Open House on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 - 9 am - 11 am

We welcome friends and families to attend our Open House event, Wednesday April 10th, 2019 from 9am - 11am!

Families are invited to our Opening Circle, tour the school, and enjoy an informal conversation with Laura Soulages, Director of The Cottage School.  Please contact us here to RSVP.

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.

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


Poetry Appreciation with Phil Rosenbach, April 18th, 6:30 to 8:00 pm - A Free Workshop for Adults

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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 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18. No experience is necessary and all are welcome. This workshop is open to the public so feel free to bring a friend!

In our last poetry class we looked at poems addressing political themes. Phil has adopted a suggestion made at the end of that class and this time will be focusing on problems involving relationships. As always, we will look at short, understandable, well-written poems. We will discuss makes a poem successful or unsuccessful, interesting or boring, fun or tedious.If you have a favorite poem, bring it to the class for reading and discussion. We will focus on English-language poems but may also take a look at poems in other languages as well.

 Please RSVP online, email info@thecottageschool.net or calling (908) 719-9610.

The first poem we discuss will be the following one:

 Depressed By A Book Of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward An Unused Pasture And Invite The Insects To Join Me

James Wright

Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants
Who are walking single file up the fence post,
Carrying small white petals,
Casting shadows so frail that I can see through them.
I close my eyes for a moment and listen.
The old grasshoppers
Are tired, they leap heavily now,
Their thighs are burdened.
I want to hear them, they have clear sounds to make.
Then lovely, far off, a dark cricket begins
In the maple trees.

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 on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 - 9 am - 11 am

We welcome friends and families to attend our Open House event, Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 from 9am - 11am!

Families are invited to our Opening Circle, tour the school with Kirby Baldwin, and enjoy an informal conversation with Laura Soulages, Director of The Cottage School.  Please contact us here to RSVP.

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.

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

Choosing a Young K / Kindergarten Program for Your Child

Choosing a young kindergarten or kindergarten program for your child is an important decision, and there are many different options to navigate. When doing your research, it’s vital to understand what makes a high-quality program.

While many parents’ primary concerns are around their kindergartener’s academic skills (i.e., reading, writing, and mathematics), it is also critical to consider the social, emotional, and physical aspects of childhood development. Research has shown that the elements of a classroom’s climate that support early learning include:

  • Close relationships between teachers and children

  • Opportunities to learn socially from peers

  • Classroom materials that invite open-ended play and exploration

  • Classroom schedules that give children adequate time to complete their work

  • Activities that combine learning standards (e.g., math and language simultaneously) (Christakis)

The importance of ample time for play in a young k/kindergarten program cannot be overstated, and high-quality programs acknowledge and reflect the research that play is the fundamental building block of cognitive, emotional, and social development.

Benefits of play include:

  • Improved memory

  • Better mathematical skills

  • Higher test scores

  • Decreased mental fatigue

  • Greater impulse regulation

  • More complex language skills

Here are some signs to look for when seeking out a high-quality young k or kindergarten program:

✔Small student-teacher ratio and class size

✔ Individualized learning plans to honor different learning styles and needs

✔ Child-centered environment

✔ Emphasis on social-emotional development

✔ Play-based, experiential learning

✔ Ample daily outdoor and free play

✔ Cross-disciplinary approach to learning that integrates the arts, foreign languages, and movement

✔ Positive approach to discipline

✔ Holistic portfolio assessment to assess students’ progress, rather than traditional tests

✔ Pace that supports a child’s natural development and interests

✔ Strong connection and communication between home and school

✔ Meets and exceeds New Jersey Core Curriculum standards

✔ Healthy lunch program

The Cottage School Young K / Kindergarten Curriculum

We believe in the organic education of our students and consider all aspects of the child’s development to be important. We integrate the arts and academics in all traditional subjects, and honor creativity in all subjects of learning, building confidence in students by allowing mistakes as a valid way to learn.

How Do We Teach Reading & Writing?

