Handmade Materials at The Cottage School

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Empowering students and teachers is one of the main components of The Cottage School's Organic Education. Throughout the year, teachers (and some parents, too) prepare handmade toys, materials and games for the students to play and learn with. In this way, our community embodies the concept that “things” can be custom made, and repaired when necessary.

During playtime, our students have the opportunity to use handmade toys and dolls made either at school or around the world. When a teacher is crocheting a dress for one of the dolls while the children play, there is a great learning experience taking place in the playroom. Children feel the full satisfaction of the organic process of having seen the dress being made that it is now ready to use with the doll. Children feel that toys can be made, and in fact, very soon start making their own at home as well. They come to the realization (perhaps not conscious at the beginning) that there is no need to go to the store to buy everything.

 I remember one time, when one of the alumni mothers told me that she was looking for post-it notes to mark paragraphs on a book, but couldn’t find any. Soon after, her son said: “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll make them for you!” And so he did! This approach in education empowers the student by fostering self-sustaining, problem solving, and creative thinking skills.

 In addition, creating their own materials allows for a genuine integration of arts and academics in all the traditional subjects. At The Cottage School, teachers design the curriculum and make play-based customized teaching materials. There is no textbook in sight. Commercial textbooks are created for a mass of students for massive curriculums that don’t take into account the needs of the particular class/student. By using their own self-made materials, our teachers create a flexible and dynamic class for an organic learning process. 

They produce a range of materials which include jigsaw puzzles, bingo, word-to-image and memory games, all of which provide benefits to the students' overall physical, social-affective, and cognitive development. There are also specific health benefits associated with using hands-on materials. For instance, working on and solving jigsaw puzzles increases concentration, improves attentiveness, and expands creativity. When students focus on the same image for longer periods, it becomes a meditative process. Since the mind is focused on visualizing images, it concentrates on this alone in exclusion of everything else. By participating in such practices, students experience reduced heart rate and blood pressure.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net


The Cottage School Holiday Fundraiser 2018

The holidays are coming soon! The Cottage School is offering five special gift ideas this year as a part of our annual fundraising efforts. Pairs of tall candles ($15), school aprons ($30), school magnets ($10), tote bags ($25), and song books & CDs ($20) are available for purchase.

These items will make a memorable and long-lasting gift for the special people in the life of your child. We hope you will take advantage of these items, enjoy them in your own home, or enjoy giving them as gifts!

Please submit all orders by November 30th. Click here to order.

Thank you for supporting The Cottage School!

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Free Workshop on The Importance of Arts in Education & Holiday Card Painting

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The Cottage School is pleased to host “The Importance of Arts in Education & Holiday Card Painting” November 29th from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. The workshop with be co-hosted by Liza Scher who holds a degree in Art History and a concentration in German Expressionism, and Laura Soulages who is the Founding Director of The Cottage School. At the end of our discussion, attendees will be given the opportunity to paint their own holiday cards.

A core belief at The Cottage School is that art, in all forms, be it visual arts, music, dance, imaginative play or drama, positively influences children in their physical, affective, and cognitive development, their desire to learn and their love for school.

The process of creativity and expression is one that should not be oppressed. Creativity is an instinct and a need for all and it is imperative that we allow children to create. Art enables children to be critical, innovative thinkers, to problem solve, create, communicate, express and experiment. Art helps children to develop inventive and productive ways to think outside the box, and is an indispensable tool when it comes to developing physical, cognitive and social skills.

If you’re interested in attending this free workshop, please RSVP online, email liza@thecottageschool.net, or contact us at (908) 719-9610.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Simplicity & Sweetness Abound at The Cottage School’s Halloween Harvest Festival

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At the end of every October, The Cottage School hosts its annual Halloween Harvest Festival for the school children and their families. All ages participate, including our littlest ones who attend our Mommy and Me program. Children are encouraged to wear noncommercial costumes—some of which are found in the school’s handmade “Theatrical Costume Collection” from the children’s annual school plays.

During the Halloween Parade, children walk a path with their teachers through the school yard and into the decorated playground. The children visit “stations,” where they say a nursery rhyme or sing a song and receive a healthy treat, such as an apple or bread. Each harvest station is directed by a parent dressed in costume:

  • The Farmer distributes organic apples from her harvest

  • The Miller shows the children how to mill corn into cornmeal

  • The Baker distributes corn bread

  • The Candlestick Maker hands out natural beeswax candles, which are handmade by the children at school the previous week

  • The Wizard performs magic tricks and gives each child homemade playdough

After the children visit each station, family members gather with their children and the teachers to enjoy some apple cider. 

