What our families have to say about Cottage Enrichment
Sayde Faith Henson answered our prayers. We were looking for a place where our little person would be welcomed with open arms every day, a place where the learning came easily without pressure or repetition or worksheets. We were looking for a place where playing was learning and learning was play. We were looking for Cottage Enrichment, we just didn’t know such a place existed.
I found the booklet on the ledge at my local coffee shop and got a lump in my throat as I stood there reading the manifesto. My wife was in tears, when I offered it to her at home. “It’s gonna be full,” she sniffed. But, there was room, and all we had to do was meet with Sayde, and discuss the options. She had us at hello. Being at Cottage Enrichment has been one of those rare experiences in life that has actually made good on every promise that was made at the outset.
Not only is Sayde a natural born, lifetime educator, who allows the children to learn without realizing it’s happening, but she looks after their souls. She nurtures their sense of community and citizenship. Without guilt or blame, she encourages them to be better people, to their peers, to their community, to their planet and to themselves. The empathy and social responsibility our daughter feels was born at home, and found a voice at Sayde’s. We feel there is no division between our home and school. The message is consistent in both places; grow, love, learn. It’s most clearly summed up in this example I give people when speaking of this unique relationship. There is a moment in every day, when I pause to do familial inventory, and I get to my daughter and this amazing feeling always washes over me as I remember “Oh, that’s right, she’s with Sayde.” It’s truly, the next best thing to home.
-Gillian and Matt Chesse
It is difficult to talk about Cottage Enrichment without gushing to the point of making the school sound too good to be true.
When looking for a preschool for my son, I was trying to find a place that would facilitate his learning by offering experiences, an environment that would encourage his natural talents and interests by incorporating them into lesson curriculum and play, a place where his spirited activity would be embraced and channeled and handled a very real way, a place where he would feel secure, happy, nurtured. After my initial area pre-school investigative blitz, I began to feel like I would have to prioritize my wish list and make some concessions. Coincidently, and at the time it even seemed miraculous, I ran into an old acquaintance who recommended this little school in Echo Park.
After reading the school¹s brochure and then meeting Sayde Henson, the director and head teacher at Cottage Enrichment, I realized my original wish list for pre-school/kindergarten traits was grossly under-demanding. The experience my son, and by extension our family, has at the school is beyond my expectations. Time is not passed at this school. Every moment counts.
Learning happens from the second a child passes through the cottage gate under a trellis laden with flowering trumpet vines, past the vegetable and fruit garden, and up the red steps with gold glitter embedded and into the main room of the school, where Sayde is generally waiting to greet each child, every morning, with hugs and love and, well, light.
If it is difficult to attempt a description of the cottage without gushing, its downright impossible to describe Sayde without doing the same. My husband calls her “the toddler whisperer”. The Cottage and Sayde, to me are inextricable, because it is so obvious that Sayde puts every bit of her infectious and boundless energy into the school, the children, the families of the children. The coordination of field trips to museums, grocery stores, county fairs, and musical or theatrical productions; the guest artists/musicians/authors; the lessons on geography and sign language; the nature hikes; the lessons on reading and writing, math and science; the swimming and violin lessons; the yoga, gardening and community/ neighborhood walks-- these are all part of the Cottage Enrichment curriculum, but it is something, or rather someone, beyond even all that which makes the experience of the school so incredible: it is Sayde.
I find Sayde to be inspirational-- she is a woman who demands, without compromise, to see the greatness of each child- each person- in the most amazing, gentle and loving of ways. Sayde has given my son one of the most important gifts I know he will ever receive in founding her school and having him attend as a student. We are indebted.
The Cottage Enrichment has been nothing short of transformative for our son. The school is a sanctuary of love and learning. My son always tells me, “Dad, I can¹t wait to go to school.” Amazing.
We were very fortunate to discover Cottage Enrichment following an extensive search after moving here from Canada. Our four year old daughter was a little displaced and missed her old school and the little friends she had left behind. An open and loving welcome from Sayde and the wonderful children at the cottage was all that she need to feel safe and enthusiastic again. In fact she didn't want to leave at the end of the day for the first few weeks she attended. She was so happy to find this environment with these children to play and learn with, that she just couldn't get enough. Sayde guides them to approach one another from a place of love, not of fear. It sounds simple but it takes vigilance.
Sayde is determined about her philosophy. We've learned a lot from watching her. Our daughter now genuinely loves her "school family", and I know she is getting the attention and respect necessary to support her self-esteem and confidence. Her earnest and open spirit is being nurtured and most importantly - her heart is undoubtedly being looked after. I leave her in Sayde's world and I have no doubt she's in the best possible place a parent could ever hope for.
Cottage Enrichment is possibly the best place on earth for any child to bloom - When my daughter began there she was a typical three year old - within weeks her awareness of others and the world around her began growing in leaps and bounds. The school quickly became he extended family, a place where she has learned to help others, to share and care - as well as to learn and grow.
With love, kindness and passion Sayde encourages fun, but never at the expense of others. She teaches the kids to explore and create and dream, as gives them the tools to create those dreams.
Morgan is now almost five. She is reading and writing, speaking Spanish, performing in sign language, doing yoga, swimming, gardening and creating a multitude of daily art projects. She has wonderful experiences every day both within the school as well as magical visits to museums, musical events, and other school trips in the larger world. She has truly blossomed into a unique, creative and caring child. I am truly grateful for the wonderful job that Sayde has done.
Cottage Enrichment has been for our family a warm and loving safe haven for our daughter with introductions to new and exciting experiences in a magical setting unlike any other preschool I have visited in the Los Angeles area."