Ms. Rajni Deshmukh is the founder of Stepping Stones Preschool, Pune, whose interest and liking for taking classes for children that made her think of starting the school. She had always liked painting, elocution, and conducting summer camps and cultural activities involving children. Here she is happy that she can organize the school in her own way. She has been with the school for the last 8 to 10 years.
When asked how Stepping Stones Preschool is different from so many kindergarten schools coming up in every nook and corner, she says, I believe in practical knowledge more than letting them go through books.” When teaching about animals, she makes all efforts to bring live animals such as rabbit, fishes, and birds, anything that can be brought to the school, and show the children. They are taught about their homes and related topic and children get more practical knowledge as there is no mugging up involved. “We have a pattern which is to show them through stories, through puppet shows, play and learn…at this stage they are too small to put their head into books and learn things.”
Under this practical way of teaching, for example, the school declares one day as Yellow Day. “We display all things in yellow, give them food in yellow colour, and make them dress in yellow colour and they understand better.” The school has a set of experienced staff to help her in this.
About the communication pattern in the school, Ms.Deshmukh says that the communication is mostly done in English. “At this stage, the children should be familiar with English also…but their mother tongue should be given importance.” The teachers “explain everything in their mother tongue and then again in English. Once they know what we talk, we revise to them again and again and they will understand.”
The Stepping Stones Preschool has Playgroup and Nursery classes and the age of the children vary from 2 to 6. The teacher student ratio is 1:10 and there is a helper teacher also when doing activities. Ms. Deshmukh says that the school has no branch in Pune.
She talks about the activities conducted in the school thus:
· “Every month there is an activity day.
· Last year we had green day, planted small saplings.
· Students planted these saplings and they have to water and start the routine.
· They see the plants growing.”
Apart from this, the school also conducts puppet show, planet day to make them know about stars and moon. The school also conducts Grandparents’ Day to make the children familiar, social, and be interactive with other grandparents also. Ms. Deshmukh says there is no difficulty running the school.
“If you are organized properly there is no problem at all. It has become a routine for me.” She selects only such teachers who are well-versed in interacting with the children. The experience also counts in this process. Lots of patience is required and she says that though this is a thankless job as most of the students will forget the teachers, it is the duty of the teachers “to build good foundation, inculcate good values, good discipline, and help them to carry forward by being well organized.”
Stepping Stones Preschool,
720/15, Navipeth, Behind Petrol Pump,
Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, Pune
Ph No: 91-20-24531377