Wyldflower is a K-8 school that reimagines education. By taking the best practices from both early childhood education and hands-on, project-based experiential learning, we strive to meet students’ needs in a flexible, mixed-age environment that expands learning past the classroom to the real world. Our diverse learning environment is designed to encourage creativity, tenacity, and citizenship. We also protect a significant portion of our day to outdoor exploration. We are tapping into the best of Sheridan Wyoming, from it’s community members to it’s breathtaking landscapes and rugged terrain.
The Wyldflower Learning Community is aptly named as it can be illustrated by Allsion Gopnik’s metaphor from ‘The Gardener and The Carpenter’. Through her years of collaboration and research, she could best describe the development of a child as a flower in a garden. A gardener provides the needed environment for the individual to thrive but can’t force the flower to grow. Today, society mostly takes a carpenters approach when educating children; actively trying to shape and create a certain person. The gardener approach, paradoxically, does lead to positive, wanted outcomes but out of the determination of the child who’s going through the learning process themselves. The advantage to the gardener approach is creating a stronger individual with better long-term outcomes while avoiding the unintended consequences of trying to control the learning process. By setting up a carefully designed environment, we are creating a place where children’s minds can optimally grow, obtaining the skills and knowledge needed to live healthy, successful lives. By intentionally integrating outdoor exploration we allow our children to flourish in a natural setting in the wild areas of Wyoming.
Empirically authenticated research greatly influences our approach. Practices and concepts that can be attributed to well-being (physical and psychological) are incorporated into our learning space. This is where our value of play is highlighted. In the words of psychiatrists Stewart Brown, “play lights up the brain like nothing else.”
The numerous and tested benefits of play and it’s connection with the psychological term known as flow, is why we use this approach so much. If you aren’t emotionally and intellectually hooked on a topic or activity for its own sake, you aren’t optimally learning. Incorporating as much play as possible ensures students are intrinsically growing over time.
This play isn’t merely physical play but includes reading, writing, art, music… anything done for the pure sake of being lost in the experience. With attuned staff asking questions and offering experiences, students make deep connections that feel like first time discoveries.
Using three learning journeys a year will provide a framework for deeply engaged, project-based learning. Through this process, children develop the skills to problem-solve, listen, communicate, empathize, research, compute, and analyze. Just as importantly, their curiosity and creativity blooms.