Tinkergarten early childhood education program, designed for children from 18 months to 8 years, focuses on loving nature and the power of play.
Redondo Beach leader Letitia Tardros is starting a new fall season with the program, which offers family-based, year-round classes in South Bay outdoor locations including Wilderness Park in Redondo Beach, and Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach.
Tadros describes what led her to become a Tinkergarten leader.
“When I was looking for Tinkergarten, I saw that the South Bay didn’t have any classes. I knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity for our community to learn about this type of education,” she says, describing herself as passionate about the program’s philosophies on child-led learning through play, and the fact that it utilizes outdoor space as a classroom. “I also loved the idea of having a job that welcomed my children to come to class with me,” she relates.
As a teacher with experience working in the education field, Tadros found the Tinkergarten model for education and their philosophies about learning in nature were much aligned with her own.
“What attracts me to Tinkergarten is the idea that children need to spend more time outdoors, and that learning should be child-led. We say in Tinkergarten that the students are the explorers and the adults are the guides; we’re placing children in the driver’s seat,” she said. “Additionally, I love that Tinkergarten uses technology to help spread their mission and to help educate families about learning. Tinkergarten’s unique balance of nature and technology promotes an equal and powerful resource for our families. I feel the work that we do will help to prepare our children for a very different looking future.”
The Tinkergarten program was founded by Meghan and Brian Fitzgerald, who were inspired while exploring early childhood education choices for their first child.
Meghan Fitzgerald’s background, like Tadros, was in education, serving as an elementary school principal, math and science specialist, and a teacher in both public and private schools in New York, Massachusetts, and California.
Brian Fitzgerald developed consumer digital products, and strongly believed in the concept of products and services that aided learning, developing products and services for higher education, grades K-12, and early learning programs. Their combined experience, as well as what they wanted for their own child, led them to create the Tinkergarten concept.
Tadros describes the special nature of Tinkergarten as understanding that “play is a powerful and necessary part of learning. Play is important for child development—experts know it is how children develop across the board. Tinkergarten celebrates play, teaches adults to how to facilitate play, and reminds adults to play along, too.”
A native New Yorker who’s lived in the South Bay for 7 years, Tadros currently teaches two different age groups in the program.
“I teach both our Babies program for 6 to 18-month-olds, and our mixed-age kids program designed for 1.5 to 8-year-olds. I’m also testing out bringing Tinkergarten out to a local school as a pilot program.” She adds “This fall, I’m partnering with The Knowing Garden in Redondo Beach, and it’s going so well. Families really want this experience for their children. They see and feel the benefits of what Tinkergarten provides, and it shows. Tinkergarten is for absolutely for everyone.”