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EVENT: Next Teacher Leader Stories Conversation on January 20th!

As we begin 2022, we know educators are working harder than ever to serve children and families. For those who are eager to learn more about the lived experience of Wildflower Teacher Leaders in designing and operating liberatory microschools with their communities, we invite you to join the next Teacher Leader Stories conversation. Perhaps you are considering leading a Wildflower School as the next step in your journey? If so, these conversations are a great opportunity to learn more about different ways Wildflower schools come to life in communities across the country.   

 

On January 20th, join us for an evening of storytelling and learning with Wildflower Teacher Leaders, Angelina Hawley-Dolan and Mario Benabe. 

 

Thursday, January 20th

6:30 PM EST

*Virtual Event*

Registration: https://bit.ly/TLstories2022

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

–Maia Blankenship & Rebecca H. Snyder

Coming Home: Schools’ affordable housing and community partnerships are helping fulfill Wildflower’s purpose

The Virginia Coffee House, permanent housing for former residents of Lydia’s House and named after Cincinnati Civil Rights activist Virginia Coffey, sits above Azalea Montessori.

How do you bring an affordable Montessori education to communities that historically haven’t had access to it? 

 

It’s a question at the heart of Wildflower, and one that innovative Teacher Leaders grapple with regularly. Through the years, Wildflower schools have addressed the tension by embracing strategies such as city and state-subsidized tuition vouchers, creating tuition-free public charter schools, and pursuing school district partnerships. But recently, various teachers across the network have unlocked a piece of the puzzle that they hope will pave the way for an even greater number of students to access a Wildflower education. They are co-locating their schools in the epicenters of the communities that need them most: affordable housing complexes, shelters for women and children, and transitional housing. 

 

Creating deep and lasting partnerships with existing organizations in a community isn’t new for Wildflower. As Teacher Leaders have sourced buildings for their microschools in the past, they have followed a common Montessori practice of co-locating with houses of worship, as is the case for Marigold and Allium, both of which are located inside churches in Massachusetts.

 

The new co-location partnerships Teacher Leaders have forged with various providers of affordable housing are the sort of exciting and mutually beneficial relationships that will help the network make Wildflower schools more accessible to all families. In each partnership, the Wildflower school rents space from a housing nonprofit at a below-market rate, and enrollment is prioritized for children who live there. Taking advantage of the subsidized rent allows higher salaries for the teachers and, in schools with tuition, more affordable fees for enrolled families.

“It’s really meaningful to everyone involved; we’re forming partnerships with organizations who know and have been serving their communities for many years,” said Ali Scholes, a Wildflower Foundation partner spearheading efforts to grow more co-location partnerships. “Part of why families are so excited to send their children to co-located schools is because of the schools’ explicit commitment to centering families who have been historically marginalized.”

Jeana Olszewski, founding Teacher Leader at Azalea in Norwood, Ohio, said co-locating with apartments for former residents of the women’s and children’s shelter Lydia’s House has created a warm community. Jeana tells the story of two single mothers who likely would not have met if not for Azalea, but whose bonds have grown outside the classroom. One woman is a former resident of Lydia’s house, and the other lives in a neighboring community, and was drawn to Azalea. From playdates to sleepovers to helping navigate each other’s work schedules, they have both grown to appreciate the sense of family the small school provides.

“Our school community feels like a really organic and genuine expression of the Wildflower principles. Our students love each other and they’re so close; it’s like having 25 cousins 

together,” Jeana said. “We’re physically located in this urban neighborhood, there’s always a bit of a ruckus outside, but we also have a children’s garden across the street with chickens and a bunny. When we’re walking down the street to the several nearby parks, people who live in the neighborhood are looking for us. They’re always waving.”

 

Norwood, a city outside Cincinnati, is full of Montessori schools of all types: private, public, faith-based. But Jeana, a longtime local educator and a veteran Montessori teacher and parent, said that before Azalea opened its doors, Montessori schools may have been plentiful, but a Montessori education was anything but accessible. 

 

“We have all this Montessori in the city, but it’s often the wealthy, privileged kids who get it,” she said. “Even the public Montessori schools are mostly located in the nicer neighborhoods.”

