As new age parents with access to so much information, choosing a school for our little ones sometimes becomes a difficult journey for us. No city has that one school, which is a good fit for every child and that, includes Chennai. Every parent has their own criteria while comparing schools before zeroing in on one.
Chennai has a mix of established educational institutions which have been around for decades, as well as newer institutions which have started off as play schools but have grown into full-fledged schools.
aLphabet, is one such academic institution which has quickly gained a reputation of being one of the top schools in Chennai. My elder son is in aLphabet and I plan to enroll my younger one as well in the Mom & Me program in a few months. My son’s experience here has been extremely satisfying and rewarding.
aLphabet, which is situated centrally and in the heart of Chennai, started off as a pre-school but has grown into a school at a rapid pace. It is an IB school. (International Baccalaureate), focusing on unique methods of education where children are taught life skills and their overall development is nurtured. The methodology focuses on ‘how to learn’ rather than ‘what to learn’. Text books are only used as reference so the curriculum and teaching is done each term through different and fun themes, making learning interesting for the child. Group learning is emphasized so that the children can learn from each other as well.
The school currently has programs running all the way from Mom & Me through Grade 5, with options for class timings.
- The PYP (Primary Years Program) begins from the Discoverers program which is equivalent to pre-kg.
- Classes for Mom & Me through Learners take place at the main St. Mary’s road campus, whereas classes for Grade 1 through 5 take place at the new East Abhiramapuram campus which is only a short distance from the main campus. Their goal is to expand till Grade 12 within the next few years.
- The school also conducts evening activities like Phonics, Mad Science, Basketball, Story time, Arts & Crafts, Dance & Splash Pool, for children 2-8 years.
The first time I walked into the main campus, I found it welcoming with positive vibes and colorful classrooms. You immediately feel like you have entered a happy place. If you walk by, you can always hear laughter and music with children enjoying their dance class in the play gym. Each classroom is air-conditioned and showcases the work done by the children. The building extends vertically and is fully equipped with facilities such as a play gym, computer lab, library, sand pit, splash pool and more. Snacks from the school pantry are provided to the children during the class session. The hygiene levels at aLphabet are at the level of what parents would hope for at any school. My son has never fallen ill owing to the school environment.
I have always believed that the quality and values of the school reflects on the people who run it and this holds true for aLphabet. Kavita Saraf, the founder and director exudes the passion and patience needed to reach each child individually. She knows each child and his/her temperament personally. She is very easy to approach if there is any concern regarding your child and she invests a great deal of time herself in the classrooms with the children.
The faculty at the school is top-notch; not only in the way the curriculum is taught but also in the way they interact with the children and explain concepts.
I have seen them approach children with a great deal of warmth and amicability, making them feel extremely comfortable, which is crucial for children in pre-school. They don’t push or pressure children to operate outside their comfort zone unless and until they are ready to do so. If there is an activity the child is not comfortable doing, they let it be. I sometimes feel that the teachers know my son inside out and better than me, which helps them relate more.
The teacher to student ratio is ideal; my son’s section in Discoverers has 3 teachers to 22 children along with akkas (helpers) so each child receives adequate individual attention.
One of the first things a person may notice is the lack of space for a large playground however that was something that never concerned me when looking at the larger picture. If a school is going to be centrally located in the city, a large space will be a challenge. Each class session is extremely structured and there is only a fixed amount of play time. Mom & Me to Learners have specialists coming in for Yoga, Music, Story & Dance. Grades 1-5 have Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Drama, Yoga & Taekwondo. They also go to Rush in Alwarpet which is a multi-sports arena for Futsal. Additionally, the school conducts field trips and annual events like sports day and annual day. Students are exposed to local and global culture by celebrating festivals like Diwali and Halloween, among others.
My elder son who is now 3 joined aLphabet during the Toddler program and is now in Discoverers. School has become his second home owing to the comfort level the teachers and akkas have created for him and there has never been a day where he has not wanted to go to school. There have been days when he has refused to leave school and gone running back in to his teachers. He enjoys learning because of the creative ways the teachers approach concepts. My son enjoys doing the homework worksheets, which are given every Friday, to reinforce the concepts learned during classes that week.
What I absolutely love about the school is their accessibility and their level of connectedness and involvement even after the child has left the campus. Parents can send videos of the child doing activities related to concepts learnt at school, any fun based activities. This is a kind of reassurance that the child is well on the learning track and is applying concepts outside the classroom environment. These are documented by the school and returned to the parent at the end of the year.
As parents, we all want a school for our children that will help build their character and teach them what they need to be successful in life. Needless to say, the school and home environment play a crucial role in this. As much as I recommend aLphabet, I would also urge you to do your research, talk to other parents, asses the fit for your child, the values of the school and the environment too before you take a decision. In the end, what matters to every parent is the child being happy and looking forward to going to school each day.
aLphabet School Contact Details
178, St. Mary’s Road,
Alwarpet, Chennai 600018.
East Abhiramapuram Campus
18, East Abhiramapuram, 2nd street,
Phone: +91-44-4211 2025
About the author
Antara Kothari Pandit is a doting mom to two boys and a blogger/ publisher at The Bubbly Blogcast – an uncensored parenting blog. Her blog articles address real everyday and many suppressed challenges that mothers everywhere face during their motherhood journey. The blog keeps it honest and is being used as a platform by moms to be and moms everywhere to open up and and share their experiences. Antara also blogs for some of the top news and parenting websites like HuffPost India and Her View From Home. She is currently working on turning her blog into a book.