Edx Education’s Heather Welch: “Educational toys are going to hit a stride like never before”

Until only recently, Edx Education had sold its products through Amazon, an evolution itself of the business it built some 25 years ago sourcing and distributing learning products to schools across the UK. Having found success in the space, and in response to the ongoing demand for such products, the company soon began designing and manufacturing its own.

If there’s on thing you ought to know about Edx Education then, it’s that this is a company that has been nimble to the opportunities presented to it in a market that has seen growing demand over the course of the last four months. It should come as little surprise that Edx Education has now spotted an opportunity for growth once again, setting its sights on wider toy distribution with retailers across the UK and US, and answering to the current demand for more educational toys and products.

It’s why Edx Education has been participating in the Toy Association’s Toy Fair Everywhere this past month, with a view to grow its international footprint with specialty retailers overseas, while continuing to build a UK business that over the past 12 months, has seen a serge in demand for its products.

Here, ToyNews talks exclusively to Heather Welch, global brand lead for Edx Education about the rising demand for educational toys the world over, and just how the company plans to respond to the call as we begin to emerge from the world’s lockdown measures.

Hi Heather, to kick us off then – how has business been for Edx Education, not only over the last couple of months, but 2020 so far overall?

Edx Education has experienced a steady increase in interest and sales across home-learning educational toys, as parents became teachers and looked for ways to complement the learning provided by their school.

Within the Edx Education Amazon store in the USA & UK, we sold out of many home-learning products and have been working hard to keep up with the increasing demand. Keeping current product in supply meant delaying the launch of new product ranges like our Fun Play line and Maths 101 which now come to market this Autumn.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Edx Education outfit? How long have you guys been on the toy scene, how has the company evolved over that time?

Launched 25 years ago by our CEO & Founder, Murray Jackson, to source world-class learning products for distribution to schools, Edx Education soon pivoted to designing and manufacturing their own high-quality educational products in response to the on-going demand for more innovative products by schools, teachers, parents and caregivers.

Murray is passionate about Edx Education being a premier resource for quality learning through play, which has long been recognised as a highly successful method of learning in early years education both in the classroom and at home.

Why is now the right time for Edx Education to be looking at distribution into the wider toy space?

The pandemic has impacted families with young children in ways we could have never imagined. Sending children off to school for a full day of learning and activities was a given. As parents ourselves, we recognise the difficulty and anxiety that comes with having to create a learning environment away from that well-established institution you counted on. We’re very confident that our products offer a fun and engaging way for children to learn that will complement the online/offline learning happening everywhere. Our goal is always to be a solution and support to families.

What has reception been like to the brand and its plans here?

The reception from teachers, parents, influencers, advocates and journalists has been great. Over the past 12 months there has been a steady increase in demand for Edx Education products in the UK, which is a very important market for us. In the United States, our sales have been growing, but we’re just beginning to build the brand there.

Parents may be familiar with our products from seeing them in classrooms, but they are less aware that they can now purchase the Edx Education products for their own home. We’re very excited to connect with parents, build a dialogue and be there to supplement their at-home teaching efforts with our products and services.

What are the key trends in the ‘educational toy’ market at the moment? How is Edx Education tapping into this to be a leader in the field?

With uncertainty surrounding the return to in-person classes, demand for puzzles, games, arts & crafts, and active toys will continue to be high. But, we predict educational toys that offer purposeful learning are going to hit a stride in the next few months like never before.

Parents have been keen to divert children away from the now unavoidable screen time to other types of play and recreation. We’re very excited about the space we can fill in the marketplace and believe consumer satisfaction will be high once our playthings are put into use.

STEAM toys like Rainbow Pebbles , GeoStix , FunPlay launching in the Autumn and those that promote early mathematical thinking like our Early Maths 101 Kits demonstrate our forte. Our products offer dozens of activities within a single package that families with young children can explore together for hours and hours of play and learning.

The fact that some of our toys are now very eco-friendly, like our Junior Rainbow Pebbles and Tactile Shells,  and come in storage cases are also big bonuses we think millennial parents will love.

What do you guys know of the outdoor learning concept and is this on the radar for you guys at all?

At Edx Education, we strongly believe outdoor play aids skill-building in the early years of a child’s development across social, emotional and physical realms. By providing messy play, sand and water trays, and balancing paths, like the Step a Forest and Joey Jump, kids get to be kids and grow naturally through exploratory play.

Experts say, on average, a child can maintain focus for three minutes at a time for each year of life. So, if you have a three-year-old child, that’s a precious nine minute window. At six years of age, a child has roughly an 18 minute window of attention. These are important guidelines that can help parents set expectations – especially now that their child’s teacher is coming through a screen, and their classmates and colourful room billboards are nowhere to be found.

A great play break, whether it’s inside or outside, can release tension and provide that mental breather that will help keep a child ready and able to learn.

What do you think the next major steps will be for the educational toy/educational play market will be?

The needs for learning through play have always been the same, but perhaps never felt so intensely as it is now with the return of home-learning. It’s not a surprise to us that our Activity Cards and teacher/parent notes that accompany our products have been very appreciated. In an appropriate for the audience way, we expect to focus even more on the instructional nature of our communications giving parents a sense of control, confidence and support – never leaving happy fun out of the equation.

At Edx Education we strive to build early learning experiences, adhering to curriculum requirements and supporting children’s key development areas, all through working with educational experts around the world. Educational expertise and play tip resources will become more and more readily available for parents and caregivers. We have tons of content and thought starter videos we can’t wait to share in a broader way.

Given the recent situation, and families spending more time with children throughout the day and seeing the real impact of play on a child’s development, can we expect families to invest more into ‘play’ and toys than previously? Has the pandemic influenced consumer mindset?

I think we’ve all become very mindful of budgets and what we are spending our money on – how it is serving our family. Grow-with-me toys, well-priced toys with deep play value, toys that can be shared, toys that keep a child engaged away from a screen and expand their curiosity in different ways – will be highly desirable among families with young children.

We feel confident we are well-positioned to address the tweaked shopping criteria. Families will be looking to invest more into toys with an educational purpose. Toys that can help foster their child’s imagination and encourage problem-solving and design thinking are trending


About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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