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Best Nursery Schools in Dubai and the UAE – The Official SchoolsCompared.com Guide for Families 2020
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Best Nursery Schools in Dubai and the UAE – The Official SchoolsCompared.com Guide for Families 2020

by Melanie SwanJuly 4, 2020

Best Nursery Schools – The SchoolsCompared.com 2020 Guide to Top Performing Pre-schools in Dubai and the UAE

The transition to sending the little ones to nursery can be a challenging one for both children and parents, so finding the right place which feels like a home from home, is critical in easing the pain. It’s so easy to forget – but letting our little ones go for the first time is terrifying, emotional… distressing. When we do have to do this, we must know that they will be looked after and cared for – no ifs, no buts. They are our world, our universe and every single thing in between.

Dubai has a wealth of choices of nursery pre-schools dotted all over the city, many with a long history behind them, so this only adds to the confusion of knowing which one will be right for our child – if any of them could possibly even be right.

In the following, Schools Compared completes its annual round-up of some of the emirate’s best nurseries to shine a light on those nurseries that we feel go above and beyond in one or more areas of their provision for our little ones. As always, the key lesson to draw on, when shortlisting, is that nothing can replace a personal visit to each nursery with your child – as with all schools, much of the magic is deeply individual and comes from the direct relationships between parent, school and child. And nothing, also, will ever replace you, as parents.

Three years of high quality nursery education can, in many cases, advance a child’s learning by a year – but the broader benefits of socialisation, language development and preparedness for Primary education are often mooted as the key benefits for children. Many parents too, simply do not have any choice but to send their children to nursery schools. All things being equal, the consensus is that the best for every child will always be different. Some children will thrive at (high quality) nursery schools, others will thrive at home with family. There are no easy answers – but the fundamentals are that wherever children spend their youngest years they benefit from high quality play, attention and care.

Just like schools, nurseries are still awaiting instructions on how life will look, when their doors re-open. Many have told us that they will be offering discounts to support local families affected by the pandemic, so, when reading the fees below, please use them only as a guide. Average class sizes in the following are also based on a pre-Covid classroom levels, and will almost certainly be subject to change.

What we do know is that the best nurseries, often at significant cost to their owners, have continued to engage with families to support them through Covid-19. They have already too invested considerably in plans to ensure the absolute safety of children when they return.

Many of the nursery schools in the UAE are genuinely world-class – they deserve celebrating for everything that they achieve for our children. In many cases too, nursery schools are established as a labour of love by their owners as educationalists. They are a vocation. It is always worth asking when you visit nurseries for the back story of how they came to be set up and why. Some of their stories are extraordinarily inspirational and moving.

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This Guide is, therefor, in many ways too, a thank you from us, and from parents across the UAE, to all the nursery schools in the UAE, who we know are facing the struggle of their lives to engage with families throughout what is the most difficult time for all of us, our children  …..and them. Our message is simple: you are appreciated.

Our British Pre-school Nursery curriculum Guide can be found here – and this includes links to our explanation of, and recommendations for, the best approaches to pre-school education.

In Part 1, below, we look at the region’s top, award-winning nursery schools. In Part 2, we look at pre-school nurseries we are also newly shortlisting for consideration by judges for the SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards which will take place in 2021 – watch this space.

 

Top School Awards 2019-20 Award Winning Nurseries

Top School Awards 2019 20 Best Nursery Schools in the UAE Dubai, Abu Dhabi Sharjah

Best Nursery in the UAE 2019-20 Winner: Aga Khan Early Learning Centre

Best Nursery in the UAE Finalists:

  • Children’s Oasis
  • IDEA Early Learning Centre
  • Little Land Nursery
  • Yellow Brick Road Nursery

Top School Awards Best Nursery Preschool

More on the SchoolsCompared.com Top School Awards 2019-20 can be found here and Top School Awards 2018-19, here.

 

Award Winning Nurseries – Our views

1. Aga Khan Early Learning Centre. Winner of The SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best Nursery in the UAE 2019-20.

Photograph of Children at the Aga Khan pre-school nursery in Dubai

The Facts:

SchoolsCompared.com rating 2019-20: Outstanding

Curriculum: EYFS (England)

Staff Ratios:

  • 1:3 ages 10-20 months
  • 1:5 ages 21-29 months
  • 1:6 ages 29-35 months
  • 1:8 ages 36+months

Staff qualifications: Each classroom has one qualified English speaking Early Years teacher and one qualified Arabic speaking Early Years teacher.  Assistants either qualified or working towards.

Average price (based upon 45 hours per week for 3 terms): AED 38,000

What Makes an Outstanding Nursery – The Criteria:

Our experts consider many factors vital in defining an outstanding nursery.  The first, and most important, is the health, safety and well-being of the children.  Without this, nothing else is meaningful.  We consider staff to child ratios, health, hygiene, emergency evacuation protocols and health care (including first aid training).  We take a detailed look at how effective security measures are.

Once this firm foundation is established, we look for the hallmarks of excellence in Early Years education: a focus on child initiated learning through play and positive relationships between staff and children.  For learning through play to be truly effective, your child must be surrounded by highly skilled professionals – which is why our next focus is staff qualifications and continuous professional development.  Lastly, we observe staff and child relationships, looking for natural warmth, empathy and how well staff know each child as an individual.

The physical environment of a nursery is not only important for health and safety, but as many Early Years experts agree, ‘the classroom is the third teacher’.  We look for superb facilities, high quality toys, books and resources and a good balance between indoor and outdoor space.

Finally, we try and identify that ubiquitous “something else” that you cannot create from plans and paper. It happens when you have a confluence of investment in extraordinary teachers, happiness in abundance, care for children above and beyond – and children that are inspired to learn and engage.

