Apr 3

Announcing: Tinkergarten joins Highlights for Children, and launches Tinkergarten for Teachers

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Just over a decade after our first Tinkergarten class, we reflect on how far we’ve come and announce two exciting next steps on our journey.

Where We Started

The seeds of Tinkergarten started to sprout even before we had our own explorers (i.e. kids). While Meghan was working as a school principal and Brian was leading product development for an ed-tech start up, our dinner conversations focused on a shared concern for the young people we were supporting in our work. How would they become as resilient, empathetic, and creative and capable as they’ll need to be for the world they’ll inherit? 

We also observed that childhood today included far more structure and pressure and only half of the time to play outdoors as the generation before enjoyed. With the rise of mobile devices and apps, we trusted our kids would be active creators and consumers of technology, but we worried about how they would self-regulate, develop strong human connections and form a deep connection to their planet. 

We hypothesized that two of the most powerful forces in children’s development—play and nature—needed to be strong, core parts of children's and families’ lives. So we created Tinkergarten as a way to help all kids become capable, curious, caring and creative learners through outdoor play. When we offered our pilot class in a park in Brooklyn, NY we were not surprised that other families responded. What has been a joyful discovery since is just how universal the response to Tinkergarten has been and continues to be.

Where We’ve Been

Over the past 10 years, we’ve perpetuated some remarkable momentum in this outdoor play movement, all in partnership with a beautiful community of over 500,000 committed educators, kids and families, across all 50 states. For 34 seasons, grown ups and kids alike have gathered in shared green spaces to sing like sparrows, sip Tinkergarten tea, gather nature treasures and celebrate the rhythms of the natural world, even at dusk by the glow of handmade lanterns.

We have expressed our learning method through in-person classes with local teachers, online classes, on-demand lessons, community events and thousands of videos, articles and activities. Tinkergarten has also driven meaningful outcomes for kids and families, impacting the way families spend their time, how children approach learning, and how they connect with other families and the green spaces in their community. 

Where We’re Headed 

When we look forward to the decades to come, we know we must continue to deliver this kind of transformative learning experience for all kids and families in a way that can reach the maximum number of families. To that end, we’re thrilled to share two exciting developments.

Tinkergarten Has Been Acquired By Highlights for Children

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Today, Tinkergarten is becoming part of the Highlights for Children family, joining on with an organization that for more than 75 years has taught and delighted so many of us, our parents and our own children. You can read more about the acquisition, mission alignment, shared ambition, and common commitment to quality learning experiences for kids. 

Across 4 generations, Highlights has remained steadfast in its mission and commitment to children as the world’s most important people, supporting parents, teachers and kids with purposeful fun designed to help kids become creative, caring, curious and confident people. This sort of long term commitment is rare in business, and especially in education with all of its complexity and inherent challenges.

That’s why our decision is different. This is a unique chance for Tinkergarten to continue to make a lasting, meaningful impact for generations to come. As a team, we’re both honored and fully energized to become part of this wonderful organization and grab this next rung of the ladder toward providing a better foundation for kids, no matter what the world may bring them. 

Announcing Tinkergarten for Teachers

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On our path forward, we will continue to serve families directly through Tinkergarten Anywhere—an easy way to get all the best of Tinkergarten via an on-demand, subscription service. And, as of today, we’re evolving to support even more teachers with the same high quality programming, yet with greater flexibility. Starting today, teachers can subscribe to Tinkergarten for Teachers to get the curriculum, training, community and support they need to teach Tinkergarten in the way that works for them and the kids and families they serve. 

Teachers will now have the flexibility to teach Tinkergarten to children and caregivers in local green spaces or to children in group learning settings, including preschools, k-2 classrooms, forest schools, homeschool co-ops, pods, daycares, libraries, community centers, faith-based centers, and more.

What will Spring bring?

Starting this Spring, families will have two ways to learn and earn their TG badges: 

  • Follow our curriculum at their own pace with Tinkergarten Anywhere—our on-demand format. 

  • AND, Search on tinkergarten.com to find a local TG Teacher who is offering classes featuring the Tinkergarten program. 

No matter what format families choose, we’ll all be following one set of lessons this Spring, designed to help kids strengthen our human superpower—Empathy. Families and teachers can go to tinkergarten.com to see how the program works and find the way to Tinkergarten that works best for you! 

With our deepest gratitude to each and every member of our Tinkergarten community, and now further expanded by the Highlights family, we look forward to taking these exciting next steps together on our journey to inspire and serve all children and families. 

With joy, hope and gratitude,

Meghan and Brian Fitzgerald, Tinkergarten Founders

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Meghan Fitzgerald

Founder

After 20+ years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, I have my dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including my own, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, I worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. I earned a BA with majors in English and Developmental Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained to become a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. My worldview is formed in response to my environment, culture, family, identity and experiences. What I write in this blog will inevitably betray the blind spots I have as a result—we all have them! Please reach out if there are other perspectives or world views I could consider in anything I write about. I welcome the chance to learn and update any pieces to broaden our shared perspective!

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