About six years ago when my first child was heading into toddler-hood and I was considering going back to work part time; I began looking into possible childcare centers. Having an education background and learning about child development in my Bachelor’s programs let me know that I was sure I wanted to find a play-based program. I searched for one near me. And searched. And searched some more. OK, maybe I could find one that was play based at least 50% of the time. Nope, nothing, zilch, nada, nil. I was struck by the fact that there were no programs that were developmentally appropriate.
After more research I stumbled across the only one I could find; Sunflower Creative Arts which was in Boca Raton at the time. I lived 45 minutes south of their facility, my son hated the car (he was always the one who had to move constantly; another reason I knew an academic preschool wouldn’t work for him). I looked at this program with awe and wonder from a distance. I got snippets of information from other parents that were in my mommy groups and were lucky enough to attend Sunflower Creative Arts.
“Sunflower is so amazing, the kids get to choose what they want to play with each day.”
“The kids get to play outside whenever they want.”
“They have their own garden.”
“They have an amazing community of parents.”
“Their nature playscape is so wonderful and child friendly”
With each new comment from parents; it bolstered my determination to start something similar for children in Broward County. We slowly built a community of parents who believed in Nature Based Early Childhood all because of Ms. Susan. I am sure she had no clue the impact she would make on an entire community, but we believe heavily in the philosophy of Nature, Art, and Play she pioneered in South Florida over 25 years ago.
I finally had a chance to meet Ms. Susan for the first time on June 14th, 2019. I was starstruck and so excited. I hugged her before she had a real chance to say hello. I was pleasantly surprised by her humility. I explained the effect she had on me for over 5 years and how we were trying to create something similar in Broward. Her reply was; “Yes, we need more and I am happy to help you.” My tour of Sunflower which is now housed in Delray Beach was magical. I learned so much from that hour. More than any class I have ever taken.
Ms. Susan’s Key Points:
Take my time, continue to believe in the power of play, and work hard. Our nature based school will definitely happen, and we are so close to making sure the dream comes true. Kids everywhere deserve to PLAY~!