Tag Archives: best nurseries in Dubai

Choosing schools and nurseries for your children | The School and Nursery Show Dubai | Emirates Towers 13th – 14 October 2017 | Free admission

The School and Nursery Show 

The subject of schools and nurseries has always been a minefield.  What works for one family isn’t always the right formula for another.  There are so many factors to consider when thinking about schools.  Here is just a short list of questions to consider when looking at schools and nurseries.

#Who are the teachers?  Where are they from, and what are their qualifications?

#What curriculum are you seeking? British vs International Baccalaureate (IB) vs American and so forth.

#What are staff retention numbers?

#Facilities of the school

#Pastoral care – how does the school deal with individual children and how does it deal with bullying?

#Strength of academics

#Classroom sizes

#Demographics of the school

#Exposure to languages

#Size of the school

#Homework policy

Having grown up in the UK, there was no question back in the day that I would follow the British-system, and in my early years of being in Singapore, I followed the Singapore system. However, Dubai has so much diversity, and with families from all over the world with different thinking, philosophies, priorities and value systems, schools have been created for many of the larger demographics groups based on demand.  There are German schools, Swiss schools, French schools, IB schools, British schools, Indian schools, Lebanese schools and American schools that it can be confusing for parents. Then, within those larger curriculum frameworks, each school has a different interpretation and style of delivering the curriculum.

For example, Kings’ Dubai has a strong British academic focus but has adopted elements of the IB system to bring all the subjects together to make learning less abstract for children.  It brings elements of each subject into other subjects, therefore, giving children the ability to understand the use of Maths in Science for example. There is a great deal of homework especially from Year 1 onwards, and three reading books a week based on your child’s ability.

North London Collegiate School offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum but underlays the British system to support the IB curriculum to provide academic rigour especially for English.  In Maths, the school has adopted a program from Singapore which has proved successful in their London school.  The school stems from their famous UK school where 40% of students get into Oxford and Cambridge, and the school in the UK manages the school in Dubai and in South Korea.

The Swiss International Scientific School also provides an IB curriculum but it places a heavier emphasis on languages.  All subjects are taught in French for one week and English the following week.  They also offer German as an alternative to French for families seeking it.

Then, there are always the more traditional British non-profit schools like JESS, DESS and Jebel Ali that have always upheld great academic reputations because much of their annual budget is invested in their teachers.  However, DESS has a no homework policy with just reading books and spelling sent home every week.  JESS and Jebel Ali, however, do have homework, reading and spelling.

Finally, after sieving through the pros and cons of the schools, parents will still arrive at a similar conclusion under any curriculum or any school choice.  At the end of the day, most parents care only about one thing, the teachers – the single greatest resource of any school.  Of course, facilities, sports, and after-school activities are value added services, but the children’s ultimate impression of school and the children’s love of their subjects will depend heavily on their teachers.  Most of us parents can relate to that ourselves from our childhood. We often observe that when schools invest in their teachers rather than facilities, schools become much more in demand than for any other reasons. Therefore, it is important to speak to different schools and nurseries to get an understanding how the management invest in their staff.

In the past, Dubai schools had long waiting lists but this is now a thing of the past.  10 years ago, expats had to leave their families at home until school spaces became available in Dubai.  That is not the case now as schools are more able to serve families better. The increased competition amongst school has benefited families and children as schools become better service providers.  The schools that are successful are listening to parents more and more, and many of the top schools will take constructive feedback seriously.

I want a school which supports my child both academically and emotionally. I want my child to have fun at school; to have their strengths realised and support provided on areas where they may need extra assistance or more of a challenge. I want a school which helps them grow into well rounded and confident individuals – Catherine

The annual School and Nursery Show is a good initial research hunting ground for many parents under one roof.  Many of the new and existing schools and nurseries in Dubai will be showcasing their school and curriculum.  However, the more established schools may not take part, but still, the Show will allow you to research curriculums, meet staff, and ask many generic questions about education.  It’s a good place to have one-on-one time to understand the concept of various schools.  It is also good opportunity to ask questions about the school’s teaching style, student support, the vision of the current headmaster/headmistress, to find out who owns the school, who runs the school and so forth.  By meeting the representatives of the school, I often think parents get an intuition about school and whether it is suitable for their children.  This is really the case of first impressions count.  After meeting schools at the show, it is important follow up with a tour of at least 3 – 6 schools to get a deeper understanding.  For many of us, our children, during the academic term, spend more time at school or nursery than they do at home on some days so it is vital that we choose the best environment for them.

