Toy Library Network

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A Community for Roma Mothers
Focusing on Young Children

The Roma Toy Library Network aims to spread the message about the importance of early childhood education for Roma children. It plans to offer ongoing learning and professional support to its members and provide a platform of common advocacy at national and international levels. The Roma Education Fund (REF) supports approximately 40 Toy Libraries in Central and Eastern Europe reaching around 1,450 families and 4,600 children. The idea to setup a professional network of Roma Toy Libraries emerged after the first REF Toy Library event held in Belgrade in 2016, attended by representatives from eight countries.

What is the Toy Library?

A toy Library is a community venue where children, their families and care-givers can meet to borrow toys, puzzles and books that are designed to support childrenís early development and learning. The items from the library may be borrowed and taken home, but can be used in the venue also. The Toy Libraries supported by the Roma Education Fund have crucial role in reaching out to Roma parents and children from vulnerable communities and providing better early childhood development services. It also provides an opportunity for parents to strengthen their parenting skills and to understand the role of play in the different stages of their childrenís development. Although each Toy Library is different and adjusted to the local specificities, there are some core activities offered by them.

REF's early childhood education model

REF has developed an early childhood education model based on its project and field experiences, the objective of which is to improve both early childhood education outcomes and school readiness of disadvantaged Roma children under age six. REFís early childhood education model focuses on three main objections in order to facilitate and expand the access to quality ECEC services and improve the
parenting skills of Roma parents:

  • to eliminate the existing barriers to access to and participation in preschool and early childhood education services of Roma children under age six by provision of needs-based material / financial support.
  • to achieve improvements in the parenting skills and practices of parents through informal learning activities, such as reading sessions, Toy Libraries, building awareness and skills to implement good parenting practices and enhancing the interaction of parents with preschool institutions.
  • to improve the quality of teaching and learning of Roma children in preschools by strengthening the capacity of teachers and caregivers to provide childcentered education, facilitating learning through Roma teacher assistants and stimulating the links between preschools, academia and pedagogy students.

Benefits of Toy Library
Play is the most efficient way that children learn. Access to quality educational toys support the early stimulation of children and develop important skills for healthy physical and cognitive development as well as learning social lessons about sharing and responsibility. Furthermore, Toy Libraries improve the home learning environment of children and interaction between parents and children.

The main benefits of Toy Libraries include:
•    Improved parental practices
•    Early stimulation of children through different toys
•    Improved school readiness
•    Improved interaction between parents and their children
•    Improved social and cognitive skills

Locatios of Toy Library

Files
Toy Library guideline provides practical information about setting up and running a toy library: toy_library_guidelines.pdf
The following checklist document aim to provide pointers to setting up and running a REF supported toy library : toy_library_guidelines_checklist.pdf

More information
For more information about the Roma Education Fund Toy Library network, please contact: Anasztazia Nagy, anagy@romaeducationfund.org

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/romatoylibrarynetwork/