KLAY Schools: India's Leading Corporate Daycare Partners

 Priya Krishnan, Founder & CEOAn ambitious data scientist based out of Bangalore, Sneha Mathur was approaching her next promotion when she got pregnant with her first child. But it didn’t slow her down. While taking on bulky data sets that would advance her career, Sneha planned on jumping right back into work after five or six months of maternity leave. Alas, life is never that simple. Sneha’s feelings towards motherhood and her career reoriented after her son, Ishaan, was born. Having submerged under the many perturbations about her son’s developmental needs, eleven months into her leave, she resigned - mirroring a considerable number of young women across the country.

But for Nidhi Majumder who is also from the same city and working for ITC Infotech, her son, Zohan never became a reason for Nidhi to curtain her career. Known for being an equal-opportunity employer, ITC’s gender diversity initiatives include on-site childcare, and since they partnered with KLAY, the country’s leading non-franchise Daycare partner, Nidhi never feels any guilt of neglecting her son, owing to KLAY’s well rounded setup that looks after all physical and emotional aspects of the child’s needs.

“It’s not just about physical safety of children. Working parents are perturbed about the emotional security of their children in the absence of the air-cover that their own parents or a joint family setup provides. With our pre-school cum daycare setup, we fill this crater by being an equal stakeholder in their parenting journey across different stages,” asserts Priya Krishnan, Founder & CEO, KLAY.

Treating Root of the Problem
KLAY’s story is quite interesting. An MBA from London Business School, Priya incepted KLAY Schools in 2011 which, started off as a daycare provider to urban families around Whitefield, Bangalore. Her decades spanning business management experience took no time to realize that parenting over the years has become a lonely journey, especially for working parents and they need support in all stages of their children’s growth. Backboned by an expert team, she fined tuned KLAY to emerge as the country’s largest corporate daycare provider with over 112 centers across nine cities and multiple models of operations to suit the varying needs of parents, corporates and different stages of children’s growth. From large-format play schools around residential areas and after-school daycares (for kids going to formal schools) to centers around corporate hubs, KLAY today portrays a bigger picture and even operates dedicated on-site & near-site crèches for many of its clients like ITC, Flipkart and Ujjivan, among many others.

"Our centers are often the first social environment for a child outside his/her home. This is a huge responsibility"

Above all, while majority of competitors strive to expand their footprint through the franchise model, KLAY strongly believes in organic expansion through the Company-Owned-Company-Operated model, opening centers across geographies with a centralized curriculum and operations team. Furthermore, unlike many dedicated preschools and daycare chains, it has been able to successfully integrate both the preschool and daycare model in its offering to ensure that a child’s developmental and learning needs are also looked after before they enter formal schooling. Earlier this year, KLAY also launched KARE along the same lines of the existing product, but without the pre-school module, to broad base its offering from a cost perspective, making it more affordable to a
larger number of corporates to offer the service to their employees.

All Inclusive Parenting Approach
“Our centers are often the first social environment for a child outside his/her home. This is a huge responsibility. While physical safety can be addressed through interventions in the infrastructure, classroom allocation, and staff-training, emotional security is a much deeper concept that takes a collective approach from all the stakeholders in a child’s growth,” adjoins Priya. “With a burgeoning number of nuclear families, being a parent is tough. As a society, we often ignore the support that a parent needs in this respect and restrict the focus to dealing with the child alone. By creating touch-points with parents to share their journey, troubles, and by making a sustained effort in helping families instead of the child alone, we at KLAY try to contribute more effectively to creating happier families and therefore, happier children,” she continues.

KLAY backs up this ‘all-inclusive’ approach with highly nuanced learning methodologies of early-child education with best-in-class daycare operations, research driven interventions in the classroom infrastructure, including live CCTV streaming and specific zones to cater to different learning interests of kids. Fairly reflected by its tagline - 'If I can't learn the way you teach me, teach me the way I learn’, KLAY’s learning methodology is based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory which recognizes that no two kids are exactly alike or have the same learning interests. It also harnesses an ‘Inquiry-Based’ learning approach to ignite the spirit of curiosity in children, make them ask questions, and give a feel that they are in charge of their own learning.

Besides its classrooms being specifically designed to integrate different interests and having a block zone, reading zone, music zone, and more to cater to a child’s diverse learning interests, KLAY further strengthens its pedagogy with 'Experiential Learning’, wherein children are not only taken on field trips to provide them with real world exposure, but also engaged in creative activities where they apply theoretical learning in practical ways. For instance, a visit to an organic farm ensures that they gain a sensory experience of the foods that they consume. In addition, a lot of events are deliberately built around their families as well. For example, making children celebrate Grandparents’ Day with a book reading session involving their grandparents at a KLAY center. This helps kids in gaining instant and lasting connects.

"KLAY handpicks educators who have genuine love towards children, an attitude to learn, and the ability to communicate"

A large fleet of trained staff including teachers as well as carers, plays a pivotal role in effectually & safely conducting such creative activities inside and outside the premises of the school. KLAY handpicks educators who have genuine love towards children, an attitude to learn, and the ability to communicate. “Our employees are our first customers and we ensure that they are happy, which eventually reflects in children. Our teachers will never be who tell a child that the color of a mountain is green, when she/he paints one in pink. They would rather ask the child whether the mountain was full of pink flowers instead!” adjoins Priya. While keeping best in class adult-child ratios and having employed a dedicated team to make on-going-class observations and devise sophisticated training, KLAY’s teachers are well trained to not only make children express themselves, but also communicate effectively with parents as partners and not merely as service providers.

Taking Part in Nation Building
Envisioning a bright and future for early child education in the country, KLAY last year even established a teacher training institute in Bangalore, where aspiring educators can enroll in either short term or long-term (one year) courses, specifically developed to cater to the needs of qualified & skilled staff in early childhood education. Having grown exponentially with a CAGR of over 180 percent year-on-year for the past seven years, KLAY today has presence in eight cities - across Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Guntur. Besides its organic growth, KLAY has also acquired key regional brands along its way - such as ‘The Little Company’ from Mumbai, WeCare Learning’ from Bangalore, and ‘Intellitots’ from Gurgaon. “We look forward to further expand within the micro-markets of metro cities as well as internationally to Singapore and Dubai,” concludes Priya.

Key Management:
Priya Krishnan, Founder & CEO
Priya is an MBA from London Business School and has worked in various leadership positions with Anderson Consulting, Bangalore Labs and Mphasis across Singapore, New York, London and India. She is extremely passionate about education at all levels across the society and is a strong advocate of greater women participation in the workforce.

Locations: Bangalore (Headquarter), Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune & Guntur

Parent Talks:
“I don’t feel guilty when I’m at work. I don’t feel bad that some body else is raising my daughter. I don’t feel bad at all, because I know that they’re doing a good job! I’ve had good experiences. Tia’s learning curve has improved so much in terms of how she looks at things and how responsible she is,” ~Rooki Shetty, Mother of Tia, KLAY-TLC, Bandra.