Learning begins in the pod

Updated - November 01, 2016 09:07 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2016 04:52 pm IST - Bengaluru

There is a new squad on the block that yokes together the unavoidable digital world, with experiential learning

Abha Shah, founder of PodSquad

Abha Shah, founder of PodSquad

Any parent will have gone through the frustration of keeping their child creatively occupied and away from endless and mindless hours of TV. Here is one more activity kit that promises to cater to both the physical and digital spheres of the child, and is based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence. There, some mums will be breathing a sigh of relief -- play combined with intelligence!

Mumbai-based Abha Shah’s brainchild, PodSquad offers “learning in a box”. Each box has a Pod story book. The story is animated into short eLearning videos. There are interactive worksheets that can be solved on any device, and there are printable worksheets that parents can print at home, or do straight from the device, newsletters for parents and e-books too. A Pod toy collectible in each box can be the Happy Pod, Giggly Pod, or Friendly Pod. There is content for arts and crafts, puzzles, board games, flash card games, and more, all made for the child aged three to seven.

Abha’s family business Quadrum Solutions has developed over 10,000 books in the education space for pre-school and primary years. Having left the Indian system of education at 14, she returned after studying and working in the US, to find that children in India were still confined to rote learning, with a stress on maths and science. “Career options were becoming more and more varied – with a rise in bloggers, photographers, stylists, artists, chefs. So if careers were becoming more creative, why wasn’t the learning at the early child development phase?” asks Abha. This was the question she set out to answer with PodSquad.

Each of the Pod Squad boxes contains curated content based on the pedagogy system that renowned American developmental psychologist from Harvard University, Howard Gardner, put forth. He believed we are all born with multiple intelligences – some more pronounced and some less so, says Abha. “Our activities are developed around these nine intelligences, to help parents identify and develop the right aptitudes in children. These include visual, mathematical, musical, kinaesthetic, interpersonal, existential, intrapersonal, naturalistic and linguistic intelligences.”

The stress is on independent play, points out Abha. “We want children to do the activities by themselves. We keep them simple, so that kids can complete them with minimal assistance from parents.” Much of the content is also reusable. Some activities can involve two or more players so that siblings and friends can join in. Themes till now have included The Cool Chef, The Smart Detective, The Crazy Scientist, The Dazzling Doodler! There's a new theme every month.

Digital content forms about 20 per cent of the Pod. Why use digital content when most parents want their kids away from it? “Our experience in working with educational publishers for over a decade has taught us that children must learn on digital platforms too. You cannot deny they will be exposed to iPads, smart phones, and TV. We believe in providing them constructive digital content. Even schools today use digital resources and digital aids like tablets. Physical learning should always be the core, but we wanted to be holistic.”

The Pods range from Rs. 1,100 to Rs. 1,500 per box. For details look up www.podsquad.in

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