Laugh out Loud for now. get set for stress later. Absolutely harrowing experience!
For the starters, the staff and the so called chief directress must learn some etiquette while dealing with parents. She is known for screaming first and listening maybe in between if she wants to (heard this from other parents and her very own subordinates who cant do much but hushed whispers). All the important one to ones attended are not kept track of and the parents are constantly blamed for not being there for the child. (the word 'Judgmental' you see, how much would you know about the depth of that personal relationship).
The team is more interested in conducting fancy workshops than closely observing and improving the child's progress. You are not allowed to interfere in the learning pattern (understandable) but when your child is not ready to face the challenge for admission for the primary, you will be completely blamed for not being 'involved'.
You will attend all the important one to ones but that will NOT be kept track of. Once we try to have a sane conversation with the so called lady who heads this, you will find yourself only listening and not being listened to.
The communication channels suck between the departments. For example, once you pay fees, you are constantly reminded to pay again and again without checking the records. This happened for two years in a row.
The children come back constantly crying when they hurt themselves with little knives that are given to them (as a kitchen activity) and then, when reported, we are told that the child is being 'trained' to be independent. At the cost of bruises and wounds. Surprisingly minimal supervision in such crucial tasks.
The parents are promised that writing will be taken care of once the child is ready to join the primary school, but please make arrangements for a back up. Not happening. You will be told that 'the child will write what he/she wants to write! If you are willing to carry forward the same explanation at the time of admission for the primary, please go ahead.
This is just the 'gist'. More to follow. I'm so happy that my kid has passed this phase and so did i. We are less stressed now with better communication and more well mannered staff in the new school.
My son Rithik studied in Blue Blocks for 3.5 years. (From the time he was 2.5 years till he reached 6 years which was during June 2009 to December 2012)
My wife and I personally visited around 12-14 pre schools in Spring-Summer 2009. These schools were located in and around Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills, Madhapur/Hitech City and Gachibowli.
We selected one day every week (typcially Friday or Saturday) and set about visiting 2-3 pre schools on that day.
We spent at least 1 hour in each of the pre schools. We spoke to as many teachers and principal as possible in each of these schools. We also examined the facilities and found out what a typical day would be like.
Whenever possible we also spoke to the ayahs. (Hint: They will often tell you what no one else will!!!)
To the extent possible I made short notes immediately after we got into the car so we would not forget anything important.
Why am I telling you all this?
To firstly impress upon you, that we did as scientific a study of pre schools as possible. We probably did what any great team of PHD researchers would if they were studying pre schools but we did better because we have an emotional connection to the outcome.
And secondly to ensure I have your complete attention to what I have to say below.
And finally to inform other interested parents such as you, that we both are extremely happy even now. Yes, even after our child graduated out of Blue Blocks, we still have that warm fuzzy feeling. We are compiling this detailed feedback to help you make up your mind about Blue Blocks.
Select Blue Blocks if and only if you agree with most of my Top 10 Reasons...
1) You want your childs "home away from home" to be a homely, nurturing, caring environment where you can be ALMOST 99%+ certain your childrens best interest is at heart each and every day.
You will have to personally visit at least 2 times (seeing is believing) to understand what I am talking about. Everything and I mean everything is designed from the childs point of view with safety in mind.
2) You want your childs first learning experience to be fun and interesting. There are a wide variety of activities where your child will learn while he is actually playing. If their first exposure to school and learning is enjoyable and entertaining they are more likely to be involved and engaged. Wouldn't you agree?
3) You want your child to love going to school. Unlike many other children traumatized by their first learning experiences, your child will actually look forward to Mondays and not Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
4) You want your child to LEARN A LOT without any stress. (Google for what any kind of stress does to learning and you will know what I mean.)
5) To the best of our knowledge all of the main teachers are 100% Montessori Primary certified. During those 3.5 years two of my child's teachers had around 8-10 years prior experience teaching in other Montessori schools.
They have excellent knowledge of child psychology (per Montessori) as well as through knowledge about each individual child and their likes/dislikes/learning patterns/behaviours Etc. Several times, during our one on one meeting they told us a few things which even we did not know about our child. These we later confirmed by our own observation.
The teachers are available to a limited extent on phone after school hours to discuss any specific issues. They are also available to meet with prior appointment. On top of that they are extremely cooperative and will work with you on almost any specific issue related to your child.
Most of all they are incredibly dedicated. (and I don't say this lightly)
6) Most or all of the assistant teachers might be certified as well but we are not sure and never enquired. What we do know is almost all of the teaching staff were incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and caring.
