Spacious outside areas create quiet shaded learning spaces and provide ample room for exploring.

Baby room

Babies feel secure in their own classroom, equipped with cots, soft flooring, mats and toys.


The shaded playground has specialist soft flooring with quality equipment and a large walk in sandpit.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

How do I choose the right nursery for my little one?

It is that time of year again...registration season! It seems to creep up on us all and gets earlier and earlier every year! Choosing the right time to send your little one to nursery can be a difficult decision to make, and trying to decide which nursery to choose can be even harder! In this post I have tried to help a little by explaining some of the benefits of sending your child to nursery and then I have given you some tips on what to look for when choosing a nursery. Good luck!

What will your little one gain from attending nursery?

Whether it is just a couple of mornings a week, there are so many benefits to attending nursery. Here are just a few of what I think are the most important ones:-
  • Personal and social skills - being in an environment with other children will really help your little one's personal and social skills develop. Their confidence will grow as they explore and feel secure in their environment and  they will also develop their independence. Having lots of others to play with every day will develop those all important social skills, for example turn taking, sharing, group play and more. These skills are invaluable and will help them immeasurably for when they start school.
  • Lots of stimulating, fun activities - a good nursery will provide lots of amazing activities and learning opportunities for your little one. This is great for their development and will keep them stimulated throughout the nursery day!
  • Cognitive and language skills - with all the great activities on offer and the opportunities for social interaction and learning, you will see your child's cognitive development and their language skills really develop. The qualified staff will ensure that the right activities are provided and they are trained to identify the best way to support each and every child in their care!
  • Trained, qualified professionals - it is super important to any parent who exactly is looking after their children during the nursery day. Staff should be qualified and trained in their field and this means they can provide the best start in your little one's education and nursery experience. 
  • Routine and structure - I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of routine and structure. By going to nursery, they will be introduced to daily routines and have a somewhat structured environment. This is excellent for their development and for preparing them for the more structured environment of school.
So you've decided it's time to give your little one the great experience of attending nursery. But how on earth do you choose the right one? With the plethora of nurseries out there, each one claiming to offer a different type of educational benefit for your child, how do you know where to start?

Here are some tips for choosing a nursery for your little one:-

  • Visit - shortlist some nurseries based on factors that suit you such as location, educational philosophy, language of instruction, fees etc and then arrange to visit each one. I can't stress enough how crucial visiting the nurseries is. Choosing a nursery is an important decision and one that can't possibly be made without you seeing how both you and your child feel about the place. 
  • Ask the right questions and don't be shy! As a parent you need to feel 100% confident in the nursery and any good nursery will welcome all your questions, no matter how weird and wonderful you may think they are! Here are some questions I think are useful to ask:
    • Age range of the children in the class - the classes should be split into age groups as activities and learning should be age appropriate. I would recommend there being no more than an academic year within one class (for example children aged 2 or above but less than 3 on 1st September would go into the same class), some nurseries even split their classes into 6 monthly groups as at this age, children develop so fast and 6 months can actually be quite a big gap!
    • Staff/Child ratios - this is crucial to your child's safety and development. Ask how many staff will be working in the room with your child and what the adult/child ratio is. You want to make sure that your child will have enough attention and be safe.
    • Staff qualifications - ensure the staff are qualified as this is very important for the quality of care your child will receive.
    • Open-door policy - does the nursery welcome visits and parents? How do they welcome and communicate with their parents? For example do they have communication diaries, do they chat to parents on drop-off and pick-up? Are staff happy to see parents and spend time with them? Are they open and friendly?
    • Settling in procedures - ask about the procedure for settling in and discuss your child's needs. Also ask what their policies are for toilet training, weaning and behaviour management. It is important you agree with the nursery's philosophy.
    • Daily structure - ask how the day is structured, do they have lots of different sessions? Young children need to change activity or location regularly or they will get bored, on the other hand too often and they will not settle. There needs to be a balance. Ask what sort of activities are built into the nursery day, for example do they have regular physical fun activities, music activities and outside time?
  • Bring your little one along! - even if they are too little to verbally tell you what they think, you will find out a lot by letting your little one spend time in the environment. Go with your gut instincts!
  • Look for the following:
    • Quality of provision and curriculum - you should be able to see a range of interesting and stimulating activities out in the classrooms that develop different areas of learning and weekly planning should be up for parents to see. The teaching staff should be able to explain to you what the learning objectives and outcomes are for the activities they have planned.
    • T.v. time - is there t.v. time built into the schedules? Can you see t.v.s or laptops playing while you are walking around? In my opinion this a big no no. We do not send our children to nursery to sit in front of screens, they are there to play, learn and interact with their peers. While there may be an occasional treat of something to watch, for example on party days or the last day of term, it should not be a regular part of the nursery day or too frequent.
    • Safety - is the environment indoors and out safe, clean, secure and welcoming? 
    • Activities - are the children able to choose what activities they want to do
      within their environment? They should be able to decide what they want to do and when. There is nothing wrong with encouragement from staff and in fact it is important to encourage the children to try a range of activities but they should not be forced. The toys and resources in the classroom should be at child-level and easily accessible for the children. There should be continuous provision in the classrooms (where there are several different areas all providing activities throughout the day, offering choice and stimulation). Some nurseries still unfortunately have "classes" where they will have one activity out per session and the whole class take part. This goes against modern Early Childhood recommendations and we know that young children will not benefit from this kind of learning. There should also be a balance of child-led activities (for example, a group of children playing shops in the role play corner) and adult-led activities (for example, a child is sitting with a teacher and they are grouping compare and sort bears by size).   
    • Children - do the children in the classrooms seem happy, settled and stimulated? Are they well-occupied?
    • Staff - do the staff appear professional, relaxed, calm and friendly? Do they get down to the child's level (sitting on the floor, crouching down to talk to them etc)? 
  • Try and keep notes on each nursery and look for the same criteria every time so it is easier to compare and make your decision in the end. It may be that as soon as you walk into a nursery you instantly know that it is the right one! If so then great, but at least with these tips, you can make some further enquiries before taking that all important final decision.
Good luck with the nursery hunt, remember it is a very important time in your little one's development and nursery can be a huge benefit! Take the time to ensure that the nursery you choose is the right one for you and your little one and you should see them grow, develop and thrive!

