The start-up putting working parents’ minds to rest

science kids

After noticing how little conventional school holiday venues had to offer, former school teacher, Winifred Hanson, decided to create workshops that would offer children a wide range of activities that are both fun and educational.  

Understanding all too well how school holidays can be a difficult time for working parents who often have to drag their unwilling children to boring holiday workshops, former school teacher, Winifred Hanson, felt it was time that someone did something about it.

Her disappointment with the level of quality workshops available for children during school holiday periods, drove her to design SWISH Education, a holiday venue that aims to engage children with their natural creative instincts.

“The concept was born out of my son’s frustration and rejection of a holiday workshop we sent him to when he was 10. They offered nothing more than video and board games. He refused to go. As an educator, I realised there could be much more engaging opportunities for children,” Hanson explained.

Unlike many conventional school holiday venues that offer nothing more than video and board games, SWISH education was designed to offer kindergarten and primary school children a wide range of workshops including anthropology, forensics, engineering, chemistry and many more.

Since its launch in Canberra three years ago, the outcome has been positive with over 1000 children who have already attended the workshops and eager parents who want to participate in all the fun.

“The response has been overwhelming and the business has been growing very quickly through word of mouth,” said John Grimes, Director of Operations, SWISH Education.

In 2012,  SWISH Education won the ACT Telstra Business Award for Start-ups. The win and exposure attracted private investors including a Melbourne-based private equity company who put up almost $1 million to expand the concept to six locations in Sydney, and five in Melbourne and Brisbane, and even overseas to the US and UK markets.

Grimes said that SWISH Education takes a unique, fun and  inventive approach to teaching subjects like mathematics that are often tough to follow at school.

“There’s a ‘Guinness Book’ workshop where the kids measure how far the world’s fastest man can run in five seconds and they then compete against that number. The kids have a fantastic day and what they don’t know is that they’ve just done mathematics … units, lengths, measurements, distance. They’ve had so much fun learning, they didn’t even know they were learning,” he said.

Grimes went on to explain that responses from children have been immensely positive, with parents often reporting back that their children couldn’t stop describing the minute details of their day.

“The real test that we have, [to get a better understanding of what the children think of the workshops] is by finding out what the child does when they get in the car with the parents at the end of the day, and what conversation they have on their way home. We get reports back from parents who say their kids couldn’t stop talking about all the things they did all day!” said Grimes.

“The parents are always so surprised because when they used to pick up their kids, they would find that the kids were quite despondent, usually saying ‘can we go home already?’”

SWISH Education offers over 320 workshops. For more information visit www.swisheducation.com.au.


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