Poetry Workshop – Thursday, April 13th 7pm – 8:30pm

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, April 13. No experience  is necessary and all are welcome!

Poetry enthusiasts and newbies alike 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 good or bad, interesting or boring, fun or tedious,  or that there there may be no way to determine the difference.

If you have a favorite poem, bring it to the class for reading and discussion. Poems written in English are preferred, but we will do the best we can with poems written in other languages.

This workshop is open to the public so feel free to bring a friend!

RSVP: juana@thecottageschool.net or (908) 719-9610

The Cottage School 2017 Folk Dancing Performance

This week,  we hosted our 13th annual Folk Dancing Performance.   Our long-standing folk dancing program positively influences student development and the desire to learn, and nurture their love for the school and sense of community. Students dance weekly, building stamina and learning new dances as the year progresses. Every April, the students in our Young Kindergarten and Elementary Programs are ready to perform for thirty minutes non-stop; parents and grand-parents join to dance afterwards. The performance makes them feel capable, confident, accomplished and most importantly, very happy. This is an experience that they will always remember.

We believe that physical arts are an essential aspect of education for the development of the whole child and for a healthy society. By incorporating folk dances in our programs, the students not only exercise, improve rhythm, coordination and balance, but they are also learning about traditional music and dances from around the world.

This year, students in our Young K, Kindergarten and Elementary Programs performed the following International Folk Dances.

  • Kadril – Russia
  • Deer – France
  • Camels – Israel
  • 7 Jumps – United States of America
  • Hey Yanana – North American Indians
  • Horses – Russia
  • Koryak – North Russia
  • Bamboo – International

They danced the following with parents and grandparents:

  • Irish Jig Medley
  • Nafarroa – Spain/Basque
  • Sri ram Jai ram – India

You can watch the performance below.

Multiage Classrooms at The Cottage School

Multiage Classrooms at The Cottage SchoolA wonderful and unique reality at The Cottage School is the opportunity for students to interact with children of a variety of ages. Though the children are separated into groups and explore different subjects independently, the beginning of the day always starts with everyone together in Morning Circle, lunch is eaten together and multiple opportunities for the children to interact with older and younger children are presented throughout the day.

We asked Toni Welsh, a Neuropsychologist at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, to compile some research on Multiage Classrooms.  Toni has experience working therapeutically with children in various clinical settings and schools. She is also the mother of two children who attend The Cottage School.

The Benefits of Multiage Classrooms – Toni Welsh

At The Cottage School , rather than being confined to a classroom with peers whose ages are only a few months apart, children are able to gain something from other children who may be a few months or a few years different in age. For example, it is not uncommon for a Kindergartener to be assisting a preschooler with putting on his shoes or for a child in elementary school to be organizing a game on the playground for the preschoolers and Kindergarteners.

Some people may fear that if an older child must assist a younger child, this will hold back the progress of the older child. The opposite, however, is true. Teaching helps a child more deeply understand a concept. She has to analyze and rearrange her own store of knowledge before she can pass it along to another person. Of course this process also builds empathy and nurturance, as well as confidence and feelings of competence, which are other wonderful effects of such an interaction.

The teachers are not excluded from this mixed age socialization either! They always sit amongst the children at their lunch tables and during circle time.  Through this interaction, students of varying ages and teachers exchange shared experiences that allow them to form stronger bonds together, which leads to secure attachment in their relationships. Howes and Ritchie (1999) found that teacher-student relationships predicted children’s social competence and children with secure teacher-student relationships played in more complex ways with their peers

Segregation of age in schools is a relatively recent phenomenon that runs counter to the pattern of schooling and raising children that existed prior to that time. Children and all young primates have historically used the context of mixed-age play to move from dependence on their mother to independence in adulthood. Through this play, the young learn social roles and nurturing skills leading to more harmony among members compared to same-age groups. Rhoades (1966) found that children in a nongraded elementary school chose friends from two years older to two years younger than themselves. Other research on multiage classrooms demonstrated that these students outperformed their peers, made more progress in self-concept, and were more altruistic and sociable than those in age-segregated classrooms (Bizman, 1978; Goldman, 1981; Hammack, 1974; Milburn, 1981). Socially, prosocial behavior has been connected with mixed-age classrooms. Fewer children typically experience social isolation and aggressive and negative behaviors are significantly reduced (McClellan and Kinsey, 1997).