For more advice and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fine motor skills - advice and activities to help support your little one!

This post is all about fine motor skills - what they are, why they are so important and how we can help our little ones to develop them.

So firstly, let me explain what fine motor skills are:

Fine motor literally means the movements that we make which are controlled by the small muscles in our hands. From birth we start to use our hands to explore the world around us, and as we grow, we begin to gain more and more control of our movements along with our gross motor (whole body) movements. 

Typically, babies start by using grabbing movements or waving their hands, then as your little one grows older and starts to develop their control and cognitive skills, they will be able to accomplish more complex movements such as gripping a crayon or successfully using a zip. As your little one continues their journey through nursery, they will refine their skills and by the time they are ready for school, they will have developed enough control to hold pencils and paintbrushes using them to make marks or write, do up and undo buttons, do activities such as threading or using scissors with control as well as many other activities that require control and hand-eye co-ordination.

This is why fine motor development is so important, as it lays the foundations for vital skills that will be needed as they grow. Being able to use our hands effectively and with control is crucial for your child's ongoing development.

So how can you support your little one's fine motor development?

Below I have listed a few activity ideas you can try with your little one to help them develop their fine motor skills. Keep the activities fun and varied so your child stays stimulated and if you notice an area that needs more development, keep working on that with them. If your little one goes to nursery then have a chat with their teacher and get their ideas and advice as well. 

  • Playdough - a fantastic activity that never gets old. Ask your child to help you make playdough for added fine motor development and enjoyment! Have lots of tools they can use to cut, roll or shape the playdough and have some fun materials that they can use with it such as rice, googly eyes, dried pasta and shells.
  • Threading beads - threading is an excellent activity for developing fine motor skills. Vary the size of the beads or use alternative objects such as penne pasta, small bracelets, buttons or hollow shapes to suit your little one's age and abilities. You could even get them making pasta necklaces by painting the pasta, leaving it to dry and then threading it, this is one of my favourites and nursery children love it!
  • Make some fine motor toys - you could use a container and make holes in it for your little one to post items such as straws or shapes through or they could use them for threading. Hours of fun and relatively inexpensive!
  • Sensory mark-making - this is one of my favourite activities. Use a variety of materials such as flour, rice, lentils, shaving foam, cornflour, gloop or jelly, put them in a tray or straight on the table and let your little one have fun experimenting and mark-making in a range of textures! This is great for their fine motor development, as well as developing their creativity and understanding of the world.
  • Homemade cardboard shapes - make different shapes and use a hole punch to make holes around the edges. Your little one can then practice their shape recognition while having fun threading!
  • Finger, hand or cotton bud painting - lots and lots of fun while strengthening those all important hand muscles. Get lots of paper and some fun coloured washable paint and let your little one go wild!

