About us


Dear Parents,

Welcome to Cottage Enrichment! Welcome to a place where nurturing, encouragement, creativity, peace, diversity and learning are honored. This is truly a haven for young souls. It is not merely a place where one's children are dropped off to be supervised while one tends to one's day but a sanctuary where reverence for the world's beauty and wonder is encouraged in the form of play and learning.

The early childhood years determine how a child will embrace the complex world around them. Albert Einstein said the most important decision you will ever make is whether you live in a friendly universe or a hostile universe.

Therefore, when considering a school we must ask ourselves these questions: What is the atmosphere like where I leave my child during most of her waking hours? If I were to walk into his school blindfolded would I feel love and acceptance? How was my child's imagination triggered today? Do I feel safe leaving my child's heart with this teacher? Will he be truly seen and heard and inspired? Will what she learns be relevant and in harmony with my child's nature and needs? What does my child's teacher see when she looks at my child?

By nature children are adept imitators. They cannot help but imitate the actions of those around them. Cottage Enrichment provides an environment where the actions and words of the teacher are worthy of emulation.


The Teacher

Cottage Enrichment believes that the teacher is a guide to a world of unlimited possibilities. She holds the door open and humbly observes as the children come in eager and ready to discover. As a teacher, she provides rich and imaginative play by balancing practical, artistic and academic education into a carefully designed curriculum. She acknowledges the child's need for a sense of truth in learning, a quest for imagination and creation, and a feeling of responsibility. In loving guidance, she provides a warm and joyful sanctuary for the unfolding and growth of each child as they develop their unlimited capacity for knowledge, soul recognition and strength of will and courage.

The School

Cottage Enrichment balances the academic, emotional, and spiritual needs of your child's development through play.  We believe that no concepts are too complex for children to understand if they are in harmony with the child's nature and meet the child's needs. Thus, Sign Language, Violin, Mathematical Concepts, Botany, Spanish and Yoga are integrated with play.

castle

Our activities will include singing good morning songs, painting, coloring, baking, modeling with clay, and finger crocheting. We will talk of heroes, take nature walks, and listen to fairy tales and multicultural folk tales. Special crafts will be designed to celebrate the seasons. We will enjoy puppet shows and acting out stories. We will be heroes and adventurers!

Cottage Enrichment will talk of peace and resolutions, and provide skills to hone communication and social skills. We have a peace table and we will provide the tools and words to use it. At this table conflicts are resolved, integrity is honored and friendships are forged. Cottage Enrichment believes in the goodness of people, the joy of learning and the importance of dreams. We take joy in exclaiming a resounding Yes! many times a day.

 

"It has been my experience that when children are loosened from judgments and are taught to be mindful of the greatness that they truly are and how that greatness is in each and every one of us, that then, in that atmosphere children are free to learn beyond our wildest expectations. "
- Sayde Henson/Director/Teacher

 

Ages Accepted:

Children ages 3 to 6 years

School Year:

September through July

Morning Arrival:

The school day begins promptly at 9:30 am.  In the morning, please feel free to let the teacher know if there is anything she should be aware of to help your child during the day.  Remember that the teacher is here for your child and you.  She is genuinely open to your concerns and questions.


Daily Schedule:

9:30 - 10:00 Circle Time
(Songs, Sharing, Spanish, Sign Language)
10:00 - 10:30 Free Play/ Morning Snack
10:30 -12:00 Monday - Projects/ Adventures/ Organic Gardening
  Tuesday - Nature Walk
  Wednesday - Zen Yoga Day
  Thursday - Suzuki Violin
  Friday - Swimming at Rose Bowl
12:00 - 12:30 Academics, Free Play
12:30 - 1:15 Organic Lunch (provided by parent)
1:15 - 1:30* Clean Up
1:30 - 2:00 Story Time/ Peaceful Meditation
2:00 - 3:00 Nap
3:00 - 3:10 Gentle Wake-up
3:10 - 3:30 (Mon-Thurs).
Afternoon Snack/ Music Class
*1:20 - 1:30 (Fri). Afternoon Snack/ Music Class (Friday dismissal at 1:30)
sandbox

Schedule Overview:

The beauty of a schedule is that it provides a canvas for the children and a starting point for the teacher. From that pith it develops according to the needs and desires of the individual child and group. The goal of a schedule is to support the imagination of the children and designate spaces of time for learning facts and concepts relevant to today's world, while building a strong sense of honesty, compassion, responsibility and respect for self and others.  Therefore, our schedule will continue to grow and develop organically. Cottage Enrichment honors this transformation.

 

Schedule Highlights:

Circle Time: To begin, children sit in a circle with legs crossed and sing rounds of our "love" song, "I love Lila, I love Lila, I love Lila, I love Lila...." (For Lila insert any child's name, then repeat until all children and teachers have been included). Children clap along, learning coordination, eye contact, rhythm, communication and loving. This grounds everyone. From this loving space, each child talks about their feelings and anything that may be going on in their lives (i.e. they got a new pet). Sign Language and Spanish songs are next. We end with the song "All You Need is Love" (Beatles).

