Published: 04th January 2019
Put a pin in your learning curve: Why your kids need to go to Hyderabad's Kites and Nine pinS
The objective for Neha and Sanjeev Srivastava to start the enrichment centre for children, Kites And Nine pinS, was to equip kids with the right tools which will help them shape their future
We would like to start off by admitting that it was the name, and the name alone, that got us to pick up the phone and reach out to Kites And Nine pinS. The description on Facebook did say 'learning and activity space', but going by the name, we knew from the start that it was more than just that. So we invited ourselves over to their branch at Kondapur, Hyderabad one fine, cold morning.
We were grateful for the warm smiles of Neha and Sanjeev Srivastava, who started this space about two years ago and gave up their full-time jobs to do so. While Neha was born in Mumbai, studied in New Delhi and has worked in the financial sector for over 15 years before consulting for the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Dehradun-born Sanjeev also worked in finance for over 20 years, most recently with ICICI Bank.
Act it out: Students during one of the classes | (Pic: KANS)
Both were inclined towards opening a space that caters to children, and hence, they quit their jobs and Kites And Nine pinS (KANS) was born. But it's not just any friendly neighbourhood learning centre. All their programmes have been deliberated over for months before getting them on to the roster and the teachers too are handpicked with care and consideration. "We did not want to offer everything that is commercially available. We wanted to offer subjects that appeal to us, using teachers who are passionate about it," says Sanjeev, as we begin to talk about this 1,200 square feet space which is situated near Hyderabad Botanical Gardens. And the few subjects that made it to the carefully curated list of programmes were Math, Earth Sciences, Theatre and Art. Neha adds, "One should be coaching the child rather than telling them how it's done. We need to give them the right tools.”
For Math, Kite And Nine pinS has adopted the Seriously Addictive Maths (SAM) programme, a Singapore-based pedagogy that makes Math more interesting and relevant. Neha rues the fact that, "Everyone associates computation skills alone with Math which is why parents favour repetitive and computation-oriented Math like Abacus. Math should actually be treated like a language, it should be a part of how we think." Which is where this pedagogy comes in play, wherein, you learn by doing and rationalising is the norm. For example, they show us how, instead of lapsing into the long division method to divide, children are given pace blocks which they use to understand how division really takes place. "We have had parents come to us and say that their child can count from one to 100, but when we give the child random numbers like 89. 83, 91, and 73 and ask them to arrange it in ascending order, they are unable to do it," she says with exasperation. This is the kind of problem that the SAM programme solves. While speaking about art, Neha shows us some paintings of a beautiful sky at night and another of a beautiful morning, we notice that none of them had any outlines. "That's how a painting should be taught, free flow. Not with an outline which needs to be filled in with colours," explains the duo, which in retrospect, feels like a beautiful metaphor in relation to their own methods — where they don't restrict their students and believe that no boundaries, mathematical or otherwise, should bind their imagination. In the art class, children are taught techniques like wash painting, stain painting and painting with different kinds of paint. The objective is to teach the techniques which they can apply to paint their own masterpiece.
Learning by doing: Children learning Art | (Pic: KANS)
Enquiries are pouring in for introducing more new programmes, but the husband-wife duo is in no hurry as it has already been established that they rather take their own sweet time to implement a perfect programme rather than give in to the demand. Take robotics for example, which many parents want their young children to take up, it being 'the ultimate course'. The same goes for programming. "But these are courses that need a certain intellectual maturity which children below a certain age don’t always possess. Also, these courses are trending now, what about ten years down the line? We want to prepare students for that future. And because logic and reasoning will always be needed, we want to work on those skills," says Neha. But they do have other exciting programmes on the cards. Music, guitar and vocals, are on their mind and so are subjects like public speaking, life skills and more. "But we are not in a hurry to introduce them, we want to ensure that our foundation is strong," says Sanjeev. With their fairly recent 2,000 square feet branch in Kakatiya Hills, Madhapur, we would say their foundation is rock solid.
Just as we are about to bid them farewell, we recollect the question that piqued our curiosity in the first place. Their name! Sanjeev laughs and explains, "This space gets its initials of our family — Karan, our eight-year-old; Arhan, our four-year-old, Neha and me, Kites And Nine pinS." Wow! Learning cannot get more personal than this!
The terrific teachers
First act: Pallavi Banothu who teaches theatre and creative writing | (Pic: KANS)
In Pallavi's class, children don't just perform, they are involved in script writing, dialogue writing and everything else that goes on behind the scenes. And their plays too are different. Like Plasticide, "which was about plastics," explains Pallavi and The Ugly Duckling, an ancient tale which received a contemporary twist in the hands of Pallavi and her students. "Black is beautiful too, why should the duckling turn into a white swan to become beautiful, is the conclusion we drew upon while talking about the script," she recalls fondly. For one of the plays, Akbar and Birbal, children turned costume designers as well as they were asked to get two dupattas and drape them the way they think would suit their role. Visakhapatnam-born Pallavi also doesn't believe in taking the shortcut and bestowing meatier roles on confident students, she makes sure every student get a spot in the limelight.
Look out: Madhuri Mondal conducting an outdoor activity | (Pic: KANS)
Born in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Madhuri has always been fascinated with wildlife. She is a Research Associate with Wildlife Conservation Society and wishes to work for marine conservation in the future. She recently took students from Kites And Nine pinS to Ameenpur Lake, the first Biodiversity Heritage Site in the country for bird spotting. "I also took the chance to explain to students about their migratory patterns, food habits, habitats and more," says Madhuri. We are told that they spotted up to 30 species. It is this exposure that sensitises students towards wildlife conservation, she believes. "It makes them think about their own footprint and how their lifestyle can affect animals," she says.
Add up: Srinu Peddada teaches Math | (Pic: KANS)
Srinu Peddada has been working at Kites And Nine pinS for two years now and says, "I particularly admire how the two are concerned about the outcomes of the programme for each and every child." Srinu, who is from Ponnur, a small town near Guntur, was selected for the INSPIRE Scholarship by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and is currently studying for civil services. He uses different ways that are designed specifically for teaching like objects, pictorial representation and abstract method. "The emphasis is on conceptual understanding rather than solving more and more number of questions," he explains. One such way to solve complex word problems is bar modelling, which allows students to draw and visualise concepts. This and other methods truly offer students an edge, he believes.
Some of the courses they have -
- Creative writing
Ages 12 to 17
- Advanced art
Ages 15 and above
- English enrichment
Ages 8 and above
Ages 8 and above
Ages 8 and above
Force behind it all: The husband-wife duo, Sanjeev and Neha Srivastava | (Pic: KANS)
For more on them, click on kitesandninepins.com