Saturday, February 28, 2009

iDiscoveri Preschool, Sohna Road

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been on a preschool hunt for our little toddler. Once again, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, trying to figure out how to judge a preschool with no real knowledge or guidance about what we should be looking for or what to really expect. That seems to be an underlying theme with parenting...you never really know what you're going to be thrown into next - you just trust your instinct, go with the flow, and swim as best as you can and hope you're doing the best for your child.

Parenting philosophy apart, the point of this post is to tell you about one of the preschools we visited called iDiscoveri. It's located inside the gates of Bestech's Park View I on Sohna Road - right across from Vatika Business Park, the new office complex. iDiscoveri has traditionally been in the corporate training business, doing things like leadership training, team building outdoor camps and workshops, and so on. They have forayed into the preschool "business" about two years ago and now have a chain of preschools already operating in the NCR region and several more planned across the country.

The set up of this particular Sohna Road branch (it's the only one I've seen) is really cute - it's very brightly done up with large classrooms full of very sweet, new toys and books. The classrooms have little cubbyholes for each child to come in and put his or her bag and water bottle in and lots of little nooks and crannies for them to explore. The outside play area is very well done up too - they have a small lawn area with tiny swings, a little bird feeding area, and lots of flower beds. They've also built a small "road" with toys cars, a little petrol pump, and a red light for kids to play with, which I thought was very sweet. They have a larger play area in the back which has a kitchen garden that I was told the kids are quite involved with. For instance, they're growing "methi" there, which the kids get to pluck and take to the kitchen for the cooks to use for breakfast! The school takes pride in calling itself a "green school" with a lot of focus on green activities like recycling, a vermicompost patch, and so on that the kids are exposed to from an early stage.

In terms of activities, they seem to do pretty much what all playschools do - allow the kids to play in some sort of a structured way. They try and get in a little bit of everything into a day/two day time frame - some outdoor play, some indoor role play with toys, some talking, some reading, some arts and crafts, and some music.

Parents have the option of putting their kids in either a two hour or a four hour program depending on the age of the child and what they're comfortable with. There's not much difference in the activities in these two programs other than the duration. Both programs include snack breaks where the food served is prepared in the school kitchen. The lady who was taking me around also said that they offer a day care option after that time for working parents, but I didn't see much of a day care arrangement other than some toddler beds set up in one of the classrooms.

All in all - my impression of the place was that it's clean and pleasant and cute enough and will probably hold a child's interest for the time that he or she is there. However, maybe it's just the baggage in my head about training companies (I'm in a similar line of work and have been exposed to several of them in the past few years), but the whole thing seemed very much like it was designed in an office in a cyber park somewhere by people who haven't really had much experience with children or their education, but who know how to sell to their parents. The lady who showed me around the school also sounded less like a teacher and more like someone giving a corporate presentation. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it probably works very well for most people. However, having heard several such presentations in the past in a different setting, I was a little put off. I feel like I'm being unfair to them just because they have a corporate background but that's how I feel. Would definitely recommend a visit to the place if you're looking for a school for your child - I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with what you see whether you decide on this school or not.

Here's some info about their fee structure for this year (this is from a pamphlet I picked up from them and may change at some point):
- Toddler group (youngest - 1.5 years onwards): Monthly Rs. 2500 + approx Rs. 14000 in miscellaneous one time charges
- Playgroup: (2+ onwards): Monthly Rs. 3900 + one time charges same as above
- Nursery: Monthly Rs. 3900 + same as above
- Kindergarten: Monthly Rs. 3900 + same as above
- Daycare: Monthly Rs. 4500 + approx Rs. 6000 one time charges

The phone number of this branch is 0124-4307520/21 and their website is http://www.idiscoveripreschool.com/. Please do leave a comment on this space if you have an experience or opinion about this place that you can share.

36 comments:

Dolon said...

Thanks for this post .. quite serendipitous of me to find the post on iDiscoverI. I have a 2 year old turning 2 and half end of next month and also been looking around and asking about pre-schools ..

I had put iDiscoverI on the hunt-and-go-look list for next week .. You saved me a trip ..

I think I TOTALLY get what you are saying about the corpo angle. Happens quite a lot, where instead of letting a parent come and check out a place and a school program by watching how the 'teachers'/caregivers in school are dealing with children .. an official presentation is made which gives little idea of the place except the externals.

I know maybe I am being impractical that playschools should allow parents to hang out and check out schools .. So maybe to make it practical they can charge a small fee/day for checking out a program and see if that suits them. Only the parents sold on and serious about trying on a school would pay up and then decide based on what they and the child experience there.

It's just an idea I had ..

