Anybody's kids going to Vidyashilp

9 replies, Page 1

buddha 2009-07-14 14:28:38

 

My son recently joined Vidyashilp.Although so far i have been happy with the experience,i would like some more info on the school.


AjayMa 2010-11-17 12:28:35

 

My son joined the school in middle of Grade 1. It’s been about 2 years now. Below are my impressions on this school and their approach. It actually contains my opinion that I built at the time of joining the school and then my opinion now (after 2 years).
 
Review:
In a nutshell, I like this school, yes, like anything else, there are areas where it can get better, but that’s because I believe nothing is perfect.
 
{Few months after joining - about 1.5 years ago - 2009 April}
 
1. No conventional exam till 6th grade was an interesting concept to me. I felt that relieves pressure on kids and they can focus on learning. This will work provided the school is doing a good job of constant evaluation and feedback. I took the chance w/ this model based on few conversations I had w/ parents who have sent their kids to VSA and have seen strides of improvement in their kids. They have this innovative clicker given to each kid and they respond to questions posed in class by selecting A, B, C or D options. This starts in grade 2 and so my son will experience it next year. This I thought was a very nice idea. On the flip side, the thing I am struggling w/ this no-exam method is the lack of knowledge on how the kid is doing. Exam results used to be one way to get some sense, but w/ that not being there, it is hard.
 
2. There is no concept of homework until grade 6. Well there is, in the form of projects and I like this concept. I also like the no-homework policy because I vividly recall my son having absolutely no life in his previous school. Get up, go to school, come home, change up, eat, do homework, time to go to bed as he needs to wake up early and get ready for next day. And come weekend he has so much homework and project that there is no time for anything else. This also deprived him from playing sports (casual or training based) due to lack of time and energy. This is not a problem now, even though his commute is longer (this can be solved by moving closer to the School, which we plan to do). Again, as I said before, the issue w/ this model is again lack of feedback on what is being taught and how much he has comprehended, homework used to be a nice way for me to get involved and understand, what I call active parenting.
 
3. The other thing I like about their teaching style is this: Each class is an hour long and they break it into 45min of regular class time where teacher tries to introduce a concept, and then the last 15min they spend time understanding the concept and working as a group of kids to solve a problem or something that reinforces the concept. I was told this will be more noticeable as they go to higher classes (maybe time split might also change to 30-30). This is a great way to build their foundation and indirectly and subtly teach leadership and teamwork.
 
4. The other aspect I like in this school is their focus to more than just studies. In grade 1 and 2, they have 2 classes (1 hour each) of sports each day of the week. They have about 14 sports that they rotate thru (mathematically repeats every 7 days of school). This I thought was very smart for few reasons. I have seen most schools struggle to do a good job at providing good focus to sports and that is because they give the option for the kids to pick a couple out of say 10 sports. And kids pick the most popular or familiar sport (like Cricket for example) and the remaining sports though are listed as options, they don’t work out due to lack of students. In his earlier school, when we did try to pick other options it did not work out as there were not many kids enrolled. And that indirectly impacts teacher morale, no shows increase and things like that. So, schools tend to get small set of Physical Instructors who are jack of all and master of none, again not a good thing in the long run. In this school, because every kid has to go to all 14 sports, the attendance is never an issue. So, teachers are motivated, and school is motivated to keep all of these well-staffed and the instructors have good skills in their respective sports. This has the positive effect of exposing kids to new sports and getting all parts of their body activated (Swimming, Yoga, Cricket, Carrom, Chess, Kho-kno, and Football to name a few). It also helps kids explore and choose a sport they enjoy and excel at. I think they will also end up being well-rounded individuals. Now this gets better, starting Grade 3 and up to Grade 6, they do this rotation of sports during one class, and the second sports class is invested on a specific sport they decide to focus. So, now the repetition happens every 14 days and they also have focused growth (depth) in specific sport. I thought this is a well thought through process and that left a very good opinion for me of this school.
 