Language Arts

The Cottage School places great importance on the learning process to develop patterns of learning. Literary skills are developed not just to decode words for reading and writing but to foster comprehension, sequence, vocabulary, creative thinking, memory skills, and an appreciation of literature. All literature chosen is in its original unabridged format.

  • Reading, copying text in print and cursive, illustrating and familiarization of poems and stories

  • Language games

  • Playacting: drama and recitation

  • Storytelling

Rhythmic Writing

Rhythmic writing is a musical approach to writing that helps develop handwriting, hand-eye coordination, concentration, spatial sense, and focus. Children experience writing with their bodies, not just with intellect, understanding how individual parts of their scribble relate to the whole.

How Do We Teach Mathematics?

Children are introduced to math creatively and authentically through rhythm, movement, games, puzzles, blocks, and counting pebbles, seeds and shells. They measure when baking, playing with water and sand, and gardening. Origami, jump rope, hopscotch, knitting, weaving, and beanbag counting games develop math concepts. These activities improve coordination, concentration, and counting abilities. Certain concepts are learned using concrete elements and games. Geometry is absorbed and spatial sense is developed by practical experiences such as origami, painting, dancing, rounds, and playing with blocks and wooden forms.

  • Counting: ascending and descending scales

  • Estimation and comparison

  • Addition and subtraction

  • Introduction to time, money and measurement

  • Fractions

  • Writing numbers and simple operations in blank books

  • Math games

  • Daily mental calculations

  • Mazes

  • Board games

  • Simple origami and collage (geometry)

Foreign Languages

Spanish and French are learned through immersion by singing folk songs, play-acting, traditional games, reading aloud (original prose, poetry, and folktales) and speaking to the children as a parent would at home. This natural approach helps the students master other foreign languages later in life.

Natural Sciences & Social Studies 

The teachers sustain a permanent attitude of “discovery” and experiential thinking during the class. Great importance is placed on the quality of materials.

  • Hands-on experiments

  • Gardening

  • Geography

  • Cultures

  • Weather and seasons

  • Plants

  • Animals

  • The Universe

In addition, once per semester, the students are assigned a natural science topic to research, study, and create an oral presentation to give to their peers, which allows them not only to learn in-depth about the topic, guided by their areas of natural curiosity, but also to develop self-confidence and comfort with public speaking.

The Arts & Music

  • Painting and drawing

  • Weaving

  • Felting

  • Finger knitting

  • Recorder

  • Daily singing

Physical Education & Movement

  • Folkdancing

  • Traditional games

  • Creative movement

  • Outdoor play

  • Yoga

Special Activities

  • Baking: Breads, cookies, cakes, rolls and pizza

  • Festivities

  • Guest speakers

  • Field trips

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 on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 9 am - 11 am

We welcome friends and families to attend our Open House event, Wednesday February 27th, 2019 from 9am - 11am!

Families are invited to our Opening Circle, tour the school with Kirby Baldwin, and enjoy an informal conversation with Laura Soulages, Director of The Cottage School.  Please contact us here to RSVP.

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.

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


Alumni Profile and Interview for Francisco Guglielmino: The First Cottage School Student

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Francisco and his friends are the founding students of The Cottage School, which started as a playgroup with five children seventeen years ago.  In 2004, Francisco and classmates graduated from preschool to kindergarten, and they ended the year putting on “The Wizard of Oz” as a play.

During this interview, Francisco shares some of his memories from The Cottage School and talks about the importance of his early childhood education and what he is passionate about today. Francisco recalls moments during morning circle when students would play with wooden blocks:

“We would all make such different things and it's so cool because it all came out of a basket just full of tiny little colored wooden cubes, and that was it, but we all brought our own imagination, brought ourselves into it, and were able to make so much art out of something so simple.”

For the full interview, listen to the audio recording.

We can now say that our graduates have not only transitioned out of The Cottage School with ease, but have excelled in institutions that followed. Looking back at what Francisco’s AP Biology High School teacher wrote:

“Francisco’s most outstanding characteristics are his exceptional creativity, intelligence, work ethic, focus, optimism, perseverance, personality and intellectual analysis. His work was timely and done with creativity, attention to task and care. Francisco designed and presented a three-dimensional pop-up book, worthy of publication, that illustrated the functions of seven major plant hormones.”

