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While visiting a nursery, consider location, curriculum and health and safety issues.
While visiting a nursery, consider location, curriculum and health and safety issues.

How to choose a nursery

How to in the UAE: The Ministry of Social Affairs is developing a rating system for nurseries, but for now, most parents rely on personal research.

Picking a nursery for your child can be overwhelming. The Ministry of Social Affairs is developing a rating system for nurseries, but for now, most parents rely on