Some of the schools and nurseries taking part this year include Willow Children’s Nursery, Stepping Stones Pre-School, British Orchard Nursery, Clarion School, Dovecote and Hartland International School.

The British curriculum is something I am familiar with so I feel that was a considerable driving factor for me at the time I put my son’s name down for school (at that time he was 6 months old). The British curriculum is renowned for its academic excellence across the world and therefore attracts experienced and highly qualified teachers. I feel very happy with the standard of teaching my son receives in Kings School Dubai, the majority of the teachers teaching the British curriculum are from England and are focused on growing confident and responsible citizens of the world. – Natalie

Entry is free to the event.  The Schools and Nursery Show takes place on Octobert 13th and 14th at the Emirates Towers.  To register please click on the link 

10 things parents can do to prepare and support the development of children for nursery | by Davelle Lee

Most parents have now found out which nurseries have offered them places, and it is worth starting now to prepare your little ones as term start dates are only 4 months away. Davelle Lee, our correspondent, based in Singapore, tells us a few ways to help our little ones settle when September comes round.

The transition from home-care to kindergarten can be scary, perhaps more so for parents than their children. It is a big step in early childhood development, a child’s preliminary leap out of the proverbial nest. If you are a parent worrying about your child’s impending departure from home and into the mad world of Montessori, Reggio Emilia or Forest kindergartens, let me assure you that this period can be exciting and enjoyable for you and your child as long as you make the necessary preparations.

#Let them wear their own shoes. 

Infants start to gain a sense of self at as early as fifteen months of age. Once they start to walk, they are able to explore their environments on their own. At this stage, toddlers start to take initiative, which overtime morphs into a desire to learn and an openness to experience. Kids who are inquisitive benefit a lot more from the rich, stimulating environment that a kindergarten provides than those who are shielded from the world around them. Foster your child’s initiative by allowing him to explore independently (under your watchful gaze, of course). Encourage him to perform simple tasks on his own, such as pouring himself a cup of juice or pulling on his socks. This helps them develop a sense of self-efficacy and also improves their motor skills. Do make sure that the tasks you assign him are physically manageable. It is unlikely that junior, at age three, will know how to lace up his boots just yet.

#Create opportunities to share.

Prior to kindergarten, children who don’t have siblings have little opportunity to interact with groups of their peers. As a result, most kids are still pretty egocentric at that age. Parents and caregivers often give children their undivided attention, responding to their needs under record-breaking time. Imagine that “I want what I want, and I want it now” attitude carried into a classroom of twenty screaming kids. Not pretty. Pro-social behaviour doesn’t come about naturally. Kids learn to share through observing interactions between adults and modelling their behaviour. Give your child the chance to split her cookie with you, or prompt her to offer Grandma the last piece of fruit during snack time.

Eventually, most children will develop a sense of fairness at school, shaped by constant reinforcement, either in the form of punitive action or reward. Such reinforcement can be dished out by anyone, even peers. Children who refuse to share may face social sanctions like ostracism, and those who are generous and kind may become more popular. By giving your child a head start in the sharing department, he or she will be primed for quicker adjustment to an unfamiliar setting where every child is competing for resources and attention. Learning pro-social behaviour early means that your child can also set a great example for the other children in class.

#Talk about race and diversity. 

Forget conventional wisdom: children are not colour-blind. If you live in a place with high ethnic diversity, it is likely that your child will notice early on that some children are different from others. Adults can say nasty racist things, and even a passing comment by a stranger can have lasting impact on your child. Look out for misconceptions your child might have picked up about children of different ethnicities and address them during play. Read storybooks with a diverse range of characters together. During imaginative play, you can also use dolls and stuffed animals to illustrate racial prejudice and help your child develop empathy.

