Education sets the foundation for children’s social and intellectual growth. We are fortunate to live in a country where there is ample choice of curriculum and schools. With that choice comes a lot of questions about what is right for your child and for your family, including whether to send your child to nursery or big school once they reach the foundation stage (ages 4-6).
Don’t think your child is ready to leave nursery yet or attend a bigger school? Not sure what Foundation Stage is all about? Read on…
In the UAE, it is compulsory for children to go to school from 6 years onwards however many families choose to send their children to nurseries beforehand. Luckily in the UAE some nurseries are certified for Foundation Stage programmes, meaning children are able to stay in the nursery setting until they are required to attend “big school.”
Foundation stage programmes follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) based in the UK. In EYFS, there are 7 areas of learning and development which are split into prime and specific areas. As children get older and move to FS2, they will focus more on the specific areas of learning in preparation for attending Year 1 in “big school.”
Prime areas of learning focus on building enthusiasm for learning and social skills:
• Communication and Language
• Physical Development
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Specific areas of learning provide children with a baseline curriculum to include opportunities to strengthen the prime areas.
• Understanding the World
• Expressive Arts and Design
Many families choose to send their children to nursery in order to build social skills, provide a more stimulating learning environment or as a childcare option while they are at work. Regardless of the reason children have so much to gain from attending nursery and with FS2 being available in some nurseries, this provides many advantages to children who are able to stay in the nursery setting for longer.
Familiar and nurturing setting Going to big school is a big deal and for some children, the school size can be overwhelming. There are a lot of big kids (and teens) with them in the hallways and other shared spaces. Staying within a smaller environment which is specifically designed for early years aged children can be a comfort to both kids and parents. They also don’t have to deal with some of the pressures of big school like strict uniform policies, assemblies, etc.
Personalised Attention Children tend to learn better in smaller groups and this isn’t always possible in larger schools since class sizes are generally bigger. If they remain in the nursery, teachers are able to communicate with one another, sharing the previous history of the child and can therefore give more personalised attention to each child.
After School Programmes Flexible hours are available which is especially helpful for working parents with busy schedules. Willow Umm Sequim & Odyssey Burj have pick up until 6pm.
Specially Equipped Classrooms Classrooms have been carefully designed with brand new resources, learning materials, activities and furniture. Classrooms have access to the outdoor areas which allows for learning in a natural environment (weather permitting). Extending learning beyond the indoor classroom into the outdoor areas and gardens provides so many additional opportunities to learn and play. In some locations, the FS2 classroom even has access to its very own splash pad!
EYFS Trained Teachers Programmes have been written by a British trained EYFS leader to ensure that they are a true reflection of the curriculum offered in UK schools. Our teachers have a wealth of knowledge and maintain consistent training to keep up to date with current teaching techniques and requirements. We also have strong partnerships with primary schools in the UK which share training materials, resources and ideas to enhance our team’s learning.
Reporting & Communication Throughout nursery, particularly in the foundation stages, reporting is essential in order to monitor a child’s progression. We use the Educore Parent App as a communication tool for parents and teachers. The depth and frequency of reporting is much more than the typical “big school” will provide. Parents will receive daily photos, daily briefs about the child’s activities, monthly observations related to the curriculum and other assessments as required.
Redwood Garhoud has an Advanced Montessori programme, KHDA approved, which caters to children from 4-6 years old.
The main benefit of the Advanced Montessori programme is that children get to spend 2 additional years in a familiar, child-led nurturing setting. Montessori also utilises a completely different approach to traditional “big school.” Some additional benefits are listed below:
Individualised Learning In Small Groups Redwood provides individualised learning with 1-1 focus sessions and activities in small groups. Generally, there will be a better teacher to child ratio compared to “big schools” plus there is an afternoon club until 4pm! Montessori allows children to learn at their own pace and lessons are hands-on. By following their own interests and abilities, children stay motivated. If a child needs individualised support with a particular lesson, they will receive guidance from the teacher and take as much time as necessary to complete it. Parents receive daily updates about their children in addition to monthly progress reports.
Typically, big schools follow teacher-led standardised lessons with rigid timetables. Children in big school are incentivised by grades, rankings and the teacher’s discipline rather than by staying self motivated and self disciplined. Teachers are not always able to move at the child’s pace since they have to teach within certain timeframes and must complete set lessons each day.
Community Focus Classrooms have children from a diverse mix of age groups, nationalities, languages and backgrounds. This provides opportunities for children to learn from each other, be role models to other children and develop social skills. Since the classrooms are so diverse, there is always an opportunity to learn from one another and foster a deep sense of community.
Big schools operate with fixed age groups in closed off classrooms that limit children by their age and there is rarely time to mingle with children from different age groups.
Freedom & Movement Montessori children are free to move around the classrooms according to their own needs and interests. Movement helps children learn better, stay focused and utilise their curious energy to discover. They will work on lessons as long as they need in order to fulfil their own interest, with interruptions avoided whenever possible.
Time limitations mandated by schedules in traditional classrooms can mean that children aren’t getting enough time for deep learning. Many times in traditional schools, children are also expected to spend most of the time seated in one particular classroom which doesn’t always support their natural desire for creativity.
Of course each child is different so it is important to take their individual needs into consideration before deciding on a nursery or “big school” for foundation stages. Our experts are always available to answer any questions you or your little one may have about this next step in their educational journey.
For more information, please call
Willow Nursery Umm Suqeim – 800WILLOW
Odyssey Burj – 800-ODYCHILD
Redwood Garhoud – 800REDWOOD