Walk into The Courtyard and you can safely check your anxiety at the door with your shoes; to ensure hygiene, shoes aren’t allowed in the premises — because for founders Bela Bhasin, Kanika Bahl and Sumeeta Balooni, this play-school/day-care is a genuine labour of love. Even before they’ve had a chance to convince you of this, you'll find yourself blanketed in an aura of affection and while cynics may attribute this to the decor, speak to these educators, watch them with the children and you’ll be left with no doubt about what really fuels the wonderful vibe.
Play is the way
In the play area, a little boy in a red T-shirt and cheeks to match rushes into the gaping mouth of an oversized plastic caterpillar and dashes out in an instant, disappearing again in a flash, as Bela shows us around and an apron-sporting assistant double-checks each baby-gate we pass through to makes sure it’s securely bolted. A Casio player sits on a table backed by retractable red curtains -- a mini-puppetry stage. In another corner is a wonderful mess room equipped with a sand pit, an easel, aprons, paints and all such seeds of creativity, adjacent to which is a cosy little
Educate, the 360-degree way
“Kanika worked with Sadhana, a non-government organisation that explores creative approaches to education and works towards providing equal education opportunities for all children,” Bela tells us, as we walk up a wooden staircase past a painted cityscape, “And Sumeeta was a naval officer who used to run her own day care and pre-school in the suburbs.” But Bela, who has been teaching since she was 20, has worked at Cathedral and John Connon School for some years and even been on the board of an international school in Mauritius for over three years, needs a minute to consider where her own passion for teaching comes from.
“It runs in the family,” she smiles at length. Bela’s 73-year-old mother Romil Sethi runs a school for slum-dwelling children and the younger of her two daughters, Aparna (26), works for Pratham, a UNICEF-established organisation that’s dedicated to the education of underprivileged children.
Compassion is at the core here, so it’s no surprise that the school plans to maintain a helper-to-child ratio of 1:1 for infants, and for the play-school, a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:5, “all of which is in keeping with international standards just like the premises, services and curriculum,” Bela says.
The day-care facilities are open to children aged six months to six years while the play-school is for children aged one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years.
“Currently, we have four children in day-care, but our capacity is 20 and in the play-school we have a capacity of forty children,” Bela says, escorting us to the nap room, a serene space that’s so prettily painted it would fit right into Disneyland. Appropriate perhaps, as SoBo’s working parents may now have reason to echo Walt Disney’s belief: “Dreams can come true.”
AT 101, ground floor, Konark Shram, behind Everest building, Tardeo.
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