Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Panchatantra Preschool, Gurgaon

Today's post is a little different from the ones you see here generally. For one, I haven't written it! I got my friend, Namrata to write a review of Panchatantra preschool in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon, since her daughter has been going there for several months and she has much more in terms of information and opinions than I would. Thanks, Namrata!

Here goes:


I had tried admitting my child in play school a year ago. She was 2 years then. I say 'tried' because obviously I was unsuccessful in getting her to stay! Maybe it was a bit too soon for her, maybe it was the repeated absences she had from school due to some cold or cough she would catch or maybe it was because her teacher herself was absent at times and that did not help her settle in. I am talking about one of the really good pre-schools in Gurgaon but I don't think it is appropriate to name them as I have a lot of respect for their founders and leadership team and I think they are doing a great job in general - just that the hygiene level maintained in the schools, which are franchised, is not really what I would want for my child. Too many children in a small class, rest rooms having a common towel that all children use, and other similar problems made me conclude it is certainly a big reason for my daughter catching repeat infections.

So here she was, my little daughter, 6 weeks after constant trial, back at home, happy with me! That of course meant I needed to continue to multi-task at home to keep my job and manage her growing curiosity levels. A good friend and ex-colleague of mine then mentioned that her son was in Panchatantra and she was quite happy with it. Now the thing is, that most mothers I have ever spoken with, are usually raving about their child’s schools but I would add more weight to her opinion as she was trained in the Montessori way of teaching and had recently surveyed all pre-schools in Gurgaon when she relocated back to India. So well, I decided to pay them a visit. Finding the school was a bit tough as it is certainly not in any main road kind of a place and I must admit I was a bit skeptical about the child’s safety but that was till I entered the school gate. It is not a large sprawling campus but the good thing is there were small lawns and a small outdoor play area. It is a multi-level school and the basement is creatively used for a school assembly area, has an art and craft (pottery included) center and an audio video center as well where I am told, children watch films though that is very occasional (good!). Their office, store and kitchen are also located there along with a small seating space for teachers to hang out. 
What made me decide for the school for certainly the hygiene level I saw maintained in the school, including the cleanliness of the kitchen, which seemed to be personally monitored by a staff member who is fabulous at baking, I discovered later. It is not just that, it the overall appeal of the school – they obviously have spent a lot of money but it seems safe for children – the flooring, the toys, the swings – not run of the mill and yet safe.
Some pre-schools don’t serve food or they have strange menus which are fixed and have little variety, which is really random for a child, because, hey, the child eats random things when traveling, not on a daily basis! I like their menu, it has milk, fruits, rice, dal, noodles, pasta, porridge, you name it. I love the fact that it varies and it makes children taste different things everyday.
They do celebrate festivals like other pre-schools I think and I really liked their sports day. Children were made to practice for a month, given uniforms to wear and they practiced collectively as a school for some things. My daughter stood first in the race but I loved the fact that they had a medal for every child. I like the thoughtfulness of the school because small things matter to me as a parent. They wrote a note letting me know my daughter enjoyed baking cookies at school – I loved that! 
The teachers – since I must not leave them out, are good. They are nice, friendly and seem well read – not the people who have taken to teaching as an after thought (though I have nothing against such teachers, really), and are trained in the montessori way of teaching (I don’t have data but that is my conclusion based on my experience of speaking with a few). I have been a part of a couple of meetings with teachers where they do like to share what the child is learning and doing in school and they maintain a very detailed report card for each child which is only for viewing and discussing and is not handed over to parents. We do get a summary report card of sorts, with some verbatims from the teacher.
And how can I forget, the core of our lives today, the didis. They are in uniform and I like that. They seem cleaner and some of them do seem to have a way with kids (not all but then we all know the situation on that front). 
The school provides transport as buses, in which teachers travel with children but I chose not to send my daughter in one as I like to spend that time with daughter.
So there it is – the round up on the school. I would rate it a 4.5 on 5. What could they do better? They could be a bit more proactive and organized with their communication – sometimes I don’t get some emails and sometimes I wish they would send all their printed handouts over email and save some paper. But well, nobody’s perfect – but they do try and that’s what I like about them.

