Interview of Dhara Mehta Founder of The Kids Company
Interviewer: How did you initiate the motive of helping out the children?
Dhara: It all started with a realisation of a need - a gap!
While I was raising my son from an infant to a toddler, I picked up a very important insight –
‘Play is the work of childhood and is the highest form of education!’
Like most young parents, we would often spend our noons playing board games, exploring LEGO bricks and solving puzzles. While I was doing that I realised that I could teach my son so many life skills and lessons which are of vital importance and which are very difficult to imbibe in a child in a formal school set up.
On observing other mommies and children around I realized that while play was a part of a child’s routine it was often used by caregivers as a form of relaxation or break from learning.
However as a mother I realized that play was the best educational tool an adult could have.
This thought ignited a spark in me; to create a service that would bridge this gap of play & learning and thus was born The Kids Company in 2013.
Interviewer: How do you stick to your mission of creating an intellectual environment for kids out there?
Dhara: Well, it’s a pretty simple equation – I thrown in hours of HARD WORK to do a lot of FUN things!
There is a lot of research and thought behind each game/activity / story / LEGO creation done in class. Often people misunderstand my work and define it only by the number of hours I conduct sessions but there is a lot more to it that happens off the classroom. I literally spent hours sitting on the floors of toy stores in various countries playing games with the store managers and only when I am thoroughly convinced, that’s when that game makes it to my shopping cart. Once the handpicked games come to my center, I spend hours understanding the rules of the games, tweaking them to make them more fun and educational. So that was all about curating games. The second and most important aspect is the experience for the kids in the classroom not missing out on achieving any of the chalked out learning objectives.
Interviewer: What all the qualities of a child do you focus on?
Dhara: At The Kids Company, our mission is simple, to create an environment for children,
which combines intellectually stimulating & creatively engaging activities along with fun, play, thrill and excitement.
Our activities are aimed at improving the child’s skills related to logical thinking, problem solving, self management, communication and inter personal skills along with igniting the spark of creative thinking. Through our LEGO sessions, we take our kids on a journey to explore their imagination and creativity.
We want our children to be intellectually engaged and more importantly have FUN!
Interviewer: What are your future endeavours and how do you plan to execute that?
Dhara: Since the past five years, The Kids Company’s curriculum has been progressive and we have always ensured that there is something new and fresh we have to offer to our enthusiastic audience.
Our program has not only been well accepted and loved by children in Mumbai, but we regularly receive calls/mails from parents residing abroad who have read about us online and they make sure their kids attend our sessions when they visit India.
This has surely boosted our confidence that The Kids Company’s curriculum is not restricted to any geographic boundaries and in the future, we intend to reach out to maximum kids with our program. We are exploring various options in this direction, however we would not like to compromise on the quality of service and The Kids Company’s experience hence the delay J
Interviewer: What would you suggest to the new entries in this field?
Dhara: Any one who is the field of education and has a product or service for children, should surely consider themselves blessed as they are the chosen few who are able to touch our future generations. Apart from having a formal degree and prerequisite qualifications to be an educator, there are some skills which I term as ‘mandatory’ and ‘entry level filters’ for anyone venturing in this field.
Open mindedness to understand and be adaptable to address to each child’s individual and specific needs:
Teachers need to understand each child’s different mindset and be sensitive to their specific needs. As a teacher, its OK if she has not finished the lesson plan or planned activity for the day but what’s more important is how has each child in her class felt at the end of the class – the experience. Its been 5 years since I am conducting sessions and at the end of EVERY session I ask myself, on what note am I sending the child back home?
Being innovative and adaptable:
The world is changing and at a pace much faster than one can even fathom. If one is not able to be embrace and accept that fact one is sure to hit the wall! Year on year I see the a new generation walk in the class and its inevitable to bring in some innovation and change in my approach to cater to their specific needs and adapt to their learning style.
Possess a powerhouse of positivity and the ability to transfer that to the little ones
Children are the most innocent souls and hence called ‘Gods little angels.’ They sense things much faster than we adults can. As a child caregiver, one has the power and responsibility as to what one can pass on and leave the child with. When my little ones walk in class and I greet them with a BIG smile, they flash an even bigger smile back at me!