Nursery Rhymes Recited and Songs Sung at the Harvest Festival

The Farmer
Ten little apples, up in a tree
five for you and five for me.
Let’s shake that apple tree just so
and all the apples fall below.

The Miller
Blow, wind, blow!
And go, mill go! 
That the miller can grind his corn
That the baker may take it,
And into bread make it,
And bring us a loaf in the morn,
And bring us a loaf in the morn.

The Baker
Pat-a cake, Pat-a-cake,
Baker’s man,
Bake me a cake, 
As fast as you can.
Pat it and prick it,
And mark it with B,
Put it in the oven,
For baby and me.

The Candlestick Maker
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.

The Wizard
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

A Free Workshop on The Importance of Being Little

What Do Children Really Need from Grown Ups?

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On Monday, October 22nd, as part of our "Mondays on Education" workshop series, Laura Soulages and Kirby Baldwin will lead a discussion on Erika Christakis’ book, The Importance of Being Little: What Children Really Need from Grown Ups. The workshop will take place at The Cottage School from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. Free and open to the public, the workshop will explore Christakis’ research and how it applies to current state of education, as well as to what we do here at The Cottage School.

If you would like to read Christakis’ book prior to the workshop, you can purchase it on Amazon. It is also available via Audible.

Mondays on Education: The Importance of Being Little - Monday, October 22nd, 9:30am-11:00am.

Please RSVP online, email liza@thecottageschool.net or contact us at 908-719-9610.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Candle making: An Autumn Cottage School Tradition

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A favorite autumn tradition at The Cottage School is candle making! Each student at The Cottage School gets the opportunity to make their own candles using sheets of beeswax, wick string, and ribbon for a decorative touch. The students enjoy the process, which requires no heat, no hot wax, no dirty tools, no slow-cooker, no dipping, and no fuss! Additionally, the candles are a great way for little ones to practice fine motor skills: pressing the wick into the wax and tightly rolling the candle.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut a sheet of beeswax in half to make a standard-size taper candle. 

  2. Measure the wick "string" against a cut (halved) sheet of beeswax, making sure there's an additional 1" of wick at the very top of the candle. Use scissors to cut the wick. 

  3. Press the wick into the beeswax sheet. Remember, there should be about 1" of wick "overflowing" at the top. 

  4. Tightly fold the beeswax sheet over the wick to secure the wick in place, then continue rolling the sheet to make a candle. 

  5. Repeat the steps above to make multiple candles. One sheet of halved beeswax will make two candles. 

  6. Once rolled, the candle is ready to use.

  7. Light and burn the candle as you would with any taper candle. The tighter the candle is rolled, the slower it will burn.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

The Cottage School Playdough Recipe

At The Cottage School, we make our own playdough every week. Children of all ages love to play with it!

Not only is playdough calming, but it gives our students an opportunity for an open ended activity where they can create what they wish.

Playdough gives tactile pleasure and sensory integration: children can touch it, see it, smell it and even taste it sometimes! At The Cottage School, we believe the more senses children can use and the more involved they get in the activity, the greater the learning experience is. Children need to use all senses and need opportunities to create, playdough brings a perfect combination!

Here is a tried and true simple recipe that we’ve been using for years…

You’ll need:
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 cup of water
1 cup maizena (cornstarch)
food coloring (optional)

Directions
Mix the flour, salt and maizena in a large mixing bowl
Add oil and food coloring to the water then into the dry ingredients
Mix continuously adding the liquid
Knead some and let your child do the rest!

*If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right (not too sticky and not too dry). You can keep it in the refrigerator for a week; add a little more flour each time you take it out to use.

*For a wonderful natural dye, try boiling beets and using the leftover water in this recipe.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Day in the Life of a Cottage School Student

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Have you ever asked your child, “What did you do at school today?” Come to this week’s workshop, A Day in Life of Cottage School Student, and be mystified no more!

This is such a fun workshop to attend. It brings to life The Cottage School’s play-based curriculum and is a great look into our school’s effective and unique approach to education that uses developmentally appropriate activities to teach without traditional tests, grades, or textbooks. Come see the flexible and dynamic interactions our children are lucky to have every day.