5. One thing that my wife observed as a great strength of this school is how they focus on helping kids to be aware of current affairs and encourage them to be out-spoken, remove stage fear and help them be fearless speakers. They do this through two things: Shilp Encounter and Shilp Dew. Shilp Encounter focuses on speaking their mind on current affairs. Even this they have a very interesting approach. At the beginning of the year, they pick a topic and that topic is discussed from Grade 1 thru 7, and they give sub-topics based on their maturity level. They first give them some knowledge in that area of topic, get them comfortable in their basic understanding. Then they probe them to think and come up w/ their own opinions, and depending on the Grade, there will be some help to no help…while they encourage independent thinking and views. Then, they have them incorporate parent feedback and build consensus. Then they have these kids present within the class and the pick top 30-40% kids and have then present in an auditorium across all sections. I have heard good thing about kids growing up to be individual thinkers and being on top of current affairs, but only got this level of understanding when I met and discussed how this works with the teachers. Not only this, they have a habit of reading newspaper and discussing all current affairs, and you will be surprised how aware these kids are. BTW, the topic they had this year for Grade1 thru 7 was terrorism. The other activity is called Shilp Dew, which is essentially a newsletter that the kids publish (end to end). They are the editors, writers, and every role that is needed to run a newspaper. This is another great way to improve the individualistic side of thinking and writing.
 
In regards to some observations regarding some kids using foul language or having attitude, I believe, when a school is approaching education in a slightly different way, where they are giving the kids the freedom to think and express, there is a level of risk you carry. They don’t believe in conventional disciplining processes (I don’t want to discuss which is better, however it should be noted that each have their strengths and weaknesses). They believe in talking to them like friends or buddies and have them realize. Well not all kids come w/ same background and same characteristics, after all we are human. So, you will find some that are more expressive and based on what they see and hear in society today, they get influenced and express. I believe kids learn even from outside of school, from people around them in social circles, TV, and such. It is very important to stay connected w/ your kid and to ensure you are aware at high level things they are doing, be their friend and understand their friends psych and educate them like a friend. In today’s society, it is unfair to just blame an institution. Having said that I totally expect them to take on responsibility and act accordingly. If bad words, bad actions are growing in the school everywhere, there should be some balancing act on their disciplinary process, and I do believe they take this seriously. I am just trying to take a balanced opinion and share responsibility. And this is purely my opinion.
 
6. I liked the teachers; they are polite, approachable, listen and give reasonable amount of feedback. I have also felt that their proficiency at communication and their knowledge in general is actually far better than the schools I have been to 20 years ago. In fact they are far better than the other school my son went to. So, that was a very welcome change
 
7. The other thing that was important was nutrition, and providing food that can get cold by lunch time was not a very compelling solution. So, we really liked their attention to the lunch they provide (around nutrition and variety), and just the fact that they have this facility is a big plus.
 
8. The school campus is clean, the rooms are clean, restrooms are clean, and they even have soap kept at the sinks for kids to wash after use. They have “the cleanest class” award every year motivating kids to keep themselves and the class clean.
 
9. The one thing that did bother me is the no-exam model until Grade 6, and then switch to the conventional exam model. I feared this change could have a hard impact on my son. I discussed this w/ school and tried to see how other kids have coped. They gave a reasonable answer, here it is: They have not seen issues and their results have been very good (being ICSE). Also, they have weekly assessments on things kids learned that week. They also have a monthly or once in two months cumulative worksheet that kids work on, more like the conventional test system as they have to recall what they learned some time back. This model continues until the 6th. In 6th kids have homework, still no conventional exams, so 6th grade is a year for them to transition to the conventional concept. And starting 7th they follow the conventional method. I decided that this is a tradeoff everyone is faced with when seeking a different style of education. In my case, I accepted and decided to play an active role and spend time testing his skills. Hard, but I feel it’s worth the effort, although the key is to actually follow-thru on this intent and not just have the intent ;-).
 
10. The other thing that bothered me is the lack of school transportation system, there are these private guys and it is so hard to focus on quality. I wish they will improve on this front, although this might become a non-issue once we move closer to the school.

