“What do you dream about in your loveliest of dreams?
Do you dream about flying high or rainbows reaching across the sky? Do you dream about being free to do what your heart desires? Or about being treated like a full person no matter how young you might be?"
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu
First and foremost, any dream for our children requires an unfailing commitment to best practice.
Wildflower Cottage for Children is dedicated to high quality Early Childhood Education. This commitment to high quality is critical to the children in our care. It is also vital as we equip parents to serve as advocates for their children's education, inspire colleagues in our community, and signal to policy-makers that children must be our top planning priority.
Our dream is:
- That children may be given the freedom to dream, explore, and make choices.
- That children will be respected as joyful learners and teachers.
- To enjoy and create beauty.
- That we will respect and celebrate diversity as we love our neighbors.
- For children to cultivate a respect and responsibility for our natural world.
- For children to attempt many solutions and persevere.
- For conflicts to be embraced as opportunities for communication and growth.
- For each individual to experience meaningful relationships and a deep sense of belonging.
- To create a community of justice and peace through acts of compassion.
- That learning will endure for a lifetime!
The mission of Wildflower Cottage for Children is to provide a home-like environment that nurtures the minds and spirits of young children.
The vision of Wildflower Cottage for Children is to partner young children and adults in a community where they can connect and discover together.
Reasons to Love Wildflower Cottage
It has been our intentional design to create a cozy, home-like learning environment where:
- We have renovated a 1920's cottage with wrap-around porch to feel more like "home" than "school."
- Our learning environment twinkles with ambient light, warm colors, enchanting music, soft furnishings, plants, authentic play objects, and a range of activity areas which have been crafted for 1 or 2 friends at a time.
- Our daily schedule has large blocks of uninterrupted time and few transitions—the proven recipe for children to savor their learning experiences!
Reggio Emilia Approach
Children are naturally curious learners who are capable of shaping the process of their own learning, most especially when they are able to express their thoughts and creativity through the many ways of learning.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is a global educational project that began in the town and surrounding area of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and has inspired other schools and communities all over the world to value teachers as partners in learning, families as an instrumental members of the learning community, and learning environments that dazzle children's senses and invite curiosity and discovery.
Wildflower Cottage for Children is beginning to partner with St. Paul's Lutheran Church, and the community at large, to provide intergenerational experiences with senior adult volunteers. We will coordinate times for these special volunteers to read, garden, picnic, woodwork, bake, play instruments, participate in music classes and puppet shows, etc. We are excited about the possibilities!
Wildflower Cottage is a place where children can dance in the wind, discover bugs, grow a flower, smell an herb, create with rocks, investigate, ask deep questions, and daydream. Natural materials—both indoors and out—provide children with a sense of calm and wonder.
Each time we head to nature, we see something new, something beautiful, and something we may never see again. Each time a child engages in nature, he finds an ever-changing environment that offers new possibilities. Whether it is a decomposing log, large loose parts to construct freely, or a plant palette which changes with each season, there is a promise that every time a child visits that space, their experience will be different from the last. There is something for every child to explore and enjoy in very unique ways.
Eco-Healthy Child Care Certified
Research increasingly shows that the first years of a child's life are critical to shaping their future health and development. As childcare providers, small changes that we make can have a big impact upon the children in our care. By reducing toxins, we are helping to prevent illnesses like asthma, certain learning disabilities, and even some forms of cancer.
Eco-Healthy Child Care certification is a national program that partners with child care professionals to eliminate or reduce environmental health hazards found within or around child care facilities. Wildflower Cottage has become one of only five certified programs in Durham.
A Good Neighbor
Wildflower Cottage is:
- A good neighbor to children by providing ratios lower than 5-star requirements. By having more staff than required, we have flexibility to build stronger relationships and model compassion toward others. This extra coverage will also allow for ease during special events.
- A good neighbor to parents by offering Home Visits, Parent-Teacher Conferences, Family Workdays, and Family-Building Events. Parenting is an exhilarating—and sometimes frightening—job! We will do our best to support and provide partners along the journey.
- A good neighbor to our staff by being ethical employers, striving to compensate fairly, and encouraging professional development and fulfillment.
- A good neighbor to community helpers and business owners by incorporating their skills into our program. Examples include: local firefighters, dog-groomers, farmers, actors, librarians, musicians, artists, etc.
- A good neighbor to those in need by donating supplies, time, or money through collaborative service projects. We believe that children who learn to give joyfully eventually become adults who do the same!
- A good neighbor for our local economy by being responsible stewards of our revenue and assuring parents that their tuition is going directly back into the program.
- A good neighbor within the childcare industry by being willing to host student teachers, interns, educational therapists, and researchers in the field of Early Childcare Education.
- A good neighbor to local, state, and federal governments by advocating for policy changes which will impact Early Childhood Education and ultimately the health of all governing systems.
- A good neighbor to the environment by choosing Eco-Healthy practices from the initial set-up of the program.
Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive social and emotional intelligence classroom management program that empowers both teachers and students. Based upon current brain research, child development information, and developmentally appropriate practices, the goal of the program is to provide systematic changes in centers and schools by fostering the emotional intelligence of teachers first and children second.
Parents often ask, “Will my child be ready for kindergarten?” We encourage parents to breathe a sigh of relief and realize that kindergarten is not an end-goal, but yet another beautiful step in your child’s journey.
We use a guide entitled North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development. This guide has been published and formally endorsed by the NC Board of Education. Much like the “Standard Course of Study” for Kindergarten through 12th grade, NC Foundations is a compilation of learning experiences that children should ideally experience by the end of their preschool years.
A Letter from Our Executive Director
Welcome to Wildflower Cottage for Children!
The vision for this program began years ago as a tiny seed. At the time, the “seed” was simply an observation that American education had taken a path of increased academic structure, indoor environments, and consumerism. When brain research consistently supports the advantages of freedom, outdoor experiences, and imaginative play, why has this happened?
At the time, I had been the Executive Director of a 5-star, NAEYC-accredited child care program in Durham for many years. Many faculty members and families there had also been gardening their own strongly-held beliefs about early childhood education, family values, and their commitment the community. We began to dream and plant together.
As we sowed seeds together, ideas of all varieties began to sprout:
We want children to feel
We want children to practice compassion and love fairness, to listen and be heard.
We want a cozy, home-like setting where children are captivated by their surroundings and their relationships.
We want a place where children have the freedom to discover and appreciate nature
We want children to be able to create, imagine, reflect, and problem-solve with everyday materials.
We want children to learn from and teach others from multiple generations.
We continued to provide rich soil, water, and sunshine, and the vision began to blossom! Of course, gardening requires patience.
Wildflower Cottage launched in January 2017 as one classroom of 3-5 year old children in temporary space. In August 2019, we expanded to include 1-2 year old children. In December 2020, we were able to purchase our "forever home." We began renovation in Fall 2021, completed it during Summer 2022, and finally relocated for the beginning of the 2022-2023 year!
We are also visioning the process of partnering with senior adults in the community who will “adopt” us. They will be screened, oriented, and matched to a spectrum of intergenerational activities (sending birthday cards, baking, doing art, producing puppet shows, planting, reading books, etc.). This is a beautiful and compelling goal for our future.
Wildflower Cottage is being cultivated by an enthusiastic board of directors, colleagues in early childhood education, local parents, neighboring non-profit organizations, and supporters from all walks of life. This program truly is a bouquet of hopes and dreams from a delightfully diverse community.
We are honored that you are considering how your family may grow along with us!
Krissy H. Snyder
Founder and Executive Director