The Visit – Outstanding Features:

“Operating mostly in developing countries across Asia and Africa, AKES chose to open a nursery in Dubai to be a training hub and centre of excellence in the region. Staff from the Dubai centre travel to developing countries to share their skills and expertise”

Our team were wowed by the architecture as soon as we entered.  Traditional Arabic design features such as domed roof tops, archways and beautiful windows can be found throughout. Corridors are light and wide (large enough to be used for small group activities), windows are large (with thoughtfully lowered window sills so that children can always see out) and classrooms incredibly spacious”

“Mums also appreciated that the nursery provided a healthy, balanced menu, which their children enjoyed.  Food is included in the regular fees.”

“We also met Nadia, a parent volunteer (one of around 20 community volunteers, all of whom are vetted and given training before working with the children) who run the centre’s library.  The AKELC library is a well stocked lending library, with children of all ages encouraged to borrow library books each week.  All children, even the very youngest, visit the library for around 30 minutes per day”.

“Teachers use an “emergent’ style of planning – topics are chosen based upon the interests of the children and are followed for as long as the children are engaged and learning”.

“The centre operates a ‘100%’ inclusive admissions policy and is adapted for wheelchair access.”

“We later spent a few minutes with Fazilat, a teacher who had been with the AKELC for 5 years.  Impressively, Fazilat had was the National Day Nurseries Association – Runner Up – Practitioner of the Year, beating nominees from across the UK and internationally.”

The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is also recipient of the 2018 National Day Nurseries Association International Nursery of the year.

What our Experts Say:

Overall, this is an extraordinary, absolutely beautiful nursery. The focus is truly child- led and holistic – and it’s seamless. Committed and qualified teaching and support staff do not come close to describing the investment in children here and, for what is offered, fees are impressively low.

Why we Recommend this Nursery:

Much more than an excellent nursery, The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is a not for profit organisation created with the singular aim of being a centre of excellence for early years teaching and training across Asia and Africa. And it shows. There is a sense here that what is being achieved for children is not only of an internationally bench-marked standard, but important too.

More information directly from the school can be found here.

 

2. Children’s Oasis Nursery – Finalist, SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best Nursery School in the UAE 2019-20

Best Nursery Pre-schools in the UAE feature here exploring the use of outside play in education to inspire creativity and fine motoring skills at the Childrens Oasis Nursery in Dubai

The Facts:

SchoolsCompared.com Rating: Outstanding

Curriculum: EYFS (England)

Staff Ratios:

Baby room – (4 months to approximately 14-15 months) – 1:3
Turning 2s – 1:5
Turning 3s – 1:7
Turning 4s – 1:9

Staff qualifications: two qualified Early Years Educators per room (minimum Cache 3), plus qualified assistants (Cache 2 or 1)

Average price (based upon 45 hours per week for 3 terms): 50,000 AED

The Visit – Outstanding Features:

“Key facets of everyday life here are encouraging independence, communication and confidence in children. Teachers are not given set topics to follow but are empowered to follow the interests of the children in their class and to set topics which will inspire and create ‘self-activated’ learning.”

“Outside there is a large natural play area (with a sweet little hill and bridge – great for role play and imaginary play), a huge bikes and trikes area, a well thought out mud kitchen, a water play area, a digging and planting area, a construction zone and a slide and climbing area.”

Languages are at the forefront of the curriculum here. We visit the Spanish immersion class, which was opened a few years ago at the request of a Spanish parents group. Run by two Spanish speaking, Cache* qualified teachers, and available to children from 18 months to 4 years old, the EYFS curriculum is delivered entirely in Spanish.”

The majority of teachers are employed on a full time basis, working until 5pm each day.” [Worth noting that many too are International hires on packages which include housing and welfare. This is very unusual in a nursery and indicate a commitment to getting the right people.]

“Unusually, the latter part of the day is staffed in just the same way as the morning, with a full and active programme and the same child:qualified teacher ratios throughout the day. The nursery is open for 51 weeks of the year.”

What our Experts Say:

This is a quite spectacular nursery with a great team and management who are committed to continuous improvement. Facilities are superb and the staff we met enthused about their work life. Relationships between staff and children appeared relaxed and unhurried and all the children we encountered were happily engaged”.

Why we Recommend this Nursery:

Despite the stellar facilities, the real standout feature of Children’s Oasis is the experienced and highly qualified team and the keen focus on professional development.  Staff are free to follow the needs of each child as an individual. Very highly recommended.

More information from the school can be found here.

 

3. IDEA Early Learning Centre – Finalist, SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best Nursery School in the UAE 2019-20.

IDEA Early Learning Centre iin Dubai shortlisted for Best Nursery School in the UAE 2019 20 Award by SchoolsCompared.com

The Facts:

SchoolsCompared.com Rating: Very Good with Outstanding features

Curriculum: Creative Curriculum (US)

Staff Ratios:

  • 9 – 12 months, 1:3 with a maximum of 6 children on any one day. The two members of staff will be Cache Level 2 qualified, they will be guided and overseen by a qualified teacher
  • 1 – 2 years, 1:4
  • 2-3 years, 1:6
  • 3-4 years, 1:8
  • 4-5 years, and 5-6 years 1:10

Staff qualifications:

Teachers working with the younger children at IDEA are required to have a minimum of Cache 3, whilst the ‘KG’ teachers must be degree qualified.  Assistants and helpers Level 2 or 1 qualified or working towards.

Average price (based upon 45 hours per week for 3 terms): AED 35,000

The Visit – Outstanding Features:

“IDEA caters for an unusual age range, from 9 months to six years.  In the British system this would take children up to the end of Year 1 and in the American system KG2.  This is a new proposition for Dubai, and appeals to parents who feel their child would benefit from being in a smaller more homely environment for longer before joining “big” school.”

