Archana and I met one fateful day while teaching neighborhood children’s classes in New York, and at the time we didn’t foresee that we’d be launching a new educational line for kids. But that’s exactly what happened.
As we taught character education to children from 10 families, we discovered that parents wanted quality education for their kids—including character education—but it is so easy as a parent to run out of ideas and get in the mode of just reacting to bad behavior. Where could parents turn for ideas and tools?
I work as a nanny full-time, and my main concern is to do my best to model and encourage good behavior and the development of empathy, grit, courage, honesty, generosity, etc. Yet it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day to-do and to-go lists that by the time I have a moment to be creative about teaching a life lesson- I'm exhausted and out of ideas!
It is easy to just plop kids in front of a toy, an iPad or the television. But whatever product you use to entertain children, all have their own set of values and ideas of what children should be like as adults. What we realized is that there are so many toys/games/products out there for children that focus on bringing out a child’s vanity and inner consumer. There is not a lot out there that is created with the noble nature of a child in mind. We are creating something that looks at children as bringing light into the world and we see how playtime can be a space where children can actively learn/play/imagine themselves as noble beings and contributors to their communities.
With Archana's business background and my childcare and education background, we set out to build Happy Heart Kid from the ground up as a solution to this problem.
Our process is simple: brainstorm ideas, test them with kids, and collaborate with parents who always have brilliant ideas! Lastly, we work with Montessori teachers who help us infuse fun and creativity with cognitive exercises that prep kids for success for life long learning.
Once we have a working prototype of a box, we send them out to parents and friends for more testing and feedback. Feedback is essential as we want to make sure our kits are fun, easy to use, and meaningful for even the busiest of families.
Each kit has four components: a workbook, a creative craft activity, imaginative play, and a connect and share project.
We see these kits less as toys and more as resources for families. They can be used in any way parents and kids like, but what’s really special is that they open up a chance to talk about complex and important topics.
What I realized after reflecting with parents is that each toy, product, and book out there for children really facilitates what an interaction will be all about. For example with a Lego set—the interaction will be about building and the conversation most likely will be about building as well. So our intention is to provide a fun set of activities that is created with the purpose of spurring dialogue with children about character development as they do what they love to do most-- play!