Cottage School by: Jen Scott

March 25, 2014LaBreeska Ingles

I asked my brilliant friend to write about her Cottage School for my blog. I know that many of my local friends are praying about how to educate their children in our small town. Before Jen Scott, I did not know that this Cottage School option existed. I think you will be inspired by this style of education, whether you are a public school teacher or a homeschool mom.

A New Model

As both a mother and a teacher I intentionally research new trends in education. I love looking for creative methods and models to bring creativity and life to students as well as my own children. Several years ago, I became aware of a model of education called the Cottage School. It is a blend of homeschool freedom and private school structure. Think: one room schoolhouse in a community of actively engaged families.

In its most simple form a Cottage School is families coming together to hire a teacher for the basic disciplines (someone with a gift of teaching, not just a college degree. Someone gifted to break down complex concepts for various levels and learners). This is different from a co-op where a group of mothers teach a variety of subjects/electives one or two days a week. In a Cottage School, children have the giftedness of a teacher at least 3 days a week while the other two days are spent at home working with the parents.

There is no question that children are given to parents by God for the purpose of raising them in the way they should go. A gifted teacher has the ability to awaken the learner and aligns the child with the pathway in which they learn. This also has the potential to awaken the learner in children with special needs. This powerful connection between a Cottage School and the family opens the child to the meaningful reality that life is learning; to stop learning is to stop growing. In the Cottage School the role of the parent is honored. There is no classroom discipline plan because parents take their place as Principal for their own child. This empowers the teacher to just teach and the parent to fully parent. 

The Challenge

Two years ago I took the challenge to begin my own cottage school. I spoke with a number of families within our community to gage interest and jumped in. It has been an exciting ride as we have explored the capacity of empowered parents and teachers working together.

A day in the life of my school changes as I shift to meet differing needs of students but it does follow a basic format.

I begin the day praying blessings over the students to function in the classroom from the position of the spirit. Learning is not just a function of the mind, it is also a function of the Spirit. Because I am teaching to a wide age and ability range, I approach the subjects with different intentionalities. It is similar to feeding someone naturally. For older students I can hand them the meal and utensils and some guidelines for how to use the fork and knife. For younger children I will precut the food into smaller bite sizes so it is easier for them to eat. That means being available for a large amount of interaction during the subject and providing feedback for the older students as needed.

Class is Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30-12:30. The parents are responsible for the rest. I start with Language Arts. We explore and interact with quality literature. That is the foundation for sentence structure and all forms of writing. From there we move to Math which is approached as a lab setting. We work in small groups and learn the language of numbers together versus one child and their math book. I use both real world experience and literature to show the usefulness of math in life.

History is a subject that can easily be taught to a wide range simultaneously. I teach history through stories. I choose a time period at the beginning of the school year and we explore it chronologically together. My goal is for students to enjoy interacting with the subject matter to inspire a love for learning.