Parents turn to learning boxes to keep their kids educated during COVID-19

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PFLUGERVILLE (KXAN) — It started with an idea after Tina Schnell’s son was born. 

“I was coming up with a lot of the activities when he was 2 and 3,” said Schnell. “And thought, well, a lot of parents need this. It would be nice to have something so simple that’s all ready for you.”

The mother of three created The Preschool Box, which is a monthly educational subscription box for preschoolers that includes lesson plans and materials.  

“Every month you get a box delivered to your door that has a curriculum that comes with at least 16 activities,” explained Schnell. “They are broken up over a 4-week period and then you get learning objectives for each box.” 

Schnell, who is a former kindergarten teacher, designed boxes for kids 3 to 6 years old. It costs less than $40 a month and includes shipping. She said during the coronavirus pandemic she’s mailing boxes worldwide. 

“When we designed the box, we wanted something that was easy for parents, especially right now with COVID with preschoolers at home that may have normally been in a preschool setting,” said Schnell. “You have a lot more kids at home and with working parents or with older siblings doing virtual learning…we don’t want to neglect the preschoolers.”

Schnell explained that the curriculum for each box is based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) state standards for what students should know and be able to do. 

“We focus on reading, writing and math,” said Schnell. “Learning the letters, learning the sounds, writing the sounds and the words. We cover math skills like sorting, addition, subtraction.”

Schnell launched the Preschool Box four years ago. She said during COVID-19 her sales have doubled.

Karah Powell was looking for something for her grandson Landon. 

Karah Powell said her grandson is very close to reading at 3-years-old after getting started on the learning boxes (Courtesy: Karah Powell) 

“His dad is a fifth grade elementary teacher and they were busy doing Zoom’s for school, and his sister was trying to learn how to do online school, and his mama is a nurse,” said Powell “He was not getting everything he needed as a 3-year-old.”

Powell had his first box delivered and said Landon’s grandfather on his dad’s side picked up the next month. 

“The Preschool Box gave everyone a very organized opportunity to help Landon…become better at identifying his colors, his numbers. He’s almost ready to start reading,” said Powell. 

Schnell is working on partnering with several school districts across the country and even some child care centers. 

She said even with virtual learning the schools are looking for something to send their students that’s more hands on. 

“Just building the foundation of enjoying learning, and wanting to learn, and being 
excited goes a really long ways – to have that foundation before you even walk into the doors of school,” said Schnell. 

According to the website, portions of proceeds from each box help buy school supplies and other needs for children at the Rafiki Orphanage in Uganda, Africa. 

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