I typically shudder when math is mentioned (don’t tell my children) but found myself laughing and having fun during the “math class” part of this workshop while playing a multiplication game with dominoes. In a non-competitive environment that nurtures creativity and each individual child’s innate abilities, a joy and passion for learning are natural byproducts.

I’m grateful for our school’s commitment to keeping parents and the community informed on best practices on education that are backed by experience, research, and training. These workshops help solidify the bond between home and school, and are a wonderful look into this special learning community.

To RSVP, please click here or email liza@thecottageschool.net or call 908-719-9610.

 

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net




The Cottage School Enrichment Classes Announcement

The Cottage School offers Foreign Language Immersion & Physical Education Enrichment opportunities for students and adults this 2018 - 2019 school year. Please read below for more details, dates, and descriptions:

FOREIGN LANGUAGE IMMERSION PROGRAM

In our program, children learn a foreign language by singing folk songs, play-acting, art activities, traditional games, writing and drawing in books and reading aloud original prose, poetry and folktales. The teacher speaks only in the foreign language in much the same way a mother would at home. This natural approach to learning also helps students master other foreign languages later in life. Our teachers are native language speakers and we work with small groups of children.

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If we look at the process of how children learn their mother tongue or how a person learns a foreign language in a new country (without previous knowledge of the local language), the first ability developed is the “understanding of the language”. “Speaking” follows and afterwards “reading and writing”. Therefore, in our Foreign Language Immersion Classes the first goal is “the understanding” by getting the children used to listening to a new language. The second goal is “the speaking” by encouraging the children to speak even if it is broken words.

At the end of the year, the children present a play to their parents. In preparation for the play, the children understand, read, listen and finally memorize the lines of the tale in order to “speak”. Within a playful atmosphere, children not only learn in a natural way but also their enthusiasm for learning is kept alive and it promotes an interest in foreign language for lifetime learning.

In foreign language immersion, the focus of instruction is on the activity and not in the structure of the language. Children who are immersed in the language are able to experience a living-language. The structure is absorbed in a meaningful context. Grammar is absorbed naturally and taught as the understanding of the language develops.

Russian Language Immersion Classes for Adults
Dates:
First Semester Session- 09/27/18 to 01/31/19
Second Semester Session - 02/11/19 to 5/27/19

$400 per semester (1 class per week)

Thursdays: 1:30pm to 2:15pm 

If you would like to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Spanish Language Immersion Classes

Dates:
First Semester Session- 09/24/18 to 01/28/19
Second Semester Session - 02/11/19 to 05/27/19
$400 per semester

M/T/W or Thurs: 1:30 to 2:15 pm
or M/T/W or Thurs: 2:15 to 3:00 pm
or Tuesday's: 4:30 to 5:15pm

If you would like your child to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Private classes: $60 (45 min)

If you would like you or your child to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Spanish Language Immersion Enrichment Classes
Dates:
First Semester Session: 09/24/18 to 01/28/19
Second Semester Session: 02/11/19 to 05/27/19
Mondays through Wednesdays: 1:30 to 2:15 pm or 2:15 to 3:00 pm - $900 per semester
Mondays through Thursdays: 1:30 to 2:15 pm or 2:15 to 3:00 pm - $1200 per semester

If you would like your child to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION PROGRAM

Morning Zumba for Kids
Konny Fernandez, a Cottage School teacher, is a certified Zumba instructor for kids. Having taught Zumba at The Cottage School during our summer program, Konny is excited to bring the program back this Fall. Konny's class will feature kid-friendly routines based on original Zumba choreography. She breaks down the steps, adds games, activities and cultural exploration elements into the class. Laura Soulages, a seven-year Zumba instructor, will supervise the program. 

First Semester Session: 9/19/18 to 12/7/18

  • Wednesday & Friday: 8:00 to 8:30 am

  • $300 per 20 class session

If you would like your child to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Afternoon Yoga for Kids

Carrie Foster is a 90 hour Yoga Alliance certified kids yoga instructor. She has been teaching yoga locally since 2013. She has worked at many schools and yoga studios in town, and teaches kids yoga, family yoga and meditation and mindfulness. During the 30 minute session at The Cottage School, your child will learn different yoga breathing techniques, stretches, poses, yoga games, mindfulness activities and savasana.

