and Me Group, Playgroup, Preschool, Young K - K, and 1st through 8th Grade. Classes in Spanish, Mandarin, French, and German language immersion are offered. 

A core belief at The Cottage School is that foreign languages and art, in all forms, be it visual arts, music, dance, poetry, imaginative play or drama, positively influence children in their physical, affective and cognitive development, their desire to learn and their love for school. The Cottage School answers the communities’ calls for a creative, academically outstanding, and affordable alternative to existing private and public schools in Somerset, Hunterdon, and Morris counties. The school has a non-discriminatory policy and accepts students on a year-round, non-selective basis.

The Cottage School develops a love of learning, free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery at a pace that accompanies the students. The teachers respect and feed the child's innate sense of curiosity, fostering a life-long passion for learning.  Children naturally seek information and our school honors the child's natural abilities to learn from the whole. Students are induced by the presentation of suitable material and relevant experiences to discover things for themselves and construct conclusions on their own in an organic way.

The Cottage School designs its own curriculum and play-based teaching materials, integrating arts and academics in all the traditional subjects. It uses developmentally appropriate activities to teach without traditional tests, grades, or textbooks. Textbooks can provide facts but are oftentimes shallow, outdated, or one-sided, lacking perspective and varied viewpoints. The teachers create a flexible and dynamic interaction generated by a teacher–student-centered class time.

Our programs integrate traditional subject areas of fine arts, foreign languages, literature, social studies, mathematics, physical education, and the natural world in a cooperative, non-competitive environment. Folktales, rounds, and traditional songs are part of our daily activities. It is academics and art in daily communion.

All students have the opportunity for uninterrupted free play every day. They are encouraged to begin their play by simple suggestions from their teachers. They develop their imaginations by building and creating environments, using silks, wool, wooden play structures, handmade dolls, and blocks.

History

The Cottage School is based on Laura Soulages’ philosophy on education. Laura Soulages, an educator for the past 30 years, founded The Cottage School in New Jersey in 2002. Her experience ranges from early childhood to college level and has taught in Argentina and in the United States. Her vision for The Cottage School “is the continuation of my life-long mission to guide children to develop and keep alive a desire of learning that will, in turn, last them a lifetime.” 

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Born and raised in Argentina, South America, Ms. Soulages grew up with a rich diversity of cultures and was influenced by the European traditions handed down by her grandparents, who were from Spain and France. Laura did folk-dancing since age one, immersing herself in the music and the cores of different cultures from a very young age. Her parents, both scientists and artists, showed Laura the importance and pleasures of a good education; this joy of learning is an important aspect of The Cottage School’s philosophy. “I grew up in a house that had a chemistry laboratory in one room and, in the other rooms, books, a piano, paints, papers, and paintbrushes,” says Soulages, "Music and dance were part of our family life as well… I was nurtured from an environment where the academics/science and the arts were truly in a daily communion.” The Cottage School is based on Soulages’ education received at home, as well as her three decades of experience as a teacher, Waldorf and Montessori training that she received in the US, and at the Argentinean teachers college known as Instituto Superior Roberto Themis Speroni, of which Ms. Soulages is a graduate. This institute offers training in education with an emphasis on experiential learning and on the creative experience in all the fields of art.

“At The Cottage School, teachers are committed to doing research and studying from original material, thus inspiring students to do the same and go deeper in knowledge. Great importance is placed on the learning process to develop patterns of learning, free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery. When adults are too concentrated on results, children and teachers alike lose the joy of learning and teaching,” says Laura Soulages regarding the school’s emphasis on organic learning in a play and discovery-based environment.