The Enchanted Forest Community Center will be buzzier for the next few months.
The North Miami City Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday to allow Buzzy Kids Inc., a local organization, to establish itself at the underused Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Community Center, 1725 NE 135 St., for parent-led early childhood education programs until May.
The program emphasizes parents being involved as much and often as possible in the early development of their children. The involvement is particularly important during the ages when parents would normally send their kids to pre-school, the first six years.
“We’re a community of parents looking for educational activities for our younger kids: babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers,” said Buzzy Kids President Patricia Leon.
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Buzzy Kids Inc. has not yet received its 501 non-profit status from the IRS, according to Leon.
Registration, which is for each family, costs $150 and there is a monthly payment of $150. The city will keep 20 percent of revenue from registration. Up to 35 families can register their kids between ages 2 and 6. The money collected will be used to pay for the program’s activities, Leon said.
Parents can register their families by calling Leon at 786-499-5726, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The program will operate Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The curriculum includes math, science, geography, history, sensory development, arts and music. It is based on the Montessori approach of providing independence and freedom with limits while respecting a child’s mental, physical and social development.
“I couldn’t find the type of activities I was looking for my daughter to do so I decided to raise her in the Montessori approach,” Leon said. “We believe that what kids learn when we send them to school may not be consistent with what they’re learning at home.”
Kids in the program will learn about nature by growing their own vegetables. There is a nature-based music class in which kids create instruments from recycled materials. The program also aims to teach parents to be tolerant of other parents who come from different backgrounds and religions so they can in turn develop that sort of tolerance with their children.
“They need to learn to love this country that is now our children’s country,” said Leon, a native of Peru.
One parent-led playgroup is what the program started with in its early days. It now serves more than 200 families in Miami-Dade and Broward without a main facility to call home. It has taken place in parents’ homes since 2011 and needs a permanent home to be able to grow and make the commute easier for parents.
A parent or legal guardian must be present for every activity. They are able to make their own schedules but will have four responsibilities: help with clean up once a month, help with fundraising, and actively serve on a committee and attend two to three annual general membership meetings.
“The family life should change to be more consistent with what you want your child to be like as an adult and with what you’re teaching them now,” Leon said.