Pepperdine professor and psychotherapist, Lou Cozolino, believes that incorporating an understanding of attachment theory and social neuroscience into our educational system is key. He proposed that relationships are imperative in improving academic performance and he discussed his idea of a “tribal classroom”. He stated that “a tribal classroom simulates an environment of collaboration, mutual support, and secure attachment.” In this type of environment, children at one end of the skill spectrum are able to learn from those at the other end. This is able to occur when ages are mixed. Everyone is able to feel as if they contribute and belong. Just like traditional tribes, both students and teachers sit in circles and each individual brings something to the table. Education is a part of life and occurs through the context of daily activity. A natural family-like environment is created, which is what the children, families, and teachers experience daily at The Cottage School. Ultimately, the brain is able to be stimulated in ways that enhance learning (Howes, 2014).

The more a classroom parallels the dynamics of natural social systems, the more that attachment relationships and the social structure of the group will optimize learning via neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new connections. The more the emotional climate of the classroom matches the characteristics of tribal life, the better students and teachers perform (Cozolino 2014).

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

References

Bizman, A., Yinon, Y., Mivitzari, E., & Shavit, R. (1978). Effects of the age structure of the kindergarten on altruistic behavior. Journal of School Psychology, 16, 154-160.

Cozolino, L. (2014). Attachment-based teaching: Creating a tribal classroom. New York: W. W.

Norton & Company.

Goldman, A. (1981). Social participation of preschool children in same versus mixed-age groups. Child Development, 52, 644-650.

Hammack, B.G. (1975). Self-concept: Evaluation of preschool children in single and multi-age  classroom settings. Dissertation Abstracts International, 35, 6572-6573.

Howes, R. (September 2014). The tribal classroom: Applying attachment theory in schools. An interview with Lou Cozolino, Psychology Networker. Retrieved on March 25, 2017 from https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/article/86/point-of-view.

Howes, C., & Ritchie, S. (1999). Attachment organizations in children with difficult life circumstances. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 251–268. doi:10.1017/S0954579499002047.

McClellan, D. E. & Kinsey, S. (April 1997). Children’s social behavior in relationship to participation in mixed-age or same-age classrooms. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC.

Milburn, D. (1981). A study of multi-age or family-grouped classrooms. Phi Delta Kappan, 62,513-514.

Rhoades, W.M. (1966). Erasing grade lines. The Elementary School Journal, 67, 140-145.

The Cottage School Alumni Profiles – Isabella and Tessa

The Cottage School elementary school Alumni ProfileWe are so proud that the children who attend The Cottage School transition well into other educational settings and look back fondly on their time at our school.

Twin sisters, Isabella and Tessa, attended The Cottage School through 6th grade. We asked each girl to write a bit about their experience. Here’s what they had to say.

Isabella 
Hi, my name is Isabella and I used to go to The Cottage School. My last year at The Cottage School was in 2015. I was in 6th grade with my twin sister Tessa, and my friend Emily.

The Cottage School prepared us well for the public school academically. When we first started at our new school, it seemed like we were far advanced compared to the rest of the class. We received good grades and made good friends at our new school.

I am now in 8th grade, and my teachers are getting me ready for high school. I’m glad I am now in a public school, but I think The Cottage School enabled and encouraged my creativity. It allowed me to learn better than any other school would have. 

Tessa 
Hello, my name is Tessa and I am a twin who went to The Cottage School from preschool through sixth grade. I went there for a long time and learned a lot and did many plays with the school.

I think that going to The Cottage School helped me in terms of my grades. I am a honor roll student who gets A-’s, A’s, and A+’s. The Cottage School taught me how to study well, get my homework done faster, and prioritize my work better.