I am trying to find a place close to my home to save the child a long commute - senseless at such a tender age when every minute is so valuable .. anything beyond 15 minutes starts to HANG HEAVY with a pre-schooler .. The only way one could be pushed to send a child to s place that takes 20 plus minutes would be some 'exceptional' quality of pre-schooling .. Till date I am yet to hear of anything exceptional .. near my home or far ..

Anyway since I am already taking up precious space on your blog I just thought I would leave some tips that I am using as a guiding light to seek a pre-school .. It might not be yours or those other parents who look chance by here .. but it might help someone somewhere ;-)

From "Child of Our Time" book by Tessa Livingstone:

1. the children are purposefully engaged and happy
2. the staff interact warmly and positively with children
3. The children initiate interaction with the staff as much as the other way around
4. the nursery looks cheerful, organised, and well cared for, and everything is accessible from your child's height
5. There is a code of behaviour that staff and children adhere to
6. staff are interested in social development as well as educational aims
7. staff are interested in the child's home environment
8. each child is treated as a welcome individual
9. Most of the staff have qualifications and there is at least one qualified teacher
10. Staff observe the children and when to get involved and when to leave them alone
11. there is time for shared thinking, where your child works through a problem or a story with an adult
12. the teachers are willing to introduce anxious children slowly, keeping them by their sides until they are ready to go
13. parents are welcome, both in the mornings to help settle their children, and as helpers in the classroom
14. and finally take your child to the preschool and look at how he/she behaves and ask yourself if you can imagine him being happy there

#3 .. #9 .. #10 .. #11 .. # 12 .. # 13 ... Are of the most importance to me ... And the only way one can judge that is by attending some classes .. SADLY .. sigh .. most schools not only NOT have such a program .. MOST don't even believe in the #13 .. once admitted school is off limit for parents except on pre-fixed dates and with prior appointment.

OK .. I have not lost hope .. wish to read more references on schools .. and do let us know which school you finally decide on and why ;-))

THANKS

Manika said...

Hey Dolon,
Thanks for all your comments on my blog, and especially for this one - it's very useful! I agree with pretty much everything you said:-). Do let me know which one you end up deciding on and why as well! Couple of others I've heard good stuff about are Anand and Pallavan. In fact, we're most likely going with Pallavan for our son based on what we've seen. I plan to put up a more detailed review of that once I have more information.
Thanks again,
Manika

Dolon said...

websites I found useful in dealing with parental confusion and angst over pre-school decisions decisions decisions .. You and and your other readers might too ..
Sorry Manika .. maybe I should just start my own blog or something than keep haunting your pages ;-))



http://www.jg-tc.com/articles/2008/08/03/news/doc489671e3baf72600932304.txt

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/mothering/10681

http://www.preschoolerstoday.com/resources/articles/ready4preschool.htm

http://www.calgaryschild.com/content/view/455/22/

Kamal said...

Well the lady who showed you around forgot to mention that the Sohna Road is not the only one and the Other iDiscoveri Preschool of Gurgaon is in Sector 46, which is probably the model on which all the others are based. It is being run by a lady Shalini who herself has an expereince of over 20 years in schools in Delhi and this Sector 46 his her own venture in association with iDiscoveri. The warmth which was missing in Sohna is very much there and i can vouch because i shifted my girl from 2 schools into this one and she is now in a regular school and i have put my second one also there. The Playgorunds are apacious and so is the SandPit. You should see the Papaya and Bannana Trees and the made to Order Jungle Gym which they have. My kids simply love that.The school gets over at 1300 hours but my kid plays for an extra 30-45 minutes alongiwth a lot many more and i have to tear him away. He wants to go on a weekend also. The amniemce is caring with all the teachers 20 of them smiling and the other day i saw that "0ver 200 flowers have blossomed here".

Reeta said...

