“Disclaimer: All opinions are my OWN, there is no intention to disrespect anyone”
Let’s start from the point that Kamronbek goes to nursery since he is 7 months old due to certain unpredictable conditions within the family. To cut your curiosity, my mom used to look after Kamronbek during my working hours but her health condition couldn’t let her stay and I couldn’t go against it certainly. I was left with no help of my mom to choose whether to stop working to raise my child or to enroll him to a nursery, there was no third option for me, which would be a nanny. I have personal issues with nannies in here. I might be too demanding but the nannies in here totally differ from the nannies of my understanding based on the experiences of my country. The thing is, nannies in our country are highly educated, they are usually the University teachers in pension with high education degrees. They don’t clean your house, either cook, though few of them cook but for an additional charge only. So, what do they do? They educate your child in terms of education and life manners and help you to raise them, in terms of development. Having this in mind I just can’t accept the “nanny thing” in here. Also, all those rumors about the nannies/cleaning ladies/helpers who are called as a maid in general. I am sorry to say that, but what sort of development can these nannies offer your child as being with them for most of the time. Obviously, I am talking about working mothers’ conditions. I wouldn’t mind of help if I was home for 24/7, as this would be a help with the overall management of house chores. Bearing in mind that I am a working mom and that the first 4 years of a human being are the viral ones from all the aspects and points of views I could only trust my child to a nursery. Why?
Each room has a teacher who holds high level of education
Each room has an assistant teacher who holds the similar level of education or at least a diploma.
All the nannies are specially trained for giving care to child
All the adults are trained in First Aid and hold the Cache 3 certification (at least in the nursery I chose)
All the rooms have the CCTV camera
There are the part-time doctor and full-time nurse
All of them and everything is regulated by the administrative team, management, and Government Authorities
These are the main reasons among the other yet important ones made me choose the nursery over the nanny.
I am very happy with Kamronbek’s nursery; however, I should decide on whether transferring him to school this September (as he turns 3 years old by then) or keeping him in the nursery. The reason for the rise of this question is because the nursery is not under the KHDA, they are there to give care not to educate although they do follow the FS 1/FS2 curriculum. Basically, it might be not easy to transfer Kamronbek to school for the Grade 1 as he will be having no certifications and will need to pass the assessments to get enrolled in school. Therefore, I started my “school hunt” by the middle of December 2016.
Above all, I want to clarify one thing first. Parents, please understand that there is no an understanding of best system or school in here. I often receive a question from my followers or acquaintances: “what is the best school/nursery in Dubai?” to which I respond: “which system are you looking for?” and other strange question hits after a little pause of lost “which system is best?”. Once again, parents, please understand there is no best system or school. The best school/nursery is the one that answers to your requirements and suits your child. Nothing less or more. All the schools in Dubai answer to criteria of the system they follow and the curriculum they offer, they are also regularly checked by authorities to uplift to the standard issued by the same authorities. Since we cleared the most important point in here let’s start with my steps of school hunt.
The first step: Listing:
Schools differ according to the system and curriculum. You have to identify first what you need exactly to choose the system and/or curriculum.
Let me consider the following popular ones:
IB system is the most popular in here, and most expensive one. You will be hearing parents in play areas, play dates, birthdays, nurseries, basically anywhere you find the parents with toddlers talking of IB system. Honestly, if you ask them what is IB and what is it for, all will firmly tell you that it’s the International Baccalaureate and it is the best, but only few will be able to explain what, why and how. So, let’s get the accurate meaning from Wikipedia:
“The International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly known as the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), is an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and founded in 1968. It offers three educational programs: the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 16 to 19, the IB Middle Years Programme, designed for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Primary Years Programme for children aged 3 to 12. To teach these programs, schools need to be authorized by IB.
The organization’s name and logo were changed in 2007 to reflect a reorganization. Consequently, “IB” may now refer to the organization itself, any of the four programs, or the diploma or certificates awarded at the end of a program.”
