If you are remotely related to Bangalore or have a child ready to get into preschool, then your social media feed will definitely have a tweet, link, or even a pic of Papagoya. If you are nodding already, you must be familiar with what it is. Papagoya is the latest alternative school to open in Bangalore - and this school is hitting all the right notes with parents yearning for something different.
When I was brainstorming about kindergartens for my one-year-old, I was confused and overwhelmed with the options thrown at me. Google 'Top ten Kindergartens in Bangalore' and you are bound to end up with a nauseating list. So my husband and I sat down and wrote down what we were looking for in a kindergarten - Timings, proximity, alternative system of education, hygiene and of course the fee.
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What is Papagoya?
Named after papegoye, the Norwegian word for parrot, the school is the first of its kind in India and draws inspiration from the Norwegian model of education. More or less like the Montessori and the Waldorf system, the Norwegian philosophy follows a line of teaching that makes learning fun and interactive for kids, but with a slight twist.
Two women, Darshana Rajaram and Helen Issar, who lived in Norway for a brief period, were inspired by all things Scandinavian and hence decided to bring across the system to India and that was how Papagoya made it's way to Bangalore!
The school is tucked in a small, little lane which leads into a lovely olden-day house. What I loved about the school was the importance given to outdoor activities. All the outdoor playing is set under a huge tree, which gives the kids an environment which is easy to interact and understand. A wooden tree house, a cute, little swing, a sandpit and a messy play corner are the other brownie points, which are bound to leave any kid excited.
What is so different about the Scandinavian system of education?
The Scandinavian system follows a simple and flexible structure. With this in mind, everything in the school, from the infrastructure to the timings and the activities are kept fluid and easy. Parents can drop their child anytime between 8.30 am - 10:00 am and pick them up before 5:00 pm.
The founders also feel that learning is a part of play or fun and needs to happen on its own as opposed to watching TV or being inside a closed environment.
Papagoya places socialisation at the core of its training. So the school has one to six-year-old children all under one roof, thereby enabling interaction and learning for the younger ones and more challenges for the older ones.
Papagoya provides nutritious organic vegetarian food, carefully planned by a nutritionist. This is yet another boon to working parents, who need not actually stress over pre-planning the child's meal for the day. Papagoya has your child's nutrition for the day sorted! The school provides breakfast, a mid-morning snack and lunch for all kids. In addition, fruits are available through the day, so your child can munch on them anytime. The dishes cooked vary from oats cutlets to carrot muffins or practically anything which the child can pick and eat on his own. Every meal is planned in a way to pack in all the nutrition required for the day.
Do Indian parents really want an all day kindergarten?
As a parent, I honestly wondered whether I was ready to send my child to an all day kindergarten or daycare. Darshana Rajaram says, "Parents these days are very much broad-minded and well-aware of the concept of an all day long kindergarten or daycare. Also, the society has understood the need and importance for children to socialise right from an early age, which is also why parents are willing to put their kids in an all-day long kindergarten".
That said, Papagoya follows a slow or gradual curriculum, which requires a kid to spend some quality time to be able to learn. “When we say 10:00 AM -4:00 PM, the time also includes diaper changes, nap, eating etc, all which happen at home too. So it is very home-like and the timings are designed only to ensure a homely routine and not to squeeze in maximum activities or learning”, adds Darshana.
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The society we live in is a closely bonded one, with most kids being brought up in a joint family. That said, as a parent, I began to wonder how Papagoya would benefit my child, as opposed to my family members, who would be around 24/7. But a little bit of research and a short chat with Darshana changed my perspective.
No two ways that parents living in joint families are blessed! While they do have in-laws or extending family as a big backing, Papagoya has its way of benefiting these kids too. The founder of the school rightly said that kids learn a lot only from other children. While grandparents are great caretakers, there is only so much they can teach or entertain the child. At Papagoya, the child gets to interact with other kids and the learning happens with ease.
The school is now open for admissions and we are curious to hear more from them in the near future. Apart from that, if you wish to get a feel of the school or have a face-to-face chat with the founders, the school organises weekend workshops which start from 26 November, 2016.