The First Annual Program of the Leaps Year Pre School was beautifully organized by its Founder/Principal Mrs. Pooja Duggar at Kala Kunj on Sunday 11th March, 2018.

Once the audience had settled in their seats and Pooja spoke some introductory words, some of the teachers put up an enthralling dance performance for the audience.

This was soon followed by a Panel Discussion on the selected topic: “Playing makes for smarter, stronger, healthier and happier kids. Are our children getting adequate free time for themselves or are we pushing them too soon into academics?”

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Tehnaz Dastoor, a former Unicef staff member who has been a global advocate on behalf of children. Tehnaz worked in situations of armed conflicts with children and is a strong proponent of establishing educational centers to assist with the routinization and normalization of traumatized children.

The panel consisted of a number of eminent educationists from different walks of life. They included Father Pathickal former principal of Don Bosco and much respected by parents and students alike; Ms. Ruchika Gupta, the Executive Director of Sanmarg whose passion lies in bringing women empowerment to the forefront; Ms. Minu Budhia – Psychotherapist and Counsellor, and Founder-Director of Caring Minds and Mr. Himangshu Manglik, an accomplished thought leader and visiting faculty in various management schools across the country. Also among the panelists were Ms. Aparajita Rai, IPS officer who undertook the Good Touch Bad Touch initiative for preschool children and finally, Dr. Sumon Kumar Mukerjee, Professor with  more  than  42  years  of  teaching  and  research  experience globally.

Some of the pertinent questions raised to the panel by the moderator were:

  • In today’s world with so many distractions and gadgets for children, are the traditional tools and methodologies the right way to go or do children cogitate and learn far better when with their social peers?
  • As a professional working mother of two could you give us some snippets on your interactions with your kids on daily basis?
  • How are we as a society dealing with children with special needs? Are we as parents accepting of these children in our families and households? What are your recommendations as a mother to cope with a child with special needs?
  • What steps would you recommend for parents to be aware of, so that their children are well-rounded and well-adjusted and corporate ready.
  • In today’s society we hear a lot of crime being committed against children. What would be your recommendation for both children and parents in identifying and reporting these crimes?
  • Based on your life experiences what would be your recommendation for today’s educators in dealing with children, looking at the play-academic balance.

Dr. Dastoor introduced the subject by speaking about her own experiences with children. She stressed the importance of play not only as a Human Right but also as being essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. “Perhaps above all, play is a simple joy that is a cherished part of childhood.”

Father Pathickal spoke about today’s gadget-enthused children growing up with an additional chip in their brain as they are able to fully navigate in this modern world. Ruchika noted that she treats her children like friends and discusses everything near and dear with them whereas Minu  spoke from her heart about the need for parents to accept their children even if they were mentally or physically challenged and only then would they enjoy parenthood. Other panelists spoke about the need to report a crime immediately to the police station and to revisit the educational system which imposes severe pressures on the children of today.

Following this there were the musical performances by the children which were interspersed by video testimonials of parents on the benefits of enrolling their children in the Leap Years Preschool.

The pre-school children performed a number of dances displaying their ‘joy’ in being on the stage and dancing before a large audience. The beautifully choreographed performances were enhanced by the well-decorated stage and sets, costumes and music with well-coordinated assistance from the teachers.

Finally, Father Pathickal and Himanshu were both called on stage during the convocation ceremony to hand over the certificates to the children whose proud parents were not only frantically busy clicking photos of their children but were vocally cheering them on.

It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning in the presence of numerous thought-leaders as well as a couple of dozen pre-school children enjoying themselves before an encouraging audience.

When the audience left the auditorium, they were treated to tasty snacks prepared by WoW Momo! the food partners for the event. As Wow Momo! Stores are bright and cheerful and provide appetizing food they are a great venue to celebrate children’s birthdays and special events and the restaurant was a perfect fit for this occasion.