  • Sorting and stacking objects - both these activities have numerous possibilities and are really good for developing those little hand muscles, as well as mathematical or language skills. Use materials such as blocks, shells, buttons, cups, pasta...the list is endless!
  • Collaging activities - start off with getting your little one to tear up pieces of different textured or coloured paper and stick them on to create a fantastic work of art. As they get older, you can ask them to start cutting the pieces instead!

For more activity ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

How to support your little one's physical development!

In this post, we will look at why activities that focus on physical development are so important for little ones and I will give you some fun ideas to get your child moving!

6 reasons why physical activities are important:

  1. They build endurance, flexibility and strength
  2. They increase concentration and attention spans
  3. They promote cognitive and social development, as well as developing your child's gross and fine motor skills
  4. They keep your little one fit and healthy
  5. The body produces endorphins as a result of physical activity which will promote happiness and relaxation in your child
  6. Fresh air and exercise will help your little one get lots of good quality sleep
You can also incorporate many other areas of development into physical fun activities, for example mathematical development could be incorporated by playing a game like musical numbers (when the music stops you must find the number that is said). Developing skills like balance are incredibly important for your little one's cognitive skills and as mentioned above, exercise of any kind will help to increase attention spans. So now, let me give you some fun ideas to get your little one moving!

It can be difficult, especially in a city like Dubai where the weather makes it impossible to be outside for much of the year, but you may be surprised how simple it can be to encourage your child to get moving. Here are some ideas for starters:

  1. Dance and let loose - if you can't get outside, or even if you are in the garden, why
    not throw on some fun tunes and get your child moving and shaking! Dance is a brilliant way of keeping fit and also promotes rhythm (important for language development), control of our bodies and spatial awareness!
  2. Get outside - if you can, try and spend as much time outside when it is possible. If you are in an apartment, why not take a trip to the local park or beach! There is nothing better than fresh air and having space to run around and let loose! The amount of games you can play outside are endless and sure to create hours of fun while developing those all important fine and gross motor skills!
  3. Encourage independence - if your little one wants something, encourage them to try and get it by themselves. If they are getting changed or putting their shoes on, ask them to try and see if they can do it. This will not only develop body control and fine motor skills but it will also boost their confidence!
  4. Act out stories and songs - this will get your little one moving around as well as being lots of fun! It will also promote literacy development :)
  5. Get some play equipment - Have a look for some simple and affordable resources
    such as soft balls, hula hoops, bean bags, cones and balancing equipment. This will help your child develop lots of all important skills and they can create tons of fun activities!
  6. Join some clubs or events - there are always plenty of physical fun clubs or events going on in the local community. Have a look for jungle gyms, soft play, baby yoga, music and movement clubs etc. Not only will your little one have lots of fun burning off steam but it is also a great opportunity for developing their social skills!

For more physical fun events and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

How to help your child develop their independence

Developing independence and self-care skills before going to school is really important. In this post, I will be giving you some tips on how to encourage your little one's independence and help them develop those all important life skills.

Why is it so important for my toddler to develop their self-care skills and independence?

  • Confidence and self-worth - that magical moment when a child can wash their own
    hands or go to the toilet with no help is immeasurable. Being able to open their own lunchbox or dress themselves is also a superb achievement. Being able to do these things all alone will fill your little one with a sense of achievement and confidence. They will be so proud of themselves and will want you to share in that amazing feeling! It is important for your toddler to develop confidence and a sense of self-worth as it is vital for their personal well-being and development.
  • Independence at school - going to school is a huge transition in your child's life and they face a number of new challenges, some which they will enjoy and some they may find daunting. Having the skills to be relatively independent at school will help them to settle in and build their self-esteem. It is also important to note that some schools expect a certain level of independence from their pupils and they may not accept children who, for example, are not toilet-trained yet.
  • Gross and fine motor skills - dressing and undressing, putting on shoes and socks or
    twisting open lids are excellent for developing your little one's fine and gross motor skills. They will improve their strength, co-ordination, spatial awareness and control of their body. This is fantastic and will help them so much in all other aspects of their life. 
  • Communication and language - requesting help or following instructions are great skills to practice for your toddler's development. They can also talk through with you what they are doing or respond when you ask them what they should do next. It also promotes learning sequences and routines as well as an understanding of the world around them. For example, you could have a very interesting chat about germs while they are washing their hands. 

