US-based outdoor play specialist Tinkergarten receives $21M investment boost
Tinkergarten, a United States-based ‘pioneer’ in dedicated outdoor play-based learning classes for young children, has announced that it has secured a $21 million investment to help it expand its geographic reach and to develop its brand globally.
Founded in 2012 by Meghan and Brian Fitzgerald, Tinkergarten facilitates classes for 18-month to five-year-old children in a range of outdoor settings such as the beach, mountains, parks, woods and yard.
During Tinkergarten programs, the designated leader of the class will formulate a play scenario which will allow children to explore, problem solve, communicate, collaborate and create.
Tinkergarten programs may be of interest to the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, with the approved learning frameworks for early childhood and outside school hours care (OSHC) with the Early Years Learning Framework offering the following:
Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors. Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education.
During a Tinkergarten session, which does not fall under any required regulatory framework, play scenarios are put forward to scope children’s play, and can include locating objects such as leaves or sticks and then working with the found objects together, playing in puddles or making mud, going for walks, identifying insects and worms, and so on. The sessions are classified into different types such as ‘design and build it’, ‘games’, ‘get messy’, ‘solve it;, and ‘natural art’.
Parents can select their choice of days, settings, leaders and class types through the company’s digital platform which acts as a central destination for the Tinkergarten community.
As of today Tinkergarten programs are available in 50 US states and a network of over 2,000 facilitators that are trained to deliver healthy, social and engaging learning experiences to children and their families.
The investment in Tinkergarten comes from WndrCo, a holding company that invests in business involved in consumer technologies that they feel have long-term potential.
Commenting on the investment, Ann Daly, partner at WndrCo, noted “Tinkergarten provides a unique and thoughtful way to engage with children in their early learning that is different from anything we’ve seen.”
Further information about the Tinkergarten program is available on its website.