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5 Benefits of Participating in the Educational Materials Library

Montessori shelves featuring toys available in the Educational Materials Library

Kaleidoscope Learning was founded on creating opportunities for families that enrich the lives of young learners while simultaneously supporting the adult members of the household. Why are we so passionate about supporting both adult and child? During the COVID-19 Pandemic, our team witnessed parents struggling to provide meaningful educational experiences to their young children. Adults struggled to balance work and home life, and children's education, social experiences, and play times were unfortunately disrupted. These sudden and uncertain changes certainly had a toll on American families.

We often hear "it takes a village to raise a child!" We entirely agree, and we are striving to be that point-of-connection for all families located on the East Side of St. Paul, MN and beyond. We designed and created our Educational Materials Library to help families manage their toy collection while simultaneously providing enriching experiences for young learners. In this blog post, we outlined five benefits of participating in our Educational Materials Library:

1. Environmental Impact & Sustainability

We recently posted on Kaleidoscope Learning's Instagram account about the sustainability of the Educational Materials Library, and we are always excited to share how a toy-lending library lessens the impact on the environment. Every year, about 26.8 million toys, 90% of which were made from plastic, end up in our landfills. To avoid contributing to this statistic year after year, the Educational Materials Library allows for families to access as many toys as they would like, without having to commit to owning (and then throwing away) that specific toy. Does your child not like a toy you just brought home? No problem--stop by the Family Resource Center and exchange it for a different one.

In today's age, it is so easy to just "one-click purchase" a new toy off of Amazon and not think about the environmental impact associated with it. Unavoidably, new toys need to be shipped from factories and warehouses, and there are large carbon and transportation emissions associated with bringing a toy into a home. Our toy lending library is a community-oriented space where the burden of shipping new toys is reduced due to families borrowing and returning different materials. Why have a new shipped across the country (or world) when you can access the same toy from a space located in your neighborhood?

Keep on the look-out for a more in-depth blog about the environmental impact of our library!

2. Decluttering of Home Space and Toy Management

The stress of managing toys is something every parent battles. We hear from adults that, while they are very fortunate that they are able to give their child many educational materials and experiences, they often find themselves overwhelmed with managing the toys, including picking-up, storing, organizing, and cleaning. Our Educational Material Library is designed to mitigate the stress of toy management. Families have access to hundreds of quality, Montessori inspired, educational toys and furniture, which they can temporarily borrow at their convenience. Gone are the days of purchasing a new toy every couple of weeks to keep a child stimulated; families can get new toys whenever it is convenient for them by returning borrowed items and exchanging them with new (and exciting) materials!

An important tip for all families looking to declutter their toy and play spaces is to rotate toys available for play. A classic Montessori home has low, child-accessible shelves containing various toys and materials on display (this is shown in our Model Home Environment). Children have the ability to pick their materials based on a handful of options instead of dozens of toys scattered around a play room. We recommend for families to rotate items on these shelves (or containers, however your home play space is set-up), by storing a majority of toys out-of-view of the child. Every week or month, parents can switch out the items on display with ones from storage.

Our early childhood education expert, Julia Kallmes, conducted our first Family Symposium on July 19th about setting up a play space at home. We have published the slide deck on our site Julia used to conduct her Symposium!

3. Allowing the Child to Explore Toys at Their Own Pace

As we previously touched on, but the Educational Materials Library is a great way for children and families to discover and try-out different materials. Sometimes finding the right toy can be hit-or-miss, and our toy library allows families to check out up to as many items as their membership level allows.

What do we mean by this? If your family has the Caterpillar membership level, your family can borrow up to three items at any time from the library. When you are done with an item, return it at your convenience and check out a new material. There are no hard due dates, timelines, or schedules. We designed the Educational Materials Library this way because sometimes a toy really speaks to a child. If a child wants to play with the same item for months, they should be allowed to do so. Simultaneously, if your child seems unenthused by a recently borrowed toy--no worries! You have the ability to bring your item back right away and exchange it for a new one.

One of the pillars of the Montessori philosophy is having the child explore their lessons and materials at their own pace. By removing due dates and timelines, we allow families and children to explore each and every borrowed item at their own tempo. Our organization wants you and your child to enjoy play and learning time!

4. Exposure to Not Well-Known Early Childhood Educational Toys and Furniture

Our organization is filled with talented early childhood education professionals who really know the industry ins-and-outs. We take time to evaluate and research each toy and furniture brand we include in our toy library. Our items are educator approved, and we strive to feature items we know will be loved by children. Our team spends hours researching the best early childhood education brands to ensure we have high-quality, safe materials that are engaging and enriching.

A feature of our library we are very excited about is our collection of furniture. Families are allowed to check out one furniture item at a time, and we think this is a really neat way to introduce high-quality, developmentally friendly furniture pieces into the home (without breaking the bank). Our team spends time researching and developing relationships with different early childhood and Montessori-inspired furniture brands. We are excited for families to incorporate these pieces into their homes!

5. Cost Savings

We pride ourselves on including materials in our library that are not typically found in other toy-lending libraries. Larger items such as our furniture, large train sets, gross motor items, extensive MagnaTiles sets, among others, cost well over $100. One of our most expensive items, our Sprout Pikler Triangle, costs $429.00 new, and is more than the price of a Family Resource Center yearly membership.

We also help families save money on toys and educational materials by having them reduce the numbers of toys they purchase each month. Gone are the days of impulse buys and "keeping up with the Joneses." Families can have their children try out so many different toys without breaking the bank!

Interested in joining our Educational Materials Library? Become a member of Kaleidoscope Learning today to access our entire inventory!

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