If you have any opinions or experience with this school, please do leave a comment.

12 comments:

Maria said...

Hey
It really helps for parents.
Nice blog

NM said...

Hi Manika,
To begin with, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for beginning the thread on the subject: Daycare centre @ GGN (datd: June 2008) It helped me immensely in placing my daughter with Chhanda @ ARDEE city. MY girl is well taken care of. Absolutely home like environment, she is learning another language (total 5 as of now!!!) and these are just a few words of appreciation I have for Chhanda and it is all because of you...

Now, I need your suggestion/ advice again (sic.)My daughter will be 2 1/2 yrs old in July 2011 and 3 yrs in Jan 2012. My search/ research to put her into a good school has started. I wish to know your feedback on a few schools, their staff, curriculum etc. As she continues to go to the day care @ ARDEE City, should I be putting her to a pre-school or to Nursery? Is the child's age the only criteria to decide for this? I am lost when it comes to all of the above. I have in mind Amadeus, Excelsior, Shikshantar however have received mixed-bag review on all of these. I have heard that to get through Shikshantar is as good as getting admission in a prestigious college. So kindly guide me through. Appreicate it!

P.S - I wasnt able to gather much information from 'Nursery Admissions'

Many thanks!
Nithya

Nikki said...

Hi All,

This is a really good article regarding day care in Gurgaon . I currently live in UK and we are planning to return home and my most living concern at the moment is good daycare where I can leave my 2yrs old daughter while Iam at work . People here have mentioned few good ones and that brings me some relief that there are good options available . I would conatantly visit this site and post questions to learn more about standard in daycare ..From a Mom :)

KS said...

If you really want your child to go to a school and ‘learn’ something…Panchatantra is sure not the place. I had two of my kids there and pulled them out one some day. Almost 10 of us did. It started of as a school with a soul and backed by educationalists like Dr Khanna and Mrs Haldar. Then slowly as the numbers picked up dr Khanna was thrown out and Mrs Haldar was given a back seat and the owners daughter a 26 year old kid took over as the principal…as a results the schools a mess. Let me put it in pointers.
Most children there hate the Montessori class ( hey its suppose to be a Montessori school)
The dining room has been converted into bits of art class and pottery class and children eat lunch in classrooms which start stinking then.
They started french with my son…however the teacher was thrown out and they never bothered to look for another french teacher. The subject was shelved.
There is no set curriculum neither a board affiliation or certification.
They have lots of foreigers eg Anooshka who hard sell the school but try approaching any of the ‘sellers’ with a problem later and the start playing pass the ball.
The campus is complete lack luster and children run around in corridors. Well if they don’t allow that then you will have a child who has sat in one place for hours at school and has come back home hyper and frustrated.
They have added special children without teachers to understand then and these children are looked after by nannies.
The annual book did not get published in two years though contributions were asked for.
Children are under-challenged and then as a parent when you are compelled to compare them with kids from any school they are way behind.
There was no music for kids for the 18 months that my kids went there though it was suppose to be an important part of their curriculum.
The sports day was a joke because they made kids do Montessori work on sports day and then gave all of them medals..instead of teaching them to lose well…and were hard selling the school on every event possible.
Stationery bills are raised as and when the school pleases.
School annual report card was given on flimsy a4 executive bond paper.
Holidays are unlimited and so are the excuses.
Oh yes they do have one or two field trips a year and my friend whose daughter goes there said they had a picnic in the school backyard…wow what a place for picnic.
No set day to day curriculum so your child is completely at the whims and fancy of the teacher…you may get lucky if they are in Rachna’s or Shahana’s class but thats if you do get lucky.
Its the biggest regret of my life…though it sounds like a picture perfect painting…reality will hit sooner or later and you will realize you are getting nothing but sugar coated lies for a 1 Lac plus fees.
Reply

Ruchlinks said...

