Bricks 4 Kidz recently opened a learning center at 530 Piermont Road in Closter. The franchise has 10 locations throughout the Garden State and has learning centers nationwide.
Brandy Sharrock and Charles Tsocanos oversee the Closter location with the goal of making STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education fun. They offer afterschool programs, as well as summer camps and birthday parties, with getting to build Legos being the main attraction.
"The kids are often learning but they don't even realize it," Sharrock said. "It unlocks parts of their brain and allows the children to become more creative."
Sharrock became interested in finding different methods for her children to learn after her and her husband decided to homeschool their four kids. She discovered the Bricks 4 Kids approach and eventually decided to partner with Tsocanos on a franchise. Their franchise opened in early 2020.
You can guess what happened next. Suddenly a hands on approach to learning that encourages cooperation wasn't the best idea, forcing Sharrock and Tsocanos to go virtual. Luckily for them, the virtual approach worked and they were finally able to set up a physical location.
Sharrock said having their own location gives more kids greater access to programs and allows kids who go to different schools to interact.They currently see more than 500 kids a week, Sharrock said.
Tsocanos said their approach helps capture prolong kid's attention spans, which are at an all-time low.
"Thirty years ago, a kids attention span was 38 minutes," Tsocanos said. "Between social media and tablets, our kids attention spans have shrunk to eight minutes. You have eight minutes to get through to a child. If you try to educate a kid for 30 minutes, it's not going to work."
By allowing kids to play with Legos, it allows them to retain more and they appreciate more what they learned, Tsocanos said. Tsocanos said it's a huge thrill to see kids start to blossom when in their program.
"Some kids come in very quiet, but after several weeks, you see their personalities start to come out," Tsocanos said. "It's exhilarating for us. You realize these kids are listening, learning, growing and blossoming. They are doing somethin they have never done before."
"They become less of a consumer of information and more of a creator," Sharrock added.
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