Inside the Sam Kids ‘campus’ at Edapally, there is nothing that spells school, it is more like a park. No wonder then that kids look forward, with what appears unnatural zeal to another generation, to getting to school. Not just that, they go to school in an air-conditioned vehicle, and have the school logo emblazoned on their school bag, tiffin, and water bottle. And this is pre-school.

Names do matter

It’s fantasy, for those of us who went to school in the 80s and 90s.

These used to be playschools but now they are called pre-schools in some of these institutions.

Almost all these branded pre-schools in the city, such as Eurokids, Time Kids, Sam Kids and Kidzee have kindergartens too. Therefore, if you and/or your child like the preschool, then there is the option of continuing there till Class I.

Some schools such as Time Kids and Euro Kids have schools (with higher classes) in other parts of the country, but not yet here.

Getting into a ‘mainstream’ school is no problem, say those in charge of the branded pre-schools. “We are not feeders to mainstream schools, but our kids from Euro Senior (equivalent to UKG) have gained admission in schools here,” says Deepthi Kurian of Eurokids. “Transition is therefore not a problem for the child.”

It is not L.K.G. and U.K.G. but Pre-Primary (PP) 1 and Pre-Primary (PP) 2 in the case of Time Kids or Euro Junior and Euro Senior in the case of Eurokids.

A different world

Are these schools very different from ‘regular’ schools? Not too different from the schools which have adopted the Montessori approach in kindergarten. In the branded pre-schools the classrooms and uniforms are fun. Classrooms are painted bright with children’s favourite cartoon characters, the furniture is cute and uniforms are cheerful. In Euro Kids and Sam Kids, for instance, the fees range between Rs.20,000 and Rs.24,000 annually, which include the uniform, bag, water bottle etc.

These schools offer a range of ‘age-appropriate’ activities that keep the children and parents hooked. The pre-schools say in their extremely well designed (and alluring) websites that children would be taught language and numerical concepts, introduced to sensory and creative activities according to their age.

Finger painting, clay modelling, colouring, painting, paper cutting, vegetable printing, are taught at schools which adhere to the ‘play way’ method of teaching. At Sam Kids, for instance, there is an activity each day ‘which familiarises kids with situations that they might encounter daily’. One day the theme was Post Office, so kids learn things related to that,” says Shirley Mathew, executive director (HR).

Advantage

The biggest advantage, according to parents, is that getting into one of these schools is easier as compared to other schools. These are like regular schools, maybe better, some feel. There is the flexibility for instance. “It doesn’t matter what time of the year a child wants to join, he/she can join any time,” says Lucy Rajan, centre head, Time Kids, Pathadipalam (Kalamasserry). With transferable jobs such schools are a boon.

“Most of our parents are those with transferable jobs,” says Lucy. Since the kids are fewer in number, parents believe their wards get better attention in such a cosy set up. For instance Eurokids has around 50 kids in Euro Junior and Euro Senior combined and each class has two teachers each. There is, practically, one of these schools in every nook and corner of the city. Kidzee is the latest entrant in the business. The Thammanam centre-in-charge, Sumitha Scaria says, “The response is good. We are just a few months old but we are getting lots of enquiries.” So clearly there is a demand, which is being more than adequately met, for such schools.

Now, these schools are by no means casual.

The curriculum is developed by their respective brands, which the centre heads say, is in keeping with the requirements of the CBSE and ICSE syllabus.

Prospective teachers in these schools have to attend orientation courses and later, there are refresher modules too.

So, parents are now willing to think out-of-the-box and beyond regular schools. And they seem to have plenty of choice to shop around.