“Having now been with the setting for 3 years (always working with children aged 2), she described IDEA as friendly, relaxed and a happy place for employees.  Magda feels completely trusted and that in her classroom she had ‘freedom to be creative’.  She felt that each day at IDEA was approximately ‘70%’ child led, with some carefully added adult led and focussed activities”

“The curriculum’s solid foundation in literacy, communication and language was also praised by the team.”

“Throughout our tour we were impressed by the willingness of the children to chat with our reviewer.  The older children were able to clearly describe their learning and had clear enthusiasm for the teachers and ‘school’.”

“On a practical level, she appreciated the preschool being in a ‘cul de sac’ which she felt made drop off and pick up considerably safer than usual.  Parking was simply ‘never an issue’.”

“A second IDEA Mum described in detail how well the team were catering for her son, who had some quite specific additional needs.”

“Our parent panel all answered an emphatic ‘yes’ when we asked about whether they felt part of a community at IDEA.  This was the ‘best bit’ in fact!  Communication was a central pillar of this sense of community with parents reporting high levels of satisfaction with the parent app, email communication and regular face to face chats with teachers and leadership”

“Although the rooms face out onto the garden/outdoor play areas there are no doors directly to the outside (at present children access the garden via the central corridor).  We would love to see IDEA install garden doors from each classroom, allowing children ‘free flow’ to the outdoors.  A simple but impactful change that we believe would benefit every student.”

“IDEA has nine classrooms, all situated off a long, central corridor. The classrooms are spacious with large windows allowing lots of natural light.  Walls are kept white with accents of bright colours on the doors and in the washrooms.  Each room is well resourced with good quality, age appropriate equipment”

What our Experts Say:

“Overall, our team felt that IDEA ELC was a very well run, well-resourced preschool that had quickly become a real hub for the local community. A culture of kindness here runs very deep.”

Why we Recommend this Nursery:

Community is a vital element of raising a child and something that expatriate children can perhaps miss out on in our transient lifestyles.  IDEA have placed themselves at the heart of this community and focus on making their families feel connected and supported. Also worth noting the stand-out on-line provision and care for children provided during the Covid 19 lockdown – something not true of many school. How schools respond when times are tough is a powerful test of the power of action over words – and IDEA ELC has really delivered for its families and children. Impressive.

Our independent review of IDEA Early Learning Centre can be found here.

More information from the school here.

 

4. Little Land Nursery – Finalist, SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best Nursery School in the UAE 2019-20

Little Land Nursery in Dubai a finalist in the Best Nursery School in the UAE Award here highlighting a child at play laughing

The Facts:

SchoolsCompared.com Rating: Very Good with Outstanding Features

Curriculum:  EYFS and Montessori (offered in separate classrooms)

Staff Ratios:

1:4 with 18mo – 2 yr (this is the youngest class)

1:5 (2 year olds)

1:6 (2.5 year olds)

1:7 (3+)

Staff qualifications:

Minimum Cache 3/Montessori Diploma for lead teachers.  Assistants Cache 2 or 1 as appropriate

Average price (based upon 45 hours per week for 3 terms): AED 38,000

The Visit – Outstanding Features:

“The owner and fully engaged manager, Siog Moore, set up Little Land Nursery & Montessori Centre in 1994 bringing with her 25 years of experience of what works best for children and parents.  Children from the age of 14 months enjoy an exciting and play-centred traditional nursery experience while those two and a half to four years old explore learning through the Montessori system.”

“These are new premises (created with care from an older residential villa).  The nursery has been planned with modern curricula in mind.  There is a reasonable quota of parking available, including a small private car park and we saw that parents seem to drop and manoeuvre their children safely to the building as the road is pretty quiet.”

“Unusually, the nursery operates a combination of both EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and Montessori classrooms.  The differences between the two curricula are subtly but skilfully implemented with appropriately qualified staff in each of the rooms.”

“We observed a spectacular variety of playful learning including painting, squishy shaving foam trays, play doh rolling and cutting out along with fun using yellow colour mashed potato to simulate ice cream being spooned into cones.  In fact, everywhere we looked the variety of different activities on the go at the same time were astounding.”

“There are colourful climbing frames, wendy houses, bikes, a tent and several areas for sand and water play. A cute grassed area for the little ones known as the Teletubby garden has been developed. It has tunnels for them to climb through, huge palms trees for shade and a wall painted with pretty desert and sky mural.”

“We asked parents why they had chosen Little Land as there are so many options available.  They described their choice as ‘head and shoulders above the competition’.  Parents valued that it was not run as a business but by a leader with passion and integrity.”

What our Experts Say:

Inspirational leaders are key to the Early Years industry and Siog’s constant attention to detail and passion for professional development has created a unique community around Little Land nursery.  Offering top notch facilities in a homely environment, the warmth and care at Little Land are second to none.

Why we Recommend this Nursery:

Exceptionally positive relationships, human warmth and a strongly engaged sense of community are the hallmarks of any great nursery, and Little Land has all these and more in abundance.

More information from the school can be found here.

 

5. Yellow Brick Road – Finalist, SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best Nursery School in the UAE 2019-20

The Facts:

SchoolsCompared.com Rating: Outstanding

Curriculum:  EYFS

Staff Ratios:

  • 35 days to walking – 1:2.5
  • Walking to 18 months – 1:3
  • 5 years to 2 years 8 months – 1:4
  • 2 years 8 months to 3 years 2 months – 1:4
  • 3 – 4 years – 1:4

Staff qualifications: All classroom staff are B’Ed or Cache 3 qualified.