Hi I am Rita and am just back form the USof A along with my family and working in HR . Actually the lady who showed you the school forgot to tell you that this school is a toy model of the big school they have in SECTOR 46. I had tried two schools for my girl and in the month of January 2008 (at that time Sector 46 was only 6 months old) i put her in there after talking to the Owner whose name is Shalini,incidentally she has an experience of almost 20 years of handling children and i tell you i was impressed. The WARMTH, CARE, OPENNESS, and i saw the school running. I am surprised they gave you the fee structure in the first go. I was invited to see the school running,teachers interacting and children responding.There were four people who were managing only new children alongwith a number of support staff. In a matter of days my girl was settled but she had to leave to fo to a high school and she after school, used to play in their open area(which is mre than the covered area)till about 1.30 and like her other friends refused to go home.I found that the school allowed children to come and play in the evening and on holidays also.The corporate angle does come in when you are doing a job without any heart into it. Look at all the teachers about 20 of them along with 20 or more of supoport staff and today there are more than 200 children, i am told. Not one tear in the eye of a child and everybody goes home smiling and the ladies know each and every child by name at dispersal time. This is the personal involvement that only Shalini can give.Now i have my younger one going there as well and my elder one still wants to celebrate her birthday at iDiscoveri Preschool Sector 46 along with her teachers and didis. If you were impressed in sohna road then DO NOT admit your child in Sector 46 but go and take a look incognito and you will see the difference. Do not forget to meet Shalini and sit with her and talk to her. You will learn so much from her that you will forget other schools.
From #3 ..YES #9 ALL OF THEM ARE.. #10 .. #11 .. # 12 .. # 13 I HAVE DONE IT MYSELF TO SETTLE MY CHILD
I will not take to much and i might be advocating iDiscoveri Sector 46 but the advantage this school has over Pallavan, Anand or Sohna Road is the letahl combination of iDiscoveri and Shalini. The Two best things that could have happened to me.Thank you for make my life easy and the life of my children better than any where else

Yours truly said...

Hi
Many thanks for this post!!
I have also visited some pre-schools in Gurgaon (Sixth Element,Pallavan, i-discoveri,etc)...I have to say that I am a little disappointed with what I saw.

While I don't want to get into the merits of structured/unstructured learning for a toddler,I did find all these schools too "academic" in approach!!Perhaps such time-table suits a slightly older kid far more than a toddler.For eg. Pallavan slots 15 minute activities for Cognitive skills,15 mins for dance,15 mins for Art,etc.And this is for a batch of say,10-15 kids !! Which therefore,means that if a kid is really interested in that particular activity at that point in time,he can enjoy it only for 15 mins.(including settling time.)Even given the fleeting attention span of a two year old,I think its too brief a time.I timed it for my son, and confirmed this.It also means that in case a toddler wants to do something else at that point in time,he just has to force himself through this activity.

Ok,what I am saying is that perhaps a school should just provide lots of exposure and stimulation to kids;but it should not be strictly scheduled or time-bound. Broadly,there could be weekly themes,but no daily or hourly activity schedule.If my son wishes to paint for an hour,I would rather let him do that.If my son doesn't wish to dance one day,so be it!When he is bored,he will automatically move to another activity.

Perhaps,these schools have their own deliverables,which mandate such schedules(in terms of interview preparation for big schools),but such time-stamped routine for toddlers seems regressive in nature for toddler development.All toddler research talks of supervised loving unstructured unbridled play activities involving lot of stimulation,preferably with peers.

If you find any school offering that,pls do let me know .Thanks.
I am still on the look-out :-)

Thanks


Btw,where is Anand school that you mentioned? Also,anyone has any feedback on "The Sixth Element" in south city,would love to hear that.

Manika said...

Hey Dolon! Thanks for the links...you're more than welcome to haunt my blog as much as you want and I love that you leave so many comments:-) If you do start your own blog though, do share the link!

Manika said...

Reeta, Kamal...thank you for your comment and your feedback on the school. I'm really glad to hear it and I'm sure it will help other parents who're reading this as well. Would be great if you can share feedback on any other schools you visited as well. Thanks!

How do we know said...

Hi Yours Truly: Anand Play School is in Phase 1 Gurgaon. There is a market on Arjum Marg, one of the arterial roads in DLF Phase 1. As you cross the market (coming from the Golf Course Road), you will see a small board directing you to Anand play school. At the end of that lane, to your left, is Anand.

Vandana said...

Hi, my son is 4+, I want to put him in day care for after school, from 1pm to 6pm.
Does anybody have the idea about how's the daycare of iDiscoveri, sec-46, which they have started recently?

Also, If anybody has any idea about sixth element day care in south city -I, please comment.

I want to opt out of these two day cares, as these are on the way to my house when I get back from job.
In fact iDiscoveri is very near to our house in sec-47, so i'll prefer that one, if I'm convinced about this day care.

Please comment, if anybody has any experience with either of these day cares.

KillBill said...

Hi,

I am looking out for admission of my 2.5 years old kid in play group this year. I have called few play schools and every one wants me to visit school during weekdays before revealing any admission procedure. I work in Delhi and unable to visit school. At the same time I don't want to miss out admission to a good school.

I would appreciate if you people can inform me on the fee structure of the below schools for a 2.5 years kid.
1. i Bambini at Sec 56 Gurgaon
2. Little Footprints at Galleria
3. Blossoms at Sushant Lok
4. Summer Fields Junior School at DLF-1
5. Anand at Dlf-1

Thank you in advance.

