In her book, Discovering the Brain, American journalist and scientist, Sandra Ackerman, talks about an infant’s brain as the ‘marvel of biological engineering.’ She highlights that a healthy baby is born with nearly 100 billion neurons—a critical factor for early age brain development. Yet the emphasis on early year education is significantly lower than of later years as many parents believe that preschools are all about keeping the kids occupied with fun activities till the real school begins. “In truth, preschool is the foundation of learning; it is where a young child takes the first step toward education that will shape their life,” mentions Manushree Chaturvedi, Founder of Crossmaze, an interactive preschool and daycare center. Aimed at eliminating the achievement gap, Crossmaze follows the ‘learning while playing’ philosophy to develop children’s confidence and positive behavior. Crossmaze started their first branch at Electronic City, which is successfully operating with 50+ happy children and satisfied parents. A new branch is shaping up in Neo Town, Electronic City which will be operational by Feb-2021.
From Corporate to Educationist to Edupreneur
Although Manushree established Crossmaze in 2018, the dream of having her own venture was more than a decade old. Manushree started her professional career as an IT Analyst at MNC after completing her Mechanical Engineering, but her professional stint was short-lived as she realized that corporate world doesn’t appeal her instead her passion is towards teaching and delivering quality education. Leading to this she pursued her further studies and completed her M.Tech. in Industrial Production, and later she started working as Professor in Engineering College. During her teaching career, she introduced her imaginative, creative, and interactive teaching methodologies, which helped students grasp the concept easily while having fun. Her teaching methods were not limited to the classroom’s four walls and often led students to explore the real-world experiences and examples from their surroundings.
Working for an educational institute with a fixed curriculum and methods got Manushree thinking about the lack of creativity, innovation and activity-based learning. And she realized that these missing gaps can only be filled at very foundation level and thus, began her journey to becoming an edupreneur. As she started to research the possible loopholes in the teaching methods, she realized that many preschools fall short of engaging young kids’ developing minds through experiential and practical leanings. “The survey I carried out made me realize that early age childhood education was missing the basic pedagogical structure—a satisfactory teaching methodology. It was then I decided to step into the preschool sector and set-up Crossmaze to fill the gaps in early childhood education requirements”, explains Manushree. Even teaching her toddler daughter at home helped her understand the early age education requirements better.
Established with an initial investment of nearly 40 lakhs and her husband’s support, Crossmaze is the product of Manushree’s ardent passion for transforming early age education and changing parents’ perspectives toward the same. Staying true to its roots, the brand follows the Montessori-based learning technique and undertakes different learning methods, such as constructive, collaborative, integrative, reflective, expressive and more for preschoolers.
The Initial Days and Struggle
Was leasing a space for preschool enough to set up the brand? Manushree says no. The real struggle was not to teach young kids, but to convince their parents to send them to a new preschool in Bangalore. “Guardians think that preschool is a playhouse rather than an actual school where education is given. The hardest struggle I had to go through was to meet parents and educate them about the necessity of early age childhood education,” says Manushree. Crossmaze conducts parents’ orientation programs to help them understand why preschool is not just a placeholder where kids spend their time before their real education begins. It is the foundation upon, which the rest of learning depends.
As she steered ahead with convincing parents with her years of experience in education, she even learned about Government norms that Crossmaze would need to fulfill as a preschool and daycare in Bangalore. Additionally, Manushree spent a significant amount of time researching the best preschool curriculums as the government does not have a fixed policy on it.
“The initial days of Crossmaze were filled with research and a lot of convincing. My days were spent talking to different parents and helping them understand the importance of activity-based learning. The rest of the time, I spent reading and researching about the best preschool curriculum that would guide young, unshaped mind a boost toward better understanding,” remembers Manushree. Ultimately, her efforts paid off when she came across Kreedo Preschool Curriculum that offers activity-based learning/experiential learning, child-proportionate learning material, peer learning, and freedom to choose different learning materials. Crossmaze’s partnership with Kreedo is one reason parents trust the brand to build a solid educational foundation for their children.
Learning While Playing
What sets Crossmaze apart from other preschools in Bangalore is its approach toward engaging young minds in a fun manner. One example would be teaching kids about Capillary action—a phenomenon that shows liquid’s ability to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of external forces like gravity. Since kids would not understand the scientific term ‘Capillary action,’ Crossmaze uses ‘water magic’ or ‘running water’ to keep the children engaged and excited about the experiment. Similarly, teachers add colors to the water to show kids how the magic happens. “Although children’s minds are young for advanced concepts, they are not naïve to understand it when taught with fun activities,” explains Manushree.
Even during the pandemic, Crossmaze made a head start to evolve and incorporate new ideas in its teaching method when other preschools were shut down. Manushree knew that online Zoom meetings are suitable for grown-ups, not preschoolers. As a result, Crossmaze came up with the idea of making and distributing animated educational videos to keep the kids engaged and interested in the studies. Not only does it eliminate the boring virtual meetings, where no young child sits attentively, it also helps students learn at their own pace in their own time.
“I believe that a teacher leaves a deep impact on every student. Crossmaze attempts and succeeds at shaping a young child’s mind in a way that the impact is positive and lasts forever,” ends Manushree.