LITTLE EINSTEINS, PIONEERING A UNIQUE PEDAGOGY AND INNOVATION IN THE PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM
“We believe in what Albert Einstein said once – Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school” Kopal Maheshwari
After its inception in 2008, Little Einsteins has meticulously provided a broad and balanced international curriculum which supports individual needs and allows students to achieve their full potential.
The pre-school orchestrate on a blend of three principles; multiple intelligence framework of Dr Howard Gardner, promotion of STEAM and nurturing 21st-century skills. The MI approach, which is currently being implemented in the US and other countries, is truly responsive to the needs of the 21st Century.
This framework prepares the Indian child to be creative, critical, and divergent thinker who is able to really ‘think outside the box.’ Kopal Maheshwari, Founder and Director, Little Einsteins ensures that education is specific to a child’s need where emphasis is on how to learn; and recognize one’s abilities to nurture it further or as they say “The genius is within”.
THE WOMAN WHO RANG THE RIGHT BELL
Kopal Maheshwari is recognised as 40 most influential Indians under 40 and was awarded as the Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. She has founded multiple ventures and has also had successful corporate stints at the senior executive level with companies like GE, Dell. She has hands-on experience in running and operating a preschool and is the chief architect of the international curriculum based on Multiple Intelligence and STEM for Little Einsteins.
THE COMPETITIVE MARKET
Their unique pedagogy and innovation in the curriculum gives them an edge over the competition. With an international presence and renowned global education leaders guiding them, it provides them with the unique ability that none of their competitors have. They can introduce global best practices in the preschool ensuring that kids are future-ready. For example, they are the first and only preschool in India to have coding as part of their curriculum.
Kopal further added “We consider Personal skills as a very important contributor in the learning environment and that is why we have daily lessons where children develop both interpersonal as well as intrapersonal skills. We focus on empathy, mindfulness while ensuring that critical thinking and creativity is also nurtured.”
INSTILLING FAITH IN THE PARENTS
At Little Einsteins, they understand that the initial few days are anxious for parents and kid both and hence ample trial time is provided. They have a well-defined orientation meet and arrange a regular discussion with parents, workshops from distinguished educationists, nutritionists, paediatrics and psychologists for parents. They host activities for parents to participate with the child and share regular observations of the child in various aspects at home and at school.
“Eventually, we understand that it is a shared responsibility that we have with the parents to nurture every child” asserts Kopal.
The school has programs focused on mindfulness, robotics, coding, creative learning be it in mathematics or engineering like building bridges and towers or in dramatics. They have a lot of outdoor activities and hands on projects to ensure holistic development of kids which are related to experimenting and honing one’s skills.
GROWTH OVER THE YEARS
The preschool counts its growth based on how innovative and developed the curriculum is and how seamlessly it can be delivered. Initial few years were spent heavily on research and development and it was extremely beneficial. Another important metric for growth is the growth of the franchise partners and their partner mortality rate is zilch. It is their MIMS (Minimum Interference Maximum Support) model floated by Vinit Kumar Srivastava that was a great success which led to 100%+ growth in the last couple of years.
One of the biggest USP has been their presence across countries and continents. Amongst all Indian Players, they are the only brand with presence across developed nations. They have close relationships in Nordic countries, which are ranked best in PISA scores, and this helps to introduce new concepts, technology and methodologies of global importance.
Kopal shares, “We feel the players that are focused on content and innovation in pedagogy will see sustainable growth. We are also seeing a lot of shift happening from stand alone preschools to branded preschools. There has been little interest from global players to enter the India market as well.”
India does not have a dearth of technology and usage of this in the preschool market is abundant, but it is only those preschools which have a proper correlation to their content and a balance of offline and online activities that are growing. After all, these are initial ages where each child needs to be nurtured with individualised attention.
INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGES & EDUCATION SYSTEM
Little Einsteins welcome the rules and regulations that are put in place to ensure the safety of kids, parents and quality of education, the challenge though is getting those approvals. The current regulations on preschools are driven by each state and there is no transparency and online application progress to track these. Digital and transparent policy would be the key.
