Think Beyond The Books

Expert Meeting with Mr. Manivannan Ganapathy, Waldorf Educator

Kingdom of Childhood
This all started with the intention of understanding the curative therapy aspect of Waldorf education. Mr. Manivannan Ganapathy, trustee at the Bangalore Steiner school, is a full time teacher and also Teacher trainer at Kingdom of Childhood. He is a graduate not only in English and Sanskrit literature but has also completed various Waldorf trainings in India, Germany and Switzerland.

The idea of meeting him came to our minds and I immediately sent a detailed message to him requesting a face to face appointment in Bangalore and he graciously said Yes! We planned to meet at 5 pm at his textile shop in JP Nagar.

I entered his shop and at cash counter I met a pleasant faced, young teenage boy, Amar (Mr.Manivannan’s son) and he welcomed me. He immediately contacted his dad through telephone and informed him that I had arrived.  He seemed to be studying and was poring over some notes.  I casually chatted with him and asked what he was reading and enquired about which school he was attending? To my utter surprise, he mentioned that he was home schooling with an awesome teacher that was none other than his Dad. What a cool idea Sir ji :-)!!

Mr. Manivannan, came riding on his bike welcomed me with a smile on his face. It did not seem like we were strangers at a first meeting. There was a certain warmth and kindness exuding in the space.

Manivannan and Karthick Jayaram

Manivannan and Karthick Jayaram

He talked at length about the Curative therapy and it’s spiritual connection. He gave me a lot of ideas to implement and taught me how to make it a success in Trichy in long term. Our talk touched upon areas such as – Waldorf, Indian culture and it’s meaning, Parents’ discussions and meeting, Handling home situations, Classroom management, Importance of the curriculum, Harmony, Circle time, Music recorder (Waldorf  classical Flute).

Then, I saw Amar bringing our fruit juice for us.  I encouraged him to share his views about his future aspirations and he mentioned that he wanted to be either a Farmer or Actor. I have met several youngsters and asked them such questions. But, I have never ever heard any teenage boy saying this! Also he told me that he spends his free time playing Table Tennis, Cricket and he is Champion other forms of sport too. He also plays instrumental  music. I was certainly wowed. I was convinced that the confidence he showed stemmed from his Waldorf  education. Mr. Manivannan had not only taught  the Waldorf education model to others but had really adopted it in his own life with shining results.

I certainly believe that Ingress can also build and seed such confidence in every child.

I thanked Mr. Manivannan for his time and finally I invited Mr. Manivannan to visit to Ingress as and when it was convenient for him. He has agreed to visit say in between April-May 2015. I truly think his visit will pave way for the needy parents in Trichy who want to have a holistic education for their kids. He will certainly help further everyone’s understanding of Waldorf education.

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The Ingress Song

Live performance

When we started Ingress Junior School at Trichy, we wanted to admit students at two levels – the ones upto 2 years old and the others upto 4 years old. We designed a curriculum that would help them learn and at the same time help them develop life skills in a manner that worked for each child at their own pace.

Among the fun things we do, is circle time. Young children get together and share notes about their families, sing and dance together. As we were planning a song that reflected all these activities, we came up with the idea of an Ingress Anthem reflecting our school, its philosophy and the activities therein.

We first picked a nice, familiar and old Tamil folk tune that was made even more popular by usage in an old movie. Then we wrote the simple words that flowed super easy because it was basically reflecting what we already do.

Then we wanted to set the tune to music and record it. I’m a member of Ingress board and works routinely with a reputed set of musicians – Krishna Prasad on Flute and Pranav Dath on the Rhythm Pads.  I had the opportunity to work with them for a different project and they were all kind enough to spare their valuable time to record the score for Ingress.

One take we did for rehearsal and the next take was final. The recording took all of 10 minutes. But it was nerve racking to push it through simply because we were in the middle of another elaborate big project followed by a live show. In the midst of the recording, we forgot to take pictures of it in Bangalore. :)!  But then, since we work together all the time and share a lot of work time, we have other pictures that should do just fine to see what we each are up to.

