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Active learning, active play at Indigo Kids Nursery

Indigo Kids International Nursery and Pre-school was taken over in July 2016 by educator Morgane Blanchet her partner Poria Mermand with the aim of providing a world-class early-childhood learning environment in Phuket.

By Mark Knowles

Saturday 14 January 2017, 10:00AM

Morgane began working in childcare in her native France as a nanny before moving to London to study Early Years Education and Care and pursue her passion to build a career in nursery management.

After completing her diploma she worked for over five years in both hands-on and managerial childcare roles in England.

During this time Morgane met Poria, who was working in the finance industry and moonlighting as a music producer, DJ and a classical piano teacher.

In time they hatched a plan to strike out on their own to establish a pre-school and eventually settled on doing it in the tropical paradise of Phuket.

After months of research and several trips to the island, they stumbled upon the perfect opportunity – Indigo Kids International Nursery and Pre-school, located in Cherng Talay, was up for sale.

“It was built as a nursery by the original owner who was a retired teacher. The previous owners had closed down, so it had no staff or children or reputation, but we knew that didn't matter as we wanted to start from scratch,” says Morgane.

They pounced on the opportunity, and after a few months of outfitting the building, hiring staff and getting the word out to local parents, Indigo opened its doors to its first students.

Now, just five months later, they already have 20 students and are continuing to grow.

Poria says finding Indigo was a real stroke of luck as it provides the perfect layout for the different educational and play environments they needed to cater to children from various age groups – ranging from six months to seven years.

“We have a huge soft-floor playroom with lots of toys and games for the children, a separate baby room for infants – which is very safe, and a classroom for the 4 to 7-year-olds where they can do classes in geography, mathematics, English, science and so on.

We have a huge garden with a pool so we can teach the children to swim as well,” says Poria.

“We also have another big mirrored-room where they can do dance, yoga, singing and music,” he adds.

Splash Beach Club

From its inception the pair wanted Indigo to welcome children of all nationalities, used a curriculum that followed the British statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and had a strong emphasis on active, creative learning.

“We have kids from England, Russia, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, America and Ukraine, so it’s a real mix,” says Poria.

“Our approach is also very much aligned with the Finnish system. Until 1970 Finland had an under-performing education system, which as a result of major reforms, is now first in the world,” says Morgane.

“This huge turnaround was achieved partly by reducing teaching hours and increasing play hours, removing homework and encouraging family time and hobbies, studying ‘topics’ as opposed to just ‘subjects’, removing exams, encouraging creativity, and empowering pupils,” she adds.

The focus on clearly creativity resonates with Poria as he continues to pursue his creative passion for music production and DJing here in Phuket.

“We really emphasise active and creative learning, such as going on field trips that relate to the classes they are doing. I think creativity is in everyone, a lot of schools don't encourage creativity, but I think it's something you have to nurture and grow,” says Poria.

Indigo also aims to be flexible and affordable to meet the demands of busy parents, and what's more, Poria also offers piano lessons to children of all ages.

“We are very flexible with pick-up and drop-off times and we can work with parents to suit their schedule. We can also organise to pick-up or drop-off children if needed. Parents only pay for one month in advance and there are no joining fees or semester fees,” says Poria.

“We are always open Monday to Friday, we don't close for holidays, so we usually have an influx of kids during school holiday times. Also, we are definitely the cheapest in the area and one of the cheapest on the island,” he adds.

“The children are very happy, so that's our best advertisement,” says Morgane.

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