Tinkergarten: Learning Through Play

Tinkergarten: Learning Through Play

by Steve Gamel

We want our kids to excel in the classroom and become better versions of themselves. But there’s a movement going on right now to make sure children and their families don’t overlook the role outdoor play has in that educational process.

Let us introduce you to Tinkergarten, a national high-quality outdoor program that brings families together in a natural place in their communities for classes where kids learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. These classes are available all over the country, including right here in Denton County, and help kids from as young as 18 months to eight years old develop core life skills such as creativity, problem-solving, empathy, collaboration, and persistence in what is being promoted as a classroom without walls.

“As the education system has moved toward standardized testing, our kids spend less time outdoors. We’re leaving out play, which is the root of education,” said Marta Lusk, a former public school teacher who jumped at the chance to join the Tinkergarten movement and now leads classes at Harold Bessire Park in Carrollton. “We need academics, but we need children to learn through play.”

She added, “I tell kids, ‘This green area is your class. You can go anywhere so long as your mom and dad can see you.’”

Each week, explorers are presented with a new play scenario as they learn in a supportive, mixed-age social group. According to a parents survey on the Tinkergarten website, 93 percent of parents surveyed learned how to support their child’s development, and 85 percent of parents saw their kids become more careful observers of nature, which helped develop their ability to focus. Finally, 87 percent of families now spend more time outdoors. In a press release this April, the program – which launched its first class in 2015 – welcomed its 100,000th child.

For more information, visit tinkergarten.com.

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