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Pranav is part of a band called Swaralayamrutha and is studying college 2nd year in Bangalore. Krishna Prasad comes from an illustrious lineage of court musicians in the Mysore Maharaja’s court and lives and teaches flute in Mysore and tours the US and other parts of the world every year. Subhashini(myself) currently lives and teaches Bharatanatyam dance in Bangalore. Her school is called “From Within” and has a presence in Seattle, San Diego, St. Louis and Berkley in the US, Burnaby in Vancouver Canada, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore in India. She is the singer of the Anthem and also serves on the board of Ingress.

Enjoy the song and hum it with your kids!!  And do share your feedback/ thoughts on it!


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Interaction with Dr. Rajesh Kannan, Fiji Islands.

Dr.Rajesh

Dr. Rajesh Kannan is a Senior Faculty Member, School of Engineering & Physics, University of South Pacific, Fiji. He is a Waldorf Parent, who sent his kid (Baby Riya Kannan) to a Waldorf Kindergarten in Suva, Fiji. Presently, Riya is back in India and integrated into a matriculation school near Madurai.

When we discussed the philosophy and methodology of Ingress Junior School with Dr. Rajesh, he was pleasantly surprised and excited that there is a Waldorf inspired school in Trichy!!

The Ingress team invited him for an interaction with our teachers primarily to share his experience as a Waldorf parent in Fiji, to which he happily and readily agreed.

His talk focused on the interesting chemistry in between teacher-kid relationships.  As an advanced level educator himself, it was heartening when he mentioned that the experience as Waldorf parent is most enriching and happiest.

He told us that Baby Riya was always a happy kid since her early years and is still  very strongly bonded with her teachers. The day generally started off with lots of play involved and the teacher was highly hands on in the kindergarten. Understanding basic needs, giving back love, hugs, care and keen attention to students interests were mentioned as the primary reason why Riya bonded well with her school teachers.

Our teachers evinced keen interested in Dr. Rajesh’s talk and desired deeper interaction and they asked appropriate leading questions to understand the details of everyday class well. He patiently explained and shared his experiences with a lot of real world examples primarily based on his own kid. It was a unique experience for our Ingress team to hear from an experienced Waldorf parent.

He also wished success for IJS on our journey as a Waldorf inspired School @ Trichy.

Thanks a lot Dr. A. Rajesh Kannan for wishing & motivating us. We now understand the letter and spirit of your Waldorf experience better and will strive to give the children @ Ingress our very best.

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Mr. Paul Mandaiker’s Visit to Ingress

Ingress teachers had presented Mr. Paul a handmade souvenir

At the outset, our sincere heartfelt thanks to Ms. Nana Goebel, Managing Director of Waldorf World-wide Education, Berlin, Germany for sharing with us the contact of Mr. Paul Mandaiker.

I had emailed Mr. Paul Mandaiker regarding Ingress Junior School and requested him to pay us a visit.  He was kind enough to accept our invitation & visited us on Friday, Jan 09, 2015. The New Year had just begun and we welcomed the positive vibes of a kind hearted person visiting us, sharing notes on first hand experiences with Waldorf education and inspiring us.

Mr. Paul Mandaiker is an interesting personality with varied interests who is exploring different things in his career – Architecture, International Business, Public relations, Marketing and now its Supply chain. It is a quite an interesting story that we heard.

Mr. Mandaiker visited Ingress and addressed the Ingress teachers, the local trustees stationed in Trichy and the interested parents.  He shared his vivid childhood experiences in the Waldorf education school. His narration of his childhood in the Waldorf School, Tübinger Freie Waldorfschule, Germany was awesome. In particular, he recounted his experience with his Waldorf class teacher teaching Geography with help of compass & map and that was followed by an activity of the students exploring Mt. Alps.  Having the confidence in them to have a real experience that gave them a concrete understanding of the classroom concept was quite refreshing. He told us about the play in which he had acted as “Blue King”. Everything he learned was based on real, fun & practical experiences and it seemed that any student would be motivated to carry those moments as carefully treasured memories throughout their lifetime.