So how can I help my little one develop their independence?

Some very simple little things can help your child develop their independence. Here are just a few that I consider important:
  • Toileting - if your toddler is learning to use the toilet or is already toilet-trained,
    give them ownership of the experience by letting them pull their trousers up and down, wash their hands and flush the chain. While of course you should be there to make sure all goes smoothly, allowing them to try and do it alone will really make them feel proud and each time they will get that bit closer to independence.
  • Dressing - the same goes for getting dressed. Try and choose things that will be easy for them to master, such as pull up trousers and t-shirts. Once they have developed their confidence, then they can start to learn how to use zips and buttons. It is also nice to give them some choice in what they will wear (within reason of course!). Not only will this develop their fine and gross motor skills, it will also help them prepare for school and develop their independence!
  • Eating - I always ask my teachers to allow children to do as much for themselves as they can at snack time. It is very important for them to learn how to open and close containers, put the straw in their juice carton and how to pack their food away. It is also important for your little one to learn about healthy food choices, for example that we eat the sandwiches and fruit first and then have the biscuit as a treat at the end. While they might not get it first time and will definitely need your help, letting them develop these skills will really help them to become independent little people!
  • Self-selecting - this is similar to encouraging your toddler to have input in
    choosing their clothes. Let them choose the activity they want to do or which cup they would like to drink from. These little things will develop your child's sense of self and they will become aware of their likes and dislikes and their ability to make decisions. These things are a vital part of their personal development. 
While it can sometimes be hard when your little one doesn't need so much help and support anymore, remember it is really good for them in the long run. Good luck!

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Healthy Eating Tips for Your Toddler!

Having a balanced diet with a good amount of fruit and vegetables can have numerous benefits for your little one and support their growth and development. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • The nutrients and vitamins found in fresh, healthy food support your child's brain and motor development
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet from childhood can help prevent health issues such as diabetes, liver and heart disease later on in life
  • Healthy food means a healthy mouth! As long as your little one takes care of their teeth, healthy food can also protect the mouth from problems like cavities or gum disease.
  • The earlier healthy habits are formed, the more likely your child is to carry them on into adulthood.

However, it can often be a struggle to get your little one eating healthily. Here are some tips on ways to encourage healthy eating at home:

  • Give your little one a variety of healthy food, even if they are not foods that you like. They need to have a chance to develop their own opinions and habits.
  • Be a role model - the best way to encourage your child to eat healthily is to show them that you eat healthily too. Make it a healthy household :)
  • Family mealtimes are a great way to encourage healthy eating. They will encourage your child to sit down and eat, you can promote healthy eating and good habits and it also gives you all some much needed family time. Also, keep the mealtimes fun and enjoyable so your little one looks forward to them.
  • Don't insist they finish their plate - although it may have been the 'norm' when you were little, forcing children to finish all there food has been shown to have many negative effects, promoting negative associations with mealtimes and your child will not learn the trigger to stop eating as they will be used to eating through that 'full feeling'. 
If your little one is not a fan of trying new foods, the following tips may help:
  • Try giving them a new item of food with one of their favourites, this way they are more likely to try it.
  • Don't worry if they don't like something the first time, it can take take several tries of tasting something for your little one to decide they like it.
  • Stay relaxed - if you are anxious about what they are eating, they will feel that anxiety too so try and make a conscious effort to keep mealtimes relaxed and fun.

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

How can I support my bilingual child?

After many years of thinking that bilingualism may have a negative impact on learning and
development, professionals have now realized that in fact being bilingual can have numerous positive results! The difficult thing for parents who may be bringing up bilingual children is to know the right way to do it. In this post, I am going to look at some common myths about bilingualism and give you some tips on how to support your little one's language development :)


  • Delayed language development - a common myth is that bilingual children have delayed language development. This is in fact not true at all. While your child may start to speak slightly later than their peers, you should not worry as who can blame them when they are building a fantastic range of vocabulary in 2 languages!
  • Learning 2 languages can confuse children - there is no need to worry that learning 2 languages may confuse your little one, children pick up new languages easily and are able to differentiate whom to speak which language to. For this reason it can help to be consistent with your chosen language, just to reduce any possible confusion.
Far from multiple language learning having negative effects, there are many positive results to come out of speaking more than one language. Have a look at my post on the benefits of learning a 2nd language for more information on why it is so good for your little one!

How can I support my bilingual child?

There are many theories on the best way to support your bilingual child at home and I think it really depends on several factors. 

