Tinkergarten Coming To Fort Scott

Maria Whitson plays with her children Asher, Judah, and Malachi in Gunn Park last week.

The thought of a classroom without walls intrigued Maria Whitson.

Whitson, from Garland, first found out about an organization called Tinkergarten when a friend from Kansas City referred her saying she would be a good leader.

“When I went to their website, I lit up,” Whitson said. ” Being outdoors with a group of parents and children.  Playing and educating, growing together, all of it caught my attention.”

Founded in 2012, Tinkergarten is a nationwide play-based, outdoor learning class designed for children ages 18 months to 8 years, and their parents.

According to recent statistics, children’s free play time is declining, and it’s diminishing the chances to develop critical life skills, she said.

Free spring trial classes will be offered at 10 a.m. March 29 and 31 at Gunn Park.

Then classes will be held each Thursday, April 12 through May 31
 from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

In a 5-part class each week Whitson will facilitate an expert-designed play scenario, allowing children of various ages and needs to explore, problem solve, communicate, collaborate, and create together, according to the Tinkergarten.com website. Parents and caregivers learn, too, and share insights into a child’s development.

To register go to Tinkergarten.com.

The cost is $140 per student for 8 sessions. An installment plan is available. There is a 30% discount for each additional sibling.

Some benefits of Tinkergarten provided by Whitson are:

●  Spending time outdoors provides children with a wide range of health benefits including social and emotional well-being. Research shows that time outdoors supports improved relationship skills, and reduces stress, anger, and aggression.

  •  80 percent of brain development occurs before the age of five. Children build foundational skills in their first five years that will affect the rest of their learning and life.
  •  In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, parents need to balance the screen time with outdoor time to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids.

“I’m bringing this incredible early-childhood education program to Fort Scott, to help children develop critical capabilities such as self-reliance, creativity, persistence and problem-solving skills, all proven benefits of play-based, outdoor learning, ” she said.

“I became a leader because I want to get my children outdoors more and be intentional about creating learning experiences with them.  The opportunity for me to lead a Tinkergarten class was exactly the motivation and training that I was looking for.  I am thrilled that I get to not only have that opportunity for my children and myself but also for other families.  I am so excited to be in a classroom without walls.”


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