He reinforced that his childhood was totally stress free and he was under no pressure. His accompanying friend said that his questions during participation in class were always thought provoking.  He would always think in through the issues and circumstances from different perspectives & his questions were always very interesting. Mr. Paul had always been encouraged to ask questions even about facts and that was part and parcel of the way of learning as a Waldorf student.

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He also told us a Christmas story upon the request of our teachers.  It was related to Joseph seeing different things and having unique experiences, on the day that “Baby Jesus” was born. As a token of thanks, our teachers presented Mr. Paul, a handmade souvenir.

Mr. Paul is very soft spoken and was smiling throughout his visit. We would certainly like to have him back at Ingress in near future.

Mr. Paul toured the Ingress premises and planted a sapling in our Ingress garden. This sapling is a symbol of the Ingress team nurturing our young students, to help them to grow in their life as happy children and develop strong roots resembling memorable experiences in their childhood.  Let us all see our students grow and flower just like the tree that Mr. Paul planted.

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Those tiny white pearls….

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Here, I am going to write about the importance of primary teeth and how to take care of them. Not only that I am a dentist but also as a mother, I feel that each and every parent should be aware of the crucial role of primary teeth in their child’s development.

Most of the children get their first tooth around 6-9 months old and a complete set of 20 milk teeth by the age of 3 years. From 3 -6 years, it will only be the primary teeth in your child’s mouth. From 6th year, they will start getting their permanent teeth one by one and around 12 – 14 years, they would get 28 permanent teeth in their mouth. The remaining four teeth called “wisdom teeth” will erupt around 18-23 years.

Alright…we have seen the eruption pattern of teeth. Questions may pop- out in your mind

“Anyhow my child’s primary teeth are going to fall out one by one from 6 years. Then, why should I look after them?”

Just because primary teeth, often known as “baby teeth/ milk teeth” won’t stay forever, doesn’t mean they don’t need conscientious care.

Can’t believe..? Yes, primary teeth are of paramount importance as they

  • Promote good nutrition through proper chewing and eating
  • Assist in speech development
  • Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
  • Serve as guides for the eruption of permanent (adult) teeth, holding the space into which these new teeth will erupt and
  • Aid proper development of jaw muscles and jaw bones.

So, now…

How to take care of your child’s teeth?

Your child’s gums and newly erupting teeth should be gently wiped after each feeding with a gauze pad or damp washcloth soaked in warm water. From age 2, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and no more than a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste brush your child’s teeth two times a day. Up to 6 years of age, your child will need your assistance in brushing. Apart from brushing, flossing and professional check-ups are mandatory for a healthy mouth.

What are the consequences if primary teeth care is neglected?

Baby teeth do get dental decay as adult teeth. In the initial stage, decay will cause intermittent pain and therefore trouble in eating, sleeping and concentrating in school. Eventually, decay in baby teeth progress faster and it may lead to serious medical issues if unnoticed.

As mentioned above, primary teeth stay in place and provide guidance for the erupting permanent teeth. If because of decay, primary teeth shed off early, then upcoming adult teeth may not come up in the right place where they should be. This will lead to poorly aligned teeth which will be hard to maintain clean as well as have a poor aesthetics.

When should be the first dental visit for your little one?

Visit dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing, and certainly by age one. It may sound too early, but the sooner your child begins getting regular dental check-ups, the healthier his/her mouth will stay throughout his/her life. By having regular dental check–ups, your dentist can teach you proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques and importance of fluoride usage, check for cavities and watch for developmental problems.

Realizing the preponderance of those 20 tiny white pearls, consummate them and set an example for your child so that he/she can have a healthy & beautiful smile, for the lifetime.

Image courtesy of Photostock at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Ingress: Exploring the future

Girl

Gone are the days where kids cried for going to school. The conventional approach of teaching, involved the relationship between a kid and teacher as a lion and the ring master. Upon my experience, I thought these energetic kids should undergo the education in a friendly nurturing and loving manner.

Here is an environment where kids will consider the school as their home (a home away from their home). The mode of teaching is carved, to adapt the kids mind to be engaged in active mode and not saturated as in the conventional method of teaching.

