A Dubai-based startup's mission to make learning fun for kids
Parenting during Covid-19 is no mean feat, with families expected to be more actively involved to help children with their online learning. Now, a brand new Dubai-based startup has intertwined education with fun by designing a set of games that aim to enhance children's number, alphabet, colour and shape recognition skills. Lea's Kit is available in both English and Arabic, though the creators maintain the Arabic version has been an instant hit ever since the kits were launched in early August. The initiative is brainchild of Dubai-based mother-daughter duo Hoda Yamoud and Lara Bitar and their family.
The idea was borne out of a familial dilemma. "Lara had been out of a job since she left teaching two years ago when giving birth to her daughter Lea, while Hoda, who has 22 years of teaching experience, lost her job due to the current situation at the end of June 2020. Also, their husbands' jobs were at risk due to the pandemic, so we began to think about what they could do during these difficult times and came up with the concept," says Lara's husband Jad Bittar who looks at the business side of things.
The set of games aims to help children aged between one and five with educational development, by enhancing motor and sensory skills and developing capabilities to be school-ready with basic knowledge of things. The sensory kits for one- and two-year-olds include home-made safe sand, made from food and cooking ingredients and safe playdough, which is home-made using safe cooking ingredients. For three- and four-year-olds, there are tracing activities that help children develop their writing skills and recognise numbers and alphabets by tracing them. The more advanced option for four- and five-year-olds is aimed to enhance knowledge with numbers and alphabets.
The process of designing each kit is fairly rigorous. Jad says it takes around 1-1.5 hours to produce with 2-3 people working on various aspects, such as printing, laminating, cutting, binding, and packaging. "There is also a lot of time spent on research, working out what mechanics need to be developed, areas of educational development and enhancement before a kit even goes to production."
It also helps that both Hoda and Lara have a background in teaching. "This was definitely a major help because we had hands-on experience on what children lack and what they need to develop their knowledge and skills, and also what parents face at home," the duo says.