Learning Through Worksheets

Balaji V, founder, Grade1to6, speaks to Gauri Rane Shetty about what pushed him to start a website aiding students in Math and Science and making learning a qualitative experience

Balaji in his office

GRS: What inspired you to start Grade1to6? Many educational start-ups are a result of personal experiences did that happen with Grade 1to6 as well?

BV: In 2016, during the summer holidays, I realized it was a big challenge to keep my daughter, who was in Grade 5 then, busy with TV and digital media dominating her time and mind space. To make constructive use of her time, I started giving her Maths and English practice lessons every day but after four days I was completely lost and didn’t know what more could I do for her. Then I remembered her school used to give worksheets once in a while and, that was the beginning. I scoured the internet for worksheets and in the process realised how navigating these scores of websites was cumbersome, time consuming and also overwhelming. Also, most worksheets had an average of 18 to 30 sums which used to put off a child. That is when the thought of developing a website with worksheets which would excite children came to me. We have 5 to 10 questions per worksheet, which are elegantly designed and have space for children to work and are printable. We have kept the access pricing very affordable as that was important.

GRS:Why only up to Grade 6?

BV: Up to Grade 6 because, children need guidance, especially at home, until the age of 12 or so and after that they follow a pattern. Moreover, once their basics are perfect advanced learning becomes easier. 

GRS:How is Grade1to6 different from the various websites that offer free printable sheets for preschool and school going children?

BV: Our entire website is designed for easy use. You log on, select your grade and subjects which are easily categorised. Even a child can navigate it. Our stakeholders - school administrators, teachers, parents and students have navigated the site, and their feedback is that the website's design is elegant and appealing and the content is engaging. As mentioned earlier, we have 5-6 questions per worksheet till Grade 3 and around 10 questions until Grade 6 which gives children an easy-paced learning environment. Our worksheets are designed to encourage children to practice, like in video games, the difficulty keeps increasing as the child reaches the next level.

Secondly, the pricing for these worksheets is very affordable. This is important as schools can access the over 6,000 worksheets of English and Math for Grades 1 to 6 for just Rs 4,999 a year and parents can access the same for just Rs 1,699 a year.  We add around 250 new worksheets every fortnight. 

The worksheets have been created by Math and English teachers of international repute and designed specifically as per the various ages and grades of the students. Parents can now be assured that their child is enjoying learning while having fun on one of these Math worksheets. While Indian students can access the exclusive CBSE-curriculum based section of the website, we also host a Global section for the entire collection of worksheets. For learning purpose, students can use both the sections of the site.

Our association with Akshayapatra has brought us home to over 13,000 schools covering 2 million children whom we are offering free access to our worksheets for a fun and learning initiative

Your take on tech-led learning. Good and bad effects as parents often complain of gadget addiction.

Ed-tech learning is here to stay. It has many advantages like high engagement, improving digital literacy, getting creative, teachers save time, offers more exciting resources etc.  Schools, teachers and parents have to embrace it the right way.

Gadget addiction has to be treated at two levels. First, children must be taught self-control because policing them does not always work. Secondly, as parents we must set an example. We must not use devices at home unless it’s essential and spend time with children. Also, the parents must stop pampering children by providing a phone or airpad when they demand it and set a time limit for using gadgets.

GRS: Have you tied up with schools in India to make personalised lesson sheets? Are there any such plans in the future?

BV: We are working on that segment now. Our first step was to ensure a nice and easy worksheets website and now we are working on personalised worksheets for schools. A few schools have shown keen interest not only in India but in SE Asia too.

GRS: You are passionate about education, what is your advice to teachers and academicians with regards to making learning fun and an enjoyable experience for students?

BV: I would suggest parents first to TRUST the schools, principals, teachers and academicians. They know what to do. Nowadays most parents, including me at times, are very inquisitive and involved with children’s education, we need to relax. However the competition makes parents do this. Let students enjoy their childhood and education should be fun. I know a few schools which have regular tests beginning Grade 1 which is ridiculous. 

GRS: What according to you is the role technology will play in the education sector in the next 5 years?

BV: STEM is what the world is talking about now. Technology and digital drive go hand in hand. Personalised learning, learning at one’s own pace, creative learning, coding, web awareness etc will be focused on in elementary schools for sure. Digital classroom is being spoken about and I won’t be surprised if that begins and grows fast in the next 5 years.

GRS: What is the road ahead for Grade1to6? Do you plan to keep adding to your portfolio?

BV: As of now our focus is to ensure more and more schools, teachers and parents register and start using our collection of worksheets. Conceptual learning worksheets are very essential until Grade 6 and once children understand concepts well then they will settle down comfortably later on. Going forward we will be looking at adding videos, print workbooks for Grades 1 to 6, digital classrooms and at the next stage is to work on higher grades.  We would be like to be the preferred worksheets/ workbook partner for schools, teachers and parents. 

GRS: As an edu-tech entrepreneur, what is your wish list for 2018?

BV: Schools in India and globally embrace technology positively, encourage ed tech, adapt to modern methods of learning, monitor digital involvement at home and let children enjoy education.

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