Educators are slowly realizing that teaching during traditional hours simply isn’t enough. It’s why this organization wants to change how and where we’re educating.
A new Detroit summer program called Wash and Learn has partnered with three laundromats through an organization called Libraries Without Borders to provide free books for kids while their parents wash clothes. The program not only provides book that kids are able to take home, but it also provides computers stacked with educational software.
A few times a week, Wash and Learn and Libraries Without Borders offer free instructors who read to children and help them to improve their writing skills.
It’s designed for people who’s lives are too complicated or difficult to attend classes at traditional libraries or community centers. But at laundromats, people typically have time, shelter and they’re often looking for something to do.
“It’s good for the parents. They get to wash the clothes,” he said as his children played a matching game that involved finding words in books and writing them on index cards. “And it’s good for the kids. They get to learn some stuff.”
So far, more than 80 children and their parents have worked with instructors at the three laundromat locations and nearly 100 books have been distributed. And while the numbers are still pretty low, it’s an important resource in low-income communities that are often underserved.
“The folks who would benefit most from library programs often don’t know they exist, don’t know they’re eligible for a library card or don’t have a consistent enough schedule to go to a Tuesday 6 p.m. program every week,” said Allister Chang, Libraries Without Borders’ executive director.
Chang hopes to eventually expand the Wash and Learn program to four additional cities. Currently, it operates in The Bronx and Detroit.