Manali is not a mom, but a mom of 250 kids who come to her activity centre. She’s an educator and entrepreneur who founded Gyaanhub an activity-based learning centre in Surat, Gujarat.
One of the first to start taking 8-month-olds at an activity centre , Manali Sanghvi prides herself on her ability to build children’s potential by focusing mainly on practical & Montessori based learning.
We sat down with her to find out what she has learnt about developing children’s potential and what her kids have taught her in her many years as an educator.
What She Learnt As An Educator: Manali Sanghvi
At the age of 24, in 2014, Manali started Gyaanhub. She never had the aim of becoming a teacher but she soon found herself surrounded by hundreds of kids who love her just as much as she loves them. Not a mom herself, Manali often gets asked by parents “We aren’t able to handle one kid let alone hundreds like you, how do you do it?”
But it wasn’t always this easy…
“It was difficult for me to let people know in Surat that it’s okay for little toddlers to come to an activity centre. My motive is not to educate them but my motive is to channelise their energies in the right direction.”
The reason why she encourages parents to send their kids as young as 8 months old is because the grasping power of a toddler is way higher than that of a growing child. She believes that at an early age is when they start understanding a lot of things and that’s when they start building up their vocabulary.
Eventually, word of mouth spread and now she has amazing toddlers coming in who start their journeys at 8/10 months, who’ll be there till they are 3.
Giving Space To Kids And Why That’s Important:
Manali believes that it is very important to give space to the kids. It’s even more important that we don’t pose anything to them.
“When I make them do an activity I know this activity is to be done in a certain way, but before we do it I make sure that I give them the responsibility and the driving seat so they can really believe they can do it themselves.”
“It is all about acceptance with the child”, Manali says. “You have to accept the child the way they are. If you keep pushing the child, I know the child will not do it. The child will feel very claustrophobic about a lot of things.
As a teacher, she sees parents mentioning that their child does not do this or do that. In her opinion, it’s this very negativity that’s causing the problem. “Start looking at the brighter side of the child. Start giving space and see how they grow, how they surprise you every day.”
“All parents should be giving space to their kids. Let them grow the way they want to grow. Give the steering to the child, be on the passenger seat, and let them drive but guide them. Don’t sit on their head and tell them this is to be done. I don’t believe in that.”
How The Pandemic Affected Our Kids:
After the pandemic, kids have become very reserved. because throughout the lockdown period they were just sitting at home. All that family-time was a plus point but they didn’t get exposure to the outside world.
“When I had kids coming to class, there were some who were very happy about it because they got a new space to come into. There were also some kids who were some kids who were very reserved because they had detachment anxiety. Somewhere they wanted to be happy too but they didn’t want to detach.”
Manali says that it’s not just the kids but parents go through it too. ‘What if they cry, what are they doing, what are they eating, how will they be?”. She says it’s easier to handle the kids but it’s the parents who cannot detach. Kids will be very okay if you trust but parental detachment takes a lot of time.
What She Learnt From Her Students:
“My students taught me a lot of things. one very important thing they taught me was unconditional love. No matter what it is they’ll love you unconditionally even if you tell them anything and the moment you hug them, they’ll hug you back and they’ll be absolutely okay.
They taught me that you are not here to carry any extra baggage of anything. You live and you let live and you let go of all the emotions. They taught me to smile in whatever crazy phase or situation I’m in and things will fall into place.”
“We are not based out of the education you get in school.” Manali claims they are pioneers, who give kids a beautiful environment. They are not interested in educating as much as they are interested in bringing them up in a very practical environment.
Ironing the clothes. Folding the clothes. Keeping the laundry in the laundry bag. It is okay to help the help. We know we can do it but we still ask them can you please help us do these things. Kids have a monkey mentality what they see is what they do and what they hear is what they say.
Manali Sanghvi is a true inspiration to her kids and her insights into their little brains is what helped her make Gyaanhub a home away from home for them.