Thanks Ajay & Jyothi
I am also considering putting my daugter into this school. She will be joining Grade 1. I have the same concerns that you have to. Can I call you to discuss this? My email id is email@example.com.
Hi ...my son is joining in Grade 1 on 4th June... would love to share some thoughts ..anybody interested in carpooling in cooke town/ cox town area ?
my email id is firstname.lastname@example.org
AjayMa, duggumom and Vrinda,
It is sometime now since your kids started attending Vidyashilp. Isnt it?
May I know how your experience has been so far?
(I am planning to apply there for my son - I got from the school that I need to register on Nov 3rd. Have been hearing good things about the school - from some acquaintances. )
Specifically, I would like to know about how the parent is kept informed of the kids activities in school?
- if a parent seeks to periodically meet the teachers and learn about his/her progress, is it encouraged?
I had a long posting on my learning about VSA prior to my son joining here: http://www.parentree.in/reviews-62/Vidyashilp-Academy.html.
Since then its been about 2 years now and we are very happy with what we have seen about the school. Having said that, not all the things I wrote has happened as was called out, but I think its still a great school!
1. Good healthy food at school - Yes, this is true
2. Good teachers, low churn - Yes, this is true for the most part
3. Ability for parents to engage with teachers - Yes, for the most part, 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. This is one area where you can probably discuss w/ a parent who has wanted to engage outside of those 4 sessions a year. I have not seen a need to do beyond that. At this young age, as long as you see your kid intellectually stimulated on varied topics, I think he is doing good. 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 if the kid is involved, 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 signifianct investment on my time!
4. 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. Something that I find very good, as both an encouragement and focus.
5. ShilpDew - 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 are having him do some of this...so I think they were assigning roles on an age specific manner, where initially they encouraged them to author articles and now they are 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 :-)
6. ShilpEncounter - This has been the highlight, it has really helped increase my sons confidence grow quite a bit. Infact 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 standpoint, based on parents feedback they have now introduced Q&A sessions at end of each speech...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 preptheir kids for questions and that definitely has a side effect of teaching and helping kids grow.
7. Homework and lack of feedback - Yes, there is no real homework, but the projects they give really is good and keeps 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 is 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 book crudding... 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 :-)
8. Behavior - I do see my son being very independant and having his own mind and opinion....however, some will coin that as headstrong and arragant and lack of respect, and yes this is an issue I am facing. But its 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, but he has the habit of nailing you on that because that is the ethics and priciples we preach. So, the days when we can preach somethng and do something else is gone. And since we have traditional thinking parents and grandparents, it is a hard adjustment....sometimes he just doesnt care its his grandpa or grandma, and he tends to speak his mind and even not care, and that definitely does bother me, and I am trying hard to instill the concept of respect and giving them a break based on the culture they are brought up and the 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 its sort of expected side effect. 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. We expose kids to this style, and expect everything to happen instantaneously, however I think we need to build a lot of patience and faith and constantly re-inforcing values. These kids are exposed to certain abilities like "speak their mind" and have opinions early in the age, and that has its challenges, and I think over time it actually helps them mature and be succesful, 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, it feels he might be seeing a few sooner and also hopefully cope earlier. 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 dont want to be either for or against, I have just painted my opinion here.
9. External activities and exposure - Good and No so (especially because my expectations are higher from this school)...let me explain....they have helped us realize there are many competetions and activities outside of school that goes to international levels, and because of this school, so now 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 train them (no investment from School, this is where I would have hoped for more)....and then convince the kids to study and prepare (even though we ask him not to worry about results....I am very particular about putting the right amount of effort, and if he doesnt, then should not participate)...Some of the parents expressed negative feelings here in the sense that when these kids did win and qualify, the level of recognition within the school was low and it took them months before they awarded the cups though it was sent to them a while back. 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. Although the training aspect of it has not happened.
10. School hours - Neutral - Longer than other schools, it starts at 8:30 and goes until 4:30....partly because he has 2 hours of sport activity each day. This is usally not that bad, just that we still live faraway and so his commute is another 75-90 min each way....leading his days start as early as 6:45AM (time he leaves home) and be back at 6:15PM (time he reaches home)....this is not an issue with 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, homeworks and hardwork on Academic side gets closer to traditional school and becomes heavier and we have to make sure he has time to have a life as well. BTW, he doesnt complain about the commute because he enjoys the van ride, its 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 probablity of risks due to traffic incidents...
11. Clickers - Fair - One thing that has not happened as advertized is probably the use of clickers....its 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 are not functioning, making it a bit less effective. Although my son says this year his clicker has been functional year round.
I 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.
12. They also encourage going green, and infact 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 feel touched by this. The other thing is that the kids from older classes are paired with younger kids and they teach them how to interact w/ visitors (mostly parents) when they come to see their work in the form of 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 dont qing 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.
Hope this helps.
Ajayma, Thanks for the really long and detailed post. It does really help a prospective parent like me get an insider's view of the school.
Thank you very much for all the information.
On the commute time - where are you put up?
(Am in kasturi nagar - And I heard from some parents near by that
it takes 45 minutes one way. And was mentally prepared for that.)
This is one important point I failed to bring up earlier:
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
Can you please let me know ur experience with vidyashilp as my daughter also has to go to this school from next year
what mode of transport r u using for him to get to school can i get the details
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