Sign Language: This is introduced with a song during Circle Time. Basic signs are taught as well as finger spelling (later).

Academics: "Every Conversation is an Opportunity for Learning." - Sayde Henson For the preschoolers, it is a very organic process that happens during play. For example, during Free Play there may be a new letter "B" printed inside the castle on the chalkboard walls in the back garden and in the sandbox, items that begin with a "B" may be buried. During the teaching process, letters are called by their phonetic sound, not their name, making reading easier later on. While the pre-schoolers are having free play, the kindergarteners will be called to class for their "lessons." They will learn with paper and pencils, or chalkboard and chalk to sound out letters and words. Developmentally, reading tends to come before writing. At Cottage Enrichment, most of our four and a half year olds and five year olds are reading. Every child at the school also spends at least 15 minutes one-on-one with the teacher every day.

We also have a lot of different United States maps and puzzles where the children learn the relationship from a standpoint of where we are in California to the rest of the country and world. For example, if a child is going on a ski trip to Colorado, he may take a toy car and practice "driving" it across the map to the vacation spot, thus learning the relationship of the states and the state's characteristics. The teacher may talk about getting lobster in Maine and practice "driving" to Maine on the map.

Art: Every Monday new Art projects are introduced. These may include self-portraits, complex paintings, charcoal drawings, sculptures, and artwork utilizing organic and recycled materials, to name a few. However, in addition to the scheduled "projects, " all of the art supplies are available within the children's reach so they may do (and are encouraged to do) art at any time during the day which enables full expression and full responsibility. The children get their own art supplies, clean up, and put their art out to dry. Art is a part of every learning process.

"Art is not a class, it is an expression." - Sayde Henson/Director/Teacher

cardboard sculpture
   

Story Time: Our story time nap/meditation is a very special time at Cottage Enrichment. For this long anticipated event (from noon onwards children are often eagerly asking me, "is it nap time yet?" ) the room is set up as a cozy, warm, gentle, soothing environment. First, the children close their eyes and we settle into ourselves becoming aware of ourselves from the inside out. We thank our toes for balancing us today, our knees for helping us run, our eyes for the beauty they showed us, etc.. From this place of inner sanctuary, we imagine all of our family members giving us a big hug. Finally, we wrap our arms around ourselves and give ourselves a big hug, saying, "I love me." "To teach a child to love himself is the greatest gift of all." - Carole Johnston We are now ready for story time. And as Johnny so very well put it, "You have to close your eyes because how else would you see the pictures!" We have an ongoing series. For example, we just finished "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." But by far the favorite, and what they are all waiting for, are the made-up stories in which every child is a prince, princess or knight in shining armor. The stories are specific to the children's unique characteristics and interests. During the story time the children drift off to sleep.


Organic Gardening:

Our Organic Garden contains regional vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, sweet peas, lima beans, onions, artichokes, eggplant, and carrots. We were honored to be visited by a gentleman from the Getty Museum who helped us plan our garden. The children participate fully in every aspect of the garden from preparing the soil to planting and harvesting. Even in the winter months, we rake the leaves from the garden and plan our Spring harvest. The children learn about all of the seeds and plants. They can always pick a fresh organic treat from the garden.

Not only are the vegetables organic at Cottage Enrichment, but the learning process is too. The teachers use materials organic to the school. The seeds are used for counting, sorting, simple arithemetic, creating letters and art projects.

"Love always grew in my mother's garden" - unknown

Yoga: At Cottage Enrichment, we teach yoga to the children in the way that is most suitable for their individual developmental level. We follow the "Fly Like a Butterfly" format. In addition, Zen stories are taught with corresponding poses thus enabling the children to move into different yoga poses with fluidity and purpose. Finally, partner and group yoga poses are taught as a form of space relationship and cooperation.

Adventures: In addition to school-planned adventures, parents are invited to make recommendations of places they would like the children to visit. We have gone whale watching on the coast, hiking to waterfalls, and to the Getty Museum, Museum of Natural History, Puppet Theater, the Equestrian Center, the L.A. zoo, botanical gardens, Halloween Harvest, and the LA Fair, to name a few.

Nature Walks: We are so blessed to be tucked up in the midst of Elysian Park. Literally a five minute walk away are trails, horses, and a great opportunity to see the seasonal changes. Elysian Park is not a "park" in the developed park sense; it is a lovely natural area riddled with trails and rocks perfect for climbing with little hands and legs! This provides the best kind of outdoor exercise. All their little muscles are used as they climb dirt hills and push themselves safely, knowing the worst that will happen is they will slide down and start again. The children especially enjoy mud days!

