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Experiences sending children to cottage school needed

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    Experiences sending children to cottage school needed

    Hello, I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this question. I am not starting my own cottage school, so I did not think that forum was appropriate.

    I am considering sending my son, who has just turned 6, to a new MP Cottage school in our area. The people running it are veteran homeschoolers and have run a co-op/homeschooling assistance academy for 10+ years, but this is their first year as a cottage school. They are doing a one day per week cottage school for grades K-2. He will be going into first grade.

    I have two questions. The first is that I am wondering about the practical aspects of one day per week cottage school. Can anyone who has children doing this program give me a look into their week and what/when their child does their work at home very specifically on the other four days?

    My other question: My son is about to turn 6. He reads at about a second to third grade level, but has some phonics holes, so I am not concerned about his reading level. However, his writing is very far behind. He just started using a non-fist pencil grip a few weeks ago, and is writing is still rather large and labor intensive. I looked at the core MP materials and they seem VERY heavy on writing. He is absolutely not ready for cursive. Is their room for differentiation in the curriculum? I have also posed this question to the teachers at this school. I like to follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy on Education and believe in gentleness in the primary grades, so I do not want him to be discouraged if he is made to do a lot of writing that he is not ready to do yet.

    Thank you!

    Typically a cottage school will follow the Monday plans. You then do the following days, as scheduled in the curriculum guide, on the following days before next co-op. So, this may mean your 'monday' in the guide is actually on Wednesday because co-op meets on Wednesdays....does that make sense?

    A child about to turn 6 is not a first grader, he's a kindergartner. Now, his reading ability might be advanced. Great. I would consider his pencil grip average or maybe at most slightly delayed for his age. A kindergarten placement will ensure that they help him with his pencil grasp and writing stamina. It will also fill in phonics gaps (sounds like he intuitively taught himself to read young). Phonics skills are closely connected with spelling skills and these become more important than advanced reading ability as he gets older.

    One way to ease the writing requirements is to scribe for him as he builds up his ability. I would slowly increase his writing requirements. I remember allowing my reluctant writer to use small stamps on the math book pages (not number formation, but basic addition or 'before' and 'after' numbers). The small stamps forced my child to use their pincer grasp, strengthening their finger muscles and stamina, in a fun way.

    As a general caution...proper placement is huge, especially boys. As they get older, they tend to lag behind maturity wise from their peers. Being able to sit through lessons that are not developmentally appropriate for their age becomes a huge struggle. Studies show young for their grade students are more likely to be diagnosed with's just they can't sit still through lessons as their older peers can.

    Just food for thought. We want school to be positive. I wouldn't push him above a grade level. Let him flourish and be successful with kids his age.
    DS14- Simply Classical mash-up of Traditional Spelling 2 and SC 7/8
    DD12- Classic Core 6th Grade w/ First Form
    DD10- Classic Core 4th Grade w/ Greek Myths and American History

    We've completed:
    Classic Core Jr. kindergarten thru grade 5
    Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5/6


      Courtney has brought up such good points about boys and placement. We have seen it for ourselves with our about to be 16 year old. We have wrestled with what grade to call him at several points over the years - all of which really, truly did not matter until now - in high school, when we are looking at when to apply for college and whatnot. His abilities have always been there whatever “grade” we called him, but it’s the maturity level that has needed to catch up. In discussing it this summer, he actually asked if he could just be a sophomore so that he had more time before “life” started. We even tell our current about to be six year old that she is in K even though that’s not the work that she is doing.

      Looking at where you are now, I wouldn’t hesitate to have him be a K’er. If you decide on the cottage school, it would give him the appropriate work he needs at a confidence-building level. And then at home, you could do a bit more of what he is ready for, too. Anything you have purchased already will be ready to go for whenever he does get there, you know?

      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
      DS, 17
      DD, 15
      DD, 13
      DD, 11
      DD, 9
      DD, 7
      DS, 2


        Thanks for your help! I have no problem putting him in Kindergarten for developmental and social reasons. I am still trying to figure out how he is not going to be very bored or upset doing (weeks?) of the basics of learning to read, cvc words, etc. when he and I did this 1.5 years ago. I know that the writing part will be right on his level. Do you think the cottage school teachers would allow him to go ahead in his lessons if he is ready to do that? I will ask them.


