Yummy mummies across Cairo are waxing lyrical about one innovative nursery in Maadi. We speak to the founders to find out what makes it so special...
Flashback to math class, desperately trying to understand the concept of multiplication and the times tables, teacher having ditched the entire class and sitting next to you trying desperately to get you to see that they move up in the same numerical increments, drilling the damn math into your head. But no, it's not happening. WHAT ARE ALL THESE NUMBERS? I DON’T LIKE THIS. Better luck next time, teacher. Anyway, if you possess a memory that can take you back to the age of six and below, you may or may not remember that school was a nuisance, you had to learn stuff you didn't particularly like or care about, and you did not enjoy it. Odds are you don’t actually remember this, but judging by how much you disliked school in the years to come, you didn’t enjoy the kindergarten years either. In comes Kompass Nursery & Kindergarten, the place that's making waves among the yummy mummies of the city, all gushing about how wonderful it is for their kids.
Kompass was started in 2008 by Dagmar Luchmann, who’s been in education for decades, together with her son Karim Ragab, chairman of the mother company Kompass Education and his wife Carmen Ragab, administrative manager. After the birth of their first son, they couldn’t find a nursery that they liked or thought was suitable. After extensive research abroad they adapted a new concept of early childhood education to the needs of Egyptian and foreign families in the local market, a concept based on the premise that you can’t teach a child, you can only help a child to learn.
Kompass adheres to this school of thought and has created a special structure for their children. Instead of force-feeding kids education, they provide them with a broad range of learning experiences in different educational areas, for example an art studio, a literacy room, a science house, a Montessori room, even a sleeping area, and loads more. Instead of fixed classes, children choose during parts of the day where they'd like to spend their time, allowing them to gravitate towards specific learning areas. This instills in the children the ability to be more open to learning and allows them to develop the habit of recognising and following their own interests at an early age, building a solid base to become “life-long learners.” As such, the children end up not only enjoying it more, but also learning more because they chose to be there. However, this does not mean that it's some kind of hippie-dippie joke and kids can spend all day finger painting while the teachers eat doughnuts in the back room. Kompass' teachers are trained professionals who receive ongoing training. They observe and document what each child does and then come up with projects for the kids, which both show them new things in their areas of liking and help the child move forward in that path. For instance if a child loves art but hasn’t done a lot of math, they'll create a specialised strategy that combines math and art (like, draw one apple, draw another) to ensure that the kids are exposed to various subjects.
Kompass takes students from six months to six years. And the reason they start so early on in the education process is because all recent research indicates the significance of the first couple of years in terms of brain development. Essentially, Kompass takes a more holistic approach to child education. The children feel respected from early on; they learn social behaviour and dealing with others in a polite and productive way, without being aggressive. This happens naturally in mixed age groups where children learn with and from one another. Ragab says, "Our two year olds take their plates, go to the buffet and serve themselves without making a mess. They're very independent from an early age on." Through their unique approach, Ragab says they learn both faster and more.
Also, we’ve taken a look at their website and they have child-sized hammocks. Seriously. That’s reason enough to send your kids there. If we had hammocks in kindergarten we'd have grown up to be much happier, more well rounded humans.
You can check out their website here.