Suzuki Violin: Like every learning method at Cottage Enrichment, the Suzuki Method of Violin training is an organic process. Unlike most violin methods that teach children through teaching sight reading first, Suzuki violin teaches children to play by ear first. Finger games (i.e learning to move the fingers emulating a spider walking) are used to help teach the proper finger positioning. For bow execution, rhythms are practiced holding the bow perpendicular and moving it up and down while verbalizing the beats (i.e.Pepp-er-oni-pizza).

Swimming: Once a week the children go to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center for swimming lessons. Classes are divided according to swim ability and generally have an instructor to student ratio of 1:5. ($13 per week swim fee applies - see Admissions Process).

Guest Visits: Cottage Enrichment periodically has guests. We have had a doctor visit us, a lizard/animal man (from Lizard Boys Mobile Zoo), an author, an artist, a musician, a friend introduced Chanukah to the children, a policeman and policewoman, a fireman, a dentist, and a bicycle shop owner who taught us bike safety, to name a few!


spider viist
snake visit

children's wisdom:

 

 



Lunch:

orange

 

Children should bring their lunch in reusable containers. One of our goals at Cottage Enrichment is to promote healthy eating habits. To achieve this, please pack wholesome lunches for your child (no soda or sugar products). Cottage Enrichment will provide organic snacks for our snack breaks. We also believe in the concept of grazing. Children get hungry and thirsty at different times during the day. We acknowledge this by teaching the children where and how to get water, juice and organic snacks (dried fruit, raisins etc.) for themselves. This action teaches children self- reliance as well as the natural flow and rhythm of their own body. When children learn to listen to their body's needs they are less likely to develop eating disorders later in life.

 

 

"The fundamental thread throughout education must be loving kindness. This provides a strength of heart."
- Sayde Henson/Director/Teacher

 

Clothing:

As we all know the weather in California provides us with cool mornings and hot afternoons in the Fall and Spring.  Winter can be cool, warm or rainy!  We intend to go outside everyday; therefore it is important that your child comes prepared for the changes in weather.  It is best if your child dresses in layers, in natural fibers if possible. We welcome free expression, children may dress anyway they feel as long as they are protected and warm or cool as the weather determines.

 

Dismissal:

Monday thru Thursday dismissal is at 3:30. Friday dismissal is at 1:30.  Please arrive in time to receive your child.  It gives your child a wonderful, secure feeling when you arrive on time at the end of the day.  The front walkway is the designated area for parents to pick up their children.  Feel free to use this area to socialize with other parents.  There will also be a bulletin board in this area for parents to leave messages, upcoming events, etc. Parents of children not picked up by 3:45 Monday thru Thursday and/or 1:45 on Friday will be charged an additional fee.

"Friends... they cherish each other's hopes,
they are kind to each other's dreams."
- Henry David Thoreau

 

When to stay at home:

A child who is not feeling well cannot participate in school in a meaningful way.  She/he feels out of sync and needs the loving care of home.  It is time to stay home if:

 

Birthday celebrations:

On your child's birthday, a celebration will be held in honor of your child, to which you are expressly invited. We will ask you to bring a sugar-free treat for the class in celebration of your child's birthday.

 

Conferences:

Conferences are held in early June. That said, the teacher is always available for any concerns that parents might have and is genuinely grateful to hear immediately of significant changes in the child's life.

Sayde Faith Henson

Director/Founder/Teacher

Sayde Faith Henson is a born educator and child advocate.  She played teacher as a child when all of her friends were playing house.   Sayde's greatest pride and love of her life is her family.  She raised three magnificent sons that she hopes to emulate when she grows up!  She is equally blessed with three beautiful daughters-in-law (she fondly refers to as her daughters-in-love) and four enchanting grandchildren.  Sayde's dream has always been to have her own school and to initiate the social change needed to accompany a positive change in education.

Sayde has her B.A. in Independent School Development and received her M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.  She is currently working on her credentialing as a Family Therapist.  Sayde has taught in many private schools ranging from traditional Catholic schools to Waldorf. Sayde is working on developing inner-city charter elementary schools that "take back neighborhoods one block at a time by creating community-built, green/sustainable schools". Off and on during the years, Sayde home-schooled her own sons who went on to attend major universities.  She taught English in South Korea and most recently taught multiple subjects in Africa. 

While in Africa, Ms. Henson did extensive work with the street children of Nairobi and worked on the weekends in a home for orphans with AIDS.  Sayde's goal in Africa was to find sister schools for her inner city Charter schools and Cottage Enrichment while acquiring knowledge on the effects of poverty in education.  This accomplished, Ms. Henson returned to the States and successfully co-developed and opened a Literacy Family Center in Ohio.  Sayde is writing a book, Teaching Outside of Fear, based on an educational and social theory she has developed addressing the child's true nature of fair play and Spiritualism in education. Sayde also created an educational infrastructure based on peaceful resolution for the children of Knitting Peace in Bolivia. Sayde ran her first Los Angeles Marathon in 2009. She raised money for AIDS.

"With love, kindness and passion Sayde encourages fun... She teaches the kids to explore, create and dream, and gives them the tools to create those dreams." - T. Spencer, Attwater, CA