          The writing aspect is what he needs to work on. He can do free reading at his level at home. Completing the writing portion of the reading program will be his main work. It will solidify the phonics and the spelling necessary for future courses.

          Your original post was that you were worried about the amount of writing required. Granted, you were looking at first grade writing, but still the kindie writing will be right at his sweet spot. It will be a challenge for him. Reading and writing are combined at this age. So, you can't move along in reading while working on lower level writing skills. What happens down the road is your child ends up repeating something. So, if he reads the second grade readers now...he will re-read them in order to complete the writing components in years to come.

          I would instead focus on completing kindie as written. Let him choose books at his reading level for independent reading, but wouldn't try to force him to choose books from MP lit because he will re-read them when he gets there grade-wise.
          DS14- Simply Classical mash-up of Traditional Spelling 2 and SC 7/8
          DD12- Classic Core 6th Grade w/ First Form
          DD10- Classic Core 4th Grade w/ Greek Myths and American History

          We've completed:
          Classic Core Jr. kindergarten thru grade 5
          Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5/6


            I would put him in kindergarten and wait and see if he is actually bored. It may be that the social stimulation of the classroom environment prevents that. He also will likely not be the only one in the classroom who already knows how to read, and he may enjoy seeing that some of the material comes easily to him, especially if the writing does not. Having had two of my boys need to “extend” a later grade over 2 years due to maturity issues and writing difficulties, I would definitely recommend keeping him in K and just see how it goes.

            14th year homeschooling
            7th year with MP

            DS19, college freshman
            DS16, 10th
            DS & DD14, 9th
            DS10, 4th
            DD7, 2nd
            DS4, JrK
            DS & DS, 1yr old


              Hello there! I've had two kids in Primary cottage school classes for the last three years. I fully support the advice given above. If it's completely curriculum-centric and requires you to do full MP at home during the week then the right placement in the curriculum will be the right placement in the cottage school. That's definitely a clarification you need to get from your specific cottage school. Not everyone uses their together time in the same way and not everyone segregates grade levels into individual classrooms. On being able to read and going into K I will simply note that we (at HLN) have had a wide variety of reading levels represented with our rising K students. That spans all the way from cannot sound out c-a-t all the way to can read the handwritten note from the father in the lunchbox that's in about half cursive and half manuscript on day one. Jen (formerly in Japan) has often noted the importance of placing within a core to the weakest R (reading, writing, arithmetic), not the strongest.

              To your question about work/home specifics, my kids do the "Monday" column of academic work along with the entire week's Literature and Enrichment row in the Curriculum Plans. That makes a big "L" of work they accomplish all before Tuesday morning rolls around. You can read more about our approach to the primary classes here. On Tuesday/Friday mornings I work directly from the Plans. If I have time, we redo some of the Lit/Enrichment for fun. If not, we don't. I homeschooled primary MP for 4 years completely at home without outside help and many (most?) on the forum do this all the time. I've found the regular weekly outside help to be tremendously helpful to establishing habits early. Things that are very difficult to pull off in a homeschool seem to be a breeze in a well-run classroom. I'm forever grateful for the outside support!

              I think some different questions to consider may be this: Does Memoria Press curriculum seem like the right fit for your academic homeschool? Do you see yourself as mostly a Charlotte Mason-influenced homeschooler? At HLN we encourage parents to take a long, hard look at the curriculum before taking a look at us as a cottage school. We've seen that if families aren't happy with the curriculum and the MP-specific classical education philosophy then they won't be happy with the cottage school, no matter how lovely the community day, the classmates, the teachers, the poetry, etc.

              Hopefully your cottage school has a lot of information for you to pour over to see if it is a good fit. Best wishes as you sort it out!
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
              DS Hillsdale College freshman
              DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
              DD 8th • HLN & Home
              DS 5th • HLN & Home
              Me • Plugging away with MA Fourth Form for Adults

              Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016
              "Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and underestimate what they can accomplish in five." -Mrs. Cheryl Lowe



                My son went into a little 2-day private kindergarten reading, and he had to do all the phonics with the rest of his class. I feel like it was good for him because it made him confident (he was an anxious child), and I think it made him a really good speller. I would look at that phonics work as foundational to spelling. My son's teacher sent him home with I Can Read books for his homework. He had to read a book to us every night. This challenged him, so we were happy with it.