Published: 03rd February 2021
How the UpSchool Project is teaching languages to kids stuck out of school — and making it count!
UpSchool Project is teaching coding languages, Hindi and Tamil to kids aged between 8 and 13. We get you the details about their live online classes
Coding improves logical and analytical thinking and enables kids to use their creativity, says Neha Ryan, co-founder of UpSchool Project. She also believes that it should be taught to children from a young age and not just to make everyone a software professional. Indeed, that is why she and Shona Santhanam decided to launch live online coding classes for kids aged 8 to 13. Launched in June, UpSchool Project initially began as a way to train the students of Sishya School in Chennai but was later opened up to students worldwide. Both Shona and Neha have been instrumental in designing the Computer Science curriculum and hiring teachers at Sishya School.
Neha and Shona handle the Computer Science department at Sishya School. They frame the entire curriculum for classes 1 to 12 and also handle other activities
Neha says their experience as mothers helps them to create a curriculum for children. "During the lockdown, a lot of parents asked us to conduct online coding classes as the kids were not doing much at home. Through word of mouth, quite a few students joined the classes. It is then that we thought that we could expand it. We onboarded some IT professionals, who were benched during the pandemic, to teach coding on a full-time or commissioned basis," says Neha. Being online, Chennai-based UpSchool Project has been able to reach children in Dubai, Germany, USA and Singapore and closer home in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi.
Currently, the online classes are held in groups or individually, two days a week for every child. "We want every student to receive equal attention and don't keep more than six children in one group class," says Neha. At UpSchool Project, kids can learn coding languages like Scratch and Python. "We teach Scratch, which is a very simple programming language, to younger kids who are aged eight or nine years. The children who are ten years and above are taught Python," she adds. And it is not just programming language that the kids are taught. "Several ex-pat parents also asked us to conduct language classes to help their kids learn their mother tongue. We have now begun to teach spoken Hindi and Tamil," says Neha.
Neha recommends attending Scratch classes for six months to learn the language properly and attending Python classes for up to a year to understand the program
Till date, UpSchool Project has managed to reach over 150 children who have been taught by eight teachers. "Some ex-pat parents have also asked us to conduct Math classes and we have recently begun doing that too," says Neha. Speaking about the kind of teachers they hire, Neha says, "We thoroughly vet the teachers not just on their technical knowledge but also on their soft skills. We also send them for a training programme on how to show empathy or how to teach children," explains Neha.
Neha believes that the curriculum they have developed for UpSchool Project will appeal to children. The curriculum has been divided into modules, which consists of eight one-hour sessions. "It is not only fun and creative but they are learning the basics of coding. We are both mothers who have experience in Computer Science and Human Resources. This gives us a unique advantage with UpSchool Project," explains Neha, who has worked as an HR personnel in a private bank for several years. UpSchool Project conducts its live online classes on Zoom.
Reach out to the folks at UpSchool Project at upschoolproject.com