Panchatantra Montessori School has been my daughter's 'workplace' for the past 1 year. When we sought admission at Panchatantra, we were very clear that we wanted a 'Montessori education' for our child. We believed in the philosophy and the different approach to a child's education.

My daughter loves her school and all her facilitators. She enjoys her time at school and I am happy to see that she and other children at school are 'allowed to be'! The interiors, washrooms, classrooms, staircases, are all child friendly and enable the children to be independent. Their Montessori material is top of the class. The 'didis' are trained to ensure they maintain their personal hygiene and talk properly to the children. It's a pleasure to see that no one waits to be greeted (from the guard at the gate to the headmistress)...they greet the child first :-)

They conduct monthly PFMs - alternating between 1-1 and group meetings. The Group PFMs allow us to meet other parents and openly discuss what's on our minds. At some of these meetings, guest speakers are invited to help parents understand the 'Child'... The Montessori philosophy is discussed to create awareness amongst the parent community too. Panchatantra is a very open school - parents are allowed to come inside the building, meet facilitators, talk to the admin team or meet with the management.

All festivals are celebrated in a wonderful manner - the festival theme is kept in mind for the weeks prior to the festival and many activities planned around it. Children do worksheets, artwork, sing songs, listen to stories and understand the significance of the festival. What I love most is that on the day of the festival, the whole school is decorated with artwork made by the facilitators and children. We parents had so much fun with the children at the school picnic and Sports Day celebrations!

The curriculum is shared in advance and monthly updates on progress is also sent in writing. The school diary is an awesome medium to maintain regular communication between the class facilitator and parents. My daughter just finished her Pre-Nursery year and at the last PFM we received not only her 'progress report' but also her entire years' work alongwith observations / comments by the facilitator. It's so beautiful to go through the folder and see what your child has done in class as kids this young don't always talk about what they did in class. As a parent I am thrilled to hear my daughter say, "I had fun today" or "I played with numbers today" when I ask her how her day was.

It's a new and upcoming school so there are some hick-ups but the school team is very open to suggestions. Everytime we've raised a concern or given a suggestion, it has been heard and taken notice of. Panchatantra is growing into a senior school very soon...we are so looking forward to their new building. We are very happy with our decision to choose this school for our daughter.

Ruchlinks said...

Panchatantra Montessori School has been my daughter's 'workplace' for the past 1 year. When we sought admission at Panchatantra, we were very clear that we wanted a 'Montessori education' for our child. We believed in the philosophy and the different approach to a child's education.

My daughter loves her school and all her facilitators. She enjoys her time at school and I am happy to see that she and other children at school are 'allowed to be'! The interiors, washrooms, classrooms, staircases, are all child friendly and enable the children to be independent. Their Montessori material is top of the class. The 'didis' are trained to ensure they maintain their personal hygiene and talk properly to the children. It's a pleasure to see that no one waits to be greeted (from the guard at the gate to the headmistress)...they greet the child first :-)

They conduct monthly PFMs - alternating between 1-1 and group meetings. The Group PFMs allow us to meet other parents and openly discuss what's on our minds. At some of these meetings, guest speakers are invited to help parents understand the 'Child'... The Montessori philosophy is discussed to create awareness amongst the parent community too. Panchatantra is a very open school - parents are allowed to come inside the building, meet facilitators, talk to the admin team or meet with the management.

All festivals are celebrated in a wonderful manner - the festival theme is kept in mind for the weeks prior to the festival and many activities planned around it. Children do worksheets, artwork, sing songs, listen to stories and understand the significance of the festival. What I love most is that on the day of the festival, the whole school is decorated with artwork made by the facilitators and children. We parents had so much fun with the children at the school picnic and Sports Day celebrations!