Average price (based upon 45 hours per week for 3 terms): 35,000

The Visit – Outstanding Features:

“As we enter, we are immediately impressed by the outdoor area.  There is a huge space divided into several smaller areas, all decorated with imaginative and beautiful materials and art work.  Children are playing happily in a wide variety of activities, including sand and water play, construction and outdoor story time.  There is a pretty fairy garden and a growing area in raised beds at child height.  Staff later tell us that their own team of carpenters create the play equipment to match the ideas and specifications of the staff.”

“We immediately notice that each class in the nursery is well stocked with interesting and quirky resources.  For example, tea sets are metal Arabic style tea pots, cups and plates (sourced from the souqs) and there are lots of natural resources in each room (we see children using pebbles and pieces of wood as props for lots of different play activities).”

“One room has a fabulous wooden ‘tree house’ inside, and several have a ‘home corner’ in a traditional Arabic tent.  The children in the first we room we visit are having their Arabic language lesson as we arrive, and most are singing along with their teacher.  A couple of children do not want to take part and we were happy to see that they are simply allowed to choose an alternative activity, rather than being required to take part.  In any nursery that claims to be child led, respecting children’s choices is essential.”

“As we tour the nursery, Reema tells us more about the philosophy and curriculum of Yellow Brick Road nursery.  Offering the English EYFS with a leaning towards the philosophy of Reggio Emilia, Reema tells us that the children spend much of the first term of each year focussed on their personal, social and emotional growth, something which she believes is the foundation of all learning.”

“Community activities are highlighted many times during our tour, our favourite being the link between Yellow Brick Road and Al Mamzar Community Centre (a centre for the elderly).  Children from Yellow Brick Road visit the centre monthly and the team report great success and happiness for young and old alike.”

“Our tour through the nursery took a pit stop at the dining hall.  Filled with pretty, tablecloth covered tables, the food is all prepared in house by a catering team who have been with the nursery for many years.  Wherever possible, organic produce is used.  We can confirm that the banana porridge is indeed excellent!  When we later spoke with a group of parents, they reported extremely high satisfaction with the food, most admitting that their children much preferred the nursery food to home!”

“Teachers also reported very high satisfaction with Yellow Brick Road, and management report a very low turnover of staff.  Lourdes herself has been with the nursery for 16 years!  Something of a feat in our ever changing expat city.”

What Our Experts Say:

Yellow Brick Road nursery offers an outstanding level of care and education, superb facilities and a beautiful environment for young children.

Why We Recommend this Nursery:

Many nurseries claim to serve the community but we truly felt that the spirit of charity and giving were strong at Yellow Brick Road.  This is a ‘home from home’ environment where children learn in a gentle and unhurried way.

More information here.

 

2020-21 New and Updated Nursery School Recommendations

1. Paddington Nursery

This small, privately owned and managed nursery, boasts a more personal service to parents and children. With large areas of outdoor playgrounds and grassed open spaces, there is as much room to play as to learn. Its diverse staff participate in ongoing training and development both in house and externally. The nursery offers extended and flexible enrolment packages to help working parents that need full time care of their children.

Parent Vicki Shad Woods says that:

“Paddington has been such a wonderful little, safe-haven for our daughter. I can’t recommend it enough.”

Aimee Whiteoak-Medcalf calls it “truly amazing”, saying that the team are passionate, caring and experienced:

“My son started at 3months old, the team gave us confidence to trust them with our little baby, he continues to attend today and has grown so much during his time at Paddington. He thoroughly enjoys going and is stimulated and engaged with different play based activities. I can’t imagine him attending anywhere else now.”

The traditional British curriculum EYFS curriculum nursery was established in 2015 with classes for baby through to FS2 and has a maximum capacity of 120 across six classrooms, gym and central free play area, outdoor play area and direct walking access to extensive parks and playgrounds within JLT.

“At Paddington nursery above all else we value the individual child and their inherent need for play. We believe that children hold the key to their own learning and it is our job to unlock their full potential”, explains principal, Laura Barton-Toyne.

Part-time fees start at AED 5,768 per team going up to AED 14,420 for full days, five days a week. More follows:

fees 2019 2020

 

Location: Unit 5, Ground Level, Cluster P, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 16-18

Fees: AED 5,768 to AED 14,420 based on days/half days per week

Location: JLT, Dubai

Contact Email: info@paddingtonnursery.com

Contact phone number: +971 50 154 2938

Official web site: here.

 

2. Creative Nest Nursery

Creative Nursery prides itself on variety, with everything from a STEM lab to an organic garden, mini chefs kitchen and splash pad, in addition to facilities including a gym and indoor and outdoor play facilities, sand pits and climbing walls. Their emphasis is on Arabic in a fun and progressive curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach.

The nursery’s app enables parents to not only connect with teachers, but to keep track of children’s progress on site, when they are off busy working.

Established in 2016, Fees start from AED 7,000 per term for twice a week. Capacity is 320 children, across 18 classrooms, though current enrolment is around 200 children.

For the smallest guests, the nursery also has a sleeping room with award-winning Dream Coracles, a breastfeeding room and special unit for babies with their own indoor playground.

Zeena Assam, the nursery’s principal, says:

“Creative Nest Nursery is a home away from home.  We see children as the most natural learners around. They learn best by ‘doing’, and that means they’re learning all the time. Everything they touch, every corner they explore sparks a reaction within. Our state-of-the-art purpose-built nursery and special approach encourages our children to explore their surroundings without hesitation. Our approach pushes the boundaries of classroom-based learning, turning every corner of our facility into a source of intrigue and wonder.”

Address: Street 16c Mizhar 2 Dubai

Curriculum: Reggio Emilia approach

Average class size: 16

Fees: From AED7,000 for minimum twice a week

Location: Mizhar, Dubai

Contact Email: saysalam@creativenestnursery.com

Contact phone number: 04 263 3876

Official web site: here.

