Bright colors, smiles, laughter and shelves full of toys can be observed when walking into the Community Resources for Children’s Toy Library & Early Learning Center (CRC, TLELC). CRC has existed for over 38 years along with the toy library. Historically, it has never been larger. The TLELC had humble beginnings as a shelf in a small office and has grown into an 815 square foot space, located at 3299 Claremont Way, Suite 1, across from the Napa Kaiser Medical Offices.
Free Toy Library
The library offers more than 1,000 toys for children 0 to 5 years of age. The space also functions as a classroom with areas of play: the reading nook, a collaborative table, arts and crafts station and the dramatic play center.
“We don’t own any commercial or battery operated toys, the toys don’t talk. We want the children to bring the narrative to the toy,” said Debora J. Ferrero-Waite, Manager of Early Learning Programs and Special Projects.
Toys are organized into four categories: Language & Pre-Literacy Communication, Movement and Physical Development, Thinking Skills and Social & Emotional Development. “Our toys are selected with an eye for durability, practicality, developmental appropriateness and long-term usefulness,” the website states. Toys are loaned out for up to one month, to any Napa County resident. Parents are encouraged and welcome to stop in to check them out.
“‘How is my child doing?’ is the most common question we’re asked and upon request we can give an Ages & Stages Questionnaire. This is a confidential screening tool for parents to fill out and view a snapshot of where their child is excelling and which areas could use more support,” said Ferrero-Waite. The results of this test become the map to the library’s shelves to choose the best toys to nourish learning development.
Free Infant & Pre-School Programs
The Active Minds Program is a free preschool-like experience with a two-month commitment on weekday mornings, for children 2 to 3 years of age. “Parents and children actively engage together in classroom activities. Younger siblings are welcome to participate,” said Ferrero-Waite. These activities model specific strategies based on curriculum to optimize children’s play. Currently, one class can accommodate up to 10 children and there is a waitlist of 35 families!
In addition to offering the Active Minds class, CRC is offering a new program, Early Learning Activities (ELA) for children 0-5 years of age. It is organized in seven-week segments and held twice a week. Each week is focused on a theme designed to support children’s development. According to the website, this new program gives parents and child-care providers with variable schedules the possibility to engage with their children in hands-on learning experiences and provides ideas and techniques to extend learning through play at home.
Community members such as officers from the Napa Sherriff’s department and community organizations like Connolly Ranch are recruited to the ELA program to share their expertise in career, art, music, science, math, and movement to create authentic and engaging classes.
Rename the TLELC and Win!
Encompassing such a broad spectrum of learning sessions and toys, the TLELC is now in search of a new name, something more approachable that better defines what the organization provides. “We need people to know we are so much more than a toy library. We are seeking the community’s input and giving a prize to the best name. Any suggestions can be made by visiting our website under the ‘get involved’ tab,” said Ferrero-Waite with a smile.
Support the TLELC Today
The TLELC is free to parents and educators because they are funded by grants and private donations, but to keep their doors open, and offer additional classes, they are accepting donations and can always use volunteers. They are open Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. To volunteer, make a donation, or suggest a new name, please visit CRCNcnapa.org.
CRC serves more than 4,300 people every year with programs that promote quality early learning environments and experiences for children at home, in child-care, in preschool, and throughout the community.
CRC holds a fundraiser event every year “Tiki For Tots” that helps fund the organization.This year the event will be held at Carpe Diem Wine Bar, 1001 Second Street, downtown Napa on Saturday, September 9, Noon-2:00 p.m.To volunteer or make a donation, please visit crcnapa.org