  • First Semester Session: 9/26/18 to 12/10/18

  • Wednesdays: 2:30 to  3:15 pm

  • $200 per 10 class session

If you would like your child to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Afternoon Yoga for Adults

Morgan is a Yoga Alliance 200 hour E-RYT who teaches weekly Vinyasa and Ashtanga Inspired classes, as well as international yoga retreats. Her classes are strong and creative, yet light-hearted and open-level. She encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, knowing you are supported both mentally and physically. Inversions are by far her favorite, while Ashtanga helps her maintain a complete self practice. Outside of yoga, she has combined her love of travel and jewelry making to form her own handmade jewelry business, One.With.Nature (O.W.N). Let’s keep creating magic!

First Semester Session: 9/25/18 to 10/23/18

  • Tuesdays: 2:00 to 3:00 pm

  • $100 per 5 class session

If you would like to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

Folkdancing for Adults

First Semester Session: 9/27/18 to 1/24/19

  • Thursdays: 2:15 to 2:45 pm 

  • Free

If you would like to participate in this program please fill out our registration form.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschool.net

Open House at The Cottage School - Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

We welcome friends and families to attend our Open House event, Wednesday October 17th, from 9am - 11am!

The Cottage School is a multicultural 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.

If you are searching for a wonderful school in Somerset County that nurtures the whole child, come see what a typical day is like at The Cottage School.

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Mommy/Daddy & Me Announcement

The Cottage School’s popular Mommy/Daddy & Me Fall Session is here!

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The Cottage School offers parents and caregivers a simple interactive group experience for their children—aged 1-24 months. Held in a warm, nurturing environment that’s firmly centered around The Cottage School’s philosophy, the play group offers storytelling, folksongs, talks, and gentle movement in a quiet and calming environment.

Fall Session: October 2nd - November 6th

If you would like to participate in this wonderful program please send an email to liza@thecottageschool.net, fill out the registration form online, or contact us at (908) 719-9610.

The suggested donation for each 6-week session is $50.

We encourage you to escape the house, meet new friends and discover the simple creativity that abounds at The Cottage School!

Sign up for our Spring session held February 19th through March 26th from 9:30-10:30 AM. (Note: no meetings will be held on April 23rd).


October Workshops Announcement: Poetry Appreciation & The Importance of Being Little

“Poetry Appreciation with Philip Rosenbach” Workshop

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As part of our ongoing series of workshops for The Cottage School parents and community members,  our adult-ed poetry instructor, Phil Rosenbach, will lead a poetry class beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 4th. No experience is necessary and all are welcome!

We will look at short, understandable, well-written poems. We will also look at some poorly written poems to try to determine what makes a poem good or bad. Participants will discuss their own view as to what makes a poem successful or unsuccessful, interesting or boring, fun or tedious, or that there may be no way to determine the difference. We will also look at poems where words or entire lines have been blacked out to see if we can make any improvements. Why not?

 If you have a favorite poem, bring it to the class for reading and discussion. This workshop is open to the public so feel free to bring a friend!

Poetry Appreciation with Philip Rosenbach - Thursday, October 4th, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Please RSVP online, email liza@thecottageschool.net or contact us at 908-719-9610.

“Mondays on Education: The Importance of Being Little” Workshop

On Monday, October 22nd, as part of our "Mondays on Education" workshop series, Laura Soulages and Kirby Baldwin will lead a discussion on Erika Christakis’ book, The Importance of Being Little: What Children Really Need from Grown Ups. The workshop will take place at The Cottage School from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. Free and open to the public, the workshop will explore Christakis’ research and how it applies to current state of education, as well as to what we do here at The Cottage School.

If you would like to read Christakis’ book prior to the workshop, you can purchase it on Amazon. It is also available via Audible.

Mondays on Education: The Importance of Being Little - Monday, October 22nd, 9:30am-11:00am.

Please RSVP online, email liza@thecottageschool.net or contact us at 908-719-9610.

To learn more about The Cottage School, visit www.thecottageschool.net

Welcome Back to School!

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Welcome back to school! I’ve spoken with multiple parents who have said their children were missing The Cottage School over the summer, and our household did too! Everyone is happy to be back.

Something that I’ve chatted about with both parents and teachers a few times over the past week or so is pace. I always expect the school year to significantly alter my children’s energy levels (being overly exhausted after a school day), especially as we transition into a new school year, yet I’m always pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t.