 

3. Kids Island Nursery

As an ‘eco nursery’, Kids Island is all about teaching children to interact with their environment using natural elements – from soil and leaves to home grown veggies, as well as traditional toys. The approach is very much to engage children through the use of  learning resources explored through the lens of the natural world.

The British Montessori, British EYFS Curriculum, uses the The Inspire Approach, which meshes together the best of pedagogies including Waldorf, Te Whāriki, Montessori and Reggio Emilia.

The family-run nursery – with a capacity of 120 – has been located in the heart of Jumeirah for almost 30 years, led by Isabelle Amatoury and Agathe Jameson, a strong mother-daughter team with over 60 years’ combined teaching and leadership experience.

Challenging and enticing outdoor environments encourage children to engage in activities that push their physical boundaries and lead to adventurous play. Children have the freedom to interact and learn in areas including the Mud Kitchen, Discovery Deck, Nature’s Kitchen, Learning Terrace, Marhaba Garden and Nature Zone. Indoors, the creative studio, gym room, role play area and sensory studio encourage children to investigate, explore, question and understand. Agathe Jameson, Principal, told us:

“Children should to be inspired to slow down, engage with their environment and immerse themselves into meaningful play.”

Parent Lea Badro said:

“There is a really warm and positive vibe and atmosphere at the nursery and a lot of open communication and emotional support for the kids which we really appreciated. Since our daughter became part of the family at Kids Island her personality and character have really come out in the most magical way. She is an only child and sees the other kids as siblings which we can only praise the amazing staff at the school for.”

The nursery offers 2,3,4 and 5 days a week. Most children attend from 8:00am to 12:45pm – 5 days at AED 13,850 per term / 41,550 AED per annum.

Full time is 7:30am to 2:00pm and the nursery does not offer daily or weekly rates.

Contact: 04-3949394 / info@kidsislandnursery.com

Address: Villa 101, Al Zoubaidi st, Jumeirah 3, Makani No. 21143 85927

Curriculum: British Montessori

Average class size: 14

Fees: up to AED 13,850 per term for five days per week

Location: Jumeirah 3

Contact Email: info@kidsislandnursery.com

Contact phone number: 04 394 9394

Official web site: here.

 

4. The Little Dreamers Nursery

From languages to dance and music, Little Dreamers – a British EYFS curriculum nursery – likes to keep children creative. With a maximum of 15 to a class, children have a wide range of extra curricular activities as well as in-class options, including yoga, French, Arabic, ball skills, music and Zumba, all included in the nursery fees. Transparency with parents is one of the nursery’s key values – and parents are able to check on their child at any moment of the nursery day through the app. This also gives parents access to all the planning, day to day activities and the routine of their child at any point in the day. The nursery boasts a very hands on staff, with a commitment to always exceed the required MOE ratio.

Under one-year-olds get a dedicated soft play area, with separate facilities including a studio for yoga, Zumba and music, art room, library, garden corner for gardening, an interactive screen for FS1 kids and a separate sleeping room. “To work with children is truly a blessing, providing the foundation of successful education, all whilst having so much fun. They do not even know they are learning,” says Jade Harrison, Head Teacher and curriculum co-ordinator.

Parents love it too. Magy Adams told us:

”Everyone is so friendly and kids-oriented. I do not have to give any instructions, they know what they are doing. The place is so clean and hygienic. My baby is very excited to go there every day.”

One of the newer nurseries in town, it has been running since 2018. The nursery doesn’t offer daily or weekly options, with term rates at the 110 capacity centre between AED 7,500 -AED 10,000

Contact: 0505667982, 04-3430050 / admin@thelittledreamersnursery.com, m.v@thelittledreamersnursery.com

Address: Al Wasl road, street st 41, villa 26 (nearby landmark, Horizon School).

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 

Fees: AED 7,500 to AED 10,000 based on days attending

Location: Al Wasl

Contact Email: admin@thelittledreamersnursery.com

Contact phone number: 0505667982, 04 343 0050

Official web site: here.

 

5. Little Land Nursery – 2020 update

As above, Little Land Nursery, a finalist in our Top School Awards 2019-20 for Best Nursery School in the UAE, is an independent, nanny and screen-free nursery. Managed by the founding partner Siog Moore, Little Land is an old hand in Dubai, operating for 26 years.  An exceptional team of experienced and well qualified lead teachers and teaching assistants, all have prior experience and accredited qualifications (Early Years Cache Level 3, a UK examination board qualification, or Montessori teaching qualifications).

With spacious facilities including outdoor shaded areas, lovely gardens and good off-road parking, the 120-capacity nursery is located in a quiet residential area in the centre of Um Suqeim 2.  Individually designed classrooms for Montessori and Early Years activities include specialist equipment combined with the Montessori teaching methods which are inclusive and maximise each child’s physical and psychological potential at each stage of his or her development.

The holistic approach blends with strong parental input as to the likes of sleep training, emotional well-being and inter-family relationships. Its “open door” philosophy has been cherished by all its community members. Community is key here, where many of the families over the 26 years are still in touch with the nursery, and some children have even returned as teachers and ex-students have returned with their children.

Its six classrooms are divided into spaces including Art, Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Culture (which includes geography, nature and science) with large shaded play areas for cycling, climbing, sliding, soft play, ball play and more. Bordered by the planting areas for children, a grass covered balancing area has specialist, handmade wooden equipment and a fun sandpit, while a separate Teletubby grass covered garden with hills and tunnels and a special table top water-play area offers more diverse play. There is a Parent Community Centre for ECAs parents and friends of Little Land providing courses led by qualified facilitators or teachers in parenting, fitness and wellbeing to ensure the community is so much more than just a learning centre for little ones. There is even a spacious kitchen for teachers and parents on site too, and two nurses permanently on site. Parent, Leonard Rego, told us:

“The decision to choose Little Land as a nursery for our son was one of the best we’ve ever made. My wife and I have always believed that it’s very important for kids to be kids – that they learn through exploration and fun, rather than by a strictly regimented schedule of activities. It was also very important that the approach be humane and loving but based on a tried-and-tested pedagogy (Montessori, in this case) that helps children be who they really are.”