How it works:
“Technically, any school with an IB program is called an “IB school.” Since “IB school” is used as shorthand, it’s important to ask how students participate in IB at any given school. It’s most straightforward at IB elementary schools, where IB is part of every class school-wide. But in middle school and high school that may not be the case. Some middle and high schools are 100 percent IB, but not all. For example, at many high schools, there is an IB program that kids may opt into, much like attending a school within a school. If that’s the case, students may participate in IB at different levels, ranging from taking a single IB course to earning an IB diploma, which involves taking a full course load of IB classes and meeting a series of requirements.”http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/what-is-ib-international-baccalaureate/
We can now be sure that it’s just another variety of educational approach and you now can be sure that you don’t fall into a not good/modern/best parent if you don’t choose the IB system.
“For Indian curriculum in the UAE, you have a choice between the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE).
CBSE conducts public examinations at the end of class 10 and 12 and grants certificates to successful candidates of the affiliated schools.
The academic performance of a learner is reflected in the forms of grades and percentile ranks. Prakash Abraham, Principal of Boys’ Section (classes five to ten) at the Indian High School, Dubai explains, “Semester assessment is organized through two terms during a year for students in classes nine and ten. Each term comprises two [tests], a formative and a summative assessment where the examinations are conducted by schools but questions are set by the board.” He adds that if a student decides to leave the CBSE system or the school, then he/she can opt for an on-demand board-conducted examination for class ten.
CISCE is a private board of education in India that organizes two examinations — Indian Certificate of Secondary Examination (ICSE) and the Indian School Certificate (ISC). The Council focuses on conducting school examinations only through the medium of English.
A candidate must also choose between the science stream and the commerce stream from class nine, hence they study two additional subjects.
For ISC examination, a candidate needs to study English and environmental studies as compulsory subjects. Additionally, >students choose subjects from either science, commerce or humanities streams.”
“The National Curriculum of England is extremely popular in the UAE among expatriates. The planned structure of the curriculum takes care of a child’s education requirements from the age of 3 to 18.
The National Curriculum of England is framed on the basis of four key stages — key stage one: ages five to seven (years one to two); key stage two: ages 7-11 (years three to six); key stage three: ages 11-14 (years seven to nine); key stage four: ages 14-16 (years 10-11) — at the end of key stage four students appear for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations.
The Advanced level (A-level) is usually studied over a two-year period and is split into two parts — Advanced Subsidiary (AS level, year 12) and A2 (year 13). A student has to study both the levels to achieve a complete A-level certificate.”
“The American system of education places a lot of importance on co-curricular activities in addition to theoretical learning to ensure a balanced development of students. The American diploma is accepted for entrance to all US universities and colleges, and is increasingly being recognized by international schools of higher education, says Robin Appleby, Superintendent of Dubai American Academy.
“In the elementary school, the curriculum is designed to offer every student exposure to a full range of age-appropriate subjects so that young learners have access to all areas of knowledge and they can begin to develop their passions. In the middle school years, more arts electives and second languages such as French or Spanish are added. In the high school, options expand further still to include more languages, business studies, sciences and design technology. Students have choices in both middle and high schools, but must study a minimum of six subject areas throughout — and most study seven or eight,” she says.
“The exams are based on the standards set for each course. The American diploma is awarded when the number of credits required by the school is earned by the student, generally at the completion of grade 12, when students are 18 years of age.”
Honestly, I get confused every time I read the above. So, let me specify my simple understanding. What I heard from the seminars about schools and the systems is that the IB system is pretty challenging but with an opportunity of not going through additional certifications for enrolling the particular university, it basically opens the doors to all the universities in global. Indian system is quite tough in which the child spends most of the time for studying. British one follows the certain structure and the American is all about projects.
Every person tends to rely on personal experiences when lost in choices. I tried to sit down by bringing out everything I know/heard/think or experienced to identify the most suitable system for my Kamronbek according to my requirements. Please don’t take personally the below statements of mine as those are purely my opinion according to my personal experience.
