Leisure activities are being crowded out by special classes and tuitions. But still, a clutch of hobby centres across the city are thriving with their year-long calendar of activities. Vipasha Sinha reports
In a competitive society, after-school hours look like an extension of the classroom.
Tuitions, special classes, memory training and a slew of other activities aimed at excellence in exams, crowd a child’s life. Such single-mindedness does pay off. Take the case of the recent SSLC exams, which rained centums.
Almost always, big grades come at a price. Most children sacrifice hobbies at the altar of academic excellence. But textbooks, even classroom practicals, can’t replace non-academic activities in shaping certain aspects of a child’s mind. An evident truth, but one that is lost on the majority of academicians and parents. It’s against this scenario that a small but growing number of hobby centres offer year-long after-school activities, ranging from those you thought went out with the ark to the latest sensations on the leisure map.
Here, we feature a few of them that represent the trend.
Kalaa Majari is a creativity studio whose methods contrast sharply with most others’. They are built on a belief that creativity can’t be induced in a child; it can be only honed.
Kalaa Manjari, located in Alwarpet, offers a programme consisting of 18 activity-based classes. Its various modules are structured to develop different aspects of creativity. On this slate of activities is Golbal Art, which introduces children to the craft of caricatures and cartoons. At the end of this course, a student has to make his own book pertaining to the subject.
“We also have something called Young Learners English test by British Council, in which second to eight standard students are taught to read, write and speak English through an activity-based programme. This apart, we have a ‘six in one’ maths programme, where the participants are taught to do quick calculations using Vedic maths,” says Jayashree Chinee, the founder of Kalaa Manjiri (9840421305/ 9962086712)
Chess, keyboard, music, dance, theatre and handwriting classes also figure on its list of creativity-boosters.
The art of oral storytelling is dying. Among many reasons for this is the rise of the nuclear family, which leaves no space for grandma’s tales in a child’s life. Sitting in the laps of grandmas, children imbibed values through these stories.
Neeta B., founder of Smart Kids Activity Centre in T. Nagar, is aware of what has been lost. “Stories are the best ways to inculcate good values in young minds,” says Neeta, who organises storytelling sessions regularly. For details, call 9840555517.
Kalpataru in Palavakkam on East Coast Road partly ascribes creativity to ambience. The lush greenery outside its building provides perfectly complements the design inside. This hobby centre likes to keep things open-ended and is willing to experiment with newer hobbies.
“If someone has a hobby, we have the space. If someone has something new to offer, we invite him to share it by teaching it to our students,” says Seema Sanghi, the founder of Kalpataru (9677182145/ 9600037773). Seema is an avid gardener.
In addition to its experimentations, the centre has the usual suspects: programmes in karate, painting, gardening, horse-riding, music and dance.
When was the last time you heard of mural making? This niche art form is promoted by Kalakar Studio (98843 16134) in Alwarpet through a dedicated course. Komal Salva, a Fine Arts graduate from Stella Maris College, is the brain behind this centre which also offers an array of other art programmes.
“I keep myself up-to-date with what’s happening in the art world and learn it myself before teaching it to my students,” she says. Under the fine arts section, I teach pencil sketching, water colouring, portraits, pastel work, acrylic painting, oil paintings and more. Students can also learn folk art like Madhubani, Rajasthani Miniature Painting and Warli paintings.”
IQ Brain Academy has a misleading name. It is easy to assume this is a coaching centre for competitive exams. It is an activity centre located in Anna Nagar that seeks to induce fun into numbers. Its USP is abacus. But it also offers other after-school activities for children.
For details, call 9841235234/ 9841236456.
Let’s Dance Institut is another misnomer. “In addition to teaching 20 dance forms, we offer yoga sessions, gymnastics and coaching by a specialised communications expert. This is one way of ensuring that children gain substantially from their one-year memberships” says Mansoor Ahmed, director of Let’s Dance (8939813738) Talking of dance, there are bewildering number of other groups in the city – Swingers, Raack Academy of Dance and John Brito’s Dance Company, to name a few – which help students stay gainfully occupied in their after-school hours.