Karla Vasquez-Torres, a Teacher Leader at Mariposa in northern Puerto Rico, agrees. Her school is located inside a shelter for women and children called Hogar Ruth. The exact location is not public in order to protect the safety of their students, who all either live at the shelter or have parents who work there. A Wildflower veteran, Karla previously ran Flamboyan, a Montessori school in partnership with the local public school district. 

“In Puerto Rico, Montessori is an elite privilege. But the moment I became certified, I knew I wanted to help bring Montessori education to kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. When I saw and lived the results of what Wildflower can be, I knew I had to open this up to more kids.”

 

Because the majority of the students at Mariposa have experienced violence in their home, Karla said they come to school with little agency and are often scared to jump in and participate in lessons.

 

“These kids come in without a voice…but here, they find a place where they can talk and someone will listen to and respect them. They learn that violence is not the solution,” she said. “When you start seeing those kids being owners of their space, it’s just beautiful. They find a place where they can be themselves and be free.”

 

***

 

While the Teacher Leaders say there is no question that a Wildflower education is particularly meaningful and effective for the students they serve, there are plenty of operational benefits to partnering with these housing organizations, many of which are longtime nonprofits and highly respected in their communities. 

 

When the pandemic hit in Spring 2020, leaders of the nonprofit Lydia’s House, which runs the transitional housing where Azalea is located, came to Jeana and offered to waive their rent for six months while they figured out how to operate school during an uncertain time.  

 

“Partnering with a nonprofit like that, they will have your back,” Jeana said. 

 

Karla from Mariposa said that Hogar Ruth, the 30-year-old women’s shelter where their school is located, has been instrumental in helping them identify and access grant funding they might not have otherwise known about. 

 

Claire Ricker, Director of Real Estate at Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), said their partnership with Wildflower has been a critical piece of their efforts to transform the Haverhill neighborhood.

 

“If you’re trying to improve lives, you have to think about changing many elements of a single neighborhood, in a systematic way, at a steady pace. With this in mind we felt that a partnership with Wildflower Schools was crucial to meeting our goals of not only providing safe, stable affordable housing, but also to use our physical space to further invigorate the neighborhood.”

 

***

 

Teacher Leader Janet Begin has been laying the groundwork for these co-location partnerships for years. Her own school, Marigold, is co-located within a Haverhill, Massachusetts church, but Janet, who believes strongly in using Montessori for social justice, knew there was even more potential. A lightbulb first went on three years ago after meeting with the housing nonprofit CBA and realizing their mission and Wildflower’s were closely aligned. Later, a parent at Marigold, Nicole Randall, expressed interest in Montessori education, and Janet tucked it away. Finally, the stars aligned this year after Nicole, now a Montessori-trained teacher with several years as an educator under her belt, agreed to start Snowdrop, a toddler program located in the same complex as some of CBA’s affordable housing. At least 25 percent of the available seats at Snowdrop will be reserved for residents of the housing complex, and many will receive state education vouchers to help pay a portion of their tuition. 

 

“Being a teacher, you plant these seeds because it’s just what you do, and then years later you start to see it all pay off,” Janet said. “There’s just a lot of people pushing for this and we’re all really excited to be here.”

With Snowdrop’s opening, Wildflower leaders like Ali are hoping that the model becomes a pilot for future collaborations. Currently, the Wildflower Foundation is in the process of making connections with other affordable housing nonprofits to support new Teacher Leaders who want to pursue similar opportunities. 

 

While the natural diversity that results from these co-location partnerships is undoubtedly positive for the students, Nicole Randall, the Teacher Leader who will run Snowdrop starting in September, said she is also grateful for the opportunity it will give her.

 

“I’m excited for myself, to learn and to grow,” she said. “ I’m really excited about the exchange of ideas.” 

