Throughout her career, Molly Cahen has maintained a few key passions.
“The first is the magic and joy that is unique to the summer camp experience. The second is hands-on learning opportunities to really give kids a sense of mastery and confidence in their own skills. And the third is how to get the school year to incorporate more of those first two,” said Molly. “It’s no wonder I found myself at Galileo, where everybody shares that same vision.”
With 15 years in summer camps and after school programs, Molly brings a wealth of experience as the program director for Galileo’s newest program, Galileo At Home.
“A lot has changed in the past year, but one thing that hasn’t changed at all is Galileo’s mission to inspire innovators who are going to envision and create a better world,” said Molly. “We’re meeting this moment with a program that serves the need families have right now, bringing Galileo’s unique blend of magic, learning and joy to the school year.”
In a school year where distance learning looms large, many families have struggled with how to balance the academic, social-emotional, and physical needs of their children.
“We are finding the need for social-and-emotional learning has never been greater,” said Thomas Courtney, a fifth grade teacher. At the same time, many families find that subjects like science and the arts are being neglected in favor of “core” topics like language and math, and surveys of parents and educators indicate that student engagement across subjects is down, while family and teacher stress levels are way up.
That’s where Galileo At Home comes in. For each two-week session, a dedicated Galileo staffer works with a stable group of two to eight kids to serve up hours of fun, enriching activities that build innovation skills and boost creative confidence.
“The kids look forward to it,” said Tony, a parent in Oakland, CA. “Galileo At Home has created the opportunity for our kids to socialize with a few friends that they wouldn’t otherwise be seeing or hanging out with, since schools are physically closed.”
That sentiment was echoed by Richard, a parent in Castro Valley, CA. “Our kids are engaged, happy, and the Galileo staff has been great! Our pod experience reflects the Galileo quality and values we’ve experienced over many years,” said Richard.
“We found that families can have very different needs when it comes to coverage,” said Emily Kuhlmann, Galileo’s VP of Camp Operations. “That’s why Galileo At Home is designed to be inherently flexible.” Families choose the schedule that works best for them, with options for three, four, or five days of coverage per week.
On any given day, Galileo At Home instructors might lead their group of kids in a set of active collaborative games, hands-on projects that utilize elements of design thinking, and even lend a hand for some homework help.
“Our group’s instructor is very sweet,” said Tony, the parent from Oakland. “She always arrives early to set up and is very conscientious about cleaning up. She invites and is open to feedback and is flexible and amenable.”
Each Galileo at Home instructor is carefully vetted and work with just one group for the duration of the session. All staff are trained on safety protocols, including recommended use of face coverings, hand washing practices, and other guidelines as recommended by the CDC and local health authorities. But Galileo staff aren’t just well-versed in keeping kids safe: they’re also experts in helping kids have a great time.
“Our staffer was amazing with the kids,” said Davina, a Burlingame, CA parent, of her group’s experience. “She did a great job of adapting to their skill level and ability!”
“The feedback from families so far has been fantastic,” said Emily, who closely supports the program. “In fact, every single family who signed up for the first Galileo At Home sessions renewed for a second round.”
“I cannot wait for even more kids to experience this program,” said Molly, the Galileo At Home program director. “Whether it’s the incredible projects or silly songs and games, these are things that really allow kids to turn to a neighbor, smile, collaborate, and interact with one another in a way that they haven’t been able to for so many months.”