With its strong reputation, there is often a waiting list at this popular suburban spot. Options start from two days a week up to five, with fees from AED 5,350 to AED 17,795 per term.

Principal Siog Moore, says everything at Little Land begins and ends with love:

“I’ve always believed – and now more than ever – that learning begins with love. I feel very privileged that my mission is to help children understand that they are worthy of love. Not only because every child deserves it, but because it is the very foundation on which their dreams are built. How big or small those dreams are does not matter.

What does matter is their sense of self-worth, which translates to confidence and meaningful success in life. Using the Montessori method, or any other method, is only effective when the application is scientific, but more importantly it needs to be teacher-directed and child-centric. Every teacher and staff member at Little Land is here because we share the same thinking and values and the same love for children”.

Address: Little Land Nursery and Montessori Centre, Villa 11, Al Dassi Street, Umm Suqeim 2, Dubai.

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 

Fees: AED 5,350 for two days to AED 17,795 for five

Location: Umm Suqeim

Contact Email:  info@littlelandnursery.com

Contact phone number: 04 394 4471

Whatsapp: +971 50 689 4471

Official web site: here.

 

6. Kangaroo Kids Nursery

Set amongst nature, this Al Safa based British nursery educated with an enchanting garden as its foundation. The “Forest School Curriculum” builds on an eco heritage of some 15 years. Boasting 25,000 sq ft of natural open garden space, its bespoke British EYFS curriculum is also both Curiosity Approach and Hygge Early Years Accredited.

Not only is there an extensive garden and forest space (including a fabulous vegetable garden), but Kangaroo Kids brings the outdoors in, with an indoor zen nature garden and indoor toddler garden. Creativity is at its heart, with facilities including an outside amphitheater and outdoor ‘Dig It’ construction play space. Sports start young too, with an indoor Gymbaroo for sports and dance, a professional running track for the daily lap programme, bikes and trikes zone and a climate controlled swimming pool.

The garden has a sensory/nature space while a messy play area and mud kitchen allow freedom by the bucket load. Little ones have separate units (for FS1, Toddlers, Babies and Nursery age children) with designated sleep rooms for all important rest time.

Happy mum, Ivy Duarte, who took her child there at 17 months, told us:

“The stimulating activities are full of cheerful surprises, and getting updates during the day in real time puts my mummy heart at ease.”

Fees at the 164-capacity centre are daily, weekly and annually – full time and half day, termly fees align between AED 12,580 and AED 16,440 and annual half day fees are AED 44,100. Full day, full time fees run to AED 56,676.

Address: Villa 49, Street 8a, Al Safa 2, Dubai.

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 12-15

Fees: AED 12,580 half day to AED 16,440 full day

Location: Al Safa

Contact Email: Operations@kangarookids.ae

Contact phone number: 04 395 5518 / 058 593 2884

Official web site: here.

 

7. Yellow Brick Road Nursery – update 2020

As above, the award-winning Reggio Emilia founded Yellow Brick Road Nursery prides itself on a holistic approach to education, where the environment around the children, becomes a teacher in itself. For the multi-cultural team, all qualified with CACHE level qualifications, hands-on learning is a critical part of the ethos. Between outdoor garden spaces and indoor learning environments, children are encouraged to bond with nature, in addition to their more guided play which includes Music and Movements, Drumming, Kung Fu, Ballet, Arabic Lessons, ICT and STEAM education, and plenty of outdoor physical development activities. Other facilities include an organic vegetable garden, sand pit, fairy garden, library and tricycle tracks.

Yellow Brick Road Nursery provides a full-day child-care facility with operational hours from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and follows the Early Years Foundation Stage EYFS Curriculum interwoven with the Reggio Emilia Philosophy. Children are provided with the independence to steer their own learning and explorations through the unique everyday learning environments.

Founding Partner and Managing Director of the 250-capacity facility, Bernadette King-Turner, told us:

“We believe that children should experience a childhood full of exploration and play, discovery and trust, creativity and love.”

Address: 31st Casablanca Street, Al Garhoud, Dubai

Curriculum: Early Years Foundation Stage- EYFS Curriculum interweaved with the Reggio Emilia Philosophy

Average class size: 15

Fees: AED 9,785 for three half days to AED 12,745 for full time

Location: Al Garhoud, Dubai

Contact Email: Admin@YellowBrickRoadNursery.com

Contact phone number: 04 282 8290

Official web site: here.

 

8. British Rose Nursery, Sharjah

 

Providing Sharjah with outstanding British education and care for over 20 years with its British and European team, the nursery chain began in the UK in 1988. The only private British family owned nursery within Sharjah, the environment is a truly wholesome family environment. The nursery has strong ties with the leading British schools in Sharjah ensuring the transition from nursery into school runs smoothly.

Located in the Al Nekhailat suburb in Sharjah, the nursery has wonderful outside play areas with plenty of activities to keep little ones busy. Every corner of the outside gardens has been carefully designed to encourage children to feel inspired and have the freedom to explore with their friends.

Activities include gardening, sand and water play, music area, investigation areas, bikes slides and other exciting apparatus. Inside, the nursery has bright, stimulating and engaging classrooms with small class sizes and inspiring facilities including an indoor activity centre with exciting role play activities, a full library and a bright and inspiring art studio for children to create, design and showcase their own magnificent work. Cherie Basha, Principal, told us:

“We nurture each child’s passion for learning by building a strong foundation to create confident, happy children with the ability to think openly and critically about the world around them as they begin their amazing learning journey.”

