Tell us about the history of
After Class X,my wife had decided to open a pre-school. She did her BA in Psychology. In 1995,she started a pre-school in Dombivili. There were just five students then. After our marriage,we came to Pune. We started a pre-school with just 11 students. We had a garden flat and we started the school there. We thought it will take at least four to five years to get enough publicity to expand the school. We hadnt advertised anywhere and everything happened through mouth-to-mouth publicity. We got hundreds of applications the next year. We selected 120 students. Now,we started searching for a new place as the number of children was increasing every year. In 2006,we started another branch. Now we started noticing that some students were slow learners owing to various reasons. Then there were children who suffered from cerebral palsy,autism etc and needed special attention. Hence,we thought of doing something for them. We started a separate division for them so that they could be given extra care.
Till that time I was working in a bank. I was already teaching vedic maths and abacus to students on Saturday and Sunday. But it was getting very hectic. So I quit my job and came into started teaching as a full-time profession. We got more teachers and started the third branch of our school and then moved into the present building. The parents had started asking us to open a primary school. So we started increasing a class every year and now the school has classes till Standard III. We have also opened a new school for special students in collaboration with Prism Foundation. The classes are as per their mental age. So thats the story till now.
How hard it is to convince parents to get their child admitted to a special school?
Its very hard,but things are definitely improving. We always have to talk to the parents and make them understand that getting their child admitted to such a school will only benefit their children in the long run. If you give a child proper care in the early stages of life,it helps them a lot. In later years,no matter how hard you try,it hardly does any good to them as the basic growth has not happened. We can understand the psychology of a child when they are in nursery or kindergarten. When we tell a parent that their child is special,they always take it in the wrong way because it is hard for them to accept that. Every child is precious to parents. A child is a parents dream. They are giving their dream in our hands and we have no right to break it. Special educators,therapists and psychologists from Prism Foundation help these children.
What syllabus do you follow in the school?
We are registered with the state board but we follow CBSE syllabus. Nowadays most parents have transferable jobs. Besides,people keep shifting base from one city to another. Hence,CBSE syllabus is best for them as it is uniform across the country. But nowadays,even state board is being structured on the lines of CBSE. We just wanted SSC as it is comfortable for all students. But parents insist on CBSE. Thats why we started teaching them in that pattern. We will try for CBSE recognition after completing Class V.
Secondly,I think the government must in some ways support start-up schools as it is hard to get children as well as finances that support a school ensuring holistic development of the children. Unless and until we find a sponsor or a trust that helps us out,it is very hard to open an institution beyond pre-school.
Tell us more about the school.
When we started the school,we wanted it to be a schoolbag-free place. We wanted the children to feel happy about coming to school. We didnt want a conventional pattern. We didnt want any burden of books,tiffin etc,and we didnt want to give them home work. Everything is completed during school hours. That is why we have a school like this. This is more in sync with nature. Students learn a lot from the environment and we emphasise more on activity-based learning. We teach them with a combination of indoor and outdoor techniques.
We always have discussions on various topics. Teacher acts as a mentor. Conventionally,students learn answers and write them in exams. There is hardly any importance given to understanding why something happens the way it happens. CBSE board also helps a lot in making them understand the fundamental concepts in all subjects. We also make them visualise things when we teach them. This helps them recollect the concepts whenever they are questioned.
Is there a rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cases in students?
Yes,there is. See,a student may be highly intellectual but can still have attention deficit disorder. Nowadays,since both parents are working,children do not get enough attention. They pamper their children,but the psychological needs of a student are not fulfilled. They need the parents to talk to them,listen to them and spend time with them. Then parents blame the school while the school blames the parents. This is in no way good for the children.
Aggressiveness is also increasing in children now. They used to shout and play a lot. But now there is hardly any place where they do that. Hence their pent up energy has no way out. Besides,the general atmosphere around them is also turning very violent. Media and TV are also filled with violent shows and news. Even the cartoon shows have violent content now. Moral values are on a decline. A child is forced to go to pre-school when that is a time when they should be playing and observing things. Hence,they lose interest in studies. Counselling by parents is very important to deal with this situation.
What is your vision for the school in the next 10 years?
I want my students to grow up and become a good citizen. I want them to grow into people who think about society before anything. No school is preparing the students to become IAS officers. We want to be the first such school once the school expands till Class 12.