A destination for kids – Agatho Educational Center Larnaca

Hello everybody,

In 2009 the gates of Agatho Educational Center were open offering more chances for a better education and more life opportunities for children in Larnaca. Julia Goupalo graduate of University of Nizniy Novgorod is sharing her life between her two children and a lovely career as the co-director of the children's educational Center Agatho. Her goal is to raise the kids interest in various activities, to limit the time spent playing on the computers, to increase the love in music, painting, sculpting and interaction in various foreign languages. Agatho is bringing kids together with various backgrounds and making studying a pleasant and fun activity for any kids no matter their ages.




Izzy: Dear Julia, Thank you very much for this opportunity that you gave to KidsFuninCyprus to find out more information about your educational offers. How did you decide to open an educational center in Larnaca and why did you choose this name?
Julia Goupalo: Well, I have known Svetlana, the director of “Agatho” for a long time as she had been teaching my children music. During the summer of 2009 I was in charge of a small summer camp. And that is where I got the idea from; to combine music and the summer camp activities, and create an educational center where children can expand their knowledge and talents. By giving the name “Agatho” to our school, we tried to reflect what we do, as “Agatho” is an ancient Greek word for 'good' and 'giving kindness'.This year our center is turning 5 years, and in this time we have achieved so much. From offering only a few lessons a week, our school now has various types of activities going on every day! At the beginning our center only had 2 teachers and now we cooperate with many experienced teachers who are very professional in their area of work. Our school has always been actively taking part in Russian community events and events all over Cyprus. We have always supported the events of Vestink Kipra like 'The Galaxy of Talents'. Apart from that, with our students, 3 times we had organised charity concerts “The Magical Winter Story”, the money from which went to The Agios Spyridonas school for children with special needs and to a charity fund to help send sick children abroad to get treatment. Every year we also organise concerts 'Agatho invites friends' where we cooperate with other schools and make a combined concert which is very fun.





Izzy: As everybody knows we live in times when parents are more and more busy with their jobs leaving less time for their kids. Also many of the afternoon centers that take care of our children in the evenings have very limited offers regarding the variety of the activities. How is your center different from any other one? How is an afternoon spent in your center?
J.G: Our center is different, as I personally believe that we offer such a wide range of activities that any child can fit in to our school. Children can simply stay and play with their friends, or if they are more interested in learning, which of course is our goal, then we offer activities, from music and art to languages, sciences and humanity subjects. Our afternoon begins right after the children come from school. After a long day they are very hungry, so we have lunch which we provide them, and then with my help they do their homework, as we need to get school work out of the way in order to continue with our activities. After a little break, our lessons begin. With every year, we look at the kids interests and try to add activities to our list to increase the variety of things the children can do, in order to make it more interesting for them. As most of our students are Russian, we provide Russian and Russian Literature lessons. And for children who have difficulties with English, of course we have English lessons. This year we are introducing a new English subject which will help children to increase their word knowledge and find out more about the world around us. Many times the children themselves propose many activities which we try to organize for them, like chess, which we will also introduce this year. The children continue the day by doing the activities they chose to do. However as our school is also a music school, the children usually love taking part in the choir.




Izzy: What are the ages that kids can join Agatho Educational Center and what are your offers for the little ones?
J.G: Last year we created a group “Pochemuchki”, which is an activity group for very young children from the age of 1 and a half. It is a wonderful program aimed at developing the children's knowledge; it is made up of different 15 minute blocks with different activities, so that the children keep their interest and don't loose concentration. Through a form of play we learn how to read, write, solve logical puzzles, sing songs and do rhythmical activities. This year we have ordered a large variety of special equipment from Russia for the lessons which will help make the activities more fun and productive. Last year's program was very successful. The 3 year old children amazed their parents by learning how to count, knowing how to perfectly distinguish and say the letters of the Russian alphabet, and showing interest not only for reading but even for writing.







Izzy: It has been proven that helping kids improving their Math abilities keeps their brain active, improve problem solving and increases confidence in themselves. Having a strong Mathematics skills will also give them the benefit of being able to choose between more qualification later as teenagers. As a Mathematics Teacher how do you think you can help them falling in love of Math?
J.G: I believe that maths isn't just numbers. It is more of a problem solving ability. Which is why I try to give them maths in the form of problems and not just pure numbers. By developing his/her logic, the child can solve even harder problems, not necessarily mathematical, which of course is also a good life skill. So by turning a simple mathematical equation like 2 + 2 into a mathematical problem, simply like 2 sweets and 2 sweets, automatically makes it more interesting for the children, making them see maths not as numbers but as a skill to solve problems.