Present days, most of us are in nuclear families, with employed mother having very little time for our young buddies and therefore the kids spend most of their time in school and their enrichment classes.

It’s perfectly natural to be anxious about sending your child to preschool for the first time. It is a critical transition period from home to school for the child as it will take time for him/her to settle in.

I personally believe that if a child feels that school is an enjoyable place where he can learn and experience something new each day, this feeling will stay with him/her even as he grows older.

At this age child needs love and lot of hugs. So ensure that your child enters a warm and welcoming atmosphere which has friendly teachers who are cheerful, loving and caring for the child and makes your child to settle in easily.

The teacher should play the role of a guide, facilitator and a mentor. They need to acknowledge that today’s children could know much more than they do. “I am the teacher and elder, so I am right” is no longer valid.

As a mentor and a facilitator the teacher should first listen, without judging if the child is right or wrong. Children see the teacher’s role as very important in decision making process. Now it is the foremost duty of a parent to ensure that their child is in a safe and a comfortable environment.

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Why ingress?

We at Ingress, aim to cherish the spirit of consciousness in the child by a way of alternate teaching and practical knowledge. We believe in a kind of education that nurture values and spirit of inquiry to explore the world around. We provide space for children to think, express, explore, exhibit their skills and empower them. Importance will be given for hands on training to stimulate their creative potential in them. Our system of education stresses on passion and generosity.

We instill the joy of learning, which would set the tone for the rest of their lives. When a child is comfortable he/she will be able to interact with the society. We ensure that the child feels comfortable and at the same time we strike a balance by maintaining the discipline of the school.

We encourage the social and emotional development of a child which initiates the skills of interaction, sharing, independence and decision making amidst them. We focus the development of basic language and cognitive skills. The child’s pre-math and pre- literacy skills are also given a boost, giving him a strong base for learning in kindergarten .We assure that at Ingress Junior School, we provide a safe and healthy environment for your kids and you can enjoy watching your cocoons transit into colorful butterflies.

 

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MOST NURSERY RHYMES ARE MORBID

Humptydumpty

For instance Jack and Jill go to fetch water. They fall down and break their heads!!!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, fell down and the kings horses and men couldn’t even save the poor chap! how sad!

Here’s another rather evil one – 3 blind mice(fancy portraying mice as blind!) ran after the farmer’s wife, WHO CUT OFF THIER TAILS WITH A CARVING KNIFE!!aaaah!! Whoever heard of things like this!!!

Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top When the wind blows, the cradle will rock When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall And down will come baby, cradle and all.

WHY WOULD YOU EVER EVER TELL A BABY THAT HE/SHE’S GONNA FALL DOWN FROM HER CRADLE…SO GO TO SLEEP MY BABY.SLEEP.

Again not only rhymes are sadistic, but the ones that are not sadistic are silly and nonsensical…

“The fork ran away with the spoon, the cow jumped over the moon”

lil muffet sat on a tuffet
eating her curds and whey
there came a big spider who sat down beside her
and frightened miss muffet away

Finally the great rhymes ..

Georgy Porgy, Pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
when the boys came out to play,
Georgy Porgy ran away…

Beware of people who kiss you and make you cry but run away when the boys come.

I know that most of these rhymes have their own history and stuff but don’t you think it’s rather ridiculous to teach little kids these verses that are filled with accidents and ideas of cutting down tails of animals???

Ref-https://m.facebook.com/notes/my-ghost-story/morbid-history-and-origins-of-nursery-rhymes-barb/352777794790183

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Children & their world of Colours

Painted hands of Master Kavin Krish @ Ingress Junior School

Title: Children & their world of Colours

Children tend to prefer bright and bold colours over the subtle hues. Researches had indicated that children’s eyes may not be adapted to see dull, dim colours very well or even at all.

According to a 2005 research article published by the BBC, children can see and even appreciate colours as early as four months old. At that age, however, their eyes may not yet be sufficiently developed to recognize various shades of colour or differentiate dull colours like grey and brown. The researchers concluded that babies are unable to distinguish variations in colour, which reinforces the notion that babies can only see bright, fully saturated colours. In addition, the research reported by the BBC appears to negate a long-standing myth that children are colour-blind, though it supports the idea that they are partially colour-blind.

