Award-winning actresses Terry Pheto and Mampho Brescia are toying with their new passion, writes Marchelle Abrahams.
Terry Pheto and Mampho Brescia have swopped their Thespian caps for entrepreneurial ones. The best friends discovered their mutual desire to equip children with skills that would give them a better start in life. And after seven years of hard work, research and finding stakeholders, Let’s Learn Toys was born.
“We are enabling children to learn in a fun way - making education fun,” Pheto said.
“We cannot be content with the fact that 30 percent (as a pass) is enough. What are the kids doing the entire time? That means they are playing, so why not give them toys that will improve their knowledge?”
Play is an important part of development for little ones. The tricky part is trying to decipher which toys help your child’s development and which ones hamper them.
A case in point is the fidget spinner fad. Initially touted as a toy that released nervous energy and stress in children, it soon became an annoyance to parents and teachers. Global consumer bodies ruled that it could pose a danger on the playground.
Many might argue that Pheto and Brescia are tapping into a saturated market - walk into any toy store and parents are bombarded with an overwhelming array of educational products.
But Brescia has a personal interest in the project.
“It was born out of that desperate need to be a great mom. Being the highly competitive person that I am, and having been raised by a strong woman who believed in education and was driven by the fact that one must learn and gain knowledge to be better, gave me power,” she said.
Brescia loved reading since she was a child, and saw how it helped teach children skills.
Both women believe education is a right and not a privilege, and that is why they are concentrating on educational products for children from 18 months onwards.
The toys can be bought on their online store and takealot.com.
The website is user-friendly and the store can be shopped according to age, brand and new arrivals.
But what sets Let’s Learn Toys apart from its competition is the fact that it has internationally recognised educational development brands such as Gigo, Popular Playthings and EDX-Education.
Each product summary also gives a detailed description of the educational benefits of each toy - valuable information for parents.
Some toys are reasonably priced, while others leave you questioning whether there are typos on the price tag. It all comes down to how much you are prepared to fork out.
The question also remains: is the educational aspect just a marketing ploy?
I asked psychologist and therapeutic manager at Durban’s Birdwood Remedial Primary, Justine Schapers, what her thoughts were on the various products.
Her overall impression was positive.
An example she gave was the Beleduc Candy game which helps teach counting, taking turns, colour matching and sequencing.
“Most of the activities look like a new take on many of the types of activities we use in therapy at our remedial school,” she said.
Schapers reminded parents to ensure that any educational games they bought should target areas their children needed help in.
“Apart from the fun aspect, these games usually encourage important social skills like taking turns, playing in teams, learning to lose and concentrating on an activity, even when it's not your turn.
“Parents also need to think carefully when choosing games as each game needs to have multiple uses, rather than a single use,” she said.
Strangely enough, the website or its various social media accounts make no mention of either Pheto or Brescia. One would think with their combined star power, it would make financial sense.
Perhaps they believe so strongly in the project that they prefer to allow it to speak for itself?
Either way, it’s refreshing to see a company that encourages enquiring minds instead of watching its bottom line.
* Visit http://www.letslearntoys.co.za/ for more info.