CO-LOCATED WILDFLOWER SCHOOLS

Azalea

Location: Norwood, Ohio

Co-location: Permanent housing for former guests of Lydia’s House, a shelter for women and children 

Opened in: September 2019

 

Snowdrop

Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts 

Co-location: Coalition for a Better Acre, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing 

Opened in: Anticipated opening September 2021

 

Marigold

Location: Haverhill, Massachusetts

Partnership: Trinity Episcopal Church 

Opened in: 2015

Miramelinda

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Partnership: Just-a-Start, an affordable housing nonprofit

Opened in: Fall 2018

 

Sundrops 

Location: San Jose, California 

Partnership:  El Rancho Verde, an affordable housing community located in northeast San Jose

Opened in: February 2021

 

Mariposa

Location: Puerto Rico

Partnership: Hogar Ruth, a shelter for women and children 

Opened in: January 2021

Students at Azalea wear rain suits while participating in the school’s outdoor program, “Azalea Outdoors.”

Wildflower Charter School Sprouts in DC

Teacher Leaders Ebony Marshman and Zani Dalili-Ortique enjoy a Family Day at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The seeds of a series of Wildflower microschools have been planted in Washington, DC. Through conditional approval in April 2021 – DC Wildflower PCS, only one of five applications the DC Public Charter School Board approved – the first microschool will open in Fall 2022 as The Riverseed School in Ward 7 or 8.

In this Q&A, Regional Site Entrepreneur Maia Blankenship previews the arrival of Wildflower in the District of Columbia. She shares what families can expect from these teacher-led, micro, Montessori schools and how educators can join the effort to establish liberatory learning environments in and around our nation’s capital.

We also invite you to tune into the following conversation with the DC Wildflower Public Charter School Leadership Team on the Montessori in Action Podcast!

How would you describe what Wildflower will add to the DC public school landscape? 

Imagine small, tuition-free public schools – about 25 students – throughout the District of Columbia, tucked into neighborhoods and led by dynamic teachers dedicated to creating a liberatory learning environment in partnership with the community. DC Wildflower Public Charter School will create spaces for educators and communities to design classroom sites where each child’s identity is affirmed and their genius is unleashed. We believe that intentionally small, Montessori learning environments enable the liberation of children, families and educators from the structures that limit opportunity. Together we can and must accelerate the journey to a more racially just and equitable world.

hiking adults and children

How will Wildflower schools build and support community in DC?

Every school site will foster deep relationships with the community in which it is embedded. Teacher Leaders will build relationships that go beyond the students and families they serve by partnering with and tapping the unique assets of their community. Families and students will thrive in a vibrant school community that reflects who they are, the assets they bring, as well as the deep investment of educators, volunteers, local businesses, and nonprofits.

We believe that communities of color, especially, know what they need to thrive – it is often resources and access that are in short supply. The community’s ideas and needs should be central in the design of schools. Educators, families and children, advocates and invested community partners will collaborate to create Wildflower classroom sites that reflect the genius, beauty, cultural wealth and assets of the neighborhood.

In a city with a lot of school choices already, what differentiates Wildflower?

Each Wildflower school is intentionally small and directly reflects the community. We provide liberatory learning environments that are anti-bias, anti-racist, inclusive, identify-affirming and healing. Our schools are co-founded by educators who serve as guides (Montessori’s term for teachers) and also serve as the school leaders, managing the day-to-day operations and administration of the school.

Tell us about the leaders of DC Wildflower Public Charter School and their mission.

Our two founding Teacher Leaders, Zanso (Zani) Dalili-Ortique and Ebony Marshman, are creating a community-embedded liberatory learning environment east of the Anacostia River – a school centered on Black students in a center of DC’s Black community. As local Black Montessorians, Ebony and Zani have deep experience as educators in DC, which, despite its increasing diversity and strength, remains stifled by historic and present-day racism as well as discriminatory policies and practices.

Also, we are thrilled that Rachel Kimboko joined DCWPCS as our Founding Executive Director of Stakeholder Engagement. A longtime contributor to DC’s Montessori community, Rachel will partner with Zani, Ebony and the Board of Trustees to keep us on track to open the Riverseed School, the first of up to six sites within the charter.

How is educational equity woven into Wildflower DC’s mission?

