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Twinkle Twinkle, Little Stars!

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A furrier teddy bear or a bigger piece of cake may not be really what your children need. Maybe a warmer hug and kinder words will be more useful in helping them lead a life free from fear and full of contentment and inner peace! That’s what I learnt on my visit to Brainy Stars International Islamic Montessori, the other day!

By Nigar Ataulla

I remember as a little girl that I really did not like going to school because I dreaded Maths and my Maths teacher. I would look at my pet cat curled up happily sleeping on the chair and silently wished that I would turn into a cat so that I would not have to do my sums! My Maths teacher had once pulled my little ears till they turned red, and screamed at me in front of the whole class that I had “no brains” because I had not worked out the multiplication  sums correctly on the blackboard.  I went home in tears, fearful and distressed. But I did not open my little mouth and tell the grown-ups at home what had happened. I was fearful what they would say.
After ten years of Maths and school, the day arrived when my school days were at last over! For the first time, I felt relieved””so very happy, like a free bird flying in the big blue sky!
Hopping into Brainy Stars International Islamic Montessori in Bangalore one fine sunny morning, on an invitation from an old friend Syed Tanveer, I saw a big ray of hope for the children of today who can grow up fearless, with loads of confidence and self-esteem, children who can face life in its various colors and can live contented lives, loving themselves and giving unconditional love to the world around them. At Brainy Stars, I discovered teachers who were like fairies, kind and loving with the children and becoming children themselves while they interacted with them!
Brainy Stars is just like a page out of Enid Blyton’s  story books, where the little kids are surrounded by not just kind grown-ups, but also very pleasant Montessori materials to work with!
Set up in June 2013, Brainy Stars, provides an alternative education system. The system integrates the Montessori method, Traditional education, and Islamic values. It has a holistic approach, focusing on the nurturing of each child individually, according to her or his capabilities, intelligence, interest and inclination.
Says Syed Tanveer Ahmed, Executive Director, “Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said that every child is born on fitrat or natural disposition. We try to nurture the children’s fitrat, imbibe in him or her faith, Knowledge and God-awareness, which are key to success here and in the Hereafter.”  
Montessori’s education method called for free activity within a “prepared environment”, meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the individual personalities of each child. The function of the environment is to allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives.
Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori born in 1870, was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. Her educational method is in use today in public and private schools throughout the world. She felt that by working independently, children could reach new levels of autonomy and become self-motivated to reach new levels of understanding. Montessori also realized that acknowledging that all children were individuals and treating them as such would yield to better learning and fulfilled potential in each particular child. Also based on her observations, Montessori experimented with allowing children free choice of the materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment. She began to see “independence” as the aim of education, and the role of the teacher as an observer and director of children’s innate psychological development.
The children at Brainy Stars are not called “students”. Instead, some are called “Rising Stars”. The younger ones are called “Twinkling Stars” and the slightly older ones “Shining Stars. Says Fasiha, who plays a key role with the children as a mentor, “The children do not call us ‘Miss’ or “Ma’am”, but ‘Aunty’.” Fasiha and team-mates work with the kids as friends and guides, rather than as cold, distant conventional teachers, and really become children with the band of cute kids around them!
An important aspect of the Brainy Stars’ concept is “parenting coaching.” Once a month, for one hour both parents of the kids participate in this activity. These frequent meetings of parents and mentors provide an occasion to discuss many issues relating to the children and their emotional and intellectual nourishment. “A heart-to-heart talk with the parents about their kids is important for mentors,” says Tanveer. “I ask parents to discuss anything with me that is troubling them about their child or at home. Parents have to be stress-free so that they radiate a positive presence to their kids. In this way, kids grow up with a positive frame of mind about themselves and the world,” says Fasiha.  
Brainy Stars’ educational philosophy has been deeply inspired by renowned Malaysian educationist Hasni Mohammed. The “Brainy Board” of Brainy Stars is led by D. Hyder Vali, a law graduate from Bangalore University, and a businessman. His company,   Stone Park Pvt. Ltd, is a leader in   the international market. Syed Tanveer Ahmed is Executive Director of Brainy Stars, and with his vast experience, has been enriching the creative treasure at the Montessori. He is also editor of Karnataka Muslims, a fortnightly newspaper which has print and an on-line edition. He has played a vital role in various educational institutions.  Ghouse Mohiuddin Sabir, Director of Brainy Stars, was formerly with the  Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. After retirement, he is involved in various projects. Currently, he is Working-President of the Bismillah Educational Trust (BET). Syed Shanawaz,  Administrator of Brainy Stars,  holds a  post graduate degree in computer sciences. Mufti Abdul Sattar Qasmi, Imam and Khateeb of Eidgah Masjid, in Jayanagar, is in-charge of Islamic Studies at Brainy Stars.
A furrier teddy bear or a bigger piece of cake may not be really what your children need. Maybe a warmer hug and kinder words will be more useful in helping them lead a life free from fear and full of contentment and inner peace! That’s what I learnt on my visit to Brainy Stars the other day!
Yes, my Maths teacher had insisted I had “no brains”””but that won’t stop me from hopping across to Brainy Stars Montessori whenever I wish to meet the kind fairies out there who are mentoring a fairy tale childhood for little children!
And you, too””do stop over at Brainy Stars with your children to really see what it means to be kind and gentle with kids and yourselves!  
Brainy Stars  International Islamic Montessori, 12, 30th Cross, Opp. Sagar Hospital
Jayanagar, Bangalore – 560 041. Ph: 8884347666