• From a Garment Exporter to an Educationist •

When we moved to Coimbatore from Chennai, my son was ready for a play school. Hunting for a school that matched my daughter’s at Chennai was an uphill task. I was looking for a school that matched my daughter’s playschool and my expectations. With my father’s genes running through me, I was into exporting garments to Europe and the Gulf countries.

 Yet, it was my mother’s strong genes in the education sector (where I worked as a teacher), that won over at this juncture of the playschool hunting. Unhappy with this experience, I took to going back to school, a Masters in Education (Research), from The University of Birmingham, specializing in early learning and teach-the-teacher for the 21st century learning. I went back to my mother’s school, developing the kindergarten curricula, as well as the K-8 lesson planning and worksheets. This got me into the realization that unless the early learning curricula are set correctly, the rest of the learning journey is not very effective and as research confirms the first five years are crucial in the brain development of a child. This led me to work towards creating an idyllic setting for children, to consistently engage in the joy of learning while gaining not JUST knowledge, but conceptual and analytical skills, social awareness and moral sensitivity. The internships that I was in during the course of my study led me to discover the Reggio Emilia Approach and The Creative Curriculum ®. Fascinated by it, on my trips home, I would try my learning in the Indian environment. This further led me deeper into the 21stcentury skills and what our children require to match the rest of the world.

Thus was born Lil Pallikkoodam, tucked away in the calm neighbourhood of VOC Park in Avinashi Road, housed in an independent building with ample outdoor and indoor spaces. The “Environment”– most important physical aspect, known as the Third teacher in the Reggio Emilia Approach, is given the highest importance. Each corner, as we call it, is aesthetically done and stocked with age appropriate books, building blocks, child friendly material making it interesting and igniting the young minds to explore and discover their learning journey. In the Reggio approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child’s learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child’s interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning.

Being a part of the National and International badminton veteran team, takes me to different parts of the country, and world, for various tournaments. I must admit, rather sheepishly though, that I use this opportunity to ensure to investigate and spend time at the local schools to understand better, my initiative back home. No initiative can become a success unless it is backed by a dedicated team. I feel certainly lucky since my team at Lil Pallikkoodam not only fully understand the need to change our early education system, but is highly supportive, of it. Backed with a MBA and a Med (Research) up my sleeve and with the support system back home from one of city’s prominent industrialist dad Mr D.Krishnamurthy,- to a leading educationist mom, Mrs Rajini Krishnamurthy (Vidhya Niketan group of schools) what more could I ask for! Having come this far, the satisfaction, (not just mine and my teachers but the parents’ as well), has infused in me further determination to see this to a logical end. We are starting a K-12 grade school in 2016.