Our approach is grounded in the fact that the Montessori method is a holistic, time-tested curriculum that is keenly attuned to a child’s development and that, at its roots, is a tool for liberation. Providing a Montessori education faithfully and effectively requires both readiness of the environment (a physical space, within the community and saturated with identity-affirming materials and curriculum) and readiness of the people, especially teachers and staff who are committed to liberation and to disrupting all forms of oppression and who are armed with the tools to implement with purpose. Across all sites this includes:

  • Teacher-led and community-activated spaces that center Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people and all people of color
  • Small and safe settings that are nimble and adapt to community needs
  • Intentionally anti-racist and anti-bias approach  
  • Identity-affirming, inclusive spaces 
  • Freedom to make decisions, move and communicate – with limits 
  • Focus on developing intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic rewards 
  • Hands-on, experiential, challenging curriculum
maia and daughter on grass

What are opportunities to stay connected and get involved in Wildflower’s DC regional hub?

We invite educators and families committed to liberatory, culturally affirming, community-embedded microschools to design with us. Public charter schools are one way that Wildflowers will grow in the DC region, but there are other ways, too. We are seeking Teacher Leaders interested in founding toddler programs or other teacher-led liberatory programs in the metro area.

Learn more about our work at https://wildflowerschools.org/dc/, and contact us at [email protected] to get involved. On social media, follow Wildflower DC’s development on Instagram @wildflowerschools.dc and on Facebook.

Resilient Roots: Celebrating Wildflower Seedlings

WF Seedlings Banner Image

Every year, a new group of Wildflower schools peeks through the soil for the first time. But what a year this has been. In the best of times, the challenges, uncertainty, and personal growth of designing and launching a new school are immensely demanding. Yet Wildflower Teacher Leaders rose to meet the storm of challenges this year with resiliency, grounded in purpose, experience, and love for the families they serve.

 

For the first time, Wildflower is celebrating the achievements of these education entrepreneurs throughout their opening year with the inaugural edition of Wildflower Seedlings – a special publication highlighting the first year of our newest class of Wildflower schools. Please join Wildflower in welcoming the 14 new schools that opened their doors to families this year and their founding Teacher Leaders who transformed their lifetimes of learning and dreaming into their schools in their own communities.

 

Download Wildflower Seedlings

 

In these pages, you will meet the exceptional Teacher Leaders behind these schools and see what they have to say about what inspires and motivates their work as educators. To read more about their stories, backgrounds, and the beautiful schools they have created, please check out our first edition of Wildflower Seedlings.

Hub Spotlight: Wildflowers Grow in New Jersey

infants smiling working with sensorial materials
Despite a challenging year for childcare centers overall, and certainly new obstacles created by the global pandemic in the creation of new programs, Wildflower’s budding New Jersey hub has continued to plant and tend to its seeds.

 

We started off this year with the exciting news that Dr. Erika McDowell agreed to come on as our new New Jersey state Site Entrepreneur. Before joining Wildflower, Erika served as an Executive Director and Director of PBIS (positive behavior intervention and supports) and Youth Court for The School District of Philadelphia. She has also been an assistant principal and teacher. Her in-depth experience includes restorative practices, equity, positive behavioral supports, conflict resolution, classroom management, bullying prevention, and behavioral data support. She has a Superintendent’s credential, a EdD in from Drexel University in Educational Leadership and Management, and began her career as a drama teacher in Paterson, NJ, which is where she grew up. Erika will now be supporting New Jersey’s new and existing teacher leaders, as well as developing strategy and funding relationships to support Wildflower’s growth across the state.

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Montessori: Authentic or Keepin’ it real?

“Nobody’s life is safe…we are in mortal danger…people have to take to shelters…humanity itself is vanquished and enslaved.”

The Formation of Man, Maria Montessori 

This quote, written by a great teacher over one hundred years ago, rings true today. To say that we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis might be an understatement to some. Many of us are waking up overwhelmed by the toxins in our world right now and are not sure what we are going to perish from first. Currently, we are not only besieged by viral biological toxins we are also besieged by oppressive societal toxins such as racism that compromises our humanity and our sense of human dignity. 