Colours also help children to express themselves. Colour is a very useful mean to express certain emotions, especially those hard to express.

 

Learn Colours from Nature

Learn colours from fruits and vegetables | Image courtesy: berkeleywellness.com

Many researches in the past have confirmed the association of colour and mood. Having listened to a fairy tale with the happy end, children get drawing with a yellow pencil; after some sad story they tend to draw with dark brown colours.

What’s your child mood? Is he or she happy, excited, sad, frightened or angry? Psychotherapists teach children to distinguish feelings; call them and discuss them in a positive way using colour. This technique is called ‘Colour your life’ the best results are achieved with children above six, who know the names of colours and understand their own feelings.

A psychologist gives a child a sheet of paper and a set of crayons of basic colours: yellow, red, blue, green, violet, grey, black and so on. A kid is asked to choose a colour for the named feeling. There are following combinations arising often: red – anger, orange – joy, grey – loneliness. Then a kid is given a blank sheet of paper and asked to draw his or her own feelings. For example if he is sometimes happy, sometimes sad then he or she may use different colours, connected with different moods. It’s very interesting to watch what colours a kid chooses, how intensively he uses them and the order that they appear on the paper.

Whatever colour activity you choose for your kid, you’d better let him or her choose colours. If you insist on certain colour your child may revolt.  And if you suggest a wrong colour the situation may turn even worse.

Reference: ehow.com & psy.rin.ru

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Unravelling the mystery of Children Learning Process!!!!

How Children Learn

Children are playful by nature. Their earliest exploring experiences to satisfy their natural sensory urges automatically leads them to play, first by themselves and eventually with others. When they play with joy and learn in the process, then it is a pleasant experience. They develop a positive approach to learning.

I have observed sadly that most of my friends breathe down their young child’s neck to make him/her study hard and harder. They think it is the parent’s duty to do so. I disagree.

Here are my thoughts: 

It is very important to understand how your child likes to learn best. I recommend you spend some time analysing and identifying the child’s dominant senses.

Do they like pictures and reading? If so, you can encourage your child to use drawings, pictures, maps or diagrams as part of their learning. Some children like listening to explanations and reading aloud. You could use stories to encourage this kind of child. And most children enjoy learning through songs, chants and rhymes.

Does your child like to touch things and physically move about? Some children have lots of energy! You could play games to get them moving or running around, acting out rhymes or stories or even dancing!

Quieter children may have a good vocabulary and be good readers. Word games, crosswords, word searches, anagrams and tongue twisters would be good to encourage these children.

Other children require logical, clear explanations of rules and patterns, or like to work out the rules for themselves. They may be good at maths too. For these children, activities such as puzzles, problem-solving, ordering or categorising provide ideal opportunities for learning.

All children are intelligent, only differently so. While some children are visual learners and some are auditory learners. It is important to understand that auditory intelligent kids get more stimulated when they listen to music…

Some children are outgoing and sociable and can learn a language quickly because they want to communicate. They are not worried about making mistakes. Other children are quieter and more reflective. They learn by listening and observing what is happening. They don’t like to make mistakes and will wait until they are sure.

If your child is outgoing they may prefer learning in groups with other children, whereas a quieter child may need more private, quiet time to feel more secure about learning a language. A bedtime story in English could be an opportunity to provide this quiet time.

It’s important that learning is fun for children in the early stages of life. It needs to be about doing things with them that they like. They might find unusual ways of doing things – for a toddler, building blocks aren’t just for making towers, and paint can be used without a brush! Show them how things work, but if they want to experiment, let them.

Please do not complain that, “My son is not ‘like me” The ways to stimulate his brain to ‘learn’ could be way different from the way you learn.  Some are logically intelligent and may become like Ramanujam where as a visual learner could become an artiste.  Society has a need for all kinds of people who are good at different things.

Don’t push your child too hard. Children develop in their own ways and in their own time. Try not to compare them to other children. You can also encourage reading, by reading to and with them. Look at the pictures together. This will help younger children make sense of the words.