Address: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qasimi St, Al Heerah Suburb, Al Nekhailat, Sharjah

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 10 plus a TA

Fees: AED 7,500 to AED 12,600 based on three or five days per week

Location: Al Heerah Suburb, Sharjah

Contact Email: admissions@britishrosenursery.com

Contact phone number: 06 524 1494

Official web address: here.

 

9. British Rose Nursery Jumeirah

British Rose Nursery Jumeirah is a private, British family-owned nursery with over 30 years of experience. Its founder opened her first nursery in 1988 in the UK and moved on to open British Rose Nurseries in the UAE in 2001. Its motto is ‘curiosity begins here,’ with its a learning approach constructed through play across the Early Years Foundation Stage using a curiosity method to “inspire awe and wonder” within children.

Using an individualised learning approach, children are leaders of their learning. Daily documentation, listening and discussion with children further enables the nursery to follow and support each child’s individual and individualised learning. At the heart of the nursery is the importance of nature, sustainability and love for the environment. The incorporation of nature can be seen throughout the nursery but particularly in its eco-learning approach; recycling, minimal plastic use, use natural resources and nature-led activities complete the picture .

Based in Umm Al Sheif and opened in 2018, the location is central, with abundant parking spaces available for easy access for parents. Its beautifully designed, large outside play areas offer plenty of space to run, skip, hop and jump. The garden area provides space for exploring, digging, building and playing with friends. Various climbing apparatus challenges children’s motor development. Bikes are provided for those children who simply “love to zoom.” A large sand-play area and a splash zone to cool off on warm days completes the comprehensive mix.

Inside, there is a huge array of activity areas including a full library to encourage an appreciation for literature and reading as well as role-play areas to spark each child’s imagination. The music and movement studio offers the likes of yoga and mindfulness, gymnastics, dance, ballet and taekwondo. The nursery also has a sensory room inviting children to use their senses through touch, vision and sounds.

And for the tiny ones, its baby unit is calm and inviting with plenty of activities to keep its youngest students happy and stimulated every day.

Parents speak highly of the facility. Faisal Khateeb says:

“Going to BRN has had a massively positive impact on our son. Since joining, he has become very independent and confident.”

Jamie Brown agrees:

“I cannot recommend BRN enough. Since enrolling my daughter we have both been so happy. All the staff are so experienced and attentive. The communication is fantastic. I feel so happy that my daughter goes to this nursery and I truly believe she has the best care any nursery could offer; the surroundings are lovely and the staff are just outstanding.”

Address: British Rose Nursery Jumeirah 27 6 B St, Umm Al Sheif, Dubai

Curriculum: British

Average class size: 10 plus TA

Fees: AED 7,500 to AED 12,600 based on three or five days per week 

Location: Umm Al Sheif

Contact Email: jumeriah@britishrosenursery.com

Contact phone number: 04 321 6069

Official web address: here 

 

10. Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery

Boasting “outdoor learning in natural surroundings”, the environmentally conscious eco-curriculum works hand in hand with EYFS curriculum at the nursery which has two branches in the city, in Al Sanbook Street (set up in 2011) and Al Safa (set up in September 2014).

The nurseries each have over 100 happy children each day, across facilities including large gardens, mindfulness areas, indoor gyms, a library, and a parents room/breast feeding room to help make parents’ lives simple.

Parents love it. Kinda Char Salam says:

“I have been a part of Home Grown Nursery for over five years now, with my three children having spent their pre-school years there. We highly value the nurturing environment for the children; a place where they feel safe, loved and protected. The curriculum provides an effective balance between structured education and free play, allowing the children the freedom to do their own thing whilst learning at the same time. The kids also learn the sustainable “savoir vivre” of daily life such as saving on electricity and water consumption, and embracing everything living around them.”

Gabriella Reiss was drawn to the ‘eco’ elements of the system:

“When we started looking for nurseries, we joked that there were more establishments on each street corner than bakeries in France. We visited Home Grown because of the ‘eco’ claim. The garden made the first wonderful impression: natural, large, full of plants and activities. The building, with its no-shoes policy is clean and appropriately beautiful. We wish Home Grown would continue into older classes because both our girl and boy were at their optimal level of learning through a programme that was taught in small groups and mostly with lots of fun. They turned out to care about the world, the environment and the friends they still have.”

Address 1: Al Sanbook Street Branch: Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery, PO Box 112178, Villa 33, Street 9, Off Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Address 2: Al Safa Branch: Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery, PO Box 112178, Villa 43, Street 33, Al Safa 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Curriculum: British Montessori, Green Engagement Programme, British Early Years Foundation Stage

Average class size: 16

Fees: AED 7,565 to AED 16,950 based on full or part time 

Location: Al Safa / Al Sanbrook Street

Contact 1: Al Sanbook Street Branch: 04 330 7008, reception@homegrownnursery.ae

Contact 2: Al Safa Branch: 04 321 8333, safareception@homegrownnursery.ae

Official web site: here.

 

11. Future International Nursery, Al Warqa’ 2

 

A stand-out nursery for the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com, this purpose built nursery has been designed from the ground up for the littlest learners. We rate it outstanding. The philosophical underpinning, namely that “investment in early years learning is a required foundation of later education” is evident in the extraordinary commitment of school leadership and the passion of teaching faculty. Dual-language led, Arabic and English teaching make both languages relevant and comprehensible – no small achievement. Each class has their own teacher for English and teacher for Arabic. This co-teaching approach ensures a high level of development in both languages.