Izzy: One of the most beneficial activities for children is learning music and how to play on an instrument as no matter how old we are, there will always be an opportunity to use this skill . What kind of music classes Agatho Educational Center has to offer? Looking at the children that learned to play an instrument at your center, how did their life changed? Are they going to competitions? Any of them choose music qualifications?
J.G.: Our school tries to satisfy the needs of our students, therefore we offer any musical instrument lessons the children would like to learn. However, right now (as this is what most students desire) we offer singing, piano, guitar and violin lessons, along with musical theory and aural lessons. Most of our students take exams of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, which gives them certificates that they can use later in their studies. A few years ago we also introduced a choir, and last year we made a choir group for children from the age of 2. These lessons give the young ones the ability to breathe correctly, develops their speech, rhythm and musical ear. Our students constantly take part in cultural activities and competitions in Cyprus and abroad. Of course some of our students chose to continue their musical studies and get qualifications, however even those who didn't definitely do not regret having the basic knowledge, as musical lessons need a lot of hard work, and hours of practice, which improve them as people in their daily lives, giving them different skills like patience.





Izzy: I liked the fact that your center is hosting kids that speak various languages from Greek to English and Russian. What do you feel seeing them all together, sharing experiences, toys, activities? Are they improving their communication in all these languages? What system are you using at your Russian and English language classes that can raise kids appetite for “talking foreign”?
J.G: To be honest, it is quite funny to watch the kids that speak different languages play together, as they try to communicate, often switching languages mid-sentence. It also makes me very happy, as it shows that for these young children language isn't a barrier and it doesn't stop them from being friends. Of course by interacting with children that speak other languages a child improves their language skills. This is very helpful to them, as the more languages they can talk or understand from a young age, the easier it will be for them to later learn even more new languages which is definitely a good skill. We try to make our language lessons interactive by doing various activities like learning poems, acting out extracts, having discussions etc.






Izzy: I believe that lower number of children in a class help them get the most from their teacher also leaving him with more time to concentrate on each one. How many children are in a class and did you notice making any difference?
J.G.: Of course there is a big difference. Working with children, especially small ones, we noticed that the lessons are most productive when in one group there are no more than 6 or 7 kids. In this case, I can ensure that every child gets maximum attention. This is especially important when the child is learning how to write. The ability to correctly hold a writing object will have a large impact on his/her writing in the future. It is also important for scissor work. Generally, it is important to have quite small groups so that I have the time to explain things to every child to ensure better understanding and more concentration within the class.






Izzy: What kind of art classes can you find in Agatho and what does it give to the children?
J.G.: Our art classes include everything. From drawing and painting, to various crafts like quilting, straw work, mosaics and many more. In our classes we try to help the children to feel what they are drawing or painting. It is more important for them to show the emotions in a picture rather than be very accurate with all the drawing details. And of course we spend some time focusing on various famous artists, which expands the children's ideas and knowledge. I would like to also add that art is also included in all of our group activities. Our children's art works have many times been put out on display at exhibitions.





Izzy: Having two daughters did they help you taking better decision in your center activities? Did they participate to any of the lessons?
J.G.: Raising my two daughters, I have noticed the things that the kindergartens and schools fail to offer, which I try to provide in my center. Through the lessons we provide, I try to make sure that the program provides a wide range of knowledge for the children. Now that my children are quite grown up they help me a lot. My oldest daughter teaches English at our center and my younger daughter helps me with the small kids.



Izzy: I will like to thank Julia for this very interesting interview and we would love her sharing with our readers a small story from her experience as a mother or teacher:
J.G.: I remember, when I was small, in spite of the difficult times, my parents would try to find me and my sister interesting toys. The best ones for me, were the ones where we could play together with my parents, and I always found it interesting to learn something new from them when playing together. When we opened our activity group for the little ones, it was extremely difficult finding the right equipment for them, and I remembered my childhood and the games that my parents would make for us. After going to Jumbo, I bought a few packs of colorful plastic balls, after remembering how my own kids would play with them at Kids World. We made so many interesting games with them! And how much joy it gave to the children. We would count them, say the colors, even throw them into boxes. Even though this year we have ordered lots of professional equipment for the lessons, I think these balls will always be the children's and my favorites.





Lots of sunny days from Izzy the Cypriot lizard!

Agatho Educational Center

Opening hours: 10:00-12:00 and 13:00-19:00
Prices:
Music: (private lessons) from 60 euros/month and up depending on the level.
Choir: 20 euros/month
Maths: (private lessons) 15 euros/ hour
Languages: Russian or Literature or English- 25 euros/month (group lessons 1 time a week)
Arts and Crafts: 25 euro/ month (group lessons 1 time a week)
Afternoon school: Depending to the number of hours
Pochemuchki (for children from 2-5 years old): Monday, Wednesday, Friday-morning or afternoon or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday :105 euros/month
Harmony(for children from 5-8 years old): Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday 85 euros/month



Address: Agios Spyridonas 5, Larnaca
Phone no: +357 97841119 - Julia or +357 99918779 - Svetlana
E-mail: agatho4s@gmail.com
Facebook: Agatho
Webpage: www.agatho.info

Other services: Summer school and Easter camp


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