Alternative schooling options in Pune

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.

1. Swadhaa

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:

http://swadhaawaldorfschool.org/

Read more about the Steiner / Waldorf philosophy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education

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:

http://redhilltheearthschool.com/

 

2. Gram Mangal (Learning Homes)

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.

The website:

http://grammangal.org/

 

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!

http://www.dlrc.in/

 

4. Aksharnandan

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:

http://aksharnandanschool.org/

If you know of any other such schools, please write in, I would love to add them to the list!

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi dear, It was great reading your post on the different schooling options in Pune. Talking about different methods of teaching, the Montessori Method is an age old philosophy practised worldwide. I have set up “Benmont Montessori” which is a pure Montessori and follows the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. Montessori is a child centric method of teaching where the child is free to work with any of our scientifically designed materials as per his/her need. We have children between ages 2 to 6 years who work together as a mixed age group community. The Montessori philosophy is very interesting and someday you should visit Benmont to see the set up.

    Like

    1. Rumi's mommy says:

      Hey Benafsha thank you 😊 yes i love the Montessori way and i would love to visit Benmont!

      Like

  2. Priyanka Tamhankar says:

    Such a brilliantly written article Alisha! Being a counselor, I’m always on the lookout for such alternative schools for kids who come to me with special needs. I knew some of these schools that you’ve mentioned, but a couple of them were new for me too.
    It’s great that you are going to such extents for Rumi, especially when it concerns schooling options.
    I’ll keep in mind if I come across any new options for you!

    Like

    1. Rumi's mommy says:

      Thanks a lot Priyanka!😊

      Like

  3. Monika says:

    Hi Rummi’s mommy,
    Very well written n much needed article. Thanks. My son in 7 n I have veen looking for an alternative approach school for a long time now. Have not found one that fits my expectations though. You could also add Jigyasa learning centre, kothrud and Aman Setu to this list.

    Like

    1. Rumi's mommy says:

      Thank you so much Monika!ill definitely take a look at the websites and update this list 😊

      Like

  4. Harpreet Kaur Bhutiani says:

    Thanks a lot dear, for this article.We had in mind kind of finalised DLRC though we have not visited it but by hearing first from an acquaintance and then by surfing the web.
    Currently he is 4+ and in Unschool Baner.
    We too were quite apprehensive of typical schools and first infact had admitted him to Maple Bear Baner but then after an year withdrew as my kid everyday started using to refuse to go to school.Realising something is there that he is not enjoying.Luckily , we saw add unschool (Montessori method) .Though sometimes now too he says he doesn’t wanna go but thats ok.
    As by his playgroup, we ourselves hadnt an idea of alternative schooling methods existence and now after finding them kind of researching and considering them.
    But your article gave lot of help and insight.2 of these options I knew Swadha and DLRC.
    Remaining will have a look.
    Though, I still get intimidated when people discuss admission time has started or my kid knows this by now or exams are going on for Nursery one and start questioning myselves that am I on the right track.
    Won’t my kid lag….couple of questions pop up.
    But what is clear in my mind is : that I just dont want to just not want to spoil these precious years of childhood , this innocence and subsequently birth in this life🙂 in the name of schooling….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rumi's mommy says:

      Thank you for writing Harpreet! Yes we too face occasional pressure to pick a more conventional, regular school and we spend some nights worrying whether our child will be left out of / will miss out on anything important. But I firmly believe in the importance of unstructured free play and a school that lays emphasis on creativity, free thought and breaks away from academic pressure and learning by rote. Hopefully DLRC will live up to our expectations!

      Like

  5. Harpreet says:

    Ya dear hopefully.Thanks a lot for your reply.Yes, ocassionally it happens.Ya, to me too free play and free thinking is rather very important.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ratnali says:

    J Krishnamurthy at Rajgurunagar

    Amansetu

    Anandkshan at Kothrud

    Jidnyasa learning centre at Kothrud

    Like

    1. Rumi's mommy says:

      Thank you Ratnali!😊

      Like

    2. Smita says:

      Hi Ratnali,

      I want to know more about Jidnyasa learning centre at Kothrud. I am looking it for my son who is 13 years old and homeschooler. Is jidnyasa really like that what teachers says.

      Like

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