Two Stories From Ralla Bella:
Shaping Early Childhood in an Indian Preschool
Ralla Bella Preschool, in Visakhapatnam, India, the brainchild of Mrs. Subha Dalai, provides a balance of indoor and outdoor activities, through an internationally approved Montessori based-curriculum. The following two stories, submitted by Subha Mohapatra, provide insight into parents’ perspectives about the value to children and their families of a quality preschool experience.
Making Learning a Joyride
By Iman Dastidar
Father of Shivanshi Ghosh Dastidar
The day before my child’s birth, I prayed to God for a daughter. God took this rare opportunity to impress me and shower me with all the happiness in life in the form of my beautiful baby daughter, Shivanshi.
The joyful journey with her has continued, and she is now 5 years old. But the story would be incomplete without mention of a priceless episode in our lives—the preschool education our daughter experienced at Ralla Bella Preschool in Visakhapatnam, India.
When Shivanshi turned 2, we began looking for a preschool for her with the right qualifications. The school had to be neat and hygienic, clear and honest in communication with us, concentrate more on personality and confidence development rather than purely academics, give freedom of expression to children to help them overcome mental barriers, develop extra-curricular activities at equal pace, develop logical thinking and related skills, and meet a host of many more not-so-common demands. We didn’t and still don’t want our child to be first in her class, but we do want her to be one of the best human beings.
One school met our requirements. When we walked into Ralla Bella Preschool, the principal, Mrs. Subha Dalai, was a perfect match with us. We were overwhelmed by her thoughtful approach to imparting education. Over the next three years, we saw remarkable changes in our daughter as she grew in ways we had wished for but were not confident of getting: clear thought process, verbal clarity, expression, logical conclusions, flawless etiquette, confidence, firm honesty, fearlessness, audacity, and many more treasured qualitie. These qualities were the gift of Ralla Bella to our family. The very fact that most of the students don’t cry but are eager to go to school shows the worth of Ralla Bella. It is deplorable that the worth of most schools in India and their students are calculated primarily on the basis of final exam scores, which essentially depends on how much a child can memorize. Ralla Bella clearly stands apart from other schools in India by taking such care in personality development for its students.
But you might wonder whether my daughter was behind in academics. She was actually a mark ahead of most of her friends from other schools. She enjoyed her studies rather than being required to simply memorize. “Learning while doing” is truly practiced at Ralla Bella. Field activities and connection with nature and surroundings are related with the academics at some point. The students don’t need to memorize, but can simply enjoy their learning experiences and thus will be better able to enjoy the experiences that await them in the future. For us, life may be tough at times, but Ralla Bella prepares our children for an education that will help her succeed. Ralla Bella has reflected the beauty of our daughter to us and helped us realize her potential in terms of interests and strengths and identified areas requiring further development.
Ralla Bella has also educated us about parenting. Continuous feedback was always encouraged and we were thus able to take part in mutual enrichment, as the bonds between school and parents strengthened. We all felt that being at Ralla Bella was as good as being at home, with the ideal conditions for a child’s holistic development. On weekends, my daughter eagerly waited for Monday to come so that she could go to school.
We have moved to another city, which makes our parental and schooling job more difficult. We don’t know if we will find another Ralla Bella, but we will always treasure what Shivanshi gained from Ralla Bella, which she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Ralla Bella made true the motto that “Teaching is a Social and Responsible Service and Not a Mere Profession. [Schools] Make the Pillars for the Future of a Nation.”
Development of a Young Mind
By Vesavila Prasad
School is an important vehicle for socialization and should be a safe zone for learning. It plays a vital role in shaping individuals, helping to define who they will be for the rest of their lives.
My son Satyadeep, 6 years old, is smart, intelligent, and handsome. He is a very active child and a quick learner. He is talkative, inquisitive, and keeps himself busy exploring new things. Engaging him can be challenging, both at home and in school. He is independent, confident, and loves to learn on his own. He loves dancing and cartoons.
He recently completed LKG (lower kindergarten, 3-4 years old) at Ralla Bella International Play School, in Visakhapatnam, India. Before entering Ralla Bella, however, his demeanor at school was quite different. He had been enrolled in a different school in the city, where he had completed LKG and progressed to UKG (upper kindergarten, 4-5 years old), but he struggled there.
His teacher was strict, presenting a stern face and wielding a long stick. Satyadeep found her to be quite frightening. She often made him stand and pushed him to do his work, both class work and home work. His teacher used to often scold, punish, and even beat him. Quite often, he felt ashamed and embarrassed before his classmates. Satyadeep became reluctant to go to the school and slowly became more and more rebellious. He started showing various signs of being tense and anxious.
When he was persuaded to attend the school, he sometimes avoided lunch and sometimes threw up food he was forced to eat. He began to avoid sitting in the class. He became almost a recluse. When the situation was explained to the school principal, he warned the teacher but the problems persisted. As time progressed, the very sight of the teacher would frighten Satyadeep and he would cry hysterically when he saw her. By September 2014, he had lost weight and energy. He stopped going to school and stopped interacting with people.
I took him to Ralla Bella in November 2014. He liked the school grounds and we peeped inside the school. As we had a short conversation with the principal, Mrs. Subha Dalai, Satyadeep slowly started to overcome his inhibitions and showed interest in joining school. He has spent many joyous moments in the school since then.
Since Satyadeep’s learning ability and performance had been compromised at his previous school, the staff at Ralla Bella assessed his current abilities and he was admitted into LKG again. The next day was even more enjoyable and Satyadeep eventually began chattering about school and how he enjoyed it. He lost his inhibitions and even participated in the Children’s Day event at the school.
Satyadeep’s present teacher says that he is a happy learner and the most confident speaker. This fills my heart with joy. We are lucky to have our child in this school. The school is affordable and the teachers communicate well and understand children. I am proud that my child Satyadeep has again become active and is called a smart kid by the teachers of his school. He keeps sayinghow much he likes his teachers and the school.
Thanks to Ralla Bella International Play School, especially Mrs. Subha Dalai and her team. This school proved and believed the saying that “every child is unique.”