While they certainly have ample time to run and play and get their energy out at school—rain or shine!—my children are also replenished by the school day. I believe this is because the pace of the school day supports our children’s natural development. If you ever come to an Open House, birthday celebration or happen to observe any part of the school day, you will likely notice how calm a school of 30 children can be.

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Several weeks ago a book caught my eye at the library called The Importance of Being Little. The author, Erika Christakis, mentions that adults so frequently both underestimate and overestimate children; we underestimate their intelligence and attention spans, resulting in unstimulating preschool curriculums, and overestimate them pragmatically—how quickly they can and should be able to transition, and how long they should be able to sit still.

Last week I sat in at circle time on a natural sciences lesson about gravity. It’s possible that I learned about gravity in school, too, but I can tell you for sure that it wasn’t in preschool! I am so consistently impressed with both the caliber of the curriculum as well as the flexibility and creativity in the teaching methods—they are learning so much without even knowing it, and I can’t think of a better way to foster a lifelong love of learning from a young age.

If you have a chance to read the book, I think you’ll see that The Cottage School embodies its spirit so well. I’ve been hard-pressed to find a single quality that Christakis attributes to the very best preschools that our school doesn’t do. My two children who attend our school are very different, yet both of their needs are consistently met. The natural pace, nurturing environment, and high-quality relationships that our teachers take the time to build with our children make school a natural extension of our home.

I will be co-leading a book discussion with Laura Soulages on Monday, October 22 from 9:30-11am and I hope you can come!

Spanish & Art Immersion—Registration for The Cottage School Summer Program is Now Open

The Cottage School is pleased to offer four weeks of Spanish Immersion throughout the month of June. Each week will focus on a specific Latin American country where children—ages 2 to 12 years—will be immersed in both the Spanish Language and the arts.  Teachers speak only in Spanish throughout the day.

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A 10% discount will be offered to families signing up for either 3 or 4 weeks of camp:

Week I (Tuesday, June 5 to Friday, June 8): Paraguay (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Week II (Tuesday, June 12 to Friday, June 15): Chile (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Week III (Tuesday, June 19 to Friday, June 22): Puerto Rico (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Week IV (Tuesday, June 26 to Friday, June 29): Cuba (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Summer program schedule:

Program  runs from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Each day is divided into two parts: 

  • 1 hr. 30 min for Spanish language immersion where children learn Spanish through folk singing, play-acting, traditional games, and reading poetry/folktales out loud. Children also learn about the country of study: its geography, people, traditions, food, music, and dances.
  •  
  • 1 hr. 30 min. for art inspired by the Latin American country studied throughout the week.

Additional summer programs: In addition to our Spanish & Art Immersion Program , we will be offering Zumba for Kids from 8:45 am – 9:30 am and Spanish Language Enrichment from 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm before and after each day of camp.

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, 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. Learn more at thecottageschools.net

Mommy/Daddy & Me Group—Play, Bond and Move With Your Child at The Cottage School

The Cottage School’s popular  Mommy/Daddy & Me Spring Session starts soon!

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The Cottage School offers parents and caregivers a simple  interactive group experience for their children—aged 1-24 months. Held in a warm, nurturing environment that’s firmly centered around The Cottage School’s philosophy, the play group offers storytelling, folksongs, talks, and gentle movement in a quiet and calming environment.

If you would like to participate in this wonderful program please send an email to jessica@thecottageschool.net , and please download and fill out the registration form. The suggested donation for each 6-week session is $50.

We encourage you to escape the house, meet new friends and discover the simple creativity that abounds at The Cottage School:

  • Sign up for our Spring session held February 20th through April 10th from 9:30-10:30 AM(Note: no meetings will be held on March 17th and  April 3rd). 

Why Cottage Elementary School?—What makes our kids so happy to come to school each day? Discover all that The Cottage School has to offer students from Kindergarten through 8th grade

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The Cottage School will be hosting an informative session for current and prospective parents who are interested in the elementary program for their children on Monday, February 5th from 9:30am to 11:00 AM.

Our students enjoy school and are engaged members of our community because their individual curiosities and creativity are nurtured in a non-competitive environment. The Cottage School emphasizes the learning process, forming patterns of learning in an environment that is free from pressure, which is a unique quality in today’s achievement-obsessed educational culture.

