Wellington, Florida is a fabulous place to live—unique in many ways. Most notably, it is the home of the Winter Equestrian Festival, the longest running and largest equestrian competition in the world. Wellington is also the home to both Dressage and Polo festivals and, therefore, attracts horse enthusiasts and competitors from across the globe.
Every winter, thousands of individuals travel to Wellington as part of this equine phenomenon. Competing here carries such potency that often entire families follow a mother, father, or child involved in the sport.
While a magical location for anyone affiliated with horses—or really anyone interested in escaping the cold weather—frequently younger children, who couldn’t care less about equestrianism—come along for the ride.
The youngest members of families leave their homes, their schools, their friends, and their comfort zones and travel great distances to spend months in Wellington. This upheaval can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming to elementary-aged children. Even young equestrian transplants that relish the opportunity to compete all winter miss what they left behind.
Elementary school is about more than learning the ABC’s and 123’s. It’s about learning how to interact in a social environment, make new friends, and adapt to a routine and structure. We develop the building blocks of all future learning while sitting in our Kindergarten classroom.
Parents recognize, therefore, that they need to consider the academic, emotional, and social needs of their youngest children when they move to south Florida for Equestrian Season.
Countless activities targeted at young children exist in Wellington and the surrounding areas. H.A.P.P.Y Place Gym allows kids to run around and release excess energy. Ms. Amy’s Music is perfect for the littlest ones who respond joyfully to music and rhythm. The Wellington Community Center can prove an invaluable resource for year-round and seasonal families to connect and participate in structured activities for all ages.
Open Minds Academy (OMA), located in the heart of Wellington, has developed school-like programs that encourage students to engage with their peers as well as maintain the sense of normalcy they are craving from back home. Students make life-long friends with others their age facing the same challenges of displacement while staying connected to their classmates back at school. Certified teachers regularly communicate with teachers back home so that all students can easily transition back into their classrooms when they return. Open Minds Academy offers a warm and inviting environment for young learners to thrive.
Unlike traditional tutoring centers, OMA offers full-day programs that cater to the whole childhood experience. Each student starts his/her day at gymnastics, followed by individualized instruction, then a catered lunch and, finally, a different enrichment activity each day. OMA kids love art, “brain games,” yoga, and “wacky science.” Students even get to experience the magic of computer coding. Undeniably, the best disguise for learning is fun!
Picking up and moving an entire family to Wellington for the winter is exciting—but it presents unique challenges. Keeping a smile on your children’s faces shouldn’t be one of them.
About the Author: Tyler Shernoff
Tyler Shernoff lives in Wellington, Florida with her two children: Anna (6) and Evan (2 1/2). She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and grew up right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tyler is a certified school counselor and co-owns Open Minds Academy, an individualized tutoring center that caters to the equestrian community. Tyler considers her life’s biggest challenge finding a balance between being a good mother and fully committing herself to her business. Tyler loves the pool, the beach, work, and playing with her exhausting kids.