A few months ago, one of our writing program students wrote a piece on Second Schools – Are we overdoing extracurricular activities for our kids? He as a parent was questioning the need for extra classes that are mushrooming in the cities and whether we are overdoing it just by wanting our children to excel in every field.
Come to think of it, there are classes for reading, writing for pre-primary children, preparing them for English, Science or Math or entrance exams, art, dance and music, but rarely on life skills.
In my quest for looking up educational institutions teaching life skills, I came across Hurray Kids, a Mumbai-based independent educational venture dedicated to promoting life skills among children for age group 2-10 years in a simple and joyful manner by partnering with parents and schools. I found this concept interesting and decide to get in touch with them.
Meet Somapika Sarkar, Founder, Hurray Kids. Montessori trained, Somapika is a double postgraduate in Economics and Demography and Population Studies.
Having always been associated with educational assignments for children, 39-year-old Somapika started her first professional journey as a pre-school teacher in 2005, then moved on to social sector looking after educational projects.
The Lifestyle Portal in conversation with Somapika, about her first indigenous entrepreneurial venture “Hurray Kids” that is born out of her love and interest to educate children on life skills in a simple and joyful manner.
How did it all begin?
“A few years back, as a parent of a 6-year-old son, I felt the need to prepare my child beyond academic skills, especially the life skills which are required to face daily life. By life skills I mean social, emotional and thinking skills which would help in the holistic development of my child. While searching for aids on these Life skills, I realized there are hardly any options to choose from. Then when I decided to come up with the idea of Hurray Kids – an educational venture to promote life skills in children and prepare them to be Life-Ready. Thus the journey started in Nov 2016,” recalls Somapika.
In spite of being a bootstrapped startup, Somapika has been receiving an overwhelming response. For instance, Hurray Kids’ first product – the Life Skills Orientation Kit is doing quite well. Encouraged by response and enquiries from schools, the second product which is aimed for the pre-school is in the advanced stage of production. “If everything goes well the first version of the pre-school product would be launched by June 2019,” adds Somapika.
Why life skills?
In the words of the renowned American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think”. While this should be the motto of any education imparted to the children, the present educational framework continues to promote rote learning i.e. memorization of information and facts.
Somapika explains, “To survive in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, children need to be educated on how to reason, take decisions, work in teams, deal with failures, empathize with others etc.; these are exactly what Life Skill education teaches. Earlier the child gets exposed to Life Skills education, it’s better, as the formative year education forms the core of child’s personality and helps them grow into responsible, compassionate, resilient and well-adjusted adults.”
She further adds, “Life skill education should not be looked like an extra class instead it should be considered as Grammar of Life. As parents we all want our children to face their lives confidently when they grow up to be adults. The least what we can do to facilitate this journey is to orient them on life skills early in their life.”
Hurray Kids firmly believes that life skills should be imparted to children from their early years along with education that nurtures the core of the child’s personality.
However, when talking about challenges, Sompakia shares that it is the lack of awareness that parents have about the concept of Life Skills that acts as an obstacle. She feels that very few parents understand the need to impart life skill education in early childhood.
But there are definitely ways of overcoming these challenges as explained by Somapika, “We are positioning Hurray Kids as a brand which simplifies life skills for children and which promotes life skills parenting through the following initiatives:-
- Spreading awareness about the need for life skills for children through social media & workshops.
- Collaborating with entities in the adjacent space of parenting & education.
- Working with preschools to integrate life skills in the regular curriculum.
- Participating in curated events and exhibitions related to children, education and parenting.
I know for sure we can still do a lot more.”
USP of Hurray Kids
One of the most interesting aspects about Hurray Kids is that they follow the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Life Skills framework for product design. It offers a wide range of products such as Life Skills Orientation kit, Life Skills Cards, Life Skills worksheets and preschool Life Skills curriculum. Over the next few years, we intend to be a one-stop solution for all sorts of life skill aids.
The introductory product – Life Skills Orientation Kit is the first and only kit of its kind in the country for children within the age group 2-10 years.
Their two little life skills champs (characters) Hur and Ray make the learning journey enjoyable. Extensive use of illustration & reference to real life incidences makes it engaging and relevant for children.
This kit also boasts of being the first of its kind’ parenting tool’ or ‘parent-child engagement tool’ to empower parents to teach life skills to their children. The unique non-clinical approach makes it easy for any parent to understand and teach.
Programs and services offered at Hurray Kids
Hurray Kids conceptualizes and designs life skills products. At present these products are in an English version and meant for urban parents.
The introductory product – Life Skills Orientation Kit comes in the form of a set of cards designed on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Life Skills framework. This kit serves as a unique parent-child engagement tool to impart Life Skills in children. The cards are exercise based, interactive in nature and come with guidelines for parents.
The kit is available for 4 age groups: 2-3 years, 4-5 years, 6-7 years and 8-10 years.
“The kit comprises of 11 to 12 cards depending on age group. We recommend using one card every week. To complete one card, you would need 30-40 mins at least. Hence in a span of three months, a parent can orient their child on life skills in the comfort of home,” smiles Somapika.
Hurray Kids Life Skills Orientation Kit is for 4 age groups:
|Life Skills Orientation Kit for Age groups||Contents||Price [Rs.]|
|1||2-3 yrs||11 cards||1700|
|2||4-5 yrs||11 cards||1700|
|3||6-7 yrs||12 cards||1850|
The response so far…
“Children love to take part in exercises given in the life skills cards. They are in love with the characters Hur and Ray. In fact, we have many teenage followers on our Instagram page as well. It’s fun for parents too as they get to discover so many new facets in their child. Incidentally, many parents have found these cards an innovative way to initiate the conversation with the child. In the process, they develop a bond while instilling life skills. Some parents have reached out to us seeking more products to promote life skills among children, which is a very encouraging response,” adds Somapika.
While their aim is to be a one-stop solution for all sorts of life skill aids, in the long run, Hurray Kids’ next product is in the finishing stage – life skill curriculum for Pre-Schools. In addition Life Skills worksheets would be shortly available on their website too. Hurray Kids would come up with many more Life Skills Products in both online and offline format.
To get in touch with Hurray Kids, click here.
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