Many parents nowadays choose to send their children directly to mainstream schools, ignoring the values of a good nursery or early learning education.
Parents know their children very well and always want the best for them. However, for some young children, the abrupt transfer from a loving and nurturing environment at home to a more formal academic set-up can be extremely traumatic.
In the early years, education is based on play and all activities at nurseries are carefully planned out and structured to provide a stimulating environment for kids to learn and develop.
Most quality preschools provide children with a caring environment, where their developmental progress and needs are clearly addressed. In the early years, education is based on play and all activities are carefully planned out and structured to provide a stimulating environment for kids to learn and develop.
With a strong focus on personal, social and emotional development, nurseries and preschools lay the foundation for future learning in children, especially during the early formative years of a child’s life.
Mainstream schools often follow the same approach, however, some institutions may not be as flexible as nurseries in their approach to teaching and learning as their curriculum may demand them to follow a more structured syllabus.
A small child in a large classroom of about 20 children or more may feel overwhelmed and become less confident in their abilities. They may also feel uncomfortable in the company of older kids in the school playground. These issues can be less daunting for a three-year-old in a nursery environment, where there are children of their own age and enough staff to attend to their needs and listen to whatever they have to say.
All nursery teachers are now required — by the UAE Ministry of Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai — to have a qualification in child care. They have the right skills to offer a fully structured curriculum, like any mainstream schools, with stimulating activities for the development of academic and social skills in children, preparing them for the challenges of the future.
Furthermore, preschools are able to create the link between the school and home, providing toddlers with an opportunity to become settled in a structured set up.
A school day for a three-year-old finishes early and for working parents this poses a serious problem. Nurseries are usually open from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, offering children a comfortable and safe space where they can naturally feel relaxed and be happy.
Of course, there are children who thrive in a school setting even at the age of three, but there are many who retreat into a shell when they are asked to be part of a very formal academic set-up. A year in a young child’s life is a long time, with many learning and developmental milestones taking place during that crucial phase. So parents must think carefully before placing children in a structured environment too early in their lives.
— The writer is Founder and Managing Director of Jebel Ali Village Nursery