While we are tasked as a society to reconstruct how we eat, work, gather and meet our fundamental needs collectively, we are also tasked with an opportunity to reconstruct how we live in service to these needs, the needs of humanity.  How will we stand up for our own rights and those of others? How do educators work with children to ensure that our future is a humane one? So many of us Montessori educators are concerned about how to implement an authentic Montessori method that ties us tightly to just where our pink tower will land, however it is times like these that we must remember that authentic Montessori is about leaning into the age old Montessori philosophy that was created for the renewal and revitalization of our humanity.

Maria Montessori understood that education was the channel in which a new type of person could be formed- a channel in which moral character and humanity could be preserved. She birthed a way of learning, a pedagogy that was designed to meet our fundamental needs. She took on the task of reforming our service to humanity through the introduction of a way of learning that she hoped would not only salvage humanity but would help in the construction of a new type of person—moral enough in character to assist in that effort. 

Maria said, “The new school, indeed, must not be created for the service of a science, but for the service of living Humanity; and teachers will be able to rejoice in the contemplation of the lives unfolding under their eyes.” (The Advanced Montessori Method 1 Chapter 4.)

Maria’s charge today is bigger than ever. We are the shapers of our future during a humanitarian crisis that is marked by the death and murder of black people, corporate greed and a global pandemic. The most relevant and authentic aspects of the Montessori pedagogy are those that can be used today as tools for our liberation.  My mentor Asa Hilliard, Black psychologist and Montessorian writes, “Montessori is a metaphor for humanity because it is a pedagogy that helps humans receive what they naturally need,” in his work entitled Maintaining the Montessori Metaphor: What every child wants and needs (The NAMTA Journal Vol. 21. No 2 Spring 1996, Asa Hilliard). 

The aspects of the Montessori philosophy that provide us with the tools for liberation we need are the defining features of an authentic Montessori practice. These features which include self reflection through anti-bias spiritual preparation, empowerment through the development of critical consciousness and a process of normalization that leads to self actualization are described in Authentic Montessori and Contemporary Considerations written by Koren Clark, Margaret J. Kelly, Angeline Lillard, and Virginia McHugh (pgs 30-38).

When Montessori educators lean into an authentic Montessori philosophy they are likely to design a practice that guides them towards human transformation. The inner work of self-reflection that the Montessori teacher is implored to do is also expected from the Montessori student whose identity is strengthened and dignified as they reflect daily on the choices they make with work and in community. The opportunity children have in the classroom to autonomously solve problems, and build the muscles of critical consciousness will ultimately be needed to solve problems outside of the classroom and in the world. Currently, we are living out one of the biggest practical problems that life has to offer and there is real work for children to do. As we adapt to our new “normal” and lament the ways in which Montessori children will not become normalized in our classrooms let us lean into the philosophical implications of normalization in Montessori. Montessori said,  “All we have to do is set the child’s energy free. When we speak of freedom in education we mean freedom for the creative energy which is the urge of life towards the development of the individual…”(Maria Montessori, 1989). This development of the individual,  their internal motivation and their unique self-expression can be called the process of self-actualization (Authentic Montessori and Contemporary Considerations, by Koren Clark, Margaret J. Kelly, Angeline Lillard and Virginia McHugh).

Self-actualization for all is the ultimate liberatory end we want to reach and it is the end that any pedagogy that honors education in its truest form will generate. Education from its root means, “to unleash that which is within.”  

In this day and time, the most relevant authentic aspects of Montessori are those that we need to keep real. We can keep it real by making sure that we are allowing children to unleash the most essential aspects of who they are and ensure that we are not becoming nor forming the next Karen’s and Becky’s, that we are becoming anti-racist activist and that we are raising the next generation to do the same. So although we may be mourning the loss of the Montessori method as we know it, staring at lifeless materials, empty peace tables and etc, we have a new opportunity to reenergize the static and unwavering philosophy. The Montessori philosophy is dynamic and it should be used as the force of liberation. 

Maria says, “Either education contributes to a movement of universal liberation by showing the way to defend and raise humanity or it becomes like one of those organs which have shriveled up by not being used during the evolution of the organism.” (The Formation of Man, Maria Montessori.)