The curriculum is shared in advance and monthly updates on progress is also sent in writing. The school diary is an awesome medium to maintain regular communication between the class facilitator and parents. My daughter just finished her Pre-Nursery year and at the last PFM we received not only her 'progress report' but also her entire years' work alongwith observations / comments by the facilitator. It's so beautiful to go through the folder and see what your child has done in class as kids this young don't always talk about what they did in class. As a parent I am thrilled to hear my daughter say, "I had fun today" or "I played with numbers today" when I ask her how her day was.

It's a new and upcoming school so there are some hick-ups but the school team is very open to suggestions. Everytime we've raised a concern or given a suggestion, it has been heard and taken notice of. Panchatantra is growing into a senior school very soon...we are so looking forward to their new building. We are very happy with our decision to choose this school for our daughter.

twiddle tots said...

This is surely been written by a school admin person. So let me put it in pointers.
1. 'kids are allowed to be' - Oh yes at Panchatantra they sure are allowed to be. They are allowed to run around wherever they like and do what they like. but they are not stimulated and taught enough.
2.The washrooms have no soaps. The floor boards are coming off and have been stuck down with sticky tape.The stair case has seen accidents already.
3.Yes the did's are well trained...I must agree to that one. That's because your child is likely to spend more time with a didi than with a teacher. Teachers chat away in their rooms while the didi's follow the nilly-willy children. teachers use cell phones throughout the class time and are chatting or on sms continuously.
4. The montessori material is sure top of the class but they don't have trained staff to teach children and make montessori interesting.
5. The PFM's( parents facilitators meeting) are amazing. Parents give suggestions which are so welcomed by the school but none are ever implemented.
6. The festivals - they need to see other schools to get a comparative view on this one. Little knowledge is dangerous. Would you have a picnic with your child in your balcony? yes the school picnic was in its yard.
7. Do take a look the the school worksheets. Then go to any other school (any other...I mean it)and compare them.
8. Yes they give you a curriculum in advance. Then they will say we could not complete it as there were so many holidays. 5000 Rs for stationery where you get no text books or note books. A file with 20 sheets at the end which your child has done through the year.20 sheets of paper and some crayons for 5K???
9.Yes your kid will have fun at Panchatantra. But he will have the same amount of fun or more elsewhere and learn much more and feel more confident in a big school instead of feeling like a dumbo. You will not come to grade I and panic that your kid is way behind (like I did).
10. Some hiccups? the new building which they said would be ready in 2012 does not even have a brick on it. The fees have been hiked. The food they give kids is utter rubbish...white bread...no brand jam...stale dal put in flour to make dal parathas. THE SCHOOL IS A LIE.
11. The principal has bought all her degrees and has no clue of education. The HM was an assistant art teacher from heritage who got thrown out as she was caught making out in the bathroom...a woman with a questionable reputation.

KS said...

This is surely been written by a school admin person. So let me put it in pointers.
1. 'kids are allowed to be' - Oh yes at Panchatantra they sure are allowed to be. They are allowed to run around wherever they like and do what they like. but they are not stimulated and taught enough.
2.The washrooms have no soaps. The floor boards are coming off and have been stuck down with sticky tape.The stair case has seen accidents already.
3.Yes the did's are well trained...I must agree to that one. That's because your child is likely to spend more time with a didi than with a teacher. Teachers chat away in their rooms while the didi's follow the nilly-willy children. teachers use cell phones throughout the class time and are chatting or on sms continuously.
4. The montessori material is sure top of the class but they don't have trained staff to teach children and make montessori interesting.
5. The PFM's( parents facilitators meeting) are amazing. Parents give suggestions which are so welcomed by the school but none are ever implemented.
6. The festivals - they need to see other schools to get a comparative view on this one. Little knowledge is dangerous. Would you have a picnic with your child in your balcony? yes the school picnic was in its yard.
7. Do take a look the the school worksheets. Then go to any other school (any other...I mean it)and compare them.
8. Yes they give you a curriculum in advance. Then they will say we could not complete it as there were so many holidays. 5000 Rs for stationery where you get no text books or note books. A file with 20 sheets at the end which your child has done through the year.20 sheets of paper and some crayons for 5K???
9.Yes your kid will have fun at Panchatantra. But he will have the same amount of fun or more elsewhere and learn much more and feel more confident in a big school instead of feeling like a dumbo. You will not come to grade I and panic that your kid is way behind (like I did).
10. Some hiccups? the new building which they said would be ready in 2012 does not even have a brick on it. The fees have been hiked. The food they give kids is utter rubbish...white bread...no brand jam...stale dal put in flour to make dal parathas. THE SCHOOL IS A LIE.

