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| Ms. Shweta Guram
Tell us something about you?
I am Shweta Jadhav Guram, the owner of the Peapod Preschool. A venture of Anaya Educon Pvt. Ltd, I am one of the directors & I handle the administration of Peapod Preschool.
Since how long you are into preschool business?
We started Peapod Preschool in the year 2010. We have been in this business for the past 1 year, but the team of Peapod Preschool is very strong and experienced in this field.
How does the thought of starting a preschool came in your mind?
Thane has always had a scope for development in every sector. We always thought of giving something back to the society in a better and positive way. So, thought of concept based preschool called Peapod came in our mind. Also because of pure love for the kids.
Do you enjoy being with kids?
Certainly, I love kids I love being with them, because the kind of innocence, the kind of love I get from them is absolutely pure and you cannot get it from anywhere in this world, so that is what I love about this school.
Is there any example of some kids whom you don't like initially, but as you train them they become better kids?
We do have examples of kids with certain issues. I have loved every kid coming into peapod preschool and basically the love for kids have helped us turn these difficulties into fruitful beginnings like some kids may have some psychological problems, some may have teething problems, some have security issues, so these kind of problems can be solved when they come here, like say for example we have a child who was psychologically insecure, she was scared of going to preschools. Her mother had sent her to two other preschools before coming into peapod preschool and the whole idea of going to preschool would scare her so much that she would fall sick. But, when she came here, she found that the preschool was so fresh, the environment was very friendly.
The teachers here are absolutely loving and the way she got to interact with the kids, the way she got to play with them. The things she learnt over here, it was a kind of blessing for her that she absolutely loves to come here and now she has no issues. Another example of a child was that he was very aggressive and he had a lot of energy in him. But, he didn't know where to divert his energy, so for those kids, when they have a lot of energy they tend to be destructive like they tend to hit some other kids, they tend to do some kind of harm to the school property. So, for these kids we have a way to use their energy in a different method, we have live concepts like Traffic Park, Golf course and water play, ball pool etc. We take them to these concept corners where they actually can use their energy to learn new concepts like in a Traffic Park; we make the child ride a car. So this is how we channelize their energy in a positive manner. This gives them a lot of scope for learning new things and after his free play is over he comes back to his class attends his further sessions.
So you think it is the USP of your preschool?
Yes, it is the USP of our preschool, since ours is a concept-based preschool, that's the greatest advantage we have. We have a live traffic park which is very unique. We have a golf course, water play, vegetable gardening, ball pool, puppet corner so with all these kinds of concepts, the child doesn’t just have to rely on flash cards, he child is given a live presentation and he can actually play in these surroundings. So the child can take real life experience from all these facilities that we have and make the best advantage of whatever he is learning in Peapod preschool.
What difficulties you find to handle kids?
Our Teachers are very well experienced and trained. As you see, every child is different, so handling each and every child is new experience for all of us. We try a lot of activities on kids, so that, we can help them and mould them into better individuals.
So do you mean you do not have any problems with any kid, initially?
Every child is different; we do have difficulties like teething problems then psychological problems, insecurity issues, some kids are too attached to their parents, so these kinds of difficulties we do face. When the child steps into a preschool, the first two weeks are extremely difficult. We call this period as the “Settlement Week”. The child is scared, but then slowly he is able to overcome his/her fears because we give them a lot of love, attention, affection and care. So that is how we try and gain the confidence and make them a part of Peapod so much so that they want to come here even on holidays.
So, you give them pampering also to help them overcome their fears?
Yes, but pampering in a right way, pampering in a wrong way leads to a lot of trouble and problems because then it can lead to lot of clashes in the kind of development that is happening in the peapod and the development that is happening at their home. So pampering has to be in the right way also which helps them to be better individuals.
What is the response that you get from parents?
The response is tremendous, it’s amazing; parents are loving coming to peapod preschool. When we started last year, they were a bit scared about what we are going to offer, because we are a one of the kind, since we are a concept-based preschool, the parents were a bit hesitant, but now they are really happy that they have chosen Peapod for their child. One of the parent said that “my child was an unpolished rock but now he has turned into a gem, thanks to Peapod preschool”.
One more child who finished nursery last year, his mother called me when her child went to jr.kg, his mother said that “I am extremely thankful to the entire peapod team because Ziyan was here, he has learnt so many things which probably he wouldn't have learnt anywhere else and he still remembers his school as Peapod Preschool and not as new school”, so that is kind of response, that is the kind of love and co-operation that we have received.
Since how many years you are in Thane? Do you enjoy being a Thaneite?
I am born and brought up in Thane, so this is my hometown, I really love being in Thane and I this is my land. For me Thane is my home and basically what I love about Thane is the kind of cultural diversity that we see in Thane, but in spite of that there is a lot of unity amongst the people in Thane. We have seen a lot of problems that Thane has faced but still people have come together, fought together and always being united in thick and thin, so that is what I love about Thane and of course basically Thane has accepted me, the people of Thane have been kind to us and accepted Peapod Preschool. We being different they have accepted us and the kind of response that we get is really overwhelming, so I really love this place.
What do you mean by being different and getting accepted by Thane?
We are a concept based Preschool, you will not find any concept based preschool in Thane, which is again a USP of the preschool. Offering concepts to the child was different. There is always a bit of hesitance when there is anything new launched in the market, but, people accepted us with open arms. So that was the welcoming support from the Thaneites.
How do you feel by educating and upbringing kids at the initial stages?