We are ripe with a new opportunity to mobilize a movement towards liberation through a future generation fortified with the critical consciousness and empathetic drive to activate, honor and preserve the humanity in us all. We can do this through Montessori if we keep it real!

Wildflower Statement: Justice for George Floyd

Four days went by with no arrests as our city burned. No arrests, after the public murder of George Floyd only a half mile from one of our schools. Words have been hard to come by to describe our anguish. How many black and brown men, women and children sit in jail awaiting justice with far less evidence – for minor infractions, for just living – while the police officers who killed George Floyd sat free, in the comfort of their homes? 

And while our city burns, how many of us sit free in the comfort of our homes? Feeling sad, yes, but with the freedom to turn the channel, scroll down the feed. Selective outrage is not enough. We must cry out today and every day until there is justice. Justice for George Floyd and for every Black man, woman, and child that has died at the hands of state-sanctioned police brutality in our country. 

Each of us has the responsibility to act. And we know we haven’t done enough. But the shame of having not done enough must not stop us from doing everything we can now and moving forward. Are you a parent of a white child? Talk to your child about the ways racism plagues our country. Are you the parent of a black, brown or bi-racial child? Communities of color are grieving, for our collective loss and for the impact this has on every child. The Wildflower community is here to support you. Are you a teacher? Learn about your own racial identity, build your consciousness of how this impacts your practice, and teach your students to be anti-racist. Are you an organizational leader? Make space for healing in the midst of the constant traumas endured by our black and brown brothers and sisters in this country. Are you an employee? Speak up when you see subtle and not so subtle acts of racism.  

Take action today, then set a recurring reminder for yourself to take action again tomorrow, next week, next month, and the month after that. When that reminder goes off, ask yourself if you are doing all you can, and then do more. So many don’t have the choice to opt out. Please don’t. 

Teachers and other Wildflower partners are taking action in a number of ways as we grieve. Join us: 

While the Wildflower network of schools comprises many communities around the U.S., four Wildflower Schools as well as the organization that supports our network are based in Minneapolis. The injustice anguishing our Minneapolis partners is the latest diminishment of Black lives in America. We work and hope for the day when no Wildflower community–or any community–experiences such injustices.

The Three-year-old’s Dilemma: The Search for Order Amidst Chaos

Plastered across the virtual pages of social media are parents’ laments of three-year-old behavior gone awry. Parents and caregivers across the globe are fighting to maintain normalcy at home. What was once a daunting task of balancing a routine of school, work and play has now doubled in complexity. Families are charged with the task of working full time and providing child care full time. Families are striving to create a structure and routine amidst the backdrop of a drastically changed society. For the many who shelter in place, one time of day morphs into the other. Among the meetings, the newly organized pantries, the laundry and the dishes, stands the three-year-old. The child that every parent and caretaker is trying to protect, teach and love. The child who is challenging us. The child who is faced with a dilemma.

 

Children all over the world have been thrown into a uniquely stupefying situation. Children had schedules they could depend on. They had dates and events that gave them a sense of time. They knew going outside and being with people was safe and joyful. What was familiar is now foreign. What was cyclical is now halted. What was benign is now injurious. The ordered events of our days have unraveled. We attempt to remain grounded as the landscape of our daily lives shifts beneath our feet. But the three-year-old has a uniquely grand task at hand.

 

The mind of the three-year-old child is inherently sensitive to order. Staircases need to be repeatedly climbed, socks need to fit just right, and the same story often needs to be read six times (in a row). Dr. Maria Montessori’s work documents the child’s need for consistency, repetition, order and routine. Predictability gives a sense of security.

 

With social distancing, children have lost a sense of predictability, and in turn, they have lost some sense of security. Right now, they cannot go back to their routines. Schools and parks are closed. Playdates are paused. So much of what they knew to be true has temporarily shifted. Adults can understand that this situation is transient, albeit challenging. Asking a three-year-old to understand the complexity of this situation is an arduous request. This lack of choice and predictability not only disrupts their sense of order and routine, but also directly contradicts their sense of independence. One of the favorite phrases of the developing toddler is, “I do it myself”. With the lack of independence and choice, myriad tantrums erupt. Simply put, it’s hard. And thus, we have the three-year-old’s dilemma: a search for order amidst a disordered time.