Surabhi said...

Panchatantra school, for us seemed to be the perfect answer for our very active, simulated 18month old , nearly 2.5 years back.. It was clean, with we'll appointed teachers, open mined management run by dr anju khanna, specialised training teacher Sonia and Reena ma'am, and mrs Haldar.. We finished mother toddler time with our lovely Anushka ma'am whom the kids loved and adored.. She truly is talented and never looked hassled or bogged down even when surrounded by 12 cranky babies.. The management were very warm approachable and even got a diaper changing table upon our request.. Anushka moved to upstairs to ore nursery with our kids which really helped the weaning process for us mums as the kids by now were very attached and knew her very well.. My son, touchwood never has cried or had separation anxiety.. We mums would hide ourselves in the school basement and take turns in either peeping into the classrooms or ask a fellow teacher or did I if all was well.. I must say these moments really helped us both with each other, and a lot of us mums till date are good friends.. Per nursery adjustment taken care if, we didn't know what was in store for us the coming year.. Anushka was send back after a brief period to her other duties and classes and we had 2 more teachers in turn.. They were very very young barely in their early 20's.. Now this was worrying as they lacked maturity, experience and were not too good in handling very young kids.. The teachers were doing their best no doubt but the management was responsible for putting them there and hiring such young inexperienced teachers.. Dr khanna sudden quit, mrs Haldar thrown out and generally the top management quite shakey..
My school loving son started hating school and would make all sorts if excuses, he confessed that the teacher would shout on him and tell him to go outside the classroom.. Lots of things I started noticing, like not changing my sons diaper even if he had done potty, not paying too much attention to the kids, most of then would come back home with a graze or a cut, flies everywhere in the kitchen, too mundane activities etc etc.. I started comparing to other schools and their syllabus and realised my son didn't know anything.. I'm not the kind to put preassure or wanting to win any rat race.. We all know that our kids minds are a sponge till the age of 5 so the more material, simulation, reading etc you do enhances their learning capability for later.. Other schools were doing basic crayon holding, pincher grip techniques, etc.. I started feeling what after per nursery here.. There are no computer labs, no sports, no formal music, drama, etc. I pulled him out after pre nursery along with 8 other mums., and put him in another school starting nursery. To say now my son does computers, English music, Indian music, drama, English, tennis, soccer, gym, maths, arts and crafts and much more in school.. He is ever active, happy and much involved in his activities even after school.. He learning and understanding are above average and all thanks to our new school, the principle and teachers..

astuti said...

I liked the article. But I believe KS & Surabhi have some genuine concerns that do bother me as a parent. My question to both of you is, have you found better options? If yes could you share details of the same please?

astuti said...

I liked the article. But I believe KS & Surabhi have some genuine concerns that do bother me as a parent. My question to both of you is, have you found better options? If yes could you share details of the same please?

Intellitots team said...

Hi all,

Just wanted to inform all parents that the Panchatantra school has now been taken over by Intellitots. All Intellitots programs including Preschool, daycare, parent toddler are running at the facility. Also nursery and kindergarten sections have also been added. you can reach them at 9990800892 for any further information.