Kopal avows, “We have seen this in a small country of Estonia where almost everything is online and seamless. An association of preschool players can put this across to the Government and we plan to soon be forming one which can lobby against bureaucracy, irregular and non-uniform education policies for preschools in various states.”
The Indian education system needs an overhaul in changing times. The future is being defined on the rapid infusion of technology with jobs and careers that we may know about today and might not exist later. AI, robotics and technology are being used to enhance the learning. Parents are looking for experiential schools that are using global standards and innovative curriculum and are moving away from the basic Play-way and Montessori schools.
INFUSION OF TECHNOLOGY
Most of the technology developed is around monitoring, communication and increasing administrative efficiency. While technology in education is saturating the market it is also important to ensure that children are not overwhelmed by it and a balance is maintained between technology and individual attention. Technology should be used to spark an interest in the child to prepare him/her for the future.
“That is why at Little Einsteins we developed a coding curriculum where offline and online activities help create a balance as well as help children spark interest in understanding the basics. Our preschool Einsteins Labs ensure children have hands-on experiential learning. We also focus on technology that can help complement the learning and development of kids, expose them to a new changing social ecosystem and prepare them for a new world.” states Kopal.
CORE VALUES AND ETHOS
Everything in today’s world is about customisation or personalisation. Understanding the learning style of your child and his/her core competencies or “intelligence” (as said in Multiple Intelligence) is crucial to making learning personalised, fun and quicker for the child. Little Einsteins feel the core values and ethos is about empathy and developing a sustainable world as true global citizens. They encourage their kids to participate in events and projects related to the 17 sustainable development goals. It is of prime importance that kids are nurtured as global citizens while respecting global values.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
India is already ahead in education in comparison to a lot of countries in the west. In India, educators provide a wide range of subjects with a focus on in-depth learning to children. Western aspect is in letting the child discover their curiosity and choose a subject as per his/her/other’s interest to develop excellence in it.
However, Kopal is quite pleased with the new initiative by the government to make education similar to the western world in terms of 5+3+3+4 in contrast to the traditional 10+2. She feels that this will help a lot in their formative years but also hopes for change in the uniformity and digitalisation of the legal aspects related to the preschool industry.
FEATHERS IN THE CAP
The proud director states, “We have been consistently ranked as a top preschool chain in India and recently were awarded as an upcoming preschool chain in Asia. We continue to take pride in being the only chain from India to be present in developed markets like the US, UK, Finland and recognised for its innovations in early childhood development. There have been 10 honours and awards that Little Einsteins has procured so far in its journey in India, while most of our centres have been awarded as the best preschool in their state.
Little Einsteins aims to be the global leader in early childhood education and is looking to penetrate deeper into its existing markets and to grow in new countries. They are focusing on robotics and enhancing mindfulness. They are also looking forward to taking it to the next level with their new international school brand SEBILLE for K-10 and K-12 education and to expand centres through its franchise program across the country.
Archana Sikka Seth: I was always looking at better ways to make learning fun for my children and then I realized that preschool education in India is only about Alphabets and Numbers. I started researching on the topic and came across Little Einsteins which believed in a holistic development approach. I have been associated with Little Einsteins family for 6 years now, and find them very supportive, innovative and path-breaking in their approach. I now have 2 centres with Little Einsteins in Pune and over 600 happy parents.
Shweta Arora: I left my job when my son was born. It was difficult to leave my child in a day-care and concentrate on the job and I came across Little Einsteins, which was based on “Multiple Intelligence” and has International Curriculum. We got good support and guidance for local marketing and in fact, initial marketing material was provided by them. This helped us set up the centre quickly within a month. Later on, we got the curriculum of the school which was divided on a day by day basis, which helped in executing the curriculum easily.
Kamlesh Tripathi: I have been associated with Little Einsteins for over 3 years now and I derive sheer pleasure at work because I can make my own decisions and my voice and suggestions are heard. I can drive certain changes and implement processes which have helped the company grow immensely over the last 3 years.