 

So what can we do? We hold space. We give freedom within limits. We set up home environments where the child can succeed and feel independent. Acknowledge big feelings in a factual way. Give choices when you can, while also holding limits. When your child screams because they don’t want the cereal you set out this morning (even though they eat that cereal every single day) remember it’s not about the cereal. In the classroom, children start suddenly reacting strongly to normal routines when something in their home life feels out of control. Now that home and school are melded together, it’s not surprising that children are testing limits- the world currently feels out of control. Children are trying to figure out what still has order and what does not. They might push back on a common routine like eating cereal for breakfast just to see where the limits are.

 

Involve your child so that they feel empowered. You can give back independence by offering two choices for your child to eat in the morning, or create a menu for the week with them. Let them choose between two outfits and when they get stuck, offer to help with one pant leg while they do the other. The child wants to know we are holding some boundaries and are there for support. Imagine driving on a highway. We want lanes on a highway – we want the freedom to change lanes, but need guidance as to where those lanes are. Children want the freedom of “choice” in their day, but the adults can help guide them by giving choices, routines and support. Create spaces in your home where children can access materials, toys and snacks independently. Pause to observe your child throughout the day. Observe again.

 

Remember, in this seemingly endless period of uncertainty, it’s not about the cereal. Rather, it is a call to recreate a sense of order for the child. The sense of order we all so deeply crave.

Join the Wildflower Medical Masks Project

Our rapidly changing new world is uncovering new challenges every day – as well as new opportunities to help and support one another in our neighborhoods and communities.

 

Over the last week, it has become clear that we’re experiencing a shortage of protective gear for medical professionals across the country. Most health care institutions and hospitals are rationing the use of N95 masks and in some cases, are prioritizing the use of an N95 mask only for the most ill patients and/or sterile procedures (i.e. surgeries). As hospitals run out of supplies, employees and residents at elder care facilities, group homes, shelters, and civic/nonprofit organizations that help vulnerable people are also left unprotected from the spread of COVID-19, as well as other illnesses. This reality hit home for me personally 4 days ago: one of my dearest friends is a nurse in a metro area Emergency Room and shared that she and her colleagues were using just one N95 mask per day and supplies are rapidly running out. Today, another nurse shared that she has been using the same mask for the last 3 days.

 

This reality is dire. Thankfully, we are not passive consumers – we are makers of our world! In the last week, the #MillionMaskMayday movement in which regular people, young and old, making homemade fabric masks* for health care and emergency workers at home has begun to sweep across the world.

 

My mom taught me how to sew. As long as I can remember, she has made things – when I was little, it was matching dresses for me and my sister; for the last 10 years, we’ve been making quilts together. I spend most of my time outside of Wildflower making soft beautiful things out of fabric for people I love to mark momentous moments in their lives – marriages, babies being born, new homes, birthdays. This moment we’re in now is also momentous, though for all of us at once. And when makers around the world heard the call to dedicate their sewing skills to support health care workers, I started to organize with other volunteer makers in my neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis to share supplies and make as many homemade masks as we could. This opportunity to help out resonated also with Wildflower parents, children, and teachers across the country who have sewing machines at the ready – and so now, I’m inviting you all – Wildflower children, family members and friends – to join us in this volunteer effort.

 

If you have a sewing machine at home and know how to use it, you can make masks for emergency workers in need in your community. Fill out this form to request a kit. Or, use materials you already have at home – Instructions are available here. The pattern is perfect for beginners, and this would be a great project for children and parents to work on together. If sewing isn’t your thing but you’d like to help, we’re also accepting material donations and funding donations for this effort.

Request a Kit!

Thank you for your help and support. Stay safe and well!

 

* Although a homemade fabric mask cannot provide the same level of particle filtration as an N95 medical mask and are untested against COVID-19, the CDC has approved their use as a last resort. Research demonstrates that wearing a homemade fabric mask provides significantly more protection than wearing no mask at all.