Children find meaning
and joy through play.
Newtowne School is a Reggio Emilia-inspired parent cooperative preschool for children ages 22 months to 5 years. At Newtowne, experienced teachers work closely with families to create a nurturing, play-based learning environment that fosters joy and meaning for young children.
Our rich, developmentally appropriate play-based curriculum is inspired by the progressive educational tradition of Reggio Emilia. We believe that children are not empty vessels waiting to be filled with adult-given knowledge, but are constructors of their own learning and experience. The teacher’s role in such an environment is to facilitate, guide, observe, support, and inspire children. This principle of “constructivism” has been developed in the renowned municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Reggio-inspired schools are characterized by a deep engagement with the child at every level: the thoughtful design of space; the pacing and flow of the child’s day; the availability of high quality, mesmerizing materials; and, above all, the quality of a child’s relationships with self and others.
The classroom environments at Newtowne are carefully designed to promote a sense of wonder, inquiry, and human connection.
We believe that the environment is a third-teacher; our bright spacious classrooms offer spaces for children to work individually or in small groups, cozy corners for being comfortable or alone, and engaging play structures at varying heights and angles for gross motor challenges and dramatic play. During the course of the day, children have the opportunity to explore a variety of learning spaces for investigations that speak to the nature world, language and story telling, print and image making, engineering, mathematical reasoning, and music. Conversation and research become key elements of our day, as we dig deeper into the child’s ideas and interests. Each classroom features a writing center and expressive arts materials where children can develop their own unique ideas in a variety of media. The heart of our program is our art studio, staffed by our all-school Atelierista. Here children find materials as resources for creative inspiration, in a dynamic place that lets their imaginations grow, as their ideas become grounded for further investigation. At Newtowne, we believe that the expressive arts supports the connections of the many “languages of childhood.” Each child has their own language, their own path towards learning. Each child’s unique path becomes our focus.
All Newtowne teachers are committed to Reggio-inspired teaching practices. In addition to our in-house professional development, many of our teachers have studied Reggio principles at the graduate level, and our Director has visited the programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
“Newtowne’s teachers are remarkable in how they observe children’s interests closely and react thoughtfully – their skill and creativity lead to such growth!”
Newtowne’s deeply engaged faculty works closely with families to nurture and stimulate young children as they make the transition from the world of home to the world of school.
Parent involvement, both inside and outside the classroom, creates a strong sense of community that enriches the school. Throughout our 45-year history, Newtowne has always been a responsive and flexible place, open to innovations in early childhood education and to the evolving needs of our community. Our mission is to:
provide a warm, caring environment that welcomes children and families of diverse backgrounds.
encourage young children to explore, experiment, create, and pursue challenging projects.
develop children’s self-confidence, self-expression, independence, and love of learning
guide children as they learn to play together and negotiate new relationships.
foster an appreciation of differences in personality and culture.
promote peace in our classrooms and in the world beyond.
prepare children, in a gentle way, for a more formal education in the years to come.
Cooperative preschools offer a near-perfect fit for the principles of Reggio Emilia: the presence of parents in the classrooms allows us to “go deep” with children and respond more fully to their interests and needs.
At Newtowne, parents contribute in the following ways:
Every parent has a job, ranging from roles in school management and administration to fund-raising, enrollment, and classroom maintenance.
Parents help out in the classroom approximately one morning every three weeks, assisting teachers with curriculum and classroom management, providing snacks, and sharing their interests and family traditions with the community. Parent helping allows parents to be actively involved in the classroom and to gain insight into their child’s world.
The school relies on help from families at school fund raising events and at the annual Spring Fair.
Twice each year, parents come together at the school to help teachers clean and prepare the classrooms for the children.
Newtowne benefits from a richly talented and experienced faculty.
The Newtowne School’s close knit faculty embraces professionalism that is empowered by communication, collaboration and collegiality. Our teaching team practices observation, provocation, inquiry, and reflection through gentle guidance as children play and work. We continue to be inspired by best practices in the field of early childhood, and we consider professional growth and self-discovery to strengthen our work. At the very center of our work are the close relationships we have with our families, as our cooperative preschool model uniquely supports the whole child. We support and learn from our partnership with parents.
