• Kidz Atheneum

    Prajkta Malvankar – Kulkarni and her venture Kidz Atheneum
    As a mother of 2 cute princesses, the idea of Kidz Atheneum came about when Prajkta's elder daughter started learning phonics at school. She realised it lacked the support of good quality decodable books to encourage kids to learn to read quickly and easily.

    For early readers in particular it is hard to get books at the right level of difficulty. They are not often available in libraries and so parents either have to depend on the books children borrow from school, or purchase them. She was frustrated that there were no suitable reading books at home to help her daughter learn to read & not just learn phonics sounds even if she wants to purchase it in India.
    Having spoken to a number of parents with children across different schools in Mumbai, all shared the same problem. Not having quality levelled reading program for kids pushed the children away from reading as they found it tedious.
    In UK all schools follow Book band levelled book reading along with phonics to help kids become early readers. Having lived in UK for over 8 years she knew the benefit of reading such books and hence she imported the books from UK for her kids.
    She could see a difference in her daughter's reading ability that at the age of 5.5 years is at Reading level 6, almost at par with the kids in UK.
    After importing a few books suited to her daughter's reading level, she was struck by the expense, especially as they were finished with so quickly. She decided that there had to be a better way to help parents become more involved in their child’s reading development. Passion to do something in the Kids area, she wanted all kids to benefit from this book reading experience which can help parents as well kids enjoy the book reading journey.
    So, the idea of Kidz Atheneum was born - to provide easy affordable access to a wide range of new and exciting children’s reading books which are easily available in schools across UK.
    Prajkta is a mompreneur, an enthusiastic mother of two cute princesses aged 6 and 3 years. Founder of Kidz Atheneum, she comes to you with over 10 years IT, BPM experience having worked in India and in UK for Top IT/Telecom companies.
    After having kids she prioritised her family life over work and since then been involved in all sorts of kids’ activities. She always had a passion to do something in the children's educational area in India as still there are some gaps compared to western world.
    Prajkta has personally selected the books carefully for babies to the 9 year old children and most of them are from her experience of reading with own children.
    She hopes you enjoy reading them as much her nieces, daughters and their friends do.
    Kidz Atheneum is great for almost anyone with young children learning to read. The books are selected with younger readers in mind, as it is generally more difficult to find suitable reading material for early readers.
    Kidz Atheneum has a range of carefully levelled books, perfect for children from when they are first learning to read to when they become fluent readers (reading ages of 4 to 9).
    They also have a collection of books for new born babies who can see high contrast black and white images. (0 months to 6 months). There is wide collection of books for infants, toddlers and nursery kids (6 months to 4 years) based on Prajkta's own experience with her 2 daughters (2.5 y & 5.5 y) who daily enjoy reading and cuddling time with Mumma.

    People can join Kidz Atheneum for various reasons:
    Schools who want to provide levelled reading books as they teach phonics to the children from Jr KG
    Nurseries who want encourage library system for kids from an early age
    Educational support organizations (e.g. Phonics Learning) who can supplement their teachings with the book reading to see quicker results.
    It is ideal for parents who want to help kick start a love for books from an early age as 1 month old
    It is for reluctant readers who might need inspiring books and other incentives, such as stickers and certificates, to get them going again;
    It is also ideal for more speedy readers who love reading and just never seem to have enough books at home.
    It is also great for children who don’t have access to any school reading library and parents want to encourage book reading at home.

    1. NS: How phonics books help children?

    Prajkta: Phonics is the relationship between the written letter and its individual sound. Children are taught to recognize sound of each letter, sounds of different combination of letters and how to blend them and make a word. It helps kids read familiar words, analyze new words and write those words.
    Books contains phonetic words to make a story. They focus on the sound and/or spelling that the children practice while reading.
    Phonics books are decode-able. Decoding is done using the letter phonics sound relationship and letter patterns which encourage children to BLEND and not guess unfamiliar words. Decode-able books develop a self-reliant approach to reading in the beginner readers as they practice the phonics taught in the classroom.
    Children experience immediate success and develop confidence and enthusiasm for reading while developing good reading strategies.

    2. NS: What is the right age to start with phonics books?
    Prajkta: Right age to introduce phonics learning is around 3-3.5 years when the child starts recognizing the alphabets. Once the child has learnt the basics of phonics sounds or Phase 1 phonics, it’s a good idea to introduce them to phonics based reading program books. This helps kids practically implement their learnings of sounds and also kick start early reading. A reading scheme is a structured and levelled set of books with built in revision written specifically to ensure the child can take steady and progressive steps towards reading success. Within each scheme there is a range of books at different levels of difficulty. Children move up through these levels as their reading ability develops.

    3. NS: Any advice for parents to develop liking for reading in children?
    Prajkta: READING is a vital foundation for educational and life success, it must start early. Reading helps in different ways as kids grow.
    For BABIES: Reading can start as early as to a 1-month old baby. Reading aloud to the baby stimulates developing senses and builds listening and memory skills.
    For INFANTS: Reading to children even before they can understand words, teaches them to associate books with love and affection.
    For TODDLERS: Reading reinforces the understanding of new words the toddlers are learning and the context in which they are read
    For PRESCHOOLERS: Reading helps to prepare the foundation or independent reading and academic excellence
    SCHOOL CHILDREN: without strong reading skills, children will face a host of difficult challenges through their lives.
    So, parents should inculcate this habit early on. You need to just spent 10-15 minutes of your day reading to your child and make this as part of the daily routine. A good bonding time away from gadgets.
    4. NS: What are your future plans for your venture?
    Prajkta: We currently offer these books only in Thane & Mumbai. We plan to roll this in more cities across India in near future so that more children can benefit from this initiative. We also plan to come up with an End to End Reading program which we can run by tie ups with schools.

    5.NS: How can customers contact you for any queries?
    Prajkta: They can email, call or WhatsApp me anytime. I am reachable on +919869396695. Or email us on admin@kidzatheneum.com

    Prajkta’s success mantra
    Success is a journey, not a destination.
    Her passion is to bring about change in the way our children learn to read and never give up attitude

    Prajkta’s favorites
    Color: all colors are beautiful and like different ones based on my mood for the day
    Season: Rainy season and the smell of wet sand…
    Movie: 3 idiots
    Book: the monk who sold his Ferrari
    Music: depends on mood

    ----Interviewed by Laxmi Khalap Bhatt, Editor, www.narisakhi.com

    If you would like to be featured under NariSakhi Women Empowerment, please email us at editor@naarisakhi.com

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