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Preschool is the Main Stage for the Development of the Child, Say Leading Education Experts

ASMA’s Preschool Leadership Forum talked about the scope for admissions and learning for toddlers amidst the second wave

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Preschool is an integral part of a child’s life and it helps in the initial stages of development. In the pandemic, many preschools across the country had to shut down because they couldn’t sustain the wave of the pandemic.

In the year 2020, preschools were often exempted from the limelight and it was not being discussed as often as it should have been. ASMA, a leading community in academia, hosted a virtual event Preschool Leadership Forum on ‘Admissions, Challenges, Opportunities and Scope Post-Pandemic’ under the banner of India’s Admission Hunt series on 7th May 2021.

The event was divided into two panels where panel one was about ‘The Shift in the Scenario of Academia and Mental Wellbeing of Preschoolers Post-Pandemic’ and panel two was on ‘How the Preschool Sector is Navigating a Second Wave of the Pandemic’. The panellists in the event were leading education industry experts who discussed how the education scenario has changed for preschoolers post-pandemic.

Panel one was moderated by Sonal Ahuja, Founder, House of Learning, Director, Shri Ram Foundation School and comprised of Pritam Kumar Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Hello Kids Chain of Pre-SchoolsSneha Tapadia, CEO, Jumpstart International Preschool & Learning CentreManjit Legha, Director-Academics and Training, Millennium Education ManagementPreeti Kwatra, Founder & Director, Petal Group of Schools and Chirag Agarwal, Founder & Director, EarlyVentions Preschool & Daycare.

The moderator Sonal Ahuja, Founder, House of Learning, Director, Shri Ram Foundation School started the session with an insight into the current preschool education scenario. She said, “Early childhood education has been given priority in the NEP and it comes as a big relief because earlier, the major focus was on higher education.”

Preeti Kwatra, Founder & Director, Petal Group of Schools opined on the topic, “Preschool is one of the most essential parts of a child’s life. This is a time when the maximum brain develops. We should consider health very important, but schools must operate in an online mode. Interacting is like a tonic for a child’s brain.”

Speaking on the topic of preschools in the New Education Policy by the Government of India, Pritam Kumar Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Hello Kids Chain of Pre-Schools said, “As management, we were very happy that after so many years, we got a new education policy. Even the government recognized us. The amount of acceptance which is with the parents has declined because of the pandemic. As a teacher with a concern for the child, we cannot stop. We should continue learning in an online mode.”

Chirag Agarwal, Founder & Director, EarlyVentions Preschool & Daycare shared his views on the topic and said, “Talking about preschool operations, we are all working too. It was a challenge in the early days to adapt to online learning, but with time, everyone started accepting online learning. This is a change in the way of teaching and is a new revolution. We see a very positive sign for preschool education.”

Sneha Tapadia, CEO, Jumpstart International Preschool & Learning Centre took the discussion further and enlightened the panel by talking about nano learning. She said, “Preschool education should go on. The children cannot be in front of a screen for a long time. The parents have to be heavily included in online learning for toddlers. We have to majorly focus on nano or byte-sized learning because, with children, the attention span is a big thing to deal with.”

Manjit Legha, Director-Academics and Training, Millennium Education Management said, “After the pandemic, we will rise. We have experienced some very beautiful and blended pedagogies during the time of online learning amidst the pandemic. I want us to realize that we have to adopt nano learning and there should be laughter and smile breaks for children during learning.”

With this, the first panel concluded the discussion and the eminent speakers from the second panel took the virtual stage.

The second panel was moderated by Amol Arora, Managing Director, Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools and comprised of Tijay Gupta, Co-Founder & COO, Bachpan Play SchoolS.K. Rathore, Founder, Chairman & MD, SANFORT Group of SchoolsPrahar Anjaria, Chairman, RANGOLI Group of Institutes and A. K. Srikanth, CEO, KLAY Preschools & Daycare.

The discussion opened with the moderator Amol Arora, Managing Director, Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools talking about the scope and eligibility of criteria for admissions during the second wave.

S.K. Rathore, Founder, Chairman & MD, SANFORT Group of Schools shared his views on the topic and said, “We were very hopeful in the month of March. We were hoping to have a huge number of admissions. But due to the second wave, we are in the same position as we were during the last year. We are more worried about the well-being of children, parents and teachers during these times. It has become difficult to convince parents for online classes for toddlers but this year, parents have become more understanding.”

Prahar Anjaria, Chairman, RANGOLI Group of Institutes opined, “We cannot form a generalized design that the pandemic will go on. This year, we have vaccines. We shouldn’t design a permanent pattern for education based on an online learning model. We expect a good scope for admissions from July onwards. We can create our own tools and deliver sessions for a certain period of time and we’ll try to adapt to all the available resources.”

A. K. Srikanth, CEO, KLAY Preschools & Daycare told about the unique approach they took to avoid increased screen times and online learning. He said, “We started to send teachers and caregivers at homes to deliver education and caregiving services. The presence of a person who’s teaching is different from an online presence. In online classes, children miss out on social experiences. Our own systems of online delivery have become better, but the experiences of real classes cannot be duplicated.”

Talking about the necessity for trials of the Covid-19 vaccine on kids and immunization for toddlers, Tijay Gupta, Co-Founder & COO, Bachpan Play School said, “We don’t know when the vaccines will come for kids. Till the time kids don’t get vaccinated, parents won’t feel safe to send their kids back to school. We also don’t have a good system in place for online delivery sessions due to which we weren’t able to convince parents. We are now proofing it to move education online so that parents and children begin to trust us.”

The virtual event ended with an extremely productive session on ways in which preschool education should continue.

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