This Bengaluru 'shaala' can make your homeschooling experience take flight

Homeschooling with management tools? Yes, please. We check out what Agile Shaala is all about and why it can be a boon for parents who homeschool their kids  
Representational image (Picture: Agile Shaala)
Representational image (Picture: Agile Shaala)

Say the word 'homeschooling' and the reaction that parents across India have is pretty uniform. Lack of discipline, very little learning, zero co-curricular activities... the list of assumptions is endless. And that's a large part of why parents admit their children in normal schools. But Poornima V and her husband Srikara Mahishi along with a few like-minded teachers are dismantling those assumptions with their unique curriculum for children who are homeschooled. 

Last month, Poornima and Srikara started Agile Shaala, which uses agile management tools in education. She says, "Usually, agile management tools are used in corporate companies. We use a simple version of these tools so that kids get a sense of responsibility — with simple tasks like completing their assignments on time. My brother, who works in a corporate company, introduced these tools to me."

The duo has, for more than a year, homeschooled their own kids, as well as seven other children across the globe. While Poornima is a Biomedical Scientist and a PhD graduate from IIT Madras, Srikara was part of an R&D team in an MNC in Bengaluru. He quit his job to start Vismaya Centre for Learning for homeschooled children. "When the pandemic hit us, parents thought that experiential learning can be provided to children only outside our homes. But it can even be done at home. Last year, when we were handholding the homeschooled kids, we designed and came up with strategies to provide experiential learning to kids."

Poornima V, Founder, Agile Shaala 

Poornima and Srikara understood that unlike normal schools, parents don't really have an organised structure for kids. "There is too much of an organised structure for children in normal schools whereas homeschooled kids look for freedom and want to learn everything at their own pace. Therefore, agile methodology will make the children responsible for their tasks yet enjoy their freedom. There are many people outside India who are researching and working on this methodology."

She continues, "Whatever is self-learnt by these kids are later discussed during our online or virtual classes that happen for an hour. These discussions happen only for an hour because we don't want children to be stuck to the screen for more than 60 minutes. What we do is we develop activities and plans for a particular week and share it with children and their parents. The whole family is part of the learning for their kids. A weekly goal is set for these children and while we don't insist that they do these activities on a particular day, they need to complete them in a week's time."

Srikara V, Co-founder, Agile Shaala

The kids of Agile Shaala follow a concept called Story Goals. These goals are sent to them by Poornima every Sunday. Here, goals refer to activities, explorations of concepts and so on. "Every morning, these children will have a ten minute meeting with their parents. They will discuss the goals to be achieved for that particular day, Once these tasks are completed, it goes into the 'done' column, If the tasks are pending then it goes into the 'stuck' column. They can also ask for help from the mentors if they have failed to achieve something. While all this happens from Monday to Friday, the families meet on Saturday to analyse what happened through the week. This is called a reflection meeting. We finetune the learning goals and assignments based on this."

Currently, Poornima and her team have 17 children aged 5 to 16 under their wing. She says, "For now, the group is small and everything is happening virtually. But we are thinking of introducing our agile tools, content and activities in regular schools too. The activities that we have, focus quite a bit on the NEP and how it can be introduced in schools. Hopefully, when the schools reopen after the pandemic, we will approach them to introduce the Agile Shaala method."

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