Not Your Average School, Wonderschool Aims To Shake Up Early Education



Education will always be a central discussion. The future of young people is incredibly important, yet the obstacles in the education system are numerous and difficult. Each stage of education is another checkpoint passed, then a completely different set of hurdles to jump. What’s really important is establishing a good foundation.

Children, for the first eight years of life, are naturally acquiring language skills, social skills, everything that foundationally helps them develop as miniature human beings. But, developmentally sufficient childcare and early education programs are growing scarcer by the day.

Naturally, in our there’s an app for that society, Arrel Gray and Chris Bennett banded together to create Wonderschool.

Both centering on the reality that finding affordable, quality early childhood education and educators have become increasingly difficult, they blazed their own trail.

“We wanted to deliver a solution for parents that also had the potential to create jobs and empower the caregiver — that’s Wonderschool,” said Bennett.

So, that’s what they did. Researching preschool and daycare workers wages, they discovered the need to provide not only more places for quality education and childcare but better platforms for educators to work and thrive.

“When we had the idea we thought, ‘what’s the best way to test this? Why don’t we start a preschool ourselves?’ So we rented a home in the Berkeley Hills, hired an amazing educator, set up a school and started one,” Bennett remarked on their initial foray into the education realm.

It turned out to be wildly successful, with happy students, parents, and teachers. The Wonderschool idea turned some heads then, raising an initial $4.1 million in funding to make it a reality. Wonderschool’s platform provides ways for existing teachers and caregivers to start their own in-home schools and also works with people outside of the education sphere to help get them licensed. They have a preparatory bootcamp type thing for fledgling caregivers and each individual school is free to use whatever curriculum and school formats they want. Truly tailored learning. Where most people hire professionals for everything from outdoor projects to education, they thought to bring the profession into the home and build it from there. Why buy when you can build?

It’s being addressed as the Airbnb of schools. In this sense, the software application can be accessed and people can choose in-home schools tailored to their children, schedules, price points, and any other factors they wish.

Bennett summarizes their goal succinctly: “The challenge is that there aren’t enough programs for the number of children needing public or private schooling…and our goal is to provide enough supply for every child.”

With $20 million more in funding, Wonderschools aim to expand beyond the current locations in San Franciso, Los Angeles, and New York City. The challenges are difficult and the goals are ambitious, but it’ll be interesting to see how Wonderschool stands to disrupt an education system that so badly needs some inspiration.

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