#Watch out for gender stereotypes.

Once in a kindergarten that I worked at, I heard a little girl tell her friend, “You can’t be a princess because you have short hair!” Though laughable, statements like these can have profound effects on a child’s socioemotional development. The poor girl with the bob cut, wailing that she wanted to have long red locks like Ariel, is proof that deeply ingrained gender-stereotypical concepts can be very damaging to a child’s self-image.

Children make sense of the world by drawing from the television shows they watch, the books they read and perhaps most importantly, the stuff you buy them. Having a ton of Esla and Anna merchandise is perfectly okay, but it is important to remind your daughter (or son) that Frozen-mania has no gender specificity. Both boys and girls can appreciate Disney princess shows, just as they can all appreciate Spiderman or Thomas the Train. Ultimately, respect your child’s preferences. If it’s a bright pink backpack that your child likes, and not the gender-neutral green that she says she hates, then there is no harm in purchasing the former. Just be sure to explain to her that her personal taste is dissociated from her gender. Other little girls may very well prefer the green backpack.

#When it comes to which schools to pick, do your homework.

The quality of kindergarten education can vary widely, regardless of the fees that centres may charge. A good centre can provide a more responsive, stimulating and structured environment for children to hone their cognitive and social skills. Here are some things to look out for:

Make sure that the centre has a wide range of toys and equipment such as blocks, water and sand play. Facilities such as reading corners, free play areas and notice boards should be organised well and clearly demarcated with ample space for children to manoeuvre. If possible, observe the classroom interaction. Warm teacher-child engagement is vital, because perceived support and acceptance from teachers its critical for a child’s adjustment. A low staff-to-child ratio usually facilitates better interpersonal interaction.

#Get involved!

Parents’ active participation their children’s education and engagement with the school have been found to strongly predict future academic success. Talk to your child about their day, discuss the assignments that they have brought home and practise what they have learned at school. You can never make too many collages with macaroni, after all. On top of this, having two-way communication with teachers is essential for boosting your child’s school competence. Teachers can identify certain weaknesses and strengths in your child that you might not have noticed before. In addition, mutual understanding and collaboration can help all parties to provide tailored support to best benefit your child.

#Prep junior for a great time.

A study conducted in the United States found that children who expressed enthusiasm about starting kindergarten had better adjustment, participated more in class activities, showed greater social competence and persistence in their work. Get your child excited about the fun they can expect, be it the new toys they’ll get to play with, the big playground in the yard, or the new friends they will make. Kindergarten is a big milestone in your child’s growth, so build his or her anticipation by emphasising that it is a place where they will become more mature and more capable than ever before.

 #Dealing with separation anxiety.

Parting with your child on the first day of school is never easy. Not for him, nor for yourself. Don’t worry if your child seems to be having a hard time saying goodbye at the beginning. Children who are securely attached to their primary caregivers will quickly catch on that at the end of the day mommy or daddy will be there to take them home. However, some children have anxious dispositions and may face greater difficulty adjusting to the kindergarten environment. If you notice that your child is socially withdrawn, stressed, or constantly makes somatic complaints while at school, you may want to consult a clinician about possible interventions, such as individual or group play therapy. A skilled practitioner can help to alleviate these internalising behavioural problems and help children with high social anxiety acclimatise to the school setting.

#Keep your child (relatively) safe.

Accidents are bound to happen at school. Research shows that boys are more prone to injury than girls, and most injuries occur outdoors. The good news is that you can reduce the chances of injury by choosing a centre that has a continual staff education plan on child safety; this is actually the strongest predictor of injury prevention, according to data collected from close to a hundred kindergartens in Austria. Discuss with the management team at your centre of choice about safety measures have been put in place. Open communication and constant feedback will ensure that the centre covers all its bases and keeps your children safe.

#Encourage your child the right way.

