Discussions pertaining to Rumi’s schooling have begun at home with renewed vigor. We had successfully warded off persistent, nagging questions from my Mum saying that we would send her off to school when she turned three but her third birthday is around the corner and we are still exploring our options. My Mum, who is a pre-school teacher, is haunted by nightmares that Rumi will not get admission anywhere because she witnesses the nerve-wracking admission process year after year, where parents stand in serpentine queues and are willing to move mountains just to get a form for a particular school. She begs, cajoles and threatens us every time and manages to scare me into checking out a few websites and making a few calls but the husband remains firm and unwavering in his belief that we are doing right by her by keeping her home with us, till we find a school that really appeals to our idea of education, growth and development (this includes lots of unstructured free play, dabbling in creative pursuits, learning about sustainability, nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit, the list goes on and on).
In our hunt for a school that does not put Rumi in the rat race for marks and grades, we found the following schools. If you are looking for an education system that is moving away from the standard unit tests and 45-minute 10 period days, you might want to consider these.
We really loved Swadhaa, a school based on the Steiner philosophy. I have written about the school in detail in an earlier post and we were all set to send Rumi this year onwards. As you can see in the pictures above, she really had a blast there and did not want to come home! However, the one thing that kept us from immediately taking admission was the current school campus, which is in the basement of the Orange county building on Pashan-Sus road. While the teachers and staff do a wonderful job as regards safety, I did not feel comfortable with the fact that so many people (strangers on the road, people looking out of their balconies) could watch our child at play for hours on end if they so wish to.
Another concern the husband has is about the whole Steiner philosophy of Anthroposophy. He feels it tends to become cult-like and he does not agree with it in all its extremes. For instance, the Steiner philosophy abhors all use of electronics and electronic media for children, which is something that Abhi is not a 100% OK with.
The school has been on the lookout for a campus but they intend to continue pre-school in their current premises. We might consider it from the 1st grade onwards if the school shifts by the time the she turns six.
Since we do not yet have Waldorf high schools in India, Swadha students will appear for the IGCSE board exam.
Check out the school website:
Read more about the Steiner / Waldorf philosophy:
I recently found out about another school based on the Steiner philosophy called Red Hill: The Earth school, also in Baner. You can take a look at their website here:
2. Gram Mangal (Learning Home)
The biggest advantage for us with this school is the location, just a stone’s throw away from where we live! The school’s philosophy is that the learning environment should be as comfortable as our own homes, hence the name. Children work on various projects that go on for about a month, as opposed to the subject-based approach. This is a Marathi medium school; I am a little concerned as to how that will shape up for us as a family, since my Marathi is not quite there in terms of writing and grammar. We are planning to start Rumi in this school from June and let her complete at least her pre-school years here.
3. DLRC (DriveChange Learning & Resource Centre)
I really love how they call it a Learning Centre as opposed to a school. We found out about DLRC from a colleague and our conversation with one of the founders as well as their website, seems to be ticking all the right boxes for us (learning with nature, sustainability). I receive their newsletter week after week and I always love how the kids are coming together to build their classrooms and community. There is a lot of talk of polishing wood, stitching, constructing, gardening (I LOVES it already!) Saturdays is when they have an open house but we are yet to visit. They take admissions 6 up so we will probably send Rumi here after her pre-school years.
Do take a look at the website!
This school has been the torch-bearer for an alternative style of education for many years now. From what I hear, admission is also quite difficult with a very few open seats every year. However, off late, we have heard mixed reviews about the school with some parents telling us that the standards seem to be slipping a little and that things tend to be a little to slack and easy-going. I think, this will always going to be the flip side of picking an alternative school though. Aksharnandan is also entirely Marathi Medium. It also follows the SSC board of education, which is not my favorite as far as curriculums go.
Here is the website:
If you know of any other such schools, please write in, I would love to add them to the list!
Our tribe of parents who are on the hunt for schools that move away from traditional, conventional methods of education is on the rise, as our schools that are using more holistic, alternative methods of education. Here are some more schools that are trying to break the monotony of regular, 45-minutes a period ways of teaching:
(I have not visited any of the following schools but I know parents who send their kids so please write in if you need personal feedback).
A marathi-medium school located in Karvenagar, offering an alternative way of learning.
This school offers experiential, cross-curricular learning; take a look at their website here:
7. Aman Setu:
Located in Wagholi. I do not personally know anybody that goes here. Here is the website link:
Our daughter now 5 is enjoying her time at Grammangal and we will most likely change schools next year. Will keep you guys updated, thanks for stopping by!
8. Sapling Diya
Sapling is a well-known and loved pre-school in Pune and they’ve been running a Montessori primary school (up to the age of 6) since 2012.
From this year onwards, they have opened up an elementary section as well (going up to 12 years). The classrooms are beautifully designed, the staff seems caring and competent. This is one school that you are sure to fall in love with.
Flip side: the fees are very high, the highest in the entire list so far!
You can write to info@saplingnursery. com for more information.
Wow the list of alternative schools is just increasing, which is such great news! I think parents are increasingly looking for schools that align with their core values and help ignite a lifelong passion for learning.
I just found about another school opening its doors in June 2020:
9. The Flourish school
From their website:
Flourish is an open, alternative, learner-driven, mixed-age school in Pune in partnership with the Acton Academy, Austin. We intend to provide a learner-driven, personalised learning experience for our children and those of other families who are looking for an educational experience fit for the 21st century.
Check out the website to know more:
Just a year ago, some parents of Grammangal, the school Rumi attended for three years, decided to pull out of Grammangal and get together and form a new school. The reasons were mostly problems and changes at the managerial level. Leading this parent brigade is Prasad Manerikar who was at Grammangal and has a vast ocean of experience and knowledge as regards child psychology. Anubhuti is totally child-led, with each kid getting the freedom to decide what they want to learn and when. Please get in touch with me if you want to speak to Prasad and learn more about Anubhuti. Anubhuti is a Marathi-medium school.