All the teachers at my new school love me. I think it is how The Cottage school taught me, I have been a kind and enthusiastic student that has always been on top of her work.

What did you like about The Cottage School?

I like that we didn’t have very much homework so that we could do a good job on the homework that we did get and that we could do some other stuff and not do as much homework. – Tessa

How did The Cottage School help you to do well at your current school?

The Cottage School helped me do well in school academically. – Isabella

The Cottage School helped me because they taught us well and if there was something that we didn’t get, then we could go to the teacher and she would help us and focus on that for the day. Also, we did all of the homework and there was not as much stress to get things right. – Tessa

3- What’s the best memory of TCS you have?

Making great friends. – Isabella

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

A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students – Thursday, March 23rd 7:30pm-9:00pm

New Jersey Private School This Thursday evening we’ll be hosting “A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students.”

Come back to school to catch a glimpse of what the children here do, including opening circle (which includes story time, songs and rounds​), math, language arts, and Spanish class.

We have so many unique teaching tools here at the school and this is your opportunity to experience them  hands-on.

This event is great for current Cottage School parents to come see what their children are up to as well as families who are considering the school to gain a better understanding of our teaching methods and atmosphere .

Bring slippers if you want to get the full experience.

A Day in the Life of The Cottage School Students  – Thursday, March 23rd 7:30pm-9:00pm

RSVP: cottageguglielmino@gmail.com or 908-719-9610

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

Mondays on Education – Positive Discipline – March 20th 9:30am-10:30am (recording below)

Once a month, The Cottage School hosts Mondays on Education. It’s an opportunity for the parents of children who attend the school as well as members of the community to come together and discuss important topics on education.

This month we will be discussing distinguished psychologist, 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.

 For those of you who missed this , you can view a recording of our discussion below. 

In addition, you can view the powerpoint that we referenced here.

And a useful Mistaken Goals Chart here.

You can see a short video clip of Jane Nelsen here, where she explains the Five Criteria for Positive Discipline.

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

Weaving at The Cottage School 

Weaving at The Cottage School in Gladstone, New Jersey

One of our unique teaching tools here at The Cottage School is our weaving looms. 

About fifteen years ago, at the early stage of the school, Laura, the founder of The Cottage School’s, brother Jose was visiting from Oklahoma, and made our very first Cottage School Start Looms. Even though Jose is not a carpenter (he is actually a scientist), he was able to assemble them in a short period of time with a staple gun and big nails to hold the yarn. Laura says, “If Jose made them, anyone can make them!” 

The art of weaving is not only rewarding to the soul, but it is also educational. As early as the New Stone Age, people have been weaving fibers from the flax plant to make clothing. Weaving at The Cottage School starts as early as four years old. We offer these young students the opportunity to weave and only expect them to do “their best” (as with any other activity we do at the school).Neurological research shows that mobility and dexterity in the fine motor muscles, especially in the hand, stimulates cellular development in the brain, and so strengthens thinking.

Though there are looms that are sold commercially, they don’t usually hold the warp as well, making the activity a little bit frustrating for young children. (Warp is the yarn wound onto the loom in preparation for weaving.)  The big nails on The Cottage School Start Looms, allow the activity to be less frustrating by holding the warp very well.

If you have the time and some simple materials, (Some wood, big nails, and a staple gun), building your child a loom instead of buying it can be fun, diminishes consumerism and helps children understand that things can be made. 

We make weaving even simpler for beginners by letting the children use their fingers! Holding the Weft (yarn or fabric strips) with their fingers, they move it over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

The simpler the setup the more involvement children will experience and the more rewarding the activity will be!

Once the students have used these Cottage School Start Looms for one or two years, they move to a regular lap loom and later on to a vertical loom. 

Weaving builds self-esteem and brings joy to children and adults alike. 