We all want to protect our children’s self-esteems. We want them to know that they are unique and competent individuals. But be careful not to shower your child with the wrong kind of praise. Psychologists have found that person praise, directed at a child’s attributes rather than effort or performance (e.g. “You are so pretty and smart!”) can actually reduce a child’s persistence when it comes to attempting new or challenging activities. This is because children who receive such praise develop a sense that their abilities are innate and are fixed at a predetermined aptitude. They may choose to perform tasks that are familiar and simple, instead. Parents should provide non-generic praise that is specific to a particular task. For example, when your child shows you a nice drawing that she has made, don’t tell her that she is a “good drawer” but rather say that it is a “good drawing”. In targeting her performance, this type of praise gives the child a sense of mastery in the task. This will help the child develop greater motivation to learn new skills.

Getting your child ready for nursery | Lucy Bruce & Beverley Jatwani gives tips on how to get the children ready for nursery

Lucy Bruce and Beverley Jatwani, owners of Dubai’s most sought after nursery, Homegrown Nursery, tells us parents how to get our children ready for their first day at nursery.  The nursery has a British based curriculum and has two locations on either side of the Al Manara junction.  

It’s a exciting but nerve wrecking time as September approaches with many mums and dads getting their children ready for their first day at nursery. Can you give 5 tips (or more) on what parents can do during the holidays to get their little ones ready for nursery?

As you mentioned, starting your child for his/her first time at nursery can bring many different emotions to the surface and parent’s suddenly face the realization that their child will face a new environment, people and routine. For some it is a sense of relief and support and for others it can be a time of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. Once you have made the decision to send your child to nursery you need to commit to your decision and embrace the new positive experience that your child will eventually experience. Here are a few tips that will help prepare you and your child for their first day at nursery:

#Get excited together. Spend a day looking for lunch boxes, back packs, new shoes etc and put them in a special place where you both know that they can be finally used when the first day of nursery comes.

#If you spend almost every day with your child and they are very rarely away from you, now would be a good idea to start to slowly try to leave your child with someone you trust for an hour or so a day. This will help them become aware that they can trust other adults and that you trust people to care for your child too. It will also get your little one more used to being away from you for short periods so it is not such a shock to you both when the big day comes.

#Make a visit together to the nursery and be sure to spend some time in the nursery environment together. Most nurseries do have Family Days where Mum, Dad and primary care givers can spend time together in their new classroom and with their teachers and get to know one another which is a huge help for all.

#Make sure that you talk to your child about nursery beforehand discuss all the new and exciting experiences they will soon encounter at nursery. Let your little one know that nursery is their special place to have fun and make friends. Be sure to answer your child’s questions honestly but the important thing to stress is that you will ALWAYS be there to pick them up when their day is over.

#If your child has not spent much time around other children, try to get them out and about with other children of a similar age. Introducing them to new children in unfamiliar surroundings will help prepare them for nursery and encourage them to begin their social exploration.

When nursery starts, what can parents do to help your little ones settle down with their new teacher and new friends especially in the first week?

It is really important that you are as consistent as you possibly can during your child’s first days at nursery. This starts at home with the morning routine, having breakfast together, making getting ready for nursery a fun and exciting activity by singing songs and talking about what a fun day your child will have and having a good time together during your journey to nursery. Once you and your child are in the classroom with your teacher it is important that you show your child how confident and happy you that your child is finally at nursery.

It is always a good idea to spend some time in the class with the child though not all nurseries allow this. When you are in the classroom, be sure to introduce your self to other parents and it’s always a good idea to arrange play dates outside the nursery with the children in your child’s class to help with the familiarization of new faces. Your child needs to form new bonds with the teachers at staff at the nursery so do not resist the teacher’s advise and allow her to take control on the morning, this will also demonstrate to your child that you are also ready to listen to and follow instructions from the teacher.

Some parents can’t bear leaving their little ones, who are inconsolable, when they walk out the classroom. What can parents do to reassure themselves and their child?

The most important thing is to stay positive. Parents who become upset and anxious in front of their child will naturally pass on their concerns to their children which has an extremely negative effect on the settling period. It may be your first time in experiencing such separation anxiety but remember that your teachers have been trained and have experience in handling these sensitive and upsetting situations, so do follow their lead. Remind yourself that this difficult period will pass and your child will soon be experience all of the benefits that made you want to send your child to nursery. Remind yourself and your child that you will be reunited soon and that they are at nursery to have fun.