As a new parent in Vidyashilp, from what I have seen, I definitely will give them a thumbs-up. I also promise to give an unbiased opinion (either way) as and when I learn more about this school.
I hope this helps those who are torn by varied opinion. I wanted to provide my experience in detail and you can build an opinion around your values. This is what I was looking for when I was looking at schools, and so here I am providing my own.
 
{After 1.5 years in this school, here is how I feel - Nov 2010}
 
1. No books, not even printouts, only lesson plans accesible by teachers - There is no text books, they make lesson plans which teachers access on their computer and display on monitors. The things kids have is a notebook for note taking. So, this is pretty unconventional way of teaching...I am not sure if this is good or not....without text books to refer you are actually expecting kids to absorb and retain all knowledge in their head. They dont have material to refer back later. This ensures their content is revised as things change and they stay current, assuming this is done. In general, I would have prefered to have books as well....might end up purchasing books later on just to be sure he is on top of things...I think (I have taken the leap of faith in this system of education)...they tell me they constantly repeat this content, they also do constant validation by having Q&A for every topic, and then after every 4 topics, they have another validation, again to ensure you recall the earlier content
 
2. Good healthy food at school - Yes, this is true
 
3. Good teachers, low churn - Yes, this is true for the most part
 
4. Ability for parents to engage with teachers - Yes, they have 4 times a year patent-teacher meeting at a specific time and you can meet all teachers. If you want to meet teachers at other times, I am told it is possible, but you need to call and make an appointment. Last year, they had, for each teacher, a specific day and time slot when we could meet, I have not seen such a list this year, probably better, because I would rather meet a teacher whenever I want as long as I can setup a meeting w/ them beforehand than get stuck to specific days and time. I have not seen a need to interact beyond these 4 times. At this young age, as long as you see your kid intellectually stimulated on varied topics, I think he/she is doing well. I always look for the spark or excitement...that is my take. They have a lot of projects and they make that even more interesting and challenging for the kid if he/she is actively participating, and my son happens to be of that kind, and I too spend a lot of time with him on such projects, encouraging him to read and learn and create projects, while lending hand on ideas and some work...doing this, I see that he has slowly grown to coming up with his own ideas, and his own way of approaching, which is all goodness. But, it has been significant investment on my time!

5. Sports - Lived up to expectation, the rotation concept really gives kids exposure to a larger set of games that they would otherwise not had. Starting in Grade 3, they have to pick one sport for focus, and my son, like many other, picked cricket, and that is where it has been a challenge for the school to satisfy all kids, this is exactly the fear I had about all schools originally, and my gut was right, and I am glad he is in this school because he still has another hour in the day for all other sports. By the way, they also have special coaching on Saturday for kids who are very interested and want to excel in something specific. This is something I like, both as an encouragement and focus.
 
6. Shilp Dew - the magazine that is built by kids, I have been happy. Initially my son was a bit frustrated, while his articles were being picked for the magazine, he also wanted the responsibility of being able to select, edit and critique...and that did not happen initially....but now he is in grade 3 and they have slowly started exposing him to these...so I think they were assigning roles on an age specific manner, where initially they encouraged them to author articles and now they are slowly encouraging critiquing, I like that structure....and had I reacted for what was happening initially, I would not have appreciated as much...clearly they are not doing these things without thinking thru...there is some amount of logic behind their approach :-)
 
7. Shilp Encounter - This has been the highlight, it has really helped increase my son’s confidence grow quite a bit. In fact he has posted a few of his presentations on YouTube, take a look and you will get a sense, search on his name Arnav and key words Shilp Encounter. We just love the way they have increased his confidence....this is one area, where I have seen a few parents argue that many kids tend to just memorize and present what parents have taught...initially I too was a bit disturbed by this, but then I was telling my wife that Obama or other good orators are known for their skills to present and not author good content, especially their ability to present content composed by someone else....so having that ability to present in a confident matter is still a skill to build. Having said that I do agree that at this age, we should also give them the opportunity to explore and speak their mind. I think it will happen slowly and naturally, I am sure kids will get bored having their parents compose all the time and will start stepping up, or the other way around, parents getting tired of composing... Either way the loss or gain is for the individual, and does not reflect the schools ability. Having said all this, from School’s standpoint, based on parents feedback they have now introduced Q&A sessions at end of each presentation ...and during that time, the kids who have only memorized struggle to do well, so it was interesting to see such smart re-thinking of format and take the feedback given by parents. Now, the parents, while might still build the script, will also take time and effort to prep their kids for questions and that definitely has a side effect of teaching and helping kids grow.
 
