As we gear up with a whole new academic year, parents are constantly worried as to how best can we inculcate the love of learning in our children. With the pressure of studies, tests and homework, kids are bound to lose interest in learning. But there’s hope.
Here’s a startup – Starchild.in, founded by Meena Chetan Shah, a 57-year-old educator from Mumbai, who is painstakingly curating worksheets for kids right from grade 1 to grade V. What makes Starchild’s worksheets unique is that they’re at par with the regular school curriculum and with their interactive interface, it helps the kids enjoy learning and understand concepts better.
The Lifestyle Portal caught up with this amazing lady with a futuristic vision of wanting to make education fun and enjoyable. Here’s her story, read on…
How did it all begin?
Meena’s career in education began many years ago as a teacher, where she also worked as a curriculum planner at Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High. She recalls, “When my son was in Std. V, I would make worksheets for him. This made me realize that it would be helpful to other children as well. That’s when I published my books, Starchild Companion cum Workbook.”
She further adds, “Today, as India goes digital, I understand that education must also keep pace. Also, as today’s generation is very tech savvy, they can also learn some things better this way. I believe that parents must use their children’s interest/love for gadgets constructively for their education.”
Meena is of a firm belief that education is a service and by going digital, she would be able to reach out to more people. However, there are multiple costs involved and that’s how she became an entrepreneur!
“I needed to invest in time and learning. The other costs are of course in developing the website, and employing people to assist me,” mentions Meena.
For Meena, marketing the website is a challenge as it involves a huge amount of funds. This is where she is using social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp groups market her brand through smaller amounts which is either free or involves smaller amounts of money.
According to Meena, parents also have a fixed mindset that children must study offline. They feel that they will have to supervise their kids constantly if they go online. She adds, “However, I believe that you can double this up as a quality time that you can spend with your child as he/ she learns, studies or revises online. The parents would then have a clear idea of their child’s progress.”
Worksheets available at Starchild
“We have worksheets in the main subjects of Maths, Science, English language and Social Studies. The curriculum is mainly based on ICSE and CBSE boards. Our subscriptions are based on a number of worksheets and we do not bind parents with timelines. They are free to use the worksheets whenever they like,” explains Meena. “However, due to popular demand we are introducing annual and six monthly packages,” she adds.
Worksheets for special/ differently abled children
Meena is optimistic that the Starchild worksheets would be extremely useful to children with learning disabilities and challenges. However, she adds, “We do not have worksheets for the visually impaired as it is a portal which is completely visual.”
How are the Starchild Worksheets designed?
Starchild worksheets are useful for both CBSE and ICSE. However, a lot of matter is common in all boards e.g. English grammar, Mathematics, Science and of course, the history and geography of India and the world. Thus, children from all boards, even IGCSE, IB and SSC can use our worksheets. It is only that different boards teach them certain topics at different levels.
Meena explains, “The process: We study the textbooks commonly used in schools and formulate the worksheets from them. They are then typed and uploaded on our portal. A lot of care is taken so that the matter is completely correct, as also spellings, grammar and other details. Thus, they are checked and rechecked after uploading too.”
What makes Starchild worksheets unique?
Their worksheets are very different from others. Not only are there varied types of questions – from fill in the blanks to label the figure, from jumbled words to naming and matching, but they are formulated in such a way that they make the child think.
“We are proud to say that we encourage thinking and not rote learning. Apart from being corrected immediately with smiley and sad faces and being marked immediately, they are set in a colourful animated background. A record of worksheets solved and their outcome is also maintained. Our website is also very colourful and child-friendly,” adds Meena.
She further adds, “Parents use our worksheets on weekends when the children revise with them, but do not wish to write and put in long hours. This way a quick but complete review is done. Many parents used them to revise in vacations too. The worksheets can be used for daily revision or revising even before a test. Since the correction of our worksheets is very accurate, even a minor spelling mistake is brought to the fore.”
Apart from worksheets
Starchild.in’s website also has some other features too which are free to use. Their Children’s blog encourages children to share their stories, poems or jokes – anything they have written. On the Starchild Showcase, children can share a video, photo or write up of their talents – be it dancing, singing, art or whatever. “We have a section called Word of the Day where a new word is introduced daily. Our section, Come, Read with me, has a new story every week for children to read. We also put up two new educational videos every week,” mentions Meena.
What education means
According to me, education builds our character and makes us better people. Today, we seem to be giving more importance to learning to get more marks than learning for life. Children must learn in a way that captures their interest and they enjoy it. Hands-on learning and learning by experience is very important.
Clients at Starchild
Most clients are school parents. They often call me if they have questions regarding our website or worksheets.
Awareness of education & learning
While Meena feels that there is awareness among the educated class, but she feels there are too much pressure and competition. Parents should spend time with their children and work with them creatively instead of putting pressure on them to score more marks.
The journey so far
Meena signs off by saying, “We aim to be the best online curriculum worksheet portal in India! My journey has been very fruitful with wonderful students who still keep in touch with me. As a teacher, I am
very satisfied and would not ever have chosen any other field of work.”
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