Flexible Work in Oak Park
Flexible, outdoor work teaching kids in your community. Inspire a love of both nature and learning through activity-based classes at local greenspaces in Oak Park.
Tinkergarten's play-based learning classes are the best way for kids to experience the great outdoors during Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. At Tinkergarten, we are proud to be every family’s guide to purposeful outdoor play—created by education experts and loved by families everywhere. We’re looking for great candidates to become Tinkergarten Leaders and reach more families in Oak Park. Maybe that’s you or someone you know!
Why our Leaders love being part of Tinkergarten:
- Working Outdoors: Our classroom is nature, and connecting with kids and families in local greenspaces—away from screens—is truly joyful.
- Flexible Schedules: Our sessions are 1-hour long, and you pick the day and time that works best for your schedule. Lead as many classes as you like!
- Bring Your Kid(s): Have kids of your own? Bring them to class (free of charge) and they can gain all the benefits of the amazing Tinkergarten Curriculum.
- Set Up for Success—All Leaders receive thorough training in our play-based learning model and marketing support to attract families.
- Meaningful Work—The program helps kids develop a strong foundation in 8 essential skills they’ll need to become capable, confident and creative learners.
- Social—Build strong connections with other families in your community.
Join our team and get more families in Oak Park learning through outdoor play!
“I’ve got a whole new definition of what work can be. I spend my time helping kids and parents in my community, and I’m learning more about myself than I ever have. I’m outdoors more, I get exercise, get messy and laugh, and my son tags along with me—I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”
Tinkergarten Leader, Brooklyn, NY
Who can become a Tinkergarten Leader?
Our Leaders bring a wide range of talents and experiences to their work. You don’t need a formal teaching credential to be a successful Leader. All you need is:
- A Joy and passion for play
- A love of nature and your community
- A natural ability to connect with kids and adults
- A supportive, team spirit
- A respect for all people and living things
How flexible is the work?
Choose the time, location and amount of classes you run. It’s up to you. If you are a parent, your kids can participate in the program for free. Training is flexible and takes place online. Choose from day or evening sessions to ensure you can balance the work with life.
What does the application process entail?
The application process includes five steps, and is designed to ensure that candidates and our team have the chance to know one another and identify if this is a true, mutual match. If you are motivated, you can complete them in just a few weeks!
- Online Application (~15 minutes)
- Learn More About Tinkergarten—View 2 informational videos (~25 minutes)
- Submit a Video — Submit a demonstration of you working with kids in 4 different ways (directions supplied)
- Live Video Interview — We get to know you better and answer your questions. (~40 minutes)
- Welcome and Background Check — We welcome you and ask that you complete a secure background check
What happens once you are accepted?
Our team will welcome you into our New Leader Onboarding and Certification program. You’ll get one-on-one, group and community support as you establish your first season of classes (and ongoing!). You’ll also complete our graduate-level New Leader Course—perhaps the most loved part of becoming a Leader.
Leaders complete the self-paced, online New Leader course in their first season. It prepares them not only to deliver superb class experiences, but to more deeply understand our approach and to reflect on and develop their own special craft. The course includes self-guided and live components and covers five topics in depth:
- Tinkergarten Mission, Program Design and Impact
- Community Outreach — How to Engage and Build Local Community
- Child Development — Supporting Explorers (kids) in our Program
- Adult Development — Supporting Guides (grown ups) in our Program
- Supporting All Learners — Striving for Justice in our Work
Thank you for all the wonderful learning courses throughout the years. The training I had in child development deeply impacted the way I think about teaching. — Nicole, Leader for 14 seasons
There is just nothing better than the Tinkergarten Leader training. I would love to refer parents and myself to a paid offering of the child development portion of the training. It gave such a richness to my experience as a mother. — Ellen, Leader for 8 seasons
How are Leaders compensated?
Though there are many rewards for teaching Tinkergarten beyond monetary, including training, community, and the joy of seeing children and families thrive outside, Leaders also earn monetary compensation for every live session they lead.
How does compensation work?
Leaders are paid for every class they lead, and are paid incrementally for every enrollee in that class. Leaders can lead as many viable live classes as they wish during the 4 seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) of the year.
Compensation per session varies depending on the number of children who enroll in a given class. Here is the breakdown for our two class formats:
Tinkergarten At Home (Online)—30-minute session
9 Sessions per season
At the maximum of 15 enrolled families/class, leaders earn $51/session, or $459. At the minimum of 7 enrolled families/class, leaders earn $30/session, or $270. Classes must have a minimum of 7 enrolled families.
Tinkergarten In Person—60-minute session
9 Sessions per season
At the maximum of 15 enrolled children/class, leaders earn $100/session, or $900. At the minimum of 4 enrolled children//class, leaders earn $44/session, or $396. Classes must have a minimum of 4 enrolled children.
What other benefits do Tinkergarten Leaders receive?
Tinkergarten Leaders also receive extensive initial and ongoing training as well as curriculum and materials to support them in delivering the program, season after season. Leaders also have access to coaching, content, and programs designed to help them reach new families and grow their class communities. While active, Leaders are also encouraged to participate in a teammate's class, and can enroll their first child at no cost. Perhaps the most rewarding part of Leading is being part of an incredibly passionate, supportive professional community of early outdoor educators—our Leader team!
Learn more about the many benefits of being a Tinkergarten Leader here.
What is a Leader's relationship with Tinkergarten?
Tinkergarten Leaders are independent contractors of Tinkergarten (not employees). Tinkergarten develops, tests, refines, and provides the curriculum for every session of every season for the leader, and provides the technology platform that enables enrollment and management of each class. Tinkergarten staff also provide coaching to Leaders on best practices for delivering high-quality learning experiences for families, as well as community development. Leaders are the educators who bring the live portion of the program to life in their community. Leaders always choose when they'd like to lead classes as well as how many classes they teach each season.
Please note: Because Leaders are independent contractors, Tinkergarten does not collect taxes from Leader pay. Therefore, it is a Leader’s responsibility to claim income in excess of $400 with the IRS each year. Tinkergarten will provide the 1099 form for tax purposes to each Leader at the end of each year.
Is there a cost to becoming a Tinkergarten Leader?
There is no upfront fee required to become a fully certified Tinkergarten Leader. You’ll just need to commit to offering classes each season in your community, and you’ll start earning money after launching your first successful class.
Once you are part of the team, our team makes a significant investment to equip and prepare you to deliver the highest-quality learning experience to families in your community. This includes unlimited training, plus providing you customized technology tools, mentorship, community outreach support, coverage of any location fees, insurance, curriculum and support, season after season.
When you start your first season of classes, we send you a “starter kit”—a full set of high-quality materials to use as you teach classes, season after season. These materials are yours to keep. You do not need to spend money up front to purchase this “starter kit.” Rather, once you are compensated for your first successful season, we will deduct $100 in each of your first two successful seasons, for a total of $200 (equal to the value of the contents of this “starter kit”). To be clear, Tinkergarten does not earn money from this kit, we simply need to defray the cost to keep Tinkergarten sustainable.
As long as you continue to run successful classes, in addition to earning a stipend for each class, Tinkergarten will provide you seasonal curriculum and training, teaching materials, customized technology tools, mentorship, community outreach support, coverage of any location fees, insurance — all at no cost to you — every season.