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UAE Education

Edufair 2024: Innovations in early childhood education revolutionising learning in the UAE

Schools, nurseries, and early learning centers are redefining teaching approaches

Anam Salem, Branch Manager, Chubby Cheeks Nursery and Anupama Monga, Principal, British Orchard Nursery during a panel discussion on "Innovations in Early childhood Education"
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Preschool classrooms are transforming into emotionally supportive and cognitively stimulating environments, transforming early childhood education in the UAE.

Recent studies emphasise that positive teacher interactions and peer engagement significantly enhance language, numerical skills, and socio-emotional development in young children. Schools, nurseries, and early learning centers are redefining teaching approaches to accommodate each child's unique learning style, aiming to create highly effective learning environments that lay a solid foundation for later academic success.

In a recent panel discussion on "Innovations in Early Childhood Education," Anam Salem, Branch Manager of Chubby Cheeks Nursery, and Anupama Monga, Principal of British Orchard Nursery, highlighted several key approaches reshaping learning experiences for young students. The panel discussion was part of the inaugural edition of Gulf News Edufair Schools & Nurseries, which is underway at Villa Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road with leading educational institutions from across the country.

One prominent strategy discussed by the experts is the customisation of teaching methods to suit individual learning styles. By recognizing and adapting to each child's unique needs, educators can create a more inclusive and effective learning environment. "At Chubby Cheeks Nurseries, our approach revolves around placing the child at the center of everything we do," says Salem. "Our curriculum is child-centered, focusing on the child's interests and how we can create a positive environment to facilitate their learning. We adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) standards, a standard practice in the UK, and divide classroom areas accordingly. We have various areas in the classroom, such as a role-play area where children can learn through imaginative play, as well as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas with activities tailored to their age to enhance curiosity, exploration, and engagement."

Salem emphasises the crucial role of outdoor play in their teaching approach. Chubby Cheeks Nursery organizes activities such as scavenger hunts and field trips to provide real-life learning experiences. "Nurseries and early childhood education centers play a vital role in helping children, aged zero to five, organize their thoughts and overcome challenges, preparing them for future learning experiences," says Salem.


Another crucial aspect of innovation in early childhood education is the importance of socio-emotional learning (SEL). Educators are implementing programs and activities that help children develop essential skills such as self-awareness, empathy, and social interaction. These skills are not only crucial for academic success but also for overall well-being and future success in life. "At British Orchard Nursery, we have introduced an emotional quotient curriculum, which has been well-received," says Monga. "We are not only training our staff but also encouraging parents to participate in this curriculum. Recently, we have started focusing on helping children identify and manage their emotions. This initiative has been incredibly successful, as children are now more in touch with their feelings and are learning how to regulate and express them."

Additionally, British Orchard Nursery is training staff and parents on how to deal with tantrums and other challenging behaviors. "We believe that it is essential to understand the generational trauma and how it affects our interactions with children," says Monga. "Children today are different, and it is crucial to adapt our approach to meet their needs."

Monga also focuses on building children's self-esteem through affirmations and activities that promote belief in themselves. "To promote self-esteem in children, we have implemented several exercises and innovations at our nursery," she says. "One of the key strategies we use is our 'calm room,' which serves as a safe space for children to retreat to when they are feeling distressed or upset. This room helps prevent feelings of isolation or neglect, especially when a child may be experiencing social challenges like not being included by a friend."

It's also vital to ensure an inclusive environment for students. To achieve an inclusive environment, it is crucial to provide opportunities for every child. Chubby Cheeks Nurseries provides a special educator who works closely with parents to address any issues that may arise. "Every child is unique, and personal, social, and emotional development are key areas of early childhood education," says Salem. "Staff training is our core focus. We provide weekly training sessions on new innovative practices, including emotional intelligence and other areas such as differentiation or multiple intelligences. We believe in continuously evolving to meet the needs of our students. We incorporate inquiry-based learning and open-ended questions to encourage communication skills and curiosity in children."

Monga emphasises the need to maintain a strong relationship between the school and parents, as communication with parents is vital to the development of children. "We use apps to connect with parents daily, providing updates on their child's day," she explains. "We also conduct positive calling, where we inform parents about their child's achievements and development. Additionally, we involve parents in school activities and events to strengthen our relationship."


When asked how the schools help parents select the right nursery for their child, Salem says her school allows parents to visit classrooms to see the approach firsthand. "We also provide online platforms for parents to view pictures of our activities," she adds. "Furthermore, we organise workshops and webinars for parents to engage with teachers and learn more about our curriculum."

Speaking on how teachers tailor their learning styles to remain fun and interactive for students, Monga says her school's teachers are trained to understand children's varied interests and learning styles. They use open-ended resources and activities to engage children and encourage them to use their creativity and multiple intelligences. "Teachers focus on personalised attention and often work in small groups to ensure each child's needs are met," she adds.

Looking towards the future, the biggest change in nursery education is the integration of technology. Digital tools and platforms are being utilised to enhance learning experiences, providing interactive and engaging content that complements traditional teaching methods. Additionally, schools are focusing on creating learning environments that promote exploration and discovery, encouraging children to learn through play and hands-on experiences. "I believe the biggest change will come from technology, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in augmented learning," says Monga. "We have already started introducing coding to our students, beginning with STEM education. Coding will become as important as high school education, and we will be implementing it in all nurseries. Understanding coding begins at a young age, starting with whole-body movements. We use floor games for younger children to teach them directionality, which is the foundation of coding. As they grow older, they will transition to more formal technology to further develop their coding skills."

Edufair is open until tomorrow at Villa Rotana. Visitors can easily access the venue from Business Bay and Dubai Mall metro stations. Register for free on