How one woman’s commitment to bringing a better tomorrow for future generations had an impact on early education in Austria.
Being a working mother is always a balancing act. So many factors come into play, including where you live and what kind of work you do. Is finding a good balance between work and home possible? According to Monika Laschkolnig, it is. She believes that her career choice, as a National Franchisor at Helen Doron, provides an ideal balance for working mothers. “As a Helen Doron teacher, you can choose the days and the hours you are working. It’s a business run by women on all levels – and it’s mainly women who decide to bring the children.”
Originally from Poland, with a Masters in English, Monika married and moved to Austria, where her children were born. As a mother of young children, being a Helen Doron teacher proved to be a good fit for her, as she was able to plan her schedule around her family commitments. When she was offered the opportunity to become a National Franchisor, she jumped at it. Her decision was to change not only her life, but the lives of young Austrian children.
“The Helen Doron franchise has changed English education in Austria — but it was not without some challenges,” explains Monika. It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s exactly what happened following the success of the Helen Doron kindergarten programme. “We have influenced the whole approach to teaching English at a young age in Austria. When we were very successful in kindergarten, those responsible for developing the kindergarten curriculum took note. They saw that it works, the parents like it, and it’s successful,” she says.
Following on Monika’s success, all children in Austrian kindergartens are now entitled to one hour of English per week, free of charge from the age of three. However, Monika points out that there are significant differences in approach. “It isn’t the same as what we offer at all!” says Monika. “It’s the methodology, the teachers, and the small groups that bring quality. In Austria, most people have heard of us and say that we have a good reputation, and that it’s a fun, playful method of teaching English.”
Monika’s decision to become a National Franchisor has also had major benefits on her children. “My daughter Caroline grew up in Helen Doron. She started when she was one, because at the time, we didn’t yet have Baby’s Best Start. After 5 years of Helen Doron English she went to the international school in the native speaker’s class even though she is not a native speaker. She moved to middle school and is now in classes for native speakers of both German and English, which is unheard of. My son Kian is now 7 and finishing the first grade and also communicates very well in English. “
In addition to excelling in English, Monika notes that the methodology has positive effects in other areas of students’ lives. “In a national test in Maths, one of my Learning Centre Franchisees’ daughter took 3rd place nationwide; another’s son 7th place, while a son of yet another Learning Centre Franchisee achieved the first place in the state of Austria he lives in. We know of some other students scoring very well as well, but we have never followed up closely on that. The impact of learning English on other disciplines is really significant, as you are developing more of the brain.”
Monika reflects that over the past 18 years in the Helen Doron family, she has influenced students who are now parents themselves. “I love the Helen Doron method! I find it very useful. It works beautifully. I am so honoured that some of my students grew up to become teachers in my Learning Centres. They found the method so much fun that they wanted to teach it to others! Some of my former students bring their own babies to our courses, so I really feel like a grandma.”
Monika strongly recommends joining the Helen Doron network for a number of reasons. “Helen Doron franchisees don’t need to reinvent the wheel. They can learn from our experience and that makes people feel comfortable when they join us. They know they have ongoing support in the field of pedagogics and business and are giving children in their communities a better future.”
Her Austrian empire is continuing to grow and develop: “We have 13 Learning Centres and Learning Studios in Austria, and two more in the pipeline. Two of the Learning Centres are owned and run by me. There are currently 120 teachers – 70 of them working on a self-employed basis and the rest as Learning Centre teachers. We are happy to teach about 5,000 students in Austria every year!”
Being a National Franchisor is very fulfilling to Monika in many ways: “Being a Helen Doron National Franchisor means living a legacy, giving a better future to children, and having a very meaningful job. My life makes sense as I am making a difference.”