'LearnShare' is a new creative project developed by 'SkillsNetwork' (theskillsnetwork.org), a Women's Cooperative and Charity based in South London. Parents, carers and educators are working together to design, make and sell innovative learning tools and games – tools that mothers have said they struggle to find elsewhere.
LearnShare aims to:
1. Create games that support children's learning and development, that work for parents in busy households.
2. Give women who are not working opportunities to gain skills and work experience
3. Generate income that can fund our free training for women and other charitable activities.
Skills Network brings together women facing a range of challenging circumstances – unemployment, in-work poverty, single motherhood, domestic violence - to share ideas and concerns, learn together and work towards social change.
LearnShare tools and games will be made by women who are members of Skills Network, many of whom are looking to gain work experience and meet other mothers. We will use recycled and ethically sourced materials to make the learning tools and games.
All profits will be used to fund our free training and other charitable activities.
ABOUT YOU & LEARNSHARE
‘I am always looking for ways to support my children's learning especially my autistic son, but I find that most of the alternative/multisensory learning tools out there are designed for very young children and do not engage or interest him – or are not practical to use in my busy family household! Getting hands-on and creating these games that actually work for my son helps me take control of my sons difficulties- I am excited about working with other mothers who are tackling similar issues so we can share ideas and support each other, finding solutions that work!’ (Hannah)
LearnShare was inspired by courses run at Skills Network, in which mothers were introduced to theories, research and statistics about the various ways that children learn and made multisensory tools to try out at home. The majority of mothers found the tools useful for their children and several adapted the designs for their own children, developing amazing ideas for new tools.
The women at Skills Network know from first hand experience that different methods work for for different children. By exposing children to a variety of fun, multisensory ways to explore skills and concepts, we increase the chance of them retaining information. Traditional methods of education do not always enable this to happen.
We want to share our knowledge and tools about multisensory learning with other parents, to help them support their children's learning in alternative ways. We also want to give other them the opportunity to contribute to creating tools to confidently support their children's education.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA IN ACTION?
Through our work we have identified a gap in the market: parents do not know where to access effective tools that can support specific aspects of their children’s learning in fun, interactive ways. They feel that what is available does not work for them in busy households:
‘When you have 3 boys running round, games that require a lot of quiet time and attention from me, are not realistic…’ (Jo, mum and Skills Network member)
The Action Plan
Exploratory research and ideas generation
We have talked to teachers and parents about the kinds of things they feel would be useful for children. New ideas are pinned to our ‘Ideas Wall’ and developed through discussions, drawings, creation of models and asking carpenters and other craftspeople about designs and materials. We have completed this process with our first set of tools.
Trials and refining designs
This is the stage we are currently at with our first sets of tools.
Making trial tools, getting feedback from parents and teachers, and refining designs. Trialing and critiquing through focus groups, 1:1 play sessions.
We plan in this quarter to work with a marketing expert to identify key markets and retail mechanisms.
Sourcing of materials. Small scale production by women who are members of Skills Network cooperative, supported by expert ‘makers’ (carpenters, prop-makers and others who have agreed to help us)
Local parents will be able to attend creative ideas generating sessions at Skills Network and workshop days with professionally skilled ‘makers’ to create tools.
At this stage we will ensure that products meet all health and safety standards and regulations, and establish best copyright mechanisms.
This is a small-scale, local enterprise: tools and games will be sold at local boutiques and through our online sales platform, We will also offer them to interested schools. We will at the end of year display all our tools at relevant exhibitions and trade fairs.
Multisensory Magic: using touch and play and all the senses to describe things, understand concepts of space and movement, improve fine motor skills, work the imagination and develop speech and language skills!
Maths games: does your child feel anxious about maths? Or struggle to remember their times-tables? These games help children grasp foundational numerical concepts - from addition to algebra. We also have fun memory games and tools using song, creativity and play to remember number facts!
Cooperative Working games: How can you talk to your child about different perspectives? About understanding other people? About speaking and listening in ways that will help them form positive relationships and better understand the world? These games are designed for you and your child to practice communication and cooperation skills.
Games are designed to work for ALL children, including children with a range of Special Needs.
Deadlines & Targets
By December 2014:
• Have trialed and refined Cooperative Working Packs and 2 multisensory box series tools.
By March 2014:
• Have 50 Cooperative Working Packs and 50 box tools produced and ready for sale!
• Have trialed and refined Maths Games Packs
• Have Square Number Tree game ready for trial.
• More multisensory box series tools in development
• Have our online sales platform ready and up and running.
By July 2014
• Have a minimum of 50 subscribers to our monthly learning game packs and 8 types of tools ready for exhibition and sale at relevant trade fairs.
WHY ARE WE CROWDFUNDING?
All our work is about people coming together in a spirit of community and interdependence: everyone's contribution, no matter what it is, is important. We are a small, community organization. We do not have access to major investors or capital. But we firmly believe that if we all work together we can make something special and worth-while really happen.
Crowdfunding fits with our ethos. Whether you can donate 1 or 100 pounds, whether you can give us feedback on our tools or forward our campaign to others you feel might be interested, your contribution is crucial and valued. You are part of our network.
It also helps us spread the word about the work we are doing, and crowdfunding offers a new way for us to connect and expand our network, and welcome people who want to get involved!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is involved?
Skills Network members Peroline Ainsworth a SEN (Special Educational Need) teacher and Hannah Emmons a fine art graduate and mother of two children one whom is diagnosed with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) decided to collaborate and make the project happen. There are other members of the collective involved in the LearnShare project, plus a variety of Skills Network associates and volunteers with craft based backgrounds happy to help the making process run smoothly.
We are also working with a range of experts in SEN and teaching and will use funds raised here to hire an enterprise planning and marketing expert.
More about Skills Network
Skills Network is a women’s cooperative and charity based in south London. We bring together women facing a range of challenging circumstances to share ideas and concerns, learn together and work towards social change. We create and offer a range of diverse activities focused on supporting families in the area: training in techniques to support your child’s learning; skills in working together cooperatively and how to build these abilities in your children; support towards employment; and the opportunity to learn about, analyse and affect wider social and political processes through our participatory research and social action work.
As a cooperative we are not set up as 'professionals' delivering a 'service' to others. Rather, we all get involved with making decisions and organising activities. We feel that everyone's knowledge and experiences are equally valuable and important, and that everyone's contribution is crucial. We work towards shared power and leaderships.
Want to get involved?
Do you have experience or skills in carpentry? Props making? Product development? Marketing? Teaching? We are always looking for education experts and 'makers' to help us with this project. We are also always keen to hear from parents and children to trial our activities and games! If you are interested, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check out our website: www.theskillsnetwork.org.