Regards.

Duma said...

Hi All,

I have moved in here from London about a month back. I have a 2.5 years old and we live in sector 15 part-1. I am struggling to arrange playdates for my son, as I live in a zone that somehow seems to have not a single kid-any age, only 50 plus neighbours and relatives.

I would appreciate absolutely any help-and can be contacted on 09810163883

Dolon said...

Dear Duma,
You might wish to join up at Intellitots [ref previous posts on this blog plus the latest one] it's a great way to have a toddler spend some time with other children on a daily / thrice a week / twice a week basis ... you also get to meet other moms and from there on get play dates too ..

They allow you to attend a trial class which is wonderful and you can decide if that is something you'd like for you child ..

Priya said...

Hi...My kid is 2.25 years.I have placed him in MMI Modern Montessori International),a preschool in sector 40 in Gurgaon....It is a good school with all the required facilities...They provide hygienic meals ,have Montessori certified teachers and have plenty of staff to take care of the kids.Each class has 2 teachers and two maids to look after the kids...The only drawback I feel is it is far from my residence and so the commuting time is much for my kid....However,I do not want to change at present as my son has adjusted pretty well....I had accompanied him for the first four days and had kept a tab on his activities without his knowledge...He seemed to be enjoying....There were other parents of the new students who waited in the lobby for their kids' adjustments...All the kids adjusted pretty fast..I saw all the teachers were very compassionate and caring and so were the maids coz I saw them without their knowledge also...They also have a day care facility...However,I have not put my kid in day care as I am working from home now....

komal said...

My daughter has just turned 2 and I am looking for a play school for her. I live in sector 10 A ( close to Hero Honda Chowk. Are there any schools where the travelling time is not very high.
Komal

Manika said...

Priya,
Thank you so much for your comment about MMI. I also have a neighbor whose son used to go there and really like it. can you tell me exactly where this is? Any landmarks?

Thanks!
Manika

Manika said...

Hi Komal,
I'm sorry I don't know much about that area and schools around it...hopefully someone else reading this might be able to help. Let us know if you find something:-)

Thanks,
Manika

jyotsna said...

Hello All,
i a m new to blogs and just want to convey few thoughts and ask few questions. i am currently located in belgium and My baby is going to day care here since he was 4 months old. the strange part is that in the day care no one speaks English except the manager. i had lot of fears while i started sending my baby to creche as i communicate to the care takers in whatever words in know in french and i am very satisfied now with their methodology of caring kids. I am now planning to return india for good and still want to pursue my career and try putting my 1.5 years old son in playschool and then day care. I fear if i am taking the right decision or not thanks to the negative comments all over the web about various play schools in india. I sincerely request the members here to help me taking the decision. I appreciate this space for the neutral views presented.
many thanks.

Jiya said...

Hi all,

I have been to this new place called Busy Babee in DLF Phase 1, which is more conveniently located for me.

I found the place quite interesting, with a petting zoo that had rabbits, guinea pigs. sheep and goats which the kids love to interact with.

Apart from the play group and creche they also have theatre, dance and other after school activities. I dont know about the others but the theatre teacher was pretty good, teaching kids with puppets.

Definitly an interesting place to visit, especially as they are much more focussed on hygiene and quality, as compared to the other creches in this area.

Aakriti said...

Hi Jiya, I have a 2 year old and need to leave her in a good, clean creche for around 5 hours a day. Busy Babee sounds cute, I will definitely go check it out. Where is it located exactly ? Could you tell me more about their creche..

ritushri said...

hi all,
i am looking for a pre school for my 18 month old li'l girl.i plan to sart sending her by the time she turns two...but i thought it would be a good time to start looking.

i haven't given a lot of thought to exactly what kind of place i want...but i do know for sure that i dont want a very big or a chain store kind of place.

Options i thought i would consider are idicoveri, anand, pallavan, little footprints, pumpkin house...etc...but confusions galore:-)...any feedback about any of these or more schools would be welcome.

thanks,
ritu

pooja said...

Hi,

I am residing in South City II and looking out for admission of my 2.5 years old kid in play group this year. I work in Noida and unable to visit school in the weekdays. And I don't want to miss out admission to a good school.

I would appreciate if you people can give me the feedback and inform me on the fee structure of the below schools for a 2.5 years kid.
1. iDiscoveri at Sec 48
2. Little Footprints at Galleria
3. Blossoms at Uppals South End
4. Summer Fields Junior School at DLF-1
Some more schools would be welcome.

Thanks
Regards.

Anita said...

