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

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

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

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


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

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!