My Russian system background in which the education starts suddenly at age of 7 and gets extremely tough by consecutive years where you have to study, study and study and you end up hating the education when you reach the high school level in which you only study because the entire ambiance tells you so, made me cancel the Indian system from my son’s life straight away.
I studied in American college of Dubai. Once again my Russian system background made me think that American system is truly all about projects. It was too easy to me. When I find something too easy I stop trying and drop down to the lowest level. Keeping in mind that boys are “cheaters” from nature and prefer fun over anything difficult/hard working I crossed the American system out of Kamronbek’s life too.
I hesitated and still do hesitate between IB and English systems. So, I want to keep these both as my options for the future. I know that IB is challenging but I heard that it’s not as tough as the Indian one.
Therefore, I listed out the schools with both IB and English systems. You can easily get the list of all the schools in https://www.khda.gov.ae/en/directory where you choose your preferences and get the listing.
Downsized the listing according to price and location
Downsized it more according to the longest school hours since I work (stay at home moms can don’t worry about this part)
My next step was the school tour. You have to actually get into each and every school to check it inside and out to feel if this is the place your child should spend his/her next many (hopefully) years. The best way of doing it is through the school tours.
I emailed each and every school from my list and booked myself for a tour.
Made a schedule with the tours in my calendar
Emailed my direct manager for an approval for those mornings as the tours are offered in the middle of a week during working hours.
I visited the schools, every school had its own unique thing to offer obviously, but I should choose one. I ended up with Horizon International school and here I am stating the reasons:
It’s a medium school. Only 800 pupils. You can feel it from the entrance. Even the director of the school knew the name of every pupil. This means a lot to me.
Facilities of the school. It has two large swimming pools: one for older pupils and one for younger ones. Tennis, basketball and football courts (both indoor and outdoor) available within the school. Two libraries. Innovation room with 3D printer. Specialized subjects are given in specific rooms: computers room, Arabic room, French room, music room, science room and etc.
90 free and paid after school activities per term.
There is a contracted company delivering the food for extra payment.
FS pupils can stay until 3 pm for additional charges
Option of keeping till 5 pm 3 times a week for FS students
I really liked the school and most probably will consider it for Kamronbek’s Year 1 school life. It’s because when I compared with Kamronbek’s nursery the school fell still behind, although the fee structure is almost the same. I will end up paying the same or even more with many disadvantages if I transfer Kamronbek to the big school.
Only 3 times a week I can keep him until 5 p.m. at school which is also a subject of availability, whereas at nursery it’s fixed till 5 pm 5 times a week
There are no French and Arabic lessons at FS classes of any school. However, Kamronbek does take daily French and Arabic classes at nursery since he’s been enrolled (7 months old).
Music lessons are twice a week only. Kamronbek is little artists he loves everything related to music and he does enjoy his music lessons on daily basis and the drumming classes every Monday.
PA (gymnasium) lessons are twice a week too and the nursery kids have it every morning in addition to the water play at the swimming pool twice a week.
There is a kitchen in-house within his nursery where snacks and lunches are freshly cooked for all the children of a nursery. Many schools have contracted food catering for additional charges, which are mostly for Year 1 and above pupils
Teacher and pupil ratio at school made me upset. FS pupils for me are still babies and I saw only 2 adults in each room with 24 children. Also, the fact that 3-year-old must be able to clean himself after using the toilet makes me cry every time I hear that.
Schools can offer nap time for the children who are used to it, but nursery does have a mandatory fixed nap time to all children.
All of the above made me decide to keep Kamronbek at nursery for his FS years and transfer to school from Year 1 only. Every parent has a right to make decisions according to their vision and requirements, though. I didn’t write the post to either criticize or enforce my opinion. I just wanted to share my experience which might be useful to other working mothers, since all we need is a good plan and amazing hands to give care to our little ones during our working hours.
Since the topic touches Kamronbek’s nursery, let me share the photos from the International Day celebration at Kamronbek’s nursery
Photo credit: Guzal Mirkamilova Instagram: @guzaldxb_photograper