Founder and CEO, Dr Safa Bukhatir, gained her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the prestigious UCL Institute of Education in London. She set up the first Future International Nursery in Sharjah in 2009, and later developed the Dubai pre-school. A computer scientist by training, Ms Bukhatir developed her professional career in teaching before taking on the role of Executive Director of the International School of Creative Science in Sharjah, a role Dr. Bukhatir held for six years. Dr. Bukhatir has invested the whole of her adult life impassioned with a belief in the value of education and the conviction that nursery education, and early scaffolding of language skills, is the missing link for children to excel.

When it comes to facilities, there is much to love. A discovery centre connects children to nature with animals and plants to excite their love of the planet, while a dedicated kitchen (one of the best we have seen in any nursery in the UAE) not only provides meals on site, but offers food preparation classes for children too. Other facilities include a sensory room, soft gymnasium, splash and swimming pools, cycling area, climbing area … and much more. Reading areas are numerous.

Indoor facilities include:

  • well-lit spacious classrooms with direct opening on the outdoor play areas
  • a sensory room with interactive flooring
  • a pattern/sequencing room
  • a gymnasium with soft play equipment
  • a ‘Future Street’ – our indoor role play area
  • a huge construction area that enables children to build child-sized structures
  • An auditorium with audio-visual equipment
  • Creative and messy areas in each classroom
  • Quiet and reading corners for each age group
  • A child friendly kitchen

Outdoor spaces include:

  • Forest space and water stream
  • Green discovery centre
  • Organic planting areas with direct access from each class
  • Sand and water areas
  • Mud kitchens
  • Water park, with splash pool and swimming pool
  • A riding track where children can develop their coordination and gross motor skills
  • Multiple climbing, sliding and swinging equipment, for locomotor play where children can balance, swing, slide, climb and crawl.
  • An open space for ball games and running to develop stamina and dexterity
  • Sensory zones for the stimulation of the different senses
  • Imaginative areas, where children are free to work on a larger scale than indoors for painting, drawing, sculpting, constructing and model-making
  • A quiet area for storytelling, small group activities, role play activities, etc.
  • A water park, with its splashing pool and swimming pool, where children discover the endless possibilities of water play.

Children swimming at Future International Nursery in Dubai

Fully inclusive, the policy of the nursery is to never turn a child away, and children of determination are supported by a network of external private specialist centres who visit the school as required by the needs of the individual child.

Parents at Future International Nursery are universally full of praise – and rightfully so. This is, by any standard, an outstanding nursery.

Maryam’s mother told us:

“At FIN it is not only about the facilities, that are really spectacular. Teachers are amazing. My child finds it hard not to go to the nursery during the Weekend!”

Al Hasan’s mother said:

“Thank you to Future International Nursery for giving my son a second home. I not only feel safe in leaving him, but I know that he will be nurtured and happy. This is a place of joy and different from other nurseries we visited. It is an easy thing to find a nursery who will care for a child – but quite another to find one that will help raise one. That is a very rare thing for a mother to find. Thank you for what you have given us all in our community and continue to give.”

Our full independent review can be found here.

Address (Dubai): Future International Nursery, Dubai Branch, Street 33B, Al Warqaa 2

Address (Sharjah): Future International Nursery, Sharjah Branch, Muwafjah area, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Opposite Porsche Showroom, Sharjah

Curriculum: British EYFS

Average class size: 4:1 ratio

Fees: Fees start from AED 24,000 for the academic year.

Location: Mirdif / Al Warqa’a 2

Contact Dubai: +971 (0) 4 280 3399 / +971 (0) 56 801 5050

Contact Sharjah: +971 (0) 6 5487101 / +971 (0) 50 778 2001

 

12. The Wonder Years Nurseries – Dubai Sports City and Remraam Communities

These are fabulous British EYFS Nurseries which attract parents from across the UAE for their guaranteed slipstream to the outstanding Victory Heights Primary School (our review here). The same philosophy of absolute commitment to the needs of the individual child extends across all the schools in this cluster – and it is powerfully evident in the pervasive sense of all-consuming happiness and inspiration that floods the schools – and some of the most committed and passionate teachers you will find in UAE schools. These are definitely nurseries to visit – and to get a joined up picture of just how inter-connected the schools are we recommend a visit to Victory Heights Primary School as part of your decision making.

Facilities are extensive with light and vibrant classrooms with attached toilets, spacious central indoor play area, Libraries (Reading Dens), multiple role play areas, dedicated Art zones, Gym and fully equipped medical clinic. All classrooms and play areas are equipped with high quality materials designed to engage children and mobilise thinking around distinct areas of the EYFS curriculum. Classrooms leads out on to their own section of shaded garden with the ubiquitous ‘messy’ play, sand and water activities that engage children powerfully at younger ages. A large central shaded outdoor play area with separate outdoor zones for babies, a bike track, sensory garden and water play area complete the picture. The nurseries are absolutely spotless and the attention to detail outstanding. 

Our full independent review can be found here.

Curriculum: British EYFS

Average class size: 4:1 (Teacher and 2 Teaching Assistants)

Fees: AED 33,000 per annum for 5 day, full time learning.

Location: DSC & Remraam

Contact: +971 4 368 5600 (Dubai Sports City) and +971 4 422 75 11 (Remraam) / + 971 56 7449930 (24 hour cellular)

©SchoolsCompared.com 2020. All rights reserved.

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About The Author
Melanie Swan
Special Projects Reporter on SchoolsCompared.com, Melanie Swan is an accomplished news and features journalist, bringing to her role more than two decade's experience of reporting on what really matters at the coal face of human lives. She began her career at the News of The World, part of News International, in London in 2002, before moving to the Sunday People in 2005. Hired to join the launch team of The National in Abu Dhabi, Ms Swan came to the UAE in 2008, and stayed with The National for 9.5 years. "Where there is an important story in Education that needs reporting,"she told us, "I am there to ensure that SchoolsCompared.com readers get it first."

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