Playgroup, Preschool, Young K, K-8th Grades
Nurtures cooperation
Embraces multiculturalism
Instills a life-long passion for learning
Fosters creativity and innovative thinking

Mission Statement

The Cottage School is a multicultural non-sectarian, non-selective independent 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.

Our School

The Cottage School teaches children ages 2 through 14, with its unique, well-established education program. The school answers the communities’ calls for a creative, academically outstanding, and affordable alternative to existing private and public schools in Somerset, Hunterdon, and Morris counties.

Our programs integrate traditional subject areas of fine arts, foreign languages, literature, social studies, mathematics, physical education, and the natural world in a cooperative, not competitive, environment. Folktales, rounds, and traditional songs are part of our daily activities. It is academics and art in daily communion.

Children have the opportunity in the morning for uninterrupted free play. They are encouraged to begin their play by simple suggestions from their teachers. They develop their imaginations by building and creating environments, using silks, wool, wooden play structures, handmade dolls, and blocks.

The Cottage School develops a love of learning, free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery at a pace that accompanies the students. The teachers respect and feed the child's innate sense of curiosity, fostering a life-long passion for learning.  Children naturally seek information and our school honors children's natural abilities to "learn from the whole.” We immerse the students in the subject of study (not just the foreign languages), allowing the children to process large quantities of interrelated information to interpret, solve, and construct conclusions on their own.

The children are not taught in the scholastic sense we usually attach to the word, but induced by the presentation of suitable material and relevant experiences to discover things for themselves.1

The Cottage School designs its own curriculum and play-based teaching materials, integrating arts, and academics in all the traditional subjects. It uses developmentally appropriate activities to teach without traditional tests, grades, or textbooks. Textbooks can provide facts but are oftentimes shallow, outdated, or one-sided, lacking perspective and varied viewpoints. The teachers create a flexible and dynamic interaction generated by a teacher–student-centered class time.



Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on
Why are children playing? Answer from Peter Gray
Please take a moment (20 minutes) to watch this video which is very revealing and in tune with The Cottage Schools. Ken Robinson has also recently done another talk in TED that you can find on the Internet, and has published a book called "The Element" that I encourage everyone to read. - Laura Soulages, Founder

Let the Children Play, It's Good for Them! - Alison Gopnik Smithsonian Magazine

"If you want your child to succeed in college, the play-based curriculum is the way to go." - Erika Christakis and Nicholas Christakis, Special to CNN

"Benefits of second language learning not only on student's linguistic abilities but on their cognitive and creative abilities as well" - Duke TIP

"The Arts in Education" - Laura Soulages

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

"Intro Pedagooogia 3000"

"The School of Life"

"Semblanza de una experiencia educativa"



The Cottage School was founded by the school’s director, Laura Soulages, an educator for the past 20 years, whose experience ranges from early childhood to college level. Ms. Soulages has taught in Argentina and New Jersey, where in 2002, she began her vision for the school in the form of The Cottage School to provide an education for children 2½ to 6 years old. That vision included that one day the school would extend the offer of alternative education to the elementary and, eventually, higher grades. “The expansion of the school through 8th grade is the continuation of my life-long mission to guide children to develop and keep alive a desire of learning that will, in turn, last them a lifetime.” says Laura Soulages.

“At The Cottage Schools, teachers are committed to doing research and studying from original material, thus inspiring students to do the same and go deeper in knowledge. Great importance is placed on the learning process to develop patterns of learning, free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery. When adults are too concentrated on results, children and teachers alike lose the joy of learning and teaching,” says Laura Soulages regarding the school’s emphasis on learning in a play and discovery-based environment. 2

The Cottage School is based on Soulages’s education received at home, as well as two decades of experience as a teacher and the training received at the Argentinean teachers college known as Instituto Superior Roberto Themis Speroni, of which Ms. Soulages is a graduate. This Institute offers training in education with an emphasis on experiential learning and on the creative experience in all the fields of art. The formal origins of this Institute were established approximately 50 years ago in Argentina by Dorothy Ling, a respected expert on music and education.

I became acquainted with Dorothy Ling and her remarkable work . . . during my tenure as Dean of the Yale School of Music, and I was immediately impressed . . . by her extraordinary insights into the power of the arts in the educational process . . . . [Her] life and work are based on the belief that the arts—all of the arts—inform all of school life, and that they are not to be treated as separate subjects. She believes that the purpose of artistic experience is to keep open or reopen the doors of perception. 3

The Argentinean Department of Education now sponsors 26 schools based on “the remarkable influence . . . of Dorothy’s work and that of her colleagues. . . .”4 That number continues to grow. Thousands of confident and competent college-bound students have graduated. Those graduates can be found around the globe in professional careers in medicine, business, education, the arts and beyond. However, “the numbers are not the results, only what happens in each child and in the teacher.”5

Born and raised in South America, Ms. Soulages grew up with a rich diversity of cultures and was influenced by the European traditions handed down by her grandparents, who were from Spain and France. Her parents, both scientists and artists, showed Laura the importance and pleasures of a good education, and this joy of learning is an important aspect of The Cottage School’s philosophy.  “I grew up in a house that had a chemistry laboratory in one room and, in the other rooms, books, a piano, paints, papers, and paintbrushes,” says Soulages. “Music and dance were part of our family life as well… I was nurtured from an environment where the academics/science and the arts were truly in a daily communion.”6

1Philip Nelson, Director of the Aspen Institute, from the Introduction to Dorothy Ling, The Original Art of Music.(Lanham, MD: Aspen Institute and University Press of America, 1989) p. vii.
2 Black River Journal. "The Joy of Learning,"2009.
3 Philip Nelson, Ibid.
4 Philip Nelson, Ibid.
5 Philip Nelson, Director of the Aspen Institute, Op. cit., p. viii.
6 Black River Journal. "The Joy of Learning,"2009.

The Cottage School has a non-discriminatory policy, accepts students on a year-round,
non-selective basis, and offers a Tuition/Work Exchange Program.
The Peapack Reformed Church offers a need based scholarship in Gladstone.
For more information please contact the school.


Thursday, May 3rd. 6:30-8:00pm
Workshop: Poetry Appreciation

Saturday, May 19th
15th Anniversary Gala - RSVP here

Thursday, May 24th. 9:45am
Play Dress Rehearsal

Friday, May 25th. 8:30-2:30pm
Snow Day Make Up: School Open

Wednesday, May 30th. 9:45am
Play Dress Rehearsal

Friday, June 1st. 9:45am
End of the Year School Play
performed by all groups


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