Do pay a visit to Dihika Living Wisdom school in Phase 3 also go through their website

Anita said...

do visit Dihika Living Wisdom School in Phase 3

selena said...

I have got my daughter aged 3admitted to crystal children centre in DLF Phase 2,foound it excellent with boarding facility,they also have classes for kids grooming,mental arithmetic ove there

Kartik said...

hi, Anandpreschool in gurgaon phase 1 is a fabulous school for preschool kids.we had to shift so felt very bad that my kid had to leave midway.....

Reality Bites said...

Your blog has been my discovery of the day. Seriously. We have shifted to Gurgaon about 7 months back from Delhi and still grappling with a lot of issues. With an 85 year old father in law and 1 and half year old daughter and both of us, I think you can imagine what it is like. And since, basic things are always a drive down (not walk down) in Gurgaon. :)Still, I am liking it for other things like security inside the apartment complexes, no worries about water (backup) and power (again backup). Those things in Delhi were a nightmare even in South Delhi where we stayed. Would like to be in touch with you. My email ID is chumkis@gmail.com. I am a ex journalist, and currently working in a content services company called Woodapple. Keep posting. :) Regards
Chumki

Manika said...

Hi reality bites!

Thank you for your comment. I'm really happy you like the blog. My email is manikagandhi at gmail dot com.

Regards,
Manika

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rekha said...

Another preschool worth a mention here is ibambini preschool in Sushant Lok II. U can grab a look at their website and incorporate this school in your list of 'prospective schools'...very non commercial and understated...it is actually a beautiful, green, place run by a thorough educationist and a warm and well trained staff...they concentrate on learning through an innovative approach ...no wonder they have won the award of the best preschool, gurgaon! Am an extremely satisifed parent and thought my words might help some of the 'anxious' prospective parents...Visit them and get a feel for yourself!

rekha said...

Another preschool worth a mention here is ibambini preschool in Sushant Lok II. U can grab a look at their website and incorporate this school in your list of 'prospective schools'...very non commercial and understated...it is actually a beautiful, green, place run by a thorough educationist and a warm and well trained staff...they concentrate on learning through an innovative approach ...no wonder they have won the award of the best preschool, gurgaon! Am an extremely satisifed parent and thought my words might help some of the 'anxious' prospective parents...Visit them and get a feel for yourself!

vinny said...

i have had a bad experience with blossoms daycare sushant lok.i had put my son for a 1 week trial to see how he adjusts there.but im sorry to say that the said daycare did not live up to its name at all.there are 3 teachers who are least interested in their job.one is there just for timepass(which she herself admitted).one is there to take care of her own son who is enrolled there.the third one was a bit better.but i hardly saw her around.i used to drop by at different times to see how things are going,but all i could see was the teachers whiling away their time whereas the maids kept the kids busy.infact i saw a maid teaching the kids some song(which i think should have been the teachers' job).moreover the teachers seem to have no attachment or passion towards the kids.even while kids were crying ,they went about doing ther own work and when the cries grew louder one of them just shoved her off to a room and told a maid to care of her.there was no sense of affection at all.moreover the teachers have no special training as far as kids are concerned.and in case of my baby,nobody was sure what he had eaten during the day.his diapers and clothes werent changed during the whole day.i highly disapprove of this daycare as i had a terrible experience with it.

radiator said...

hi i reside in sector 15 part 2 looking for a pre school n day care for my 18 mth lil girl which will be the best option near by ???pre school should be having professional teaching methods,hygenic and safe for my child can anyone recommend me the best option guys

Vidhushi said...

Lots of very helpful info. Just wanted to write a few words of my own experience, since a lot of mom seem to be around here.
My 3+ son has been going to iDiscoveri Sec-46 for the last one years and it has been a very good experience, am planning to put my daughter there too as soon as she turns 2. Everything about the school is good, a visit to the school will vouch to the goodness of the Place, the whole staff is very nice and caring , which is what you would want from a place where you kids spend a good 4 hrs of the day.Shalini Mam who is the Founder / Principal is always present ,always involved and available,Caring and gentle teachers, the didi's and bhaiyas are very polite, helpful and Good at what they do. The curriculum is something you can read about on the website but the staff is something that you can only experience and thankfully we have a good one with the iDiscoveri Sector-46.

Jolly Verma said...

My name is vikalp verma and my daughter goes to the idiscoveri daycare. I find the daycare very helpful. The staff are polite and good

Chamm! said...

Hi...This blog on idiscoveri is great but it seems a little dated. I have a 15 year old daughter and i stay near sohna road....i was planning to put her in idiscoveri for the toddler program! can i please request some recent feedback! Thanks!!!