Newtowne teachers spend time each day reflecting on each child’s development, as well as documenting children’s projects with the use of journals, cameras, and a record of the child’s own words. This documentation makes learning visible – for children, parents, and teachers. As teachers observe, respond, and reflect, they encourage children to take their own learning seriously and become more deeply involved in it. This approach promotes a level of cognitive and emotional engagement that prepares children for the critical thinking they will need as they grow older.
Our EEC-licensed teachers have extensive training in early childhood education, and many have graduate degrees in related fields. Our cooperative teaching model enables teachers to understand and support children more fully than in a traditional school structure; we learn from parents as they learn from us. The school’s location within a thriving community of educators also inspires innovative, dynamic teaching practices, self-reflection and professional growth.
click on the profiles below to learn more about our wonderful faculty
Newtowne has four large, beautifully-equipped classrooms.
At Newtowne, we believe that the physical environment is a teacher: organization of well planned space affects children’s learning and sense of wonder. Our classrooms are bright, inviting, and carefully organized to promote inquiry and emotional connection. They are also spacious and thus enable children to move around freely with less potential for conflict than in small classrooms. You will notice an abundance of natural materials, plants, wood toys and manipulatives, and sensory elements such as sand, water, and clay. You will also see children adopting the role of caretaker for much-cherished classroom pets.
At Newtowne, you will see play spaces at different levels, heights, and angles; indoor structures for gross motor development; quiet areas for children to be reflective or work in small groups; cozy corners, lofts, large block building spaces and crawl spaces; and an array of open-ended materials that engage all five senses. Our classroom environments adapt to the evolving needs and interests of the children who inhabit each space. To support the child’s interests, a loft area might become a grocery store, a doctor’s office, or a raccoon den. The use of space varies, of course, by developmental stage: the dramatic play area for four and five year olds might become the detailed cockpit of an airplane, or the back-house of a restaurant; in the two year old class, it might simply change to become a more engaging space to encourage social interactions, enhanced with mirrors and sensory objects.
Newtowne is privileged to have its own dedicated arts studio called the “Atelier” that is an always-evolving space that both reflects and inspires children’s imaginations. It is staffed by a full-time, all-school arts teacher called our “Atelierista” who works with children in small groups to help support their artistic expression.
More than an “art room,” we think of the Atelier as a laboratory for ideas. In a traditional art room, the goal might be for the child to make a specific product – for example, a pumpkin craft because it is Halloween. In the Atelier, our focus is on the process, rather than the product. Children come to explore their ideas – collaboratively and alone – without preconceived expectations about what they will make or bring home. Exploration in the Atelier becomes the core of the child’s learning experience. As children build a connection with this space, they see the atelier as a resource; to launch their ideas through connections in smaller groups, and as a place to further deepen investigations that may have begun in their classrooms or the great outdoors.
At Newtowne, we believe that the process is more important than the product.
Our gifted and energetic Atelierista also spends time observing and talking with children in their classrooms. By observing the children at play and engaging them in meaningful discussion, she helps to facilitate classroom specific project work that often becomes long term and open-ended. At Newtowne, each classroom has dedicated art spaces with developmentally appropriate and inspiring materials.
The children contribute to the organization and use of the studio spaces by bringing in recyclables, categorizing materials, practicing art techniques, and, of course, by making beautiful, unique creations!
Outside their classrooms, children play in a spacious indoor space and an enclosed outdoor playground. The older classes also use the playground at Cambridge Common.
Our wonderful indoor playspace has been inspired by the outdoors. A tree house climbing structure sits near a dramatic play kitchen corner, a large block area- full of a wide array of small unit blocks complements a large set of giant hollow blocks, a giant conveyor belt helps connect our open building space that houses a tunnel, a bridge, and soft rock pillows that offer large motor challenges. A large space to ride bikes fills one-third of the room that also serves as a light atelier, making use of a ceiling mounted projector. Our indoor playspace also houses our ‘Workshop’, a recycle atelier that encourages small groups to ‘think-green’ by re-purposing surplus materials through construction and design. Here children learn the mastery of tools that connect- such as tape, wire, glue and others, as they work to have their ideas come to life in 3-dimension. This entire indoor space is popular for year-round gross motor play and engagement, but is especially valuable to us in the winter months.
