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.

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

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

Rhythmic Writing at The Cottage School

Children Quietly Practicing their Rhythmic Writing

One of our unique teaching tools here at The Cottage School in Gladstone, New Jersey is Rhythmic Writing.  Developed in Argentina by Dorothy Ling, a respected expert on music and education, Rhythmic Writing uses music and form drawing to develop handwriting, hand-eye coordination, concentration, a sense of space, directionality, and focus. 

Following the rhythm of music, the children start by drawing patterns with straight or curved lines which, as the year goes on, become more complex. Through Rhythmic Writing, children experience writing with their bodies, not just with their intellect, understanding how individual parts of their scribble relate to the whole.  This activity puts order to their whole being, transforming scribbles into forms.

After a year or two of working on the blackboard, children start doing Rhythmic Writing on the blank pages in their books which eventually helps learning cursive handwriting to come naturally.

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

Children Rhythmic Writing in their books at The Cottage School in Sommerset County, New Jersey