COVID & Tinkergarden
Updated 19 May 2020
We are all facing this international pandemic collectively, with each person undergoing our own unique challenges brought forth or exaggerated by the lock down.
As a mother and wife, my life has turned upside down. But through speaking to other parents I have discovered that I am not alone. We can talk about silver linings, but it does not make our struggles disappear. I think we need to talk openly about the challenges and use them as opportunities to develop solutions as well as empathy and understanding across one another who may have completely different struggles.
I am struggling to engage my children in activities on a daily basis. My 4 year old watches way too much TV, and with each episode I let him watch, I feel my guilt rise up in my chest, but the TV allows me to get chores done, to cook dinner, to answer emails, talk to my husband (who is also working from home), or tend to my 1 year old. My 1 year old keeps me on my toes by climbing everything and pulling out everything, all with a charmingly sneaky smile on his face. But we are slowly learning about the things we can do, and making peace with the things we cannot.
I also struggle with finding time to work, because I know this school and the families we serve continue to rely on me to run our Online Learning Program, and to connect through emails, phone calls, and social media. It has been a huge learning curve as we were all dealt the same blow at the same time regarding schools all being closed. Our team is wonderful and have been so imaginative and innovative in generating initiatives to keep us going, but while the challenges have been mountainous, we continue climbing. I look around and watch small businesses like this one collapsing - the stress is great.
How do we juggle our children's needs for stimulation with our lack of time and energy?
How do we manage our time at home with the children and all our responsibilities?
How do we deal with the inter-relational conflicts that arise in our homes out of stress from everything going on around us?
How can we deal with our stress in a healthy, manageable, and realistic way, in this time of Covid?
What challenges are you facing?
Measures being undertaken in lieu of reopening in September 2020:
Handwash station at entrance
Removal of shoes upon entry
Screening for symptoms and exposure before entry
Wearing of PPE - clear face shields by all staff members
Daily sanitization of toys and other learning materials
Limiting the sharing of resources between students and classes
Clear signage for social distancing of parents during drop-offs and pick-ups
Building-wide full sterilization services
Daily disinfecting of all surfaces
Increased staffing to avoid clustering of students
Strict adherence to our Health and Illness policy (staying home if ill)
Postponing (or use of technology) for any school events/fundraisers in the coming term
Tinkergarden's journey to success:
We realized early on that we will need to really dig into what Tinkergarden stands for: CREATIVITY. INNOVATION. CRITICAL THINKING. PROBLEM SOLVING. If we were going to pull ourselves through this lock down, we needed to think outside the box.
From week 2, we began planning and subsequently launched the Online Learning Programme for our students and any young child wanting to be engaged regularly. Our programme initially comprised of two components: Online School, which continues to run today, and the Aunty & Me program.
Aunty & Me offered one-on-one Zoom sessions with a certified Tinkergarden teacher to work on the specific academic needs of the children, however due to a lack of interest this program was discontinued after a few weeks.
Online School offers children access to our program of fun activities, science experiments, reading and writing, playing games, singing and dancing, exercise, and art activities. We even have a Spanish session every week! Sessions are separated by age: infants, young toddlers, older toddlers, and preschoolers to ensure the children are stimulated appropriately. The children love seeing their friends, talking and being silly with each other, and doing the fun games and activities together.
But as our business expenses continue to mount, we innovate again.
We watched our counterparts, other private schools, enlist the strategy of asking their students to reserve their space in the school during the lock down by paying their school fees. Some schools asked for full school fees while others have granted a discount. Regardless of our business expenses, we do not think this is fair to ask of families right now, and have decided not to take this route for Tinkergarden.
We decided instead to launch a GoFundMe page which we hope will be successful in helping us make it through to September so we can be here for our Tinkergarden families after schools are allowed to reopen. Anyone who wants to support us can donate. Those who believe that young children need to be active in their learning, to have opportunities to be creative and think critically, and to enjoy learning - anyone who believes that Tinkergarden is needed can support us through our GoFundMe page.
Since we refuse to ask for something for nothing, we have created a 40-page E-Book for Parents which includes many useful tools such as pages and pages of activity ideas, tips for fostering creativity and critical thinking in children, tried and true recipes to DIY learning materials, and so much more.
Next month we will be bringing something new to the table to assist you in working with your specific child while at home. We hope you stay tuned and follow along as we continue to serve you from afar.
Please consider donating to support us so we can continue to be here for you, and in doing so gain access to our Tinkergarden E-Book for Parents!