The stylish, elaborate and conceptual interior design of the three-floor cottage in the prestigious and peaceful down town of Kyiv, near the Botanical Garden, matches the idea: professional comprehensive development of children. Calm and cheerful teachers, attentive managers and the charming slim owner with clever and attentive eyes and a friendly smile. We have spoken to Maryna Kasian, the founder and director of INDIGO education, the International Creative and Sports Centre for Development of Children, as well as some members of her mentor team.
– Maryna, your centre is so elaborate, well organised and designed. How have you managed to develop such business skills?
I had to travel a certain path to create this centre. First of all, my parents made their contribution: they helped me develop such traits of character and skills as responsibility, leadership and intellectual curiosity. Two higher educations, including a degree in political studies, taught me how to collect, process and analyse information and developed my social skills. Before my children were born, I had been working for the sociological company for 12 years and had gained a wealth of experience in working with people.
The idea to develop children appeared almost two years ago. My elder daughter Oleksandra was about five, and she was interested in many things while the younger daughter was only two. Unfortunately, I faced the indifference among teachers and non-conformity between the claimed quality and the actual quality of the children’s clubs we had attended.
I met the like-minded person, a mother with leadership skills, and we decided to establish such a centre as INDIGO education where our children could study without any trouble. Everything in one place! It is important for present-day parents to find a good kindergarten, a good school and a good university. However, when it comes to children, they need comprehensive development and social skills as well as STEM disciplines.
After-school activity is of paramount importance although it is underestimated in our society. It is the comprehensive development that enables the child to choose an occupation, to have an interesting personality and to live a happy life in the future.
– From your point of view, what skills should today’s children develop?
As the director of the centre, I suppose it is necessary to develop such traits of character and skills as sociability, responsibility, motivation, self-education, analytical abilities and confidence in children. Sports, dancing and languages develop the skills turning into the basis. The earlier they start to be developed, the easier it will be for the children to study, to perceive information and STEM disciplines in the future. The children with such skills have an easier life and achieve a lot. Unfortunately, today’s schools and kindergartens do not develop such skills and focus on the programme education.
– Can we say that INDIGO education is similar to palaces of pioneers for the present-day society, for the children of XXI century?
I lived in the Soviet times myself, and I went in for gymnastics, attended dancing, music, basketball and kayak clubs. I can say for sure: the main difference between our projects and clubs in those times is more opportunities and fulfilment of the creative potential. Our project’s mission is to help the parents see and perceive and the children unlock their talents. Our centre is comprehensive personal development from early years. There are languages, different dances, a cooking school, sports, an acting school, a model school, and a young blogger school. We give the children vast opportunities. The children attending our centre get more than mere development. They shape their own cases for successful future, take part in large projects, act in movies and turn into brand ambassadors. They participate in Viennese Balls, which develops their basis of cultural perception of our society and courtesy skills. We hold the events that help the children gain confidence and overcome the fear of public performances. We stage our own musicals and have reporting performances twice a year so that the children can demonstrate what they have learnt for six months in front of the audience. Our students develop skills in more than 20 areas within the same theme.
What makes our centre different is that the children participate in different competitions, contests and projects. For instance, INDIGO education has the Eastern Cultural Centre under the guidance of Lana Tigrana, whose students take part in international tournaments. In May 2019, the students won 15 medals at the eastern dancing world championship. In February, we are flying to Zakopane to the European championship.
The students of INDIGO education’s theatre studio participate in feature films. It gives them good experience and understanding that this is hard work.
One more advantage we offer is that parents can leave their children for half a day or a whole day. We are planning to create the full-day comprehensive development centre. INDIGO education offers meals as an additional service: our supplier is the company that also caters for the president, so their food is always of high quality and fresh. The master chef of the presidential kitchen also teaches in our cooking school. Special emphasis is placed on security (with security guards and CCTV cameras) and comfort.
– Are the children free to choose what to do? How often do the parents take a child to a club, but the child chooses another activity?
Of course, the children have some choice. A lot depends on parents. As the director, I often see parents trying to fulfil their own ambitions via their children. However, when the children get into our atmosphere and are given various opportunities, they get inspired, and both children and parents often try all the options. It is important because a child is given an opportunity to understand what is of real interest for him or her. We offer an unlimited package: you can come any time and try interesting options.
– Is your centre’s approach almost personal?
I know all the customers personally, and I teach my team not to be indifferent and to find an individual approach to each child.
– Could you please tell us about the greatest achievements for two years of the centre’s existence?
The main thing is the team because there can be no project without people. A lot depends on the leader, on the ability to find and, which is more important, retain the team. The fact that sportsmen and coaches by vocation work with us makes me proud. I do not care about the coach’s status and stardom. The important thing is for the coach to work with pleasure, to motivate and be loved by the children. I have selected the coaches based on this principle. Nadiia Vasina, the international master of sports, the champion of the World University Games and the World Gymnasium Games, the finalist of the European Championship, who is in TOP 5 of the most flexible sportsmen, a gymnast and a successful public figure, has been with our centre from the very start. In our centre, she teaches aesthetic gymnastics and demonstrates to the children with her own example that sport is not only hard physical labour (although she is quite a strict coach), but also pleasure, self-fulfilment and success.
Lana Tigrana is our star eastern dancing coach adored by the children. Her professional skills help the children get to the Ukrainian and international tournaments.
Another team member of INDIGO education is Maksym Yezhov, a choreographer and stage director of INDIGO Show Ballet, a dancing star and a winning participant of the Dancing with the Stars show. He is like a magnet both for children and adults and helps his students develop not only love to dancing, but also positive thinking, determination and leadership skills.
There is also a cooking school under the guidance of Viktor Fialkovskyi, the honour of our centre. Cooking modern and trendy dishes is not the only thing we teach. Our chef teaches cooking from the very start and tells about special features of food and development of different cuisines. The children cook and eat themselves here and take their dishes to parents with great pleasure.
This year, we are launching the YouTube channel for parents and children where, in addition to the entertainment content, each parent and child will be able to find some useful information, where our students and teachers will be able to gain experience both as hosts and experts.
– Do you think you have unlocked your business potential?
There is a lot of work to be done. I have numerous ideas. I am not afraid of life long studying. I study every day: with my team members, partners and other projects. My husband is my mentor and coach. While I was on two maternity leaves, we had a clean-cut deal: I was at home with little kids, and he went up the career ladder. I have unlocked my potential as a mother and a woman, and now he gives me advice on how to unlock my business potential.
– Do you have many business partners?
Yes, I am always for partnership and collaboration with projects. I believe projects must make each other better. I am not afraid of competition and think that we can always find points of contact and improve each other. Even if businesses overlap, there can be partnership in unique projects.
– Are you going to open branches of INDIGO education?
I guess quality is more important than quantity. To start with, I want to support and develop the project in one location. Successful development takes a reliable team. Finding a reliable team is a time-consuming process. I value both quality and reputation: they are basic values in any activity. So I am in no hurry. To everything there is a season.