Interview

Little Einsteins, Identifying and Harnessing Student’s Interest Using Multiple Intelligence as a Tool

Little Einsteins, founded by entrepreneur couple Kopal Maheshwari and Vinit Srivastava, provides preschool education based on the multiple intelligence framework suggested by Dr Howard Gardner, a renowned cognitive psychologist from Harvard. Little Einsteins has pan India operations with more than 50 centers and uses their unique entrepreneur friendly franchisee program for expansion. In the years 2012 and 2016, Little Einsteins ranked as top 10 preschool chains in India.

Vinit Srivastava,Co-Founder, Little Einstein Preschools,  has been a serial entrepreneur, investor with 15+ years of senior leadership in corporate roles. Vinit is a member of The Chennai Angels and other angel groups participating in mentoring and fundraising for startups. Some of his startup investments have been in Purplle, PickMe, Appreize.

Vinit Srivastava and Kopal Maheshwari in an Interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Education Technology.in

Please tell us something about Little Einsteins Preschool. Its concept and uniqueness

There is nothing more exciting than the birth of a child. From the first day, using their five senses, the little ones perceive new knowledge every moment and parents have to take immense care of their kids, so that the newborns remember and differentiate everything that they learn. However, in the busy world where both the parents leave the day for work, children are unnoticed or receive inadequate nurturing. Dr. Howard Gardner, a well-renowned cognitive psychologist from Harvard University, once said, “We should spend less time ranking children and more time helping them to identify their natural competencies and gifts and cultivate these. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed and many, many different abilities that will help you get there.”

Kopal Maheshwari, Founder and Chairperson of Little Einsteins, is an ardent believer of Dr. Haward’s Multiple Intelligence theory. “I believe that each child is unique and carries different interests. Some kids may understand the concepts easily from storytelling and others may gain the same by doing it themselves; Identifying and harnessing the interest would be more benefiting to the child. At Little Einsteins, we help students to understand their strengths and challenges using Multiple Intelligence as a tool,” says Kopal, who is certified on Multiple Intelligence from University of California.

Established in 2007, Little Einsteins is considered as the pioneer in early childhood education based on Multiple Intelligence theory in India and she rejoices the journey of her establishment, which has presence in over 3 continents now. Kopal says, “Once people came to know the method of learning in our school, the reception of parents increased by leaps and bounds.” Little Einsteins was setup in response to the requests of parents for a continuation of progressive schooling in the elementary years.

Do you think India has adequate technology usage and adoption in the education sector? What more can be done in your opinion?

Lot more needs to be done on technology. Most of the technology is developed around monitoring, communication and increasing administrative efficiency. Technology that can help compliment the learning and development of kids, expose to new changing social ecosystem and preparing them for new world are the areas that can be transformed by technology

The transformation from classroom learning and tuitions to non-traditional online learning aids is not easy. What challenges did you face?

We strongly believe in providing a social setting for nurturing young minds. In that manner we continue to promote classroom teaching and preparing young kids for regular primary schooling. We use technology innovations in monitoring, communication and providing a hassle-free experience for our center partners so that they can focus only on child care and development. Today, with necessary infrastructure, Little Einsteins seeks to provide an alternative for parents who want a different approach to the rote and skill learning that traditional schools have been providing. “We emphasize teaching for understanding by providing children the opportunity to construct their own knowledge in the classroom as they interact meaningfully with materials and their teachers,” describes Vinit. After nine years of operations, Little Einsteins looks forward to taking it to next level; to K-10 and K-12 and to expand centers through their franchise program across the country. Hoping that such efforts would bring a new facet to the pre-school learning in India, Little Einsteins has shown a unique way of primary education for the best of future generation.

What technology initiatives do you see gaining maximum ground for prep-schools?

Technologies that help provide learning environment and real time monitoring to ensure utmost safety. Technologies that help compliment the classroom teaching will see a good growth. Gamification of lesson is another strong area that we foresee strong growth and value add.

Do you think eLearning can help in educational progress in a vast country like India?

Yes it definitely will though the near future will see it more in urban areas with better infrastructure. Offline and online needs to coexist for holistic development of kids.

What are the attributes you look forward to, before selecting companies for funding?

The biggest attributes is on team and complimentary experience, solving a real problem with big market opportunity.

Running a prep school, what is the toughest challenge?

Toughest challenge is on human resources. Since this being extra sensitive area we always are very careful on selecting the right partners and people who are passionate about kids, are very diligent and prioritize it over financials.

What other kind of activities are you looking forward to adding?

New areas will be exposure to Robotics and enhancing Mindfulness. Mindfulness is being global aware viz a viz you for e’g no wasting food when others are dying of hunger in other parts of the world, being aware of pollution issues and how you as an individual can contribute in reduction. Today, Little Einsteins offers mainly three programs for children according to their age group that include Infant, Toddler and Preschooler. “Our programs will prepare the child for regular school and will lay a solid foundation for his future. In addition to that, we will introduce the child to the joy of learning in the initial years of his life and will help him in his all-round growth and shape his personality. They learn skills and a richer content in various disciplines,” says Kopal. Prepared under the supervision of Kopal, the curriculum of Little Einsteins encompasses a complete palette of learning and promises a healthy mental and behavioral foundation for a child. Inclusion of Modern Math, Literacy Program, Science, Social Studies, Music, Art and Physical Education in the curriculum has encouraged creative learning.

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