Nyways, it all started with a job interview I was actively pursuing. And the decision of whether I should take up the job if offered weighed largely on whether I would be able to find a very good home away from home for little N. In the US, I was able to work without much guilt coz I had a wonderful nanny who loved N just like she was her own child. But here, I am yet to find either a nanny or a daycare who will give her the love, warmth, intellectual stimulation and hygeine all at the same time. So over the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time each day researching and visiting daycare centers and preschools around our neighborhood in Bangalore. Hauling a toddler around to each facility is in itself a huge pain - forget coming home, thinking, comparing and racking my brain to figure out what is good or bad about each place and what are the options my kiddo has. So I thought I'd do this in written so that it gives me some clarity and also help out some of you who might be looking for this information out there.
This analysis is purely my opinion based on my personal research and talking to a lot of folks whose kids go to many of these places listed here.
I have finally begun to understand a little bit about the early years educational system here. Figured out that Daycare is a term given to something like babysitting where your kid is basically in their care, being fed and kind of hangs out in the premises but not necessarily with a structured routine. Pre-School is more of a structured program where they have an hour of two of instructor led activities. Pre-school (also called Playschool) starts at age 1 year 10 months at most places. When the kid turns 2.5 years old, you have more options for him/her. You can continue to keep them in the pre-school or opt for a Montessori. Montessoris generally accept kids at the age of 2.5 and continue their education upto 6 years of age. So your kid can either be in a pre-school (which is the traditional Playgroup, Nursery, LKG, UKG) or a Montessori upto the age of 6. Or you can pull him out of either and admit him to a high school (which offers education upto grade 10 or 12) for LKG at around 4.5 years of age. You can pretty much do this from a Pre-school to a regular school whenever you prefer (LKG or UKG or 1st standard) but Montessoris generally recommend children to stay on for atleast 3 years to obtain the full benefits of the Montessori method. And some believe that research has proven that kids who went through the Montessori program in their early years have grown up to be smarter.
Anyways, so here is a listing of all the daycares, pre-schools and montessoris I have visited, heard of or done some research on in Koramangala, Bangalore. Hope this helps atleast some of you who are looking for such consolidated information online.
1. Little Elly - This was the first ever place I visited so was not quite sure what questions to ask and what to look for etc. But after talking to the management there, I was pretty satisfied with the way they did things around there. The only thing that bothered me was that their toddler program (which is what my N would have gone to then) was only for 2 hours each day. I was really looking for a place that would keep them for 3-4 hours so that they can bond, socialize and get a feel of spending a good amount of time away from mommy. That way I could ease her into a full time program if I wanted to start working soon. Other than that, I liked their facilities, teachers and the overall hygiene.
- Pros: They do have daycare facilities after the child's school is done. So after 9-11am, the child can still stay there upto 6:30pm (daycare charges extra). Huge plus for working parents.
- Cons: If all you want is a playschool, they only run it for 2 hours per day. Paying around 30K for 2 hours per day seems a bit too much.
- Pros: I visited only their Day Care center which I really liked. They have very clean premises (great hygeine ranks very high in my list) and have good equipment overall for infants - such as good quality cribs, toddler beds, toys (indoor and outdoor). I also loved the folks running this place, their thoughts and philosophy.
- Cons: I did not really like that my child at 1.8 years of age will be hanging out at the daycare center which was still so new that it did not really have a lot of other kids her age to socialize with. It also did not have a structured routine as such for this age group so was more like a daycare where they would pretty much do what they feel like and hang out with a maid most of the time. If I was working fulltime though, this might be a decent place to leave my kid for the time being.
- Pros: I liked the fact that they have a total of around 30 kids total in the age group from 2 to 4.5 years of age. All of these kids spend most of their time together so it is more like a montessori environment with some structure. I loved the 2 ladies who run this place and their overall attitude of doing it more for a passion than making money in the business. They seemed very understanding and flexible to accomodate these little ones totally understanding that they are not used to a routine of any kind yet since this is their first school ever. I think they will be ideal for my little N's first school and ideal for me as well since this is a stone's throw away from my place. So no putting her in a car seat and driving her to school every morning. All I have to do is enjoy a nice 5 minute walk.
- Cons: They only offer a 3 hour program and do not have a full day daycare offering. So not an ideal place for working parents.
5. Planet Kids - Great huge premises. I should say by far the best I have seen in Koramangala. They have a huge place with all sorts of outdoor activities including things such as a splash pool. Indoors, they have a huge ball pit, a media room (with a huge flat screen TV) and a computer lab as well! So facilities wise the place ranked # 1 in my rating but I was not too impressed by their management and their overall attitude.
- Pros: Great campus. Have various locations in Bangalore so you can transfer your child to a nearby location if you move. Also have full time daycare facilities for working parents.
- Cons: Management did not show too much understanding and flexibility for kids who are going to a school for the first time ever. I am also not a huge fan of putting kids in front of a TV or computer as at this young an age.
- Pros: Offers day care facilities so is a plus for working parents.
- Cons: Heavily overcrowded. The daycare area is not seperate so infants sleeping are surrounded by playing toddlers all around.
8. Head Start Montessori House of Children - I have not visited this facility either since they too do not accept kids younger than 2.5 years of age. But again, this place has great reviews from all that I have read about it. The only thing is that getting an admission here is next to impossible - they fill up with siblings of existing kids one or more years in advance!
9. Eurokids - Not visited this school either but have friends whose kids go here and are extremely happy about the place, teachers and curriculum. The big pro is that they have presence all over India so if you move around a lot, this is certainly beneficial for you.
10. Vivaa International - Not visited this place myself but have a few friends whose kids go there. Have heard mixed reviews about this place about their management of kids. The pro is that they are a Montessori which offers day care facilities as well so your kid can either spend the day here if you are working or go here after school for the remainder of the day.
11. Roots to Wings -This is a new chain of pre-schools owned and run by the Singapore based company Educomp. I was very interested in this since they claim to be very different from the rest in their philosophy and curriculum so thought why not check it out.
- Pros: The pro I liked was that they do accept kids at a very young age (around 1.5 years). And since they are so new, they do offer trial weeks where you can send the kids for 2 weeks free of charge to see if they really like it.
- Cons: The biggest con for me was that they were too new (no kids enrolled in the center that just opened up in Koramangala). So although they seemed to have all the knowledge in theory, I would feel more comfortable if I had seen them actually working with kids in real life. They were great at showing their powerpoint presentations about their well researched curriculum and the "seven petal approach" but when it came to practical questions from a mom such as how will you potty train my kid...they were not able to put me at ease (obviously coz they had never done it before!)