Tin Can Kids: Bringing a Welcome Structure to Sudden Homeschooling

Routines help anchor the day when normal schedules are disrupted
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Photo courtesy of Emily Kotecki
Kids all over the Triangle and beyond are getting some needed structure in the form of daily lessons and virtual field trips from Tin Can Kids, founded by two moms from Raleigh.

Parents and caregivers all over the world are trying to rapidly adapt to their new classification as homeschool teachers. In the “new normal” we’re all experiencing with closed schools, preschools and daycares because of coronavirus and COVID-19, many feel overwhelmed and are wondering what to do with young children whose daily routines have changed drastically.

Two women in Raleigh have created a “virtual one-room schoolhouse” called Tin Can Kids, where parents and their preschool- and elementary-aged children meet daily at 10 a.m. EST via Zoom video conferencing to do short lessons on a variety of topics and go on virtual field trips led by parent and child teams. Jean Grey Mohs and Emily Koteki are the moms behind this idea that is bringing joy to kids and relief to caregivers.

Kotecki’s background in museum distance learning and Mohs’ experience as an artist and educator combined to create the virtual classroom to represent “separate but together, people-focused” learning. Within 72 hours of the idea’s genesis, Tin Can Kids had a logo, a signup form, an Instagram feed with over 150 followers and 100+ signups from as far away as west Africa. Thus far, each day brings around 50 new participants. Kotecki and Mohs view Tin Can Kids as “something that anchors the day, something to look forward to during an unknown situation.”

From drawing self-portraits to caring for baby chicks to learning what lawyers do, there is a wide variety of lessons that can spark any child’s imagination. The lessons are free, are taught by parents and always include lots of interaction; be sure to catch the upcoming storytime with an added twist of a surprise dance party to the familiar favorite song “Twist and Shout.” 

When we’re all stressed and feeling a little untethered, Tin Can Kids organizers feel that “the  community gets a daily reminder that we’re not alone and that learning new things still brings joy. When isolation is the norm, having a real person teach a lesson–in a messy living room with rambunctious kids–just feels real and right and hopeful.”

Participant Susanna K., mom of two, said of her family’s experience "Tin Can Kids has brought so much joy (and just the right amount of structure) into our mess-filled, cabin-fever-y house." 

Parents and caregivers who are interested in joining in the fun can sign up here to get the link and schedule for the week.  

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