Educating kids at the initial stages of life, is the best thing that we can do. It is the blessing which is given to us, because the child is so innocent, the child comes in the world knowing nothing. This is his first social outlet, his first social atmosphere where he steps out from his home. He is so much attached to the people at his home; this is his first land on which he comes, which is his preschool. Peapod loves to teach to the kids, from basic things like pet animals, farm animals, vegetables. It is really nice to come and focus on such things and teach them. I would like to share one thing that initial ages of life, a child doesn't come with a learnt language, he comes as being another human being but when you introduce a lot of things to the child, different languages to the child. The child will learn multiple languages, that is initial years of picking up and that's how we love to do in Peapod.
We like to teach maximum possible things, maximum possible concepts over here and when you see the response from the child, when you see the first words that come out from the child, first few words that he has learnt and those words which he speaks at home, you feel blessed that you are doing something for the humanity and the human kind. You feel that you are doing something for the society in a better way, in a very positive way and Peapod being a very good initiative is doing it. Peapod is a platform that we have created and we could give this opportunity for most of the parents and children.
Can you please elaborate on Peapod and its services in detail?
Peapod is a preschool called playgroup and nursery, but, to be exclusive we also offer something called Mother toddlers, wherein Mother and child comes which is at a very early stage of life that is nine month onwards. Mother comes with her child and we have specialized activities for the children here to do. I would like to talk something about our curriculum. Our curriculum is an American style of curriculum, it's a theme based curriculum.
We don’t only do any kind of classroom activity here. We have concepts here, so if we need to teach a child we have certain concepts to be followed here throughout the year and we teach those concepts in a way like a real life experience. This makes it very easy for a child to accept & be ready to face the real world and this is the kind of curriculum that we practice. We introduce themes every month, child learns that theme, if we introduce a theme he learns it thoroughly, we have recaps, real experiences, have science experiments, cooking experiments, physical activities, everything which is related to this particular curriculum that makes it a very exclusive kind of Peapod. We have just not only a Preschool but we also have opportunities as Peapod finishing school, Peapod finishing school is something that is for teenagers, young to-be brides and ladies.
It is more of the grooming, styling, knowing yourself, your personality development. It is one of the services that we provide. There is party city, Peapod party city, which is again a theme based party city, a party house, if the parents want to probably invite the kids for their child’s birthday parties, to celebrate or we have theme based parties, so we have Spiderman parties, Pokemon parties, Ben 10 parties and kids love it and that gives us a pleasure, that gives us a smile on our face. So we make use of whatever is available and we make use of Peapod, the services are the best. We also have a Teachers Training Centre.
Can u elaborate about the science experiments and cooking experiments you mentioned?
Let me just give you one amazing example, of a mother toddler class. You won't really believe that twelve month old baby can enjoy playing with food, I will give you a little example of a cooking experience over here, we have some boiled noodles, we get them and we have some cooked chilled noodles, if you see them if you touch them they are very sensitive.
So we keep them in front of kids, of course they are very cold and we let the child explore those noodles and the fun of enjoying, the child loves it. He is taking that in his hands, he is playing around, he is messing around, he is exploring, and he is thinking what's there inside, what's not there, so just thoroughly enjoy it. We can do a lot of dough plays, if we need to introduce some colors then we have to put those food colors into dough. Children needs the dough, let children explore the dough, make things out of the dough, make faces out of the dough, or smiley out of the dough, they just love doing that, they just enjoy doing that, that's how they get to explore a lot of social atmosphere, they get ready for the real world. This is the kind of development that happens.We do a lot of things like there is a paper roll, we put different colours, like monthly colurs, we have the film around it, we let the child stand around the window and look around the world.
what if world is red. We let them be like little scientist, so they can also explore, they can ask us a hundred of questions. Kids of nursery ask us a hundred of questions, 'oh why did this happen', 'why did that happen!!'. We need to give them realistic answers, make them do those activities.
What are your future plans regarding Peapod?
To start with pre-schooling, it was our initiative to start with peapod preschool, with the touch of concept as mentioned earlier, as we stress more on concept based preschool. This initiative started in Thane we are very much overwhelmed & proud that Thaneites welcomed it with open arms.
They love the concept, they love the preschool, so the further projects and further plans are to open number of peapod’s across India, and internationally probably.
We are presenting with franchisees, we are giving franchisee, we are spreading the peapod family all over India. Soon we are opening in Ahmednagar and Ahmedabad. This was the 1st franchisee sector secondly we are stressing more on finishing school, which is all a part of Anaya educon pvt. Ltd., which is a pvt. Ltd company. This is the parent company of Peapod preschool. Teacher training program for teachers and Peapod Party City.
Peapod preshool majorly stresses on the teenage development of girls, guys. We have faculty from various departments like gynecology, fashion and styling and they come to one place where different modules are explained for certain period like 5- 6 days. Secondly the Peapod party city, where theme based parties are organized, where birthdays or baby showers are celebrated. We put touch of theme like Batman, Barbie, different things, different themes. Along with that the Peapod teachers training program where the Teachers are been trained for the preschool. We also give practical approach, not only theorotical but we give practical sessions in our own peapod preschool, lastly for the further long time development we are planning for a school, but we are planning for concept based school, it would be not the normal way, but the same effect of theoretical and practical. So these are our future plans for Peapod Preschool.
Any ideas to mould the kids into better citizens and better individuals?
Every individual has his own capability, his own responsibilities, they definitely know better but we as Peapod only focus on giving, initiating way, to be a better citizen. We at Peapod not just give a western outlook but bind kids with culture. The day begins with prayers, & while going they say National anthem where a two year old kid also sings National anthem with teachers and with the group. So that’s what we really feel that having a western outlook but with a touch of cultural values, what we have inculcated all our life, this is the difference in Peapod. So in this way we are trying to mould, we are just putting our efforts to mould or to give a path to the young ones.
- As told to Thaneweb (Sept 2011)
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