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child directed creative play

Where a child can spend a childhood, learning through play and discovery 


Our Mission

At Cottage Co-Op, our mission is to foster
social-emotional development through a child-led curriculum while supporting parents through a
co-operative community.


Our Philosophy


We believe that kids need an open environment in which to grow and learn, a place to get their hands dirty with the freedom to do so, while receiving the guidance they need to master social interactions.

The best way children learn is through play. Our teachers and working parents consider their most important role to be the facilitation of exploration and child-directed play. The children determine what they want to do and how they want to do it.

At Cottage Co-op we teach children that their ideas and interests are worth pursuing. We foster creativity, expression, ingenuity, and love of learning through a curriculum that evolves from a child’s interests and expands upon his or her exploration.



Each family is an active participant in our school. Besides working within our children's classrooms, each Cottage family plays a role in supporting our school. These jobs include everything from positions on the Board to doing the laundry to planning social events to maintaining the facility. We like to utilize each family's talents and interests in the selection of their roles.

We also see ourselves as a true community of families. Our very nature as a "co-op" means that we believe that our families should play an integral role both in their children's education and in the school as a whole.



We believe that teaching our children to navigate social interactions is paramount. To that end, understanding and respecting each other is vital. We believe in growing our children's self-confidence, empathy and respect for others. We strive to celebrate and accept each child’s unique abilities and interests. We all can learn from each other and we strive to foster an environment of anti-bias.



We believe that our parents play the role of student as much as our children do. Cottage offers parents a safe, non-judgmental environment in which they can grow and learn as parents.

Teachers guide the children and offer support to parents. Our teachers help adults to build confidence in themselves as parents. Our teachers are wonderful resources, especially for new parents.




By working in our children's classrooms, we get to see our children’s growth first hand. We recognize that few parents get to see their children learn and practice new skills outside of the home. Cottage offers an environment that fosters emotional, physical and educational learning.



{Learning how to navigate social interactions}

Our low ratios enable the parents and teachers:

  • To be present in the moment without distraction

  • To listen to children

  • To validate children's feelings

  • To promote their expression of feelings

  • To help children develop empathy by taking care of our friends

  • To respect everyone's ideas and interests

Helping children learn how to navigate social interactions - especially through successful conflict resolution - is a unique part of the Cottage experience. Telling a child "Don't throw sand on your friend," may prevent that from occuring once but it won't help a child understand why throwing sand at another child is not okay nor will it prevent it from happening in the future.



Cottage Co-op Nursery School was founded in 1972 as a non-profit, cooperative preschool by former Pacific Oaks parents who were inspired to create a co-operative school that honored Pacific Oaks' approach to learning while extending its benefits to the whole family.


Serves children 2 years through entry into Kindergarten


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Small class sizes



Low adult:child ratios of 1:3 for our younger students and 1:4 for our older preschoolers


Our regular program follows a 10-month school year, from September through June. We offer classes for 2 year olds, 2/3 year olds, and mixed age classes.


Our Summer Camp is an 8-week program open to families in the Pasadena community. Priority is given to continuing families and newly admitted families. This session runs from mid-June through the beginning of August. Details, including the application process, tuition amounts and calendar, will be posted as they are developed.


We believe that parent education is an ongoing process and so we offer opportunities throughout the school year. Typically, we have scheduled guest speakers, coffees with the Director and Teachers, book club meetings that focus on parenting books plus the ability to attend other parent ed sessions found out in the community. We also like to make our parent ed sessions with guest speakers open to the community in general. Details for these opportunities will be posted on the website.