OberlinKids to Create Playspace in Prospect Building Classroom

OberlinKids, a newly-established nonprofit collaborative that supports early childhood education for Oberlin residents, is opening a community playspace in a classroom in the Prospect Building this spring. The classroom is intended as a space for young children and their caregivers to engage in play with other families. Director of OberlinKids Jenn Keathley says the space will be a place for children and their families to build relationships and socialize.

Unlike a daycare, parents are expected to stay with their children while they are in the playspace. A certified supervisor will be present, but they will be there to provide guidance, not solely supervision. Keathley hopes that families will be able to use the toys as tools to connect with each other and build important skills in the space.

“Be the customer in the restaurant,” Keathley said. “I have paper and pencils in all the different areas to encourage kids in the kitchen area to make their own menus, or in the building area, to draw blueprints for the building.”

A grant from the Nord Family Foundation provided $28,000 toward toys, furniture, and supplies for the classroom. The toys include some messier sensory options, like Orbeez, which parents might not want in the home. There are also craft supplies including tape, scissors, and paper, for children to hone their fine motor skills. Dolls and stuffed animals live together in a corner of the room, and scribbles on the whiteboard are bracketed by colorful letter magnets.

Keathley is also inviting caregivers to fill out a survey on what programming for adults they would like to see.