Positive Discipline with Dr. Jason Rodker and Laura Soulages, April 1st and April 8th, 2019 - 9:30 -11:00 am

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Join us for Mondays on Education, A Positive Discipline workshop with Dr. Jason Rodker and The Cottage School’s Director, Laura Soulages, on April 1st, and April 8th, 9:30 - 11:00 am. These are both free workshops for adults and we encourage friends and parents to bring their friends!

We will be discussing distinguished licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor, educator, and mother of seven, Jane Nelsen’s book, “Positive Discipline.” In it, she tells us that “The key to positive discipline is not punishment, but mutual respect.”

An approach to discipline based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities, and teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults.

To RSVP, please sign up here.

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

Bullying in the Age of Technology Workshop, Monday, February 25th, 9:30-11:00 am

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Join us for our Mondays on Education: “Bullying in the Age of Technology” workshop led by Dr. Jason Rodker, a current Cottage School parent, Monday, February 25th, 9:30 - 11:00 am.

What is a parent's role when their child is the victim of bullying? What should a parent's role be when their child is the bully? How might we go about reducing the incidence and impact of bullying? Such questions become even more complicated in the highly technological and media saturated world in which our children live. In this workshop, we will discuss ways of helping children to deal with the interpersonal problems of bullying and victimization. Special focus will be given to some of the most common approaches to intervention, as well as possible new ways of addressing this issue.

Dr. Jason Rodker earned his undergraduate degree, as well as a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, from Rutgers University. During his training he worked in a therapeutic school for children and adolescents at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. While earning his doctorate in Child-Clinical/School Psychology at Pace University, he continued his training by working with adolescents and young adults dealing with anxiety and depression, adjustment to life transitions, gender and sexual identity issues, and relationship difficulties. During his internship and fellowship training at Youth Consultation Service, Dr. Rodker developed specialties in child and play therapy. He has worked with children of all ages and with a variety of presenting issues, including disruptive behaviors, mood dysregulation, adjustment difficulties, attachment issues, and trauma. As a certified school psychologist, Dr. Rodker has worked on Child Study Teams in traditional and alternative school environments. Dr. Rodker currently works in private practice with children, adolescents, and adults, working with individuals and families.

If you’re interested in attending this workshop, please RSVP here.

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.

Open House at The Cottage School - Wednesday, January, 16 2019 - 9 am - 11 am

We welcome friends and families to attend our Open House event, Wednesday January 16, 2019 from 9am - 11am!

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

Mondays on Education Free Workshop: The Power of Play, December 3rd, 9:30am-11:00am

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Monday, December 3rd from 9:30 to 11:00 am, The Cottage School will be hosting "Mondays on Education: The Power of Play," a free discussion led by Dr. Jason Rodker.

Play is fun. As adults we seek play as a respite from daily life stress. Adults generally think of play as a frivolous activity to engage in only if/when the more serious matters of the day are attended to. However, to children play is serious business and it is essential that they prioritize play each day. Play is the work of childhood. Children use play as a primary means of communicating, learning, and connecting. When adults support a child's natural inclination toward play, the child comes to know his/herself in a deep way. The self knowledge that results from this serves as a foundation for resilience and inner security throughout life. This workshop will emphasize how we as adults can utilize play to connect with our children in ways that promote optimal development.

Dr. Jason Rodker earned his undergraduate degree, as well as a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, from Rutgers University. During his training he worked in a therapeutic school for children and adolescents at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. While earning his doctorate in Child-Clinical/School Psychology at Pace University, he continued his training by working with adolescents and young adults dealing with anxiety and depression, adjustment to life transitions, gender and sexual identity issues, and relationship difficulties. During his internship and fellowship training at Youth Consultation Service, Dr. Rodker developed specialties in child and play therapy. He has worked with children of all ages and with a variety of presenting issues, including disruptive behaviors, mood dysregulation, adjustment difficulties, attachment issues, and trauma. As a certified school psychologist, Dr. Rodker has worked on Child Study Teams in traditional and alternative school environments. Dr. Rodker currently works in private practice with children, adolescents, and adults, working with individuals and families.

If you’re interested in attending this free workshop, please RSVP online, email liza@thecottageschool.net, or contact us directly 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

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 our 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 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. While the internet and other educational resources provide teachers with an endless supply of materials, at The Cottage School teachers receive a lot of joy from "doing it themselves" and, as a result, intrinsically motivate their students to be independent creators, as well!

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

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

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