8. Homework and lack of feedback - Yes, there is no real homework, but the projects they give really are good and helps keep the interest in my son to do the work and excel. So, I feel he is learning things at a more holistic and fun way. Knowing what my son is doing at school or how he is doing is harder as there are no exams or homework, but on the whole, I tend to have some informal chats and questions with him, just to get a sense of where he is and he is doing just fine. I am not a big fan of being a topper in class by memorizing and being good with what’s in a book... so I am probably not the parent to consult on this topic as I am biased away from traditional schooling techniques, regardless of whether it is right or wrong :-)
 
9. Behavior - I do see my son being independent and having his own mind and opinion....however, some will coin that as headstrong and arrogant and lack of respect, and yes this is an issue I am facing. But it’s partly because of the people we are and it somewhat exposes to me the level of double standard life we live. For example, we talk about always doing the right things, but then we do bend rules and sometime for a good reason, he will nail us on that because that is the ethics and principles we preach. So, the days when we can preach something and do something else is gone. And since we have traditional thinking parents and grandparents, it is a hard adjustment....sometimes he just doesn’t care that he is talking to his grandpa or grandma, and he tends to speak his mind and even not care (insensitive), and that definitely does bother me, and I am trying hard to instill the concept of respect and being sensitive, age factor and the fact that it is difficult to expect people change at their age. I try to give him the example of tree and sampling and the adaptability when moved to a new location. So, I feel the aspect of respect and giving up on certain things based on the circumstance is something lacking. I think it’s sort of expected side effect of independence and to think out of the box. I guess there is a shade of grey but he thinks very black and white today. I am hoping that this will change over time. The other thing is that we teach kids and expect everything to be absorbed and learned almost instantaneously, however I think we need to build a lot of patience and faith and constantly reinforce values. These kids are exposed to things like "speak your mind" and build opinions early in the age, and that has its challenges, and I think, over time, it actually should help them mature and be successful, after all none of us lived in a bubble of purity and piousness and we all faced reality over different points in time of our life. And this is something I am unsure if I will hold only the school responsible. These kids are living in a different age, where information is at their fingertips and they are able to do things that I could not have imagined at their age. This is a topic of hot discussion and debate, and I don’t want to be either for or against, I have just painted my opinion here.
 
10. External activities and exposure – Reasonably good (especially because my expectations are higher from this school)...let me explain....they have helped us realize there are many competitions and activities outside of school that goes to international levels, and because of this school we are aware of these and he is participating. In fact he is now reached international spelling bee competition level, this gives the kids exposure and confidence about themselves. Although it does take a toll on the parents having to travel places and teach them as there is no investment from School to do the same, this is where I would have hoped for more. Some parents expressed negative feelings here in the sense that when kids win and qualify, the school did not seem to recognize soon enough, example: it took the school a few months before they awarded the cups sent by the competition center. On the other hand, after the parents complained they actually acted on it and have been a lot more responsive and responsible in recognizing these kids.
 
11. School hours - Neutral - Longer than other schools, it starts at 8:30 and goes until 4:30....partly because he has 2 hours of sports activity each day. This is usually not that bad, just that we still live far away and so his commute is another 75-90 min each way....leading his days start as early as 7AM (time he leaves home) and back at 6PM (time he reaches home)....this is not an issue with the school, instead with parents as we have not moved closer to school...something we hope to rectify before he gets to grade 6 as that is when studies, home-work and hard work on Academic side gets closer to traditional school…we have to make sure he has time to have a life as well. BTW, he doesn’t complain about the commute because he enjoys the van ride, it’s we as parents who are unhappy, both because of the time it takes and the fact that he is commuting for 2-3 hours each day and Bangalore traffic is not kids friendly, so we feel we are increasing the probability of risks due to traffic incidents...
 
