Valley toy company promotes learning and fun for kids around the world

Posted at 5:52 AM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 09:56:21-04

Kids love playing with toys and if they’re educational, that is a major bonus for parents.  ABC15 Mornings Anchor Danielle Lerner caught up with a local company that is not only educating Arizona, it is reaching kids all over the world.

It may look like child’s play but The Learning Journey International is hard at work.

“It’s the cuteness factor but for us, it’s that they are learning too,” said CFO Debbie Frere.

“Every product we have has an educational value to it and that is what is most important,” said President JB Frere.

From its 45,000 square foot world headquarters in north Phoenix, the company designs, creates and fills orders for popular retailers around the world.  Their inventory is massive and diverse.  Toys come in eight languages, mostly with 2 to 5 year olds in mind.

“We look a lot at curriculum and what skills they need to develop in order to have the success in school,” said Debbie.

It is always evolving too, keeping up with trends in technology and teaching.  Their construction kits, for instance, promote S.T.E.M.  A programmable ladybug is in the works to teach coding to 3 year olds.

“We still get those letters today from parents and it makes a huge difference,” said JB. “It makes you feel really good about what you’re doing.”

Kids in the valley also play a vital role in the company’s testing process. The Freres run the “Explorers in Learning” early learning and childcare center.  It is a resource for families and a chance to see the company’s concepts in action.

“The kids give us the feedback and trust me, they’ll give you the feedback,” said JB, “their very honest feedback.”

Teachers weigh in too, making sure each toy is helping kids develop skills for school and have a lot of fun in the process.

“That is the whole premise of the product line,” said Debbie.  “It’s just making sure that we get those skills in there and which skills that certain product will hone in on.”

“To know that a child keeps coming back to it and they’re actually learning something from it,” said JB.  “Whether they know they’re learning or not, they’re really learning and that’s the best part.