The Helen O’Grady International preschool is undoubtedly one among the best preschools available in India today. It has three centers in Coimbatore and one each in Durgapur, Chennai and Vizag.
Believing in the Reggio Emilia system, the Helen O’Grady International Preschool has a beautiful ambience, quite different from what you see in other preschools.
As a parent, for me, one of the stand-out features in the Helen O’Grady International Preschool is the involvement of the parent. In most preschools, the parent’s rights over their child end at the gate of the preschool. But in the Helen O’Grady International Preschool, parents are welcomed into the preschool each month for the ‘Coffee Morning’; parents can volunteer with the school through their programme ‘Helping Hands’ and parents are invited for workshops and Atelier activities from time to time.
The ‘Coffee Mornings’ are great fun. Each parent is invited to spend an hour or two in school and participate in the school activities. The parent can walk around and witness the activities of different classes and join in. This is a wonderful exposure to the research and development that the Helen O’Grady International has put into its curriculum and in the selection of the activities. At the end of the coffee morning, the parent gets to spend a few minutes with the principal of the school. Parents are asked for their thoughts, feelings and suggestions. It feels nice to be included in the process of my child’s learning even in preschool.
As a parent, we volunteer some time each month or every alternate month to help conduct activities or share our expertise at the school. So parents are invited to tell stories, conduct a cooking class for the children, sing songs or play an instrument – anything that a parent wishes to share with the children. Parents who are good at ‘rangoli’ spend time teaching children simple designs to make, so children can be given the responsibility of putting the rangoli at home perhaps on holidays.
Last year (before Covid) the preschool invited us parents for a workshop on Pablo Picasso. It was fun to listen to the list story of the great artist and then be introduced to the styles of his paintings. Parents and teachers worked in groups during the workshop to recreate the blue period and the red period of Pablo Picasso’s life. Post the workshop, parents were invited to share their expertise with the children and children had fun mixing paints to get various shades of blue- green and red-pink.
I have not seen such activities in other preschools. Art and craft is very pintresty in most preschools. In the Helen O’Grady Preschool, children express themselves using paint. The teacher is careful to question the child appropriately, leading the child to tell us what the painting is all about and never voicing assumptions.
I love the way math is taught in the school. Stones, leaves, grass, mud become the manipulatives with which the child learns math. This has a larger significance. When the child comes home and is playing in the garden, often times, the child picks up stones and begins to count or arranges them into shape that was learnt that day and so on. The material remains a provocation even outside of school and therefore the learning continues.
The reading programme is another very unique feature. Most preschools have a phonics programme. But the Helen O’Grady International Preschool knows that the effectiveness of the phonics programme is verified by the ease with which the child is able to identify words and read. The story telling sessions ensure that the child listens to a number of stories, songs, rhymes and familiarize themselves with words and their meanings. Storng Listening skills, phonics, comprehension building, vocabulary enhancement leads to speaking and reading fluency.
Speaking fluency is in turn enhanced by the world-famous kindy drama program of the Helen O’Grady International. This is held once a week and give children a chance to visit the fantasy world and speak sentences in their structured and unstructured speech segments. Visualization and Imagination skills are honed in the process. Children lose the inhibition to speak and become bubbly, excited orators.
I love the skills that are built in the Helen O’Grady International Preschool and therefore I truly believe that the system of education at the Helen O’Grady is truly the best!