 A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, the elementary program at The Cottage School teaches students aged 5 through 14, with its unique, well-rounded academic program, which integrates the traditional subject areas of language arts, literature, foreign languages, mathematics, natural sciences, world studies, and the arts. The Cottage School has developed its own curriculum and materials to exceed academic expectations on many levels using an interdisciplinary approach, while still covering all NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards. This is complemented by a wide variety of after school enrichment programs, including athletics and language immersion classes.

 The Cottage School Difference: In the elementary program, our students develop a love of learning sustained by a spirit of discovery at a pace that accompanies each individual child. Students’ innate abilities and learning interests are nurtured in a cooperative, non-competitive environment—free from tests or academic competition. The emphasis in the elementary program is on the joy of discovery, sustaining academic curiosity, and embracing experiential learning to maximize creative thinking, rather than on the rote memorization and the recitation of isolated facts. We encourage our students to ask questions, think out-of-the-box, take risks, and embrace mistakes, which all aid in building a strong foundation for innovative thinking. Without using textbooks, The Cottage School’s teachers do research and study from original material, which encourages their students to do the same. The result is an engaged, mutual effort to go deeper in knowledge.

 Nurturing Individual Growth: At The Cottage School, academic gifts and interests flourish while academic pursuits grow steadily and confidently. On individual projects, children are encouraged to concentrate on their own projects; there are no comparisons made between students or between student works. Within student’s own abilities, each child is expected to do his or her best—whether the activity is math, painting, singing, or sweeping. Expecting each student’s best from every activity helps cultivate a strong sense of integrity and confidence with every endeavor taken on and accomplished.

Fostering a Collaborative Environment: Cooperative skills are developed throughout daily routines as well as through unique experiential projects that include gardening, folk dancing, original script writing, and play production for the annual school play. This balance of nurturing individualized expectations in a collaborative environment results in the development of a confident student body that works together in a caring and cohesive manner. This helps The Cottage School maintain a strong sense of community where creativity and a joy for learning are nurtured.

The Cottage School is a multicultural 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. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us at www.thecottageschools.net.

Discussion Based on the Film “Race to Nowhere”—A Free Parenting Workshop at The Cottage School

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“Hours of homework produce unbearable stress; stress produces cheating, cramming to pass tests and then forgetting everything; that false learning then means remediation when they get to college; and, on rare occasions, students kill themselves. In my 35 years of reporting for NPR and PBS, I have covered these issues more times than I care to remember…I promise you that this movie is telling the truth.”John Merrow, correspondent for PBS Newshour, writing for The Huffington Post

The Cottage School is pleased to offer a free workshop discussion on the groundbreaking educational film Race to Nowhere on Monday, January 29th from 9:30 to 11:00 AM.

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This grassroots documentary challenges the current approach society takes to “prepare” children for success. With a hyper-focus on over-scheduling, over-testing, and over-performing in everything from academics to athletics, the film examines how our achievement-obsessed culture may not only be dangerous but counterproductive—robbing children of their childhood, love for learning, passion for creativity and intrinsic  motivation, leaving them ill-prepared for a healthy adulthood.

Named as one of “10 Education Documentaries You Don’t Want to Miss”, Race to Nowhere brings us together at The Cottage School to discuss the role and impact of education in an informed and insightful manner. Although viewing the film before the workshop is not necessary for the discussion, Race to Nowhere is available to rent or purchase on You TubeAmazon VideoiTunes and the Race to Nowhere website.

Register Now  for our Discussion Based on the Film “Race to Nowhere” on Monday, January 29th from 9:30 to 11:00 AM.

The Cottage School is a multicultural 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. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us at thecottageschools.net.

Baking (and Eating) Cake Together—A Monthly Birthday Tradition at The Cottage School

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A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, The Cottage School takes a collaborative approach when celebrating students’ birthdays. Students commemorate this milestone once a month by baking a carrot cake together and enjoying it once it comes out of the oven.

A wonderful example of “learning by doing,” baking brings into play so many different educational concepts in a fun and cooperative manner. The students are required to read the recipe, which is written in both English and Spanish to encourage literary fluency. Each student with a birthday that month gets to crack an egg while other students measure out all of the ingredients exactly, which requires a basic understanding of fractions. Finally, the students bring the ingredients together and watch them “transform” into a cake with the heat of the oven—a delightful way to bring basic chemistry to life. This experiential experience allows students to engage all their senses and use their minds in creative ways to solve the scrumptious problem of turning ten single ingredients into one delicious cake.