DIY Cottage School Start Loom  (pictured on right)

Weaving at The Cottage School

Materials

Directions To build the Loom

  • Cut dowel into 2 pieces measuring 11 inches and 2 pieces measuring 8 inches
  • Create a rectangle frame with cut pieces and attach with wood glue
  • reenforce with a staple gun, two staples in each corner
  • evenly space 7 nails on either of the short sides and hammer into place

Preparing the Loom

  • Using your warp yarn, start by creating a slip knot looping it over an end nail
  • weave the string back and forth zigzagging from side to side
  • tie off the string at the last screw

  • Your child can now begin using their fingers to weave colored yarn or fabric strips over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

Enjoy!

To learn more visit www.thecottageschools.net

Photography is this post by Anne Katherine Photography

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School

The Cottage School Open House – Wednesday, March 8th from 9am -11am

Once a month, we host an Open House at The Cottage School. Our next Open House is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8th from 9am-11am.

This is a wonderful opportunity for current parents, family members and those of you who are interested in seeing what The Cottage School is all about, to come see the school in action.

You’re invited to our opening morning circle where we sing rounds, tell stories and begin our daily lessons. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet the teachers and ask questions about The Cottage School.

This is a great opportunity to see first hand  how activities at The Cottage School  are presented free of pressure and sustained by the spirit of play.

RSVP by emailing cottageguglielmino@gmail.com

To learn more about The Cottage School visit  www.thecottageschools.net

The Cottage School 2017 Summer Program

We are pleased to announce The Cottage School 2017 Summer Program schedule.  Throughout the month of June, we will be offering three separate language and art immersion sessions for children ages 2 yrs -14yrs. 

Week I (Tuesday, June 6 to Friday, June 9)  : Costa Rica (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Week II (Tuesday, June 13 to Friday, June 16)  : Argentina (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Week III  (Tuesday, June 20 to Friday, June 23) : Peru (Spanish/Art Immersion)

Starting at 9:30am and ending at 12:30 pm, each day will be divided into two parts :  1 hr. 30 min for Spanish language immersion, where children learn about the country of study: its geography, people, traditions, food, music, and dances, and 1 hr. 30 min. for art, inspired by that particular country.

The children will be immersed in Spanish 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.

In addition to our Spanish and Art Immersion Program, we will be offering an optional Children’s Zumba class daily from 8:45am – 9:30am and an optional Spanish Language Enrichment Class from 12:30pm-2:00pm.  

We’re looking forward to a wonderful summer season at The Cottage School and we hope you will join us! 

You can download our registration form HERE. 

For questions and for more information, email us at cottageguglielmino@gmail.com.

The Cottage Elementary School Informational Meeting – Thursday, February 16th at 9:30 am

Elementary students at The Cottage School work on painting scenery for the end of the year school play.

We will be hosting a discussion on Thursday, February 16th at 9:30am for parents who are curious about The Cottage School elementary program.

Update:  Below is a live recording of our discussion for those that weren’t able to attend.

Our elementary school teaches children ages 5 through 14, with its unique, well-rounded academic program integrating traditional subject areas of language arts, literature, foreign languages, mathematics, natural sciences, world  studies, physical education and the fine arts, in a cooperative- not competitive environment.

Using the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards as its foundation, The Cottage School has developed its own curriculum and materials to exceed expectations on many levels.

The students gain knowledge and understanding using an interdisciplinary approach, where they explore these concepts both in real-world contexts in the social and natural sciences, as well as through original literature from around the world (prose and poetry), visual art, music, dance and drama. The emphasis is on the joy of discovery and creative thinking while learning, rather than on the recitation of isolated facts.

Andrea Fillippone, whose daughters stayed at The Cottage School through 6th grade, will be attending so that she may offer her thoughts and experiences in keeping her daughters through elementary school.

Toni Welsh, who has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Seton Hall University,  will be discussing the benefits of small multiage classes on socialization and building meaningful relationships at school. The depth of relationships formed in this setting has positive implications, not only for children’s sense of belonging, but also for their classroom performance. She will be presenting research in this area and its application to The Cottage School will be discussed.

Toni Welsh is a Licensed Psychologist and works as a Neuropsychologist at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. She has experience working therapeutically with children in various clinical settings and schools.