12. Clickers - Fair - One thing that has not happened as much as advertised is probably the use of clickers....it’s actually called remote is what my son explains. I just asked him how much of this is used and he indicates: “They use this on occasions, especially when the teacher thinks the concept is hard and wants to see how the class has done. Apparently they see who has red (errors), calls out the remote number (corresponds to a kid) and interact with the kid to see why he or she did not follow. He thinks this has been used more for Math and English, less for EVS or Hindi”.
 
The common problem has been the stability of these devices; he tells me a subset of clickers is not functioning, making it a bit less effective. Although my son says this year his clicker has been functional year round.
 
I also asked the teachers and I did not get a sense that this is being used very effectively, although I think this is an area where they can really leverage and make them stand out in comparison to all other schools.
 
13. They also encourage going green, in fact I have seen kids from higher grades making compost fertilizer in school, and then they also teach them the art of selling and running a business, I was touched by this. The other thing is that kids from older classes are paired with younger kids and they teach them how to interact w/ visitors (mostly parents) as they come in to see their work (school exhibition). Lastly, I also see that they set up such exhibitions and some of the work they showcase is very impressive, again they have these older kids acting as tour guides...I have intentionally tried asking hard questions and they do a rather impressive job at learning the breadth, but at the same time they don’t wing it, they also let me know that they would find out and get back with me...so all that is great to see amongst these kids.

 

 

su10 2011-01-12 17:28:10

 

 @AjayMa:thanks so much for the detailed feedback.

My daughter is only 2.5 and goes to Neev playschool. I am very keen on Vidyashilp for her and your feedback has re iterated my decesion.

I am however wondering how easy it is to get into Shilp in 1st grade.I am very happy with Neev and want her to continue until UKG. I know there is a lot of info on this website re the same. But I am wondering how easily/or not your son got in considering he joined in Grade 1.

thanks in advance!!

 

AjayMa 2011-05-10 11:25:54

 

My son switched school in middle of year, so he was waitlisted and sometimes kids change school in the middle due to transfer or something to that effect. So, from that point of view, I got lucky.

I am told it is difficult, but that is the case with any school. If there is a class where there are bigger opportunities then it is grade1 as its a new class and there are only openings.

On the other hand, Vidya Sagar is feeder school to both VSA and Vidyaniketan, so you will get some percentage of those kids in this school. Vidyaniketan is also supposed to be very good in the conventional schooling setting.

If you are very particular, then you can add your kid into Vidya Sagar if possible (I have heard only good things about this, more so than VSA and Vidyaniketan). Add in waitlist in case there is a drop out....do that every year until you get to the point where you need to add in VSA waitlist.

Key is to be an optimist and do all that is possible to be persistent and not give up on any avenues, I have learned this ever since college days when I was looking for an assistantship :-)

Good luck!

 


Dhanag 2013-11-02 12:40:03

 

Hi my son has joined for first grade in VSA this year.any parents willing to share some information pls do.his name is vasu nagaraj 1f.
 

rm 2013-11-23 12:09:41

 

Hi, AjayMa!

I saw your detailed inputs about VidyaShilp Academy.
Can you pls share your current views/feedback? In which class is your child in now?

thanks,
Rashmi
 

sudipta 2014-11-19 01:08:38

 

Hi Ajay plz share your recent views about VSA. 
 

Sowmyamg 2014-11-21 01:01:28

 

Hi all can I know the recent fee structure at VsA for both icse igcse .
 


Pooj2019 2019-03-14 12:28:46

 

Hi Ajay,

Read your reviews...

Really  keen to connect with you on the school since I€™m considering this school for my kid for grade 1...your kid must be in the 11th grade now I think...pls suggest how to have a conversation on the same...Regards-Pooja
 

everjoy 2019-04-25 17:43:31

 

Hi.I am also trying for my child in VSA(grade 1).would you pls share the fee structure for 2019-20 admission?
 

 

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