Our school day begins at 8:30 and ends at 12:30. Classrooms are composed primarily by age, with some attention to factors such as gender and developmental stage of each child. There are a number of potential trajectories through the school, depending on the age of a child at admission and the balance of ages throughout the school. The school composition changes each year as families come and go.
Newtowne children thrive in the environment fostered by the school’s low child-to-teacher ratio, along with the presence of parent helpers and occasional student teachers. The 22 mos to 2.9 year old class has two teachers for up to nine children attending each day. The 2.9 to 3.5 year old class has two teachers for up to thirteen children attending each day. The 3 to 4 year old and 4 to 5 year old classes each have two teachers for up to seventeen children attending each day.
Orange Sea Stars
22 mo. to 2.9 years
3 or 5 day program
2.9 – 3.5 years
3 or 5 day program
3 – 4 years
5 day program
3.10 – 4.11 years
5 day program
Our Extended Day program extends the school day to 3:30 to give children more time with their teachers and friends to learn, play, explore, and engage with each other in smaller group settings.
The School Year
Newtowne opens in mid-September and closes in early June. Vacations generally follow the Cambridge Public School calendar.
Our Summer Program extends the school year through July and August.
“In 2 years at Newtowne, there hasn’t been a morning when my daughter has said that she didn’t want to go to school.”
We would be delighted to receive your family’s application, and encourage you to tour our school, apply early, tour our school, and be in touch, as space is limited.
Applications are due by January 31 for the priority deadline. After the priority deadline, applications will continue to be accepted and will be treated on a first come, first served basis while also making sure to maintain a balance of gender and age within our classroom groupings.
We give priority to families that have children already enrolled at Newtowne or families of children who have graduated from Newtowne. We also aim for balance in gender and age and aspire to represent all different kinds of families.
Offers and waitlist letters will be sent out March 15. Families will be given 15 days to sign and submit the contract & holding fee. The remaining spots will be filled from the waitlist, and we will continue to use the waitlist as needed until the beginning of the next school year in September.
There is a $50 non-refundable application fee.
Our tour season begins in October.
Please register for a tour here.
If you would like to visit the school, please come to our
Fall Open House on October 15 from 10-noon
This Open House is open to all families (children, too!)
Exploration activities will be open to the children in each classroom, and teachers and current parents will be available to answer questions. Families are welcome to explore the school at their own pace, or take a tour led by one of our current parents (starting every 15 minutes).
We encourage all families to visit before applying to make sure our program is a good fit for your family.
Fall Open House
October 15, from 10-noon
We will have teachers, current parents and activities for the kids in each classroom and families can explore the school at their own pace.
Orange Sea Stars
3 day program
5 day program
3 day program
5 day program
5 day program
5 day program
Tuition rates for 2016-17, for the core program (8:30-12:30) are shown above.
Our 2016-17 Extended Day program rates range from $680 for one day per week (per semester) in the 3 oldest classes to $3,395 for 5 days per week (per semester) in the Orange Sea Star class.
Newtowne has a scholarship fund for eligible families determined based on financial need. We strongly encourage families seeking financial aid to apply.
Along with a letter of acceptance, all families will receive an application for financial aid, which they in turn can submit to the Director for consideration. Please contact our Director for more information.
news + ideas
I am excited to share with you through this community blog a small window into Newtowne School. Our school has a strong community of parents and teachers that are very dedicated to making each day unique and engaging. Our classrooms offer inviting provocations, that pertain to the children’s ideas, interests and questions. The blog posts here shine a spotlight on common threads and efforts that are school wide, that support the common thread that weaves us together: the essential truth that children find meaning and joy through play.
– Hilary Odoy, Director