Once the cake is out of the oven, the students gather with their teachers and parents to sing the birthday song. The “birthday children” get to decide which language the song will be sung in, choosing from English, Spanish, French, Guarani, Portuguese, German and Mandarin. You will find our 15-year old recipe for Carrot Cake below, and we invite you to try it at home.

Carrot Cake
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded carrots (about 5 medium)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches. Mix sugar, oil and eggs until blended; beat 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients except carrots; beat 1 minute. Stir in carrots. Pour into pan.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

The Cottage School is a non-selective multicultural 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.

The Importance of the Arts in Education: A Free Workshop at The Cottage School – November 30th, 2017 6:30pm

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Educational Workshops are an integral part of the culture at The Cottage School in Somerset County, New Jersey and are offered monthly to our parents and community at large.  Always free of charge, these inspirational and insightful classes explore current topics in education, parenting, and child development.

The Cottage School is pleased to announce that the November workshop – “The Importance of the Arts in Education” will be held on Thursday,  November 30th from 6:30pm-8:00pm. The workshop with be co-hosted by Liza Scher who holds a degree in Art History and a concentration in German Expressionism, and Laura Soulages who is the Founding Director of The Cottage School.  At the end of our discussion, attendees will be given the opportunity to paint their own holiday cards.

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A core belief at The Cottage School is that art, in all forms, be it visual arts, music, dance, imaginative play or drama, positively influences children in their physical, affective and cognitive development, their desire to learn and their love for school.

The process of creativity and expression is one that should not be oppressed. Creativity is an instinct and a need for all and it is imperative that we allow children the time to create. Art enables children to be critical, innovative thinkers, to problem solve, create, communicate, express and experiment. Art helps children to develop inventive and productive ways to think outside the box, and is an indispensable tool when it comes to developing physical, cognitive and social skills.

Founding Director of the Cottage School, Laura Soulages asks:

“Is it possible to educate in a different way? If education is considered a mere transfer of knowledge, the giving of information about mathematics, geography, history, language and so forth is enough. However, if the purpose of education is to develop children as whole human beings, the arts cannot be isolated. The arts not only enrich children’s lives as they are part of the culture, but they also help them to express themselves. Personal and unique expressions are shaped in paintings, in the sounds of music, in writing, in dance and in every possible type of human expression; and this expression is necessary for life.”

Yes, it is possible to educate in a different way and we are doing so at The Cottage School in Gladstone, New Jersey.  We feel that it is our job, as teachers, to nurture the creative minds of students. At The Cottage School, we integrate the Arts and Academics in all traditional subjects. We honor creativity in all subjects of learning, and, regardless of age, we provide daily free play time that help develop the imagination.

The Arts Education Partnership says that the artistic experiences in young children:

“Increase motivation, skill in symbol manipulation, and enhance skill in building social relationships. The arts develop self-regulation and develop expressive skills. Effective learning at all ages requires a balance between, on one hand, well-learned routines that provide efficiency and, on the other hand, opportunities for innovation that involve play and social interaction, which often allows new insights to emerge.”

Register Now  for “The Importance of the Arts in Education” to learn more.

The Cottage School is a non-selective multicultural 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. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us atthecottageschool.net.

Nurturing Individualized Learning Paths at The Cottage School

A private school based in Gladstone, New Jersey, The Cottage School develops a love of learning sustained by a spirit of discovery at a pace that accompanies each individual student. Students’ innate abilities and learning interests are nurtured in a non-competitive environment—free from tests, peer pressure, or academic competition. This helps The Cottage School maintain a strong sense of community where creativity and a joy for learning can thrive.

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Each student is expected to do his or her best, within a student’s own abilities,—whether the activity is rhythmic writing, math, painting, singing, weaving, or sweeping. This helps each student cultivate a strong sense of integrity and confidence with each endeavor. Children are encouraged to concentrate on their own projects; there are no comparisons made between students or their works. Individualizing expectations allows each child to grow in an educational environment that encourages progress with creative and attainable challenges.

Cooperative skills are developed throughout daily routines—such as circle time and morning song—as well as through unique experiential projects that include gardeningfolk dancing, original script writing, and rehearsal for the annual school play. This balance of nurturing individualized expectations in a collaborative environment results in the development of a confident student body that works together in a caring and cohesive manner.