It is also good to talk to them a lot, about everyday things when cooking or cleaning. This will give you a chance to teach them how things work and they will be able to ask you questions. Get ready for lots of “why’s?”

Children with natural intelligence learn better, perhaps with their simple play in the kitchen, or by accompanying you on a super exciting trip to the shop to buy vegetables or while looking stars from the balcony.  Teaching moments and learning moments are every where.  Using these moments correctly makes learning easy and fun!

Reference: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/parents

Image Courtesy: Willow Tree Learning

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EZ Vidya Chrysalis & Buzzle | Ingress Perspective

Buzzle

We at Ingress firmly believe that if someone does something better than us, we should learn and adopt. Several of us had the privilege of listening to Ms.Chitra Ravi founder of EZ Vidya introduce Chysalis curriculum and the Buzzle technology at their events in Madurai and Bangalore. It was quite fascinating to imagine the potential of her work books and technology. Learning would be a super fun experience for the children if these were put to good use.

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Since Ingress is in its infancy, there is no need for a ‘shift in culture’ and we could adopt this from the get go and all our students could easily be part of this process of learning from inception.

In a nutshell, the children follow work books that focus on the correct grasping of basic curriculum concepts. The books are designed with care so that ‘teacher’s teaching errors’ are side stepped to the greatest degree possible. In addition, there is a technology component that allows curious students to play with a system and click links and learn more and submit projects and interact with others in their classroom and others in their grade possibly all over the world. This will certainly benefit the tech savvy generation of children of today because it is a lot of fun :). Competition is limited not to the class but truly challenges one’s own self. The system allows for the teacher to track progress of the child and the class as a whole with the click of a button.

While this is similar to doing self learning by research using a search engine on the internet, this buzzle tool is invaluable at the junior grades upto middle school because the internet is not a safe place and many parents will not want their children to go online and succumb to predators. Reporting back to the teacher is also an added advantage of the tool.

Now, the dangers of this ‘fun system’ is that they could get addicted and do this all the time. They could learn everything at home and come to the class distracted. They may get impatient if the teacher is teaching lessons that they are already exposed to at home. They may get better than the teacher and think of themselves as super heros.

The benefits of this are that the teacher does not have the stress of keeping the really smart kids of the class satisfied. She can concentrate on the children who truly need her help. As a smart teacher, she will also enlist the help of her quick learners to help the others in the class. So school becomes oriented towards social skills and life skills education environment which is where the Waldorf methodology comes in handy. The teacher’s role changes to that of a person who motivates, who understands the children emotionally, as the one who leads, provides safety, teaches mutual sharing and respect, provides direction on communication, provides encouragement on good behaviour, as one who teaches them teamwork and co-operation, as the one who takes them outdoors to play, as the one who draws parallels between the school environment and the concepts in the books, as the one who encourages them to think outside the box and listens to them patiently as they grasp each concept. Her kindness and firmness will set the tone of good behavior encouraging the students to make careful choices.

Thinking about lesson planning, worrying about what to answer parents if they ask what their children have learnt, what concept to teach and how to teach it becomes less of a worry if we have the Chrysalis work books to lean on. In all, we think it is a great investment in a very well thought out system.

We spoke to other school Principals and they have been using Chrysalis curriculum for the last 3 years. Several of them vouched that they are very satisfied with the company and the level of support they have received including training of the teachers and introducing the workbooks to parents.

There should be no fear in the minds of our readers that by adopting these work books and the buzzle technology that personal interaction among the kids will take a back seat and they will sit with their neck down and start digging their devices from when they are really young. Ingress plans to be a place for vigorous physical activity and the teacher will restrict the time with the device effectively.

Since this curriculum kicks in from KG or when the kids are about 3.5 to 4 years old, we will adopt a bridge program in the interim.

We are all prepared for the thrilling ride ahead using this technology engine and hope to lead our next gen kids on an amazing journey. We are confident that they will be confident learners and at the same time we will strive to keep their natural kindness and innate innocence intact.

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