Francisco is now a sophomore at Emerson College in Boston in the Honors Program of the School of Communication. He is also the Creative Director of Index Magazine and the Art Director of Raiz, a bilingual magazine at Emerson.

Francisco is a well-rounded young man. He is very social, kind and intelligent. He likes to take challenges and passionately immerses himself in projects he loves. Francisco has a variety of interests in music, sciences, foreign languages, photography, filming, drawing, designing, reading and spending time with friends and family.

He built a great foundation at The Cottage School not only academically, but also creatively and innovatively. In his own words, he explains, “I think ultimately The Cottage School taught me to question myself, but in the best ways possible. It taught me to ask questions, the how’s and why’s, to solve issues and elaborate on my own ideas to give me confidence to create my own projects and think okay, how am I going to do this when I only had the idea about how it's going to get done. How can I bring other people into it and make it a collaborative experience, whereas this isn't like asking questions to doubt myself, it’s the opposite. Its asking questions to empower ideas and then make them a reality. I think there’s something invaluable in that, telling a child that their idea can come to fruition and their dream can become a reality.” - Francisco Guglielmino, 19 years old

Francisco wrote his first play script at the age of five.  He continued writing stories throughout his childhood, and he wrote several scripts between the ages of six and twelve that were brought to life at The Cottage School. He has always helped at the school mentoring and teaching younger students in his free time. In addition, this past summer he designed our new logo and helped build our new website! Thank you, Francisco!

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 Alumni Profile and Interview – Emily Vasconez

We are so proud that the children who attend The Cottage School go on to become socially confident students and strong leaders amongst their peers.  We’re also thrilled when we hear that they look back fondly on their time here at The Cottage School. 

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Emily Vasconez was enrolled at The Cottage School since she was 2 1/2 years old, so she was able to take advantage of all that we offer here – beginning with the playgroup, transitioning to the preschool and finally through the elementary school.

Emily completed 6th grade at The Cottage School, transferred to a public school in 7th grade, and was able to easily adjust to a different system of education. Not only is she thriving academically, testing above her grade level in reading, she is also very helpful with her classmates and has begun tutoring younger students. She comes back to visit The Cottage School often and during her last visit,  we asked her to tell us a bit about her experiences transitioning to a public school setting after leaving The Cottage School.

During this impromptu interview, Emily talks here about her experience tutoring other students, how she easily made friends when she changed schools, her experience transitioning to a test taking education model and how she is passionate about her studies, especially math!  She also discusses how The Cottage School helped to foster her creativity and how it is apparent in her current school work. 

As a bilingual student, whose home language is Spanish, she was able to speak up for other students who were not fluent in English when they couldn’t understand why they were being teased. 

For parents that have questions about how the children develop in a small alternative school setting and transition later on, this is a great way to hear first hand from a Cottage School student!

We asked her to write a bit about her experiences here at The Cottage School and she gave us permission to share here.

Here’s what she had to say:

“The Cottage School is wonderful and I had an amazing learning experience there. At The Cottage School, you experience this whole other dimension of creativity that no other schools have. I ,for one, have experienced this and I have done things that I thought were impossible to do. With the help of amazing teachers and the bolster they gave me and the wonderful creativity of the school, I was able to write a play.  Then, with the help of my classmates and teachers, we made the play come to life.

I also learned during the years that I was at the school, that creativity has no limit and if you have the proper tools and imagination, you can create anything. During these years, I watched how our classmates helped each other out and how we cared for one another.

This school has taught me to never let anything stop me from being creative and to care for others and to have a fun learning experience.

Thank you, The Cottage School, for letting me be in a amazing place of creativity and fun learning.  This is a school that I will never forget being in and experiencing the fun I had every day.” – Emily Vasconez , 13yrs old

You can listen to the whole interview on the right.

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