Try not to enter the classroom once you have left unless you are called by the teacher. Parents that constantly pop in and out confuse the child and they can begin a pattern of becoming even more upset in the hope that the parent will come back again. If you have concerns ask to speak to the teacher or even a member of the management who will then offer you extended support and advice. Be constant and persistent and remember that you are giving your child a wonderful opportunity ahead.

What steps can parents follow when saying goodbye in the morning?

Do not ever feel that you have to rush your goodbye in the mornings. Teachers will always welcome you to some time in the morning with your child in the classroom but do not linger too long. Your teacher will always signal when they think it’s time for you to go. Hug your child, say goodbye and be sure to always mention that you will be back in a while to pick them up after they have had their special time with their friends and teachers.

Try to resist the urge to go back to your child once you have said goodbye, even if they are crying. Signal to your teacher that you will wait outside and they will pop and see you with news of how your child is once a few minutes is passed and hopefully your child will be more settled. Keep your goodbye happy and positive and keep smiling.

What if the child still cries after the first week?

There is a very high chance that your child will cry during the first and second week of nursery but try to remember that this is perfectly normal and your child will soon be running in the classroom with a big smile on their face. As adults, we also can feel strange and uneasy when stepping into environments with new people but we have the tools to rationalize and cope with the situation. A child does not have these tools and can not always communicate so tears are only natural, but like us, they soon get familiar with their new surroundings and people and will make great friends and adore their teachers.

Nursery starts around 8am, what time do you recommend that most children are in bed so that they are refreshed for schools?

We always advise that children are in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. The sooner that they get into a routine the easier the mornings will become. Children who consistently arrive late to nursery do miss out on many learning and social opportunities and can disturb the class if they are in the middle of a teacher lead activity.

Can you give some suggestions on what children should bring to school for food during the day?

Typically a child will need a snack if they stay until 12.30pm and lunch also if they stay beyond that. Try to pack plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables that can be dipped in yoghurt or humus, cheese cubes and raisons are also loved by children. Mini sandwiches, wraps and pittas are always a hit. We find that children always become more adventurous with food when they see their peers eating the foods that they have previously avoided and I have to say that I have never seen a child throwing food on the floor or complaining about their food at nursery. They quickly learn good table manners and will make sure that they do not go hungry. If you do have a particularly picky eater do discuss your concerns with your teacher.

Are there certain foods that children should not have in their lunchbox?

Always avoid fried and sugary foods such as crisps, cake and biscuits, even if you are worried that your child is not eating anything. We have seen quite a few parents pack left over pizza or takeaway food which we strongly advise against. Remember that nurseries are a nut free zone and if a child has a particular allergy in your class, you may be requested not to pack that food item for your own child’s snack. Your nursery nurse can help you plan a menu if you are concerned with what is and isn’t suitable, and will gently let you know if you are sending your child with a food item that is not recommended by the nursery.

What else should the parent put into the child’s school bag?

Don’t be afraid to pack your child’s favourite book, comforter or toy, these are all things that will help your child feel more relaxed during the early days at nursery. Also pack plenty of spare close as your little one may get messy while they are having fun. Most nurseries will request you to bring plenty of nappies/spare underwear, wet wipes and creams. If your child is on medication you can bring it in discuss administering procedures with the nurse. It is always good to pack a water bottle that you know is easy for your child to use, even if you feel it is a little babyish for them, it really is ok.

What are 5 good reasons about sending your child to nursery?

#Good nurseries offer great learning opportunities and your child will thrive off them

#Children will begin to social and interact with their peers which in turn will have a positive impact on their physical and mental development

#Your child’s communication skills will flourish

#The happiness you will feel when you peer into the classroom and see your little one happy, engaged and interacting cannot be described.

#Parents get the opportunity to feel relaxed while they are away from their child knowing that they are in a safe, secure and nourishing environment.

For more information in Home Grown Nursery


Telephone: +971 4 330 7008

Email: info@homegrownnursery.ae