You need to take into account the languages spoken at home and in the community - 

Do both parents speak the same language and wish to teach your child your native language as well as the language of the country they are living in? 

If so, it may be useful to adopt a one language approach where you both speak your native language to your little one at home as they will learn the other language in the community, at nursery and from their peers. 

Does each parent speak a different language and you wish to equally develop both in your little one?

In this case, it may help to each speak to your child in your own mother tongues. This will help them build up exposure and understanding to each language and keep things consistent. It has long been recommended to use the 'one person-one language' model, however it is important to add that it has not been proven that switching between languages causes any difficulty with language learning.

Have you been brought up yourselves as bilingual?

I myself fit into this category and a question I have often asked myself is what language I will speak to my children in. As many bilinguals can verify, we often speak a complete mixture of the 2 languages, choosing whichever word fits better or is on the tip of our tongue. I know that no matter how much I try, I will end up speaking a mixture of languages to my children (although I have read articles advising against this). The main disadvantage that I can see is that your child may lack the vocabulary for certain words. For example, I always use the Arabic names for certain vegetables as that is what I learnt first. I find it difficult to this day to access the English word for them in my mind. Being brought up with a mixture of languages also means I find it difficult to stick to one language or the other when talking. I switch languages without even realising sometimes! This could be avoided by sticking to the 'one person-one language' model mentioned above. However, you have to be realistic and do what works best for your family. 

There is no right or wrong answer with teaching your child languages and remember that they will always gain the language of the country they are living with, regardless of what languages are spoken at home.

 Some tips to support your little one's language development

  • Read stories and sing songs in your native language - this will help make it fun and your little one will learn new vocabulary without even realising it!
  • Involve your child in your native community - I think this is a brilliant way to keep your native language alive. Arrange play dates with peers who are also exposed to the same language and attend community events to increase exposure to your native language and culture. 
  • Give your little one lots of support and encouragement - sometimes it can be hard to communicate in a language that they don't use in their wider community. Encourage them to use your language and also don't be annoyed if they don't. Sometimes children will understand a language 100% but refuse to speak it, choosing to respond in the other language. This is okay and there could be many reasons behind it. Be assured that if they understand what you are saying then they are still developing their language skills, it just may take longer for them to want to respond in that language. Often there is a dominant language - one that is stronger or preferred over the other. Again, this shouldn't be seen as an issue, just keep encouraging your little one's language acquisition by making it fun and pressure free.

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What are the benefits of early 2nd language learning?

In a multi-cultural place like Dubai, you can hear a multitude of languages every day. The benefit of living somewhere like this is that as well as constantly hearing different languages being spoken, most schools and nurseries will offer some kind of 2nd language tuition. So what are the benefits of your little one learning a 2nd language early on and how can you support them?  

Benefits of early language acquisition

  • Your little one's brain is like a sponge and is designed to learn languages from before birth. 
  • During this period of early childhood, your child is very able to mimic accents and pronunciation, enabling them to develop near-native pronunciation, something adults and older children have a much harder time doing.
  • As language acquisition is so important in their early years, even when learning a foreign language, children are more able to understand and use the rules of different languages so find it easier to learn. 
  • As it is easier to learn languages at a young age, you child won't feel the difficulties of language learning that older children and adults do, and should find it fun!
  • It is thought that because the brain can simultaneously run two (or more) languages and can switch between the two, early 2nd language acquisition can have cognitive benefits such as better ability to multi-task, increased observation skills and enhanced problem solving skills.   
  • As well as the cognitive benefits, it has been suggested there are academic benefits too such as improved reading and writing skills and of course being able to speak more than one language opens up doors for the future, for both academic and employment opportunities!

How can you support your little one when learning a new language? 

  • If you are keen for your child to learn a 2nd language, look for nurseries or schools that have this option. 
  • If you have friends or family who speak the 2nd language, encourage them to use this language around your little one, it is amazing what they will pick up!
  • Make it fun! - If it is fun, your child will enjoy it, be more likely to retain what they have learnt and be more interested in learning other languages in the future.
  • Encourage your child - even if you don't speak the language, show your child how proud you are of them and keep them interested and excited to learn. Also see if there are events in your area that promote the culture or language that your child is learning. You could also look for books, songs or programs that incorporate this language. For example, Dora the Explorer is great for helping little ones learn some basic Spanish :)
I hope you and your children enjoy all of the benefits learning a 2nd language has to offer, have fun!

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development.