programs

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.

 

Classes

Language Arts
The Cottage School emphasizes comprehension, with the belief that students acquire decoding skills and vocabulary best while enjoying authentic literature from many cultures. Literacy skills underpin learning in other subject areas and, therefore, the learning of reading goes together with comprehension as an essential tool for life learning. The students engage in diverse forms of writing for a variety of audiences and exercise writing through rhythmic writing and calligraphy. Oral language (speaking) is an integral part of the Language Arts program at The Cottage School. Students are encouraged to share and express ideas, through presentations (special classes), and reciting for a variety of audiences. Furthermore, students have ample opportunity to engage in listening to authentic literature (prose, poetry, and song) and presentations of fellow students. Students tell stories, recite poems and verses out loud, read classic literature, and use library and internet resources.

Rhythmic Writing
Dorothy Ling was a musician and one of Laura Soulages’ professors during her teaching training in Argentina. Ms. Ling created a musical approach to writing that helps develop many skills. The children start by drawing patterns on the blackboard while following the rhythm of the music. They draw patterns with straight or curved lines which, as the year goes on, become more complex. After a year or two of working on the blackboard, children start doing rhythmic writing on the blank pages in their books. Students develop handwriting, hand-eye coordination (they copy an example that the teacher draws on the blackboard), concentration, a sense of space (left-right and top-bottom) and focus. This activity puts order to their whole being transforming scribbles into forms. Children experience writing with their bodies, not just with the intellect, understanding how individual parts of their scribble relate to the whole.

Individualized Reading Programs
Individualized reading programs use a wide range of reading materials to the reading geared to the unique aptitude, achievement, interests, and abilities of each student. The program takes into account each child’s progress in skills, attitudes, and interests. The program is based on meaning and comprehension.

The goal is to assist children in becoming independent, fluent readers through a teaching process that supports a student’s selection and application of effective reading strategies. The teacher helps strengthen the child’s proprioceptive system by offering daily activities such as sweeping with the broom. These activities help the child be aware of his or her body and then sit still for reading and writing activities.

Students’ needs are determined by keeping records of their oral reading, decoding, and comprehension skills.

  • The Program
  • The teacher focuses on each student’s strengths, not deficits.
  • Students learn strategies that help them become independent readers.
  • Students learn to read by composing and writing their own messages and stories.
  • Students read their own writing and the writing of fellow students.
  • Students use context to help identify words.
  • Students read and sing traditional songs and poems.
  • Students are taught reading strategies that they apply to connected text. If necessary, spelling patterns, pictures, word configuration, and conventions in print will be used.
  • Students acquire vocabulary through exposure to a rich variety of quality literature.
  • Students participate in theatrical activities. 
  • Successful readers have three things in common:
  • 1. A parent, grandparents, or other adult read to the child on a regular basis.
  • 2. Favorite books were read over and over again until the child began to read along.
  • 3. As favorite books were shared again and again, the child began to develop independent reading skills.

Foreign Languages
Foreign Languages are learned by singing folk songs, play-acting, traditional games, reading aloud (original prose, poetry, and folktale) and speaking to the children as a mother would at home. This natural approach helps the students to also master other foreign languages later in life.

  • Activities
  • Writing and drawing in blank books.
  • Reading original prose and poetry.
  • Singing traditional songs
  • Playing traditional games
  • Playacting

Mathematics
Mathematics is taught in real-life contexts, with emphasis on problem solving, as well as throughout history and among various cultures of the world.

Arithmetic: Students develop number sense and perform arithmetical operations and estimation with hands-on methods. They master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with whole numbers, as well as common fractions and decimals, mentally and with pencil and paper. Movement exercises that help imprint math operations kinesthetically through stamping, clapping and tossing bean bags back and forth in patterns continue to be offered through the elementary school years.

Geometry: After a solid geometry foundation during the early child-hood years at The Cottage School, manipulating blocks, shapes, doing puzzles origami and rhythmic writing, folk-dancing and experiencing the visual arts, the students move into a more abstract work, having acquired the necessary spatial skills for understanding. During the elementary years, the students explore the geometric properties of two- and three-dimensional figures and use everyday units of measure to solve problems involving length, area, volume and weight. Numerical and geometric patterns of various types will be explored in various contexts. Origami, tangrams, chess and the like are offered.

Probability:  Students collect and chart data in multiple subject areas to explore probability.

Natural Sciences and World Studies
The teachers sustain a permanent attitude of “discovery” and creative thinking during the class. Great importance is placed on the quality of materials. The school borrows artifacts and images from the Morris Museum.

  • Activities
  • Hands-On experiments
  • Gardening
  • Reading chronicles and legends
  • Writing and drawing in blank books
  • Introduction to map drawing
  • Special Classes (see section below)

  • Contents World Studies
  • Geography Features
  • Countries
  • Cultures
  • Weather & Seasons
  • Environment

  • Contents Natural Sciences
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Universe

Special Classes 
Students have the opportunity to present their own special class to the group each semester. This is an opportunity for each child to research, study, draw and present information about nature, sciences or world studies to the class. By preparing their special classes children learn about the subject itself and also learn how to research, study and create an oral presentation Although some help from the parents is needed for research and reading, children make their own illustrations to show and explain. They also show books with photos and discuss their contents with the class.

Japanese Calligraphy
Calligraphy enables the students to focus on using mental concentration, breathing and posture to feel the flow of the brush. The children enjoy experiencing with different brushes (softness hardmess and length) and inks to express the chosen theme in their own individual way.

The Arts
The teachers accompany the process with the purpose of developing an artistic attitude in the students. Children create their own works of art.

  • Activities
  • Painting with watercolors, tempera, oil pastels and acrylics
  • Drawing  with color pencils and markers
  • Felting
  • Sewing
  • Weaving
  • Finger knitting
  • Modeling

Music

  • Activities
  • Daily singing of traditional songs
  • Listening to classical music.
  • Introduction to recorder

Physical Education

  • Activities
  • Traditional games- Outdoor play
  • Traditional dances
  • Yoga