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Inspiring Young Minds

Vibha Rana has been running the very established and reputed Montessori Cottage for the past 22 years. The preschool is recognised for offering a Montessori approach that is a child centred educational experience based on scientific observation of children which values the human spirit and the development of the whole child at all levels – physical, social, emotional and cognitive.
The preschool today boasts a distinct alumni of young people pursuing diverse careers in various parts of the world with a quiet confidence that came from their early childhood education program.

Children love coming to the Montessori Cottage and they love their Principal who is equally enthusiastic about each child and recognises each one for their individual character with undivided attention.

In this edition of WOW we get to know more about Vibha Rana. Excerpts from a conversation with her as she recently celebrated the preschool’s annual day:

About yourself: I am very enthusiastic. I did my studies in Dehradun and passed out with all India school merit. I received a certificate from the President, and that instilled in me to always give my best to what I do. In Delhi University, I got a gold medal as well. I studied child development and food and nutrition in college. I liked sport and I believe it’s important for overall development. I was the captain of my swimming team. I did my degree in London. And I got my diploma from London and India Montessori Center. Later, I taught in Calcutta and at Rato Bangla when they had a kindergarten curriculum. Finally, I realised it was time to have my own school and I opened Montessori Cottage.

Vibha_RanaWhy did you decide to venture into early childhood education?
I decided for two reasons; one is that I enjoyed being a mom so much and care for my children while they were still young. Two, is when I was in Calcutta for the Montessori teacher’s training program, I found out right then and there that with my love for children, I had to have my own school.

What is the method of studies at Montessori Cottage?
I use the Montessori method but I have incorporated other systems as well. I found it can be rigid in the Montessori system sometimes. I have incorporated more fun, interaction and theme based learning. It’s learning, doing and logical reasoning.

What are the key issues in caring and raising young children to be responsible adults?
It’s loving them and giving an educational environment that provides correct stimuli to evoke the curiosity for learning. And this does generate an eagerness to learn. Every child is special and unique. We just have to give them the exposure and the stimulation, conditioning them to take on life.

What must parents keep in mind when handling young children?
Respect them. Cater to their queries with respect as an individual. Of course, you can’t give in to their demands all the time. Reason it out and explain patiently as to why they aren’t allowed. Never talk them down. Be sensitive.

What do you consider to be your achievements?
Some parents and students still come back and show appreciation for the early education that they received in Montessori Cottage. My students who are now grownups and professionals still find time to say ‘thank you’.

At the annual day we also had the opportunity of meeting Ayushma Rana and Hira Gurung of Kidproof Nepal that provides innovative safety education for young children across 30 countries. It was introduced in Nepal is 2015 but delayed due to the earthquake. Ayushma Rana explains the origins of Kidproof, “The founder is Samantha Wilson, a former police officer and mother. Her focus became crimes against children. She realised that crimes against children could be almost prevented. With this in mind, she founded Kidproof to train parents, children and educators in fun and proactive child safety techniques”. Hira Gurung elaborates, “We adopt the whole approach when it comes to education. This means we address every stakeholder in a child’s life. The program is about child safety. The core subjects covered are: physical safety, personal safety, citizenship, ethics and anti-bullying, internet and technology safety, emotional safety and healthy living. A guidebook teaches parents how to recognise the warning signs that your child may be heading towards danger. It lets you know the facts about bullying, abuse, cyber safety, substance abuse and how to prevent danger and guiding them to safety”.

Ayushma Rana says that as mothers themselves, they wanted a safe and secure environment for their children and later for the larger society which made them undertake this venture. She exemplifies, “For instance, how do you handle a bully? What is a bully? And nowadays everyone has access to the internet so how do we ensure safety on internet and technology? With Kidproof, we address topics such as conflict resolution, personal safety, stranger safety and much more. It’s an unique curriculum that can be easily incorporated from pre-school to college. We have partnered with many pre-schools in Kathmandu. It’s practical and one of a kind that is much needed in a child-centric organisation”.