Kidz World pre-school offers parents the option of tapping into live video feed from the classrooms of their kids
Four-and-a-half year old Abhinav ensures that he behaves well in class. If not, he knows ‘God’ would tell his mother. Some days, when he returns home, he asks his mother what ‘God’ told her that day. Kidz World, a pre-school in Maradu, which Abhinav goes to, has introduced a ‘watch your kid live’ concept, which enables parents to watch their children while they are in class.
Visuals from the classrooms are live-streamed to a website and any parent, who has an Android or a data-enabled phone, can watch the visuals live by downloading an app that has been created for this purpose. Or they can access them on a computer. Every parent is given a login ID and password, so they can make use of this facility.
“Abhinav is surprised each time I appreciate him for a song he sang or a good thing he did in class and asks me how I came to know. I tell him that God sent me a message,” says his mother, Mitra . A professional at the Choice Corporate Office in Kochi, Mitra finds the system helpful in staying updated on her son’s daily activities.
“During our school days, our parents never knew what we did in school. The teachers, too, were not as approachable as they are today. Now, we get to know exactly what goes on,” adds Mitra.
In these stressful times when both parents work and have limited time to spend with their children, the system offers a much-needed respite. “It is with a great sense of anxiety that parents send their toddlers to school. Especially if it is the child’s first school, the anxiety is double. Some parents wait outside the gate, wondering if their child is alright,” says Anila Menon, Centre Head of Kidz World. “If we can show them what their child is up to, they can also be a part of the child’s school experience,” she adds.
Most parents are concerned about their ward’s eating habits, his social behaviour and developmental milestones. “Since these children are between one-and-a-half to six years of age, they are too young to narrate to the parents what they have learnt at school,” Anila says. Live-streaming offers a solution to all this.
The system, launched about seven months ago, has already become a huge hit with the parents. A popular concept in schools abroad, Kidz World started it as part of their quality standardisation process.
Encouraged by the positive response, they continued it. While crimes against children are on the rise and corporal punishment happens on the sly, a system such as this offers a sense of security, too.
“Who does not want to see for themselves that their child is in a safe place?” asks Hima Sobaraj, a parent. Hima, a homemaker, is all for the system as it enables her husband, who is a marine engineer, to see their daughter Malavika while she is in class. “Even if he is at some port far away, he can see her singing or playing,” says Hima.
Each of the eight classrooms has a camera recording the visuals that are transmitted live to the screen in the principal’s room. These are the same visuals the parents can watch. All they need to do is select the child’s class on the menu.
Not just the classrooms, the play area and the courtyard, too have been fitted with cameras. The school has 16 cameras in all, which are connected all the time.
As of now, the system supports only visuals. Some parents have requested the school authorities to include the audio element, too. So that they can hear what their children are speaking.
From June this year, the school plans to launch an interactive website, on which each child will have a page, on which his or her audio and video clips and curriculum progress will be uploaded.
A handycam will be placed in every classroom and a digital record of each child will be made available on the website. The parents, too, can post comments and remarks, based on which corrective measures can be adopted if required.
Parents can also download and keep for posterity the child’s first song, first performance, speech, or even his/her first writing. A scanned copy of their writing will also be uploaded.
The children are too young to understand that they are being watched. The older ones who are told about it are happy that their parents can see them. However, the obvious question of infringement on privacy arises.
“We believe in a transparent system. We don’t see it as any kind of infringement. Of course, there are parents who complain that their child was crying, he/she had a fall, … but that is part of the natural process of growing up. Live-streaming won’t stop that. They can see how we pacify them,” Anila says.
And that is important for any parent, to see that the child is comfortable and happy in his/her school, says Aparna Pramod, a gynaecologist at Devi Hospital, Thripunithura. Even when she is in the midst of work, she knows her two-and-a-half year old daughter Mrinalini is just a click away. “That is so reassuring,” she says.