7) All or (almost all) of the teachers and staff are sent to various continuing educational programs
a) At Blue Blocks, b) Other locations in Hyderabd and c) Also outstation to Mumbai Etc. IMHO a learning organization is a growing organization. Who wouldn't want their child to be there?
8) Every one of the staff, including the Ayahs are trained suitably to take good care of children. Everyone from the watch man to the head mistress is equally concerned about your childs well being. This we know from personal experience over 3.5 years.
9) Blue Blocks is one of only 2-4, 100% Montessori Certified schools in Hyderabad. The founder Mr. Pavan Goyal is certified by AMI for 0-3 and 3-6 years. If you are a R2I (Returned to India after a stint abroad) or an expat this might be a great choice for you as you most likely will not be happy anywhere else.
10) They are exceptionally receptive to feedback whether positive or negative. There were parents more paranoid than us. So we never had to offer much feedback. But we knew they were receptive because almost any reasonable feedback is put into action immediately.
So where's the dirt???
What are the negatives???
Is Blue Blocks Perfect???
Ok, you negative minded folks, I will satisfy you too!!!
1) Their fees are higher than most other pre schools (except IB/Cambridge schools) but it is understandable because they provide exceptional facilities and great staff. (Most schools compromise on staff salaries but put up a great visual appeal in terms of facilities for parents. I think both are necessary but if forced to choose only one it is better to have great teachers than great facilities.)
2) They have strict rules about several issues such as sending children to school on time, informing about absentism whether due to illness or any other reason as soon as possible, taking appointment before meeting teachers Etc. If you are used to bull dozing your way through you will be pretty unhappy. But if you sit back and think clearly all these rules are there to ensure a disruption free environment for your child.
3) They have Bus facility on limited routes which they adjust from time to time based on demand. If you live far away then you are on your own.
Can't think of any other significant issues...
We are friendly with the founder and our childs teachers. But that doesn't mean I am Mr. Goyals beer buddy or we all go out for family get togethers.
In other words, though we are friendly we are not exactly what you might call friends and this review is unbiased even though it might not appear that way.
What can I do?
I am as much of a raving fan of Blue Blocks as any Apple-Junkie is of Apple's iPhones!!!
Since we are in Hyderabad I also need to add "No money has changed hands" for writing this review!!! :-)
I have spent much time writing this detailed review. I hope I have helped any fence sitters make an informed decision. However, if you still need to contact me for any reason even after this extensive review please contact Blue Blocks and ask for Bhavani Prasad's (Rithik's father) email/cell number citing this review. (I'm not sure if they will but if you ask sweetly they just might!!!)
Before you contact me please make sure
a) You physically visited Blue Blocks at least once and spoken to their teachers and satisfied yourself throughly. This trip can also be used to confirm what I said is still true,
b) Attended their free Parenting classes to learn more about Montessori system and hopefully Googled a bit as well and,
c) You are still hungry for insider information even after all this then I or my wife are available for any possible help on phone/email.
With Kindest Regards,
Tracked Blue Blocks very closely as my son (2.5 yrs old) was there for a few months before I withdrew his admission.
The school works on the principle of making ur kid independent, however, they fail to provide the fool-proof environment required to execute this. The school allows kids who are 2 yrs old or younger to handle crockery. My son broke a glass in the class and started picking up the broken pieces and hurt his finger in the process. Though the cut was not deep but what sense are u making by providing glass containers and crockery to kids of that age.
Management â€“ The biggest problem with Blueblocks is its management. Mr. Pawan Goyal is very inflexible and does not appreciate or accommodate suggestions. The same implies for the rest of the staff and I found them very impolite after the admission was done. I also found the management unfairâ€¦Example being that my son was going in the afternoon slot and I asked the school to shift him in the morning slot as and when they have seats. They told me it canâ€™t be done as they have no seats and I found out later that they gave the morning slots to all new admissions. I was pretty surprised with the fact that the management gave preference to new admissions than accommodate the old news but I guess maybe that is how Montessori works :)
Afternoon and morning slots â€“ if you are evaluating this school, please donâ€™t pick the afternoon slot as when ur kid moves to Self Interpretive (which is PP1) his school timings will be 12.30 â€“ 4.30 and the management can choose any 3 hrs from this slot to call ur kid to school. This will directly impact the sleep cycle of ur kid
No transport was provided - In our contract, the school stated they will provide transport in PP1 but the management backed out so even if they write down and give it to u that they will provide transport, u canâ€™t trust them on this
In addition to this, there is no decent
play area â€“ 1 sand pit and 4 swings thatâ€™s it.
I withdrew my sonâ€™s admission and had to let my money goâ€¦â€¦.