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The  Wildflower Idea 

hand drawn butterfly

An Initial Meaning behind Wildflower Child & Family Center


I am atop a hill watching our group of four-year-olds run, stumble, and bask in the warm March sunshine as they jump and buck like new lambs that have been born that spring in the barn behind us. The first harbingers of spring have just popped out and one young child is on his side pulling short stems out in a miniature bouquet.  His head raises in a bright, ear to ear smile, realizing we are observing him from a distance. I close my eyes and feel the warmth of the glorious rays and of the joy of being in the moment.  I’m here with a treasured companion and I take a moment to pause in gratitude for the program that we have built together. The friendships on this hill, as well as others in the program, have been created through trust and a vision of what early childhood could be like: laughter, learning, and yes, tears when things (and weather) gets difficult.  As a team, we’ve learned how to create a common vision despite the disbelief of others, lean into discomfort and work together to create something wonderful for our students-and for ourselves.  


The seeds of the joy and pride I experienced that day were planted within another moment among wildflowers. Forty years ago(give or take) on another beautiful sunny day, I was at my grandparent’s house. Just old enough to go walking in the magical backyard by myself, I explored the verdant valley with a creek running to the north and the morel mushrooms on the far bank where earlier that year my grandfather swung me on his arm and went hunting among the decomposing leaves under the tall trees. Up the other hill perches a house where I went to a babysitter from time to time.  I stumble past the mown grass with the stone fire chimney and the ancient lilac bushes that have since lost their cloying scent into an unmown wonderland.  What’s this?  I look out into a meadow. High grasses tickle my knees as I wade in, drawn by delicate blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace, Clover, Chicory, Fleabane, and Cress. Treasure! I pick a large bouquet and skip back toward the house to share my discovery. Did they know the beauty that lay beyond the mowed strip!? How have we not been there before? When I entered the door, my own ear to ear smile was met with an adult reaction that for some reason did not resemble my own.


Humph. Well, I don’t care what you call them, they are beautiful. I remember this being an early formative time that I realized that my thoughts were different than those around me.  What I now know is the development of the Concrete Operational phase described by Jean Piaget.  At the time, I was so grateful for the awe and wonder of those wildflowers.


Another touchstone happened during a difficult time of transition and coming into adulthood in college, Tom Petty’s album Wildflowers, hit home. Its lyrics had a message of belonging and being enough; just like those beautiful blossoms that others called weeds.


You belong among the wildflowers

You belong somewhere close to me

Far away from your trouble and worry

You belong somewhere you feel free

You belong somewhere you feel free


I have started to see a pattern of wildflowers emerge. The symbolism that all the diverse and unique plants have a purpose and a cycle, that, when allowed, they work together to support other life and more biodiversity, is not lost on me. Neither is the need for great bursts of energy followed by times of rest. The often deep roots that hold the soil despite weather and other disturbances, then produce seeds that travel far and wide to settle in other diverse and beautiful spaces. This sounds a lot like leading, parenting and teaching to me. Wildflowers mirror what us humans, ourselves, animals, can be.


These patterns in nature make me think about a new space for educators, children, and families where we can follow nature’s path. A space that is more supportive of families and their diverse needs as they travel their own path of wholehearted living. A space that is rooted in belonging and recognizing that we all bring unique attributes that can make our space special. One that is continuously growing; not growing just to become bigger or take over the market, but to look inward and realize places to improve and deepen our teaching and learning practices. One that is deeply connected to the natural world through play, observations, interactions, our food, and our future. There is the vision. More hills with more frolicking children and teammates living wholeheartedly. Now to make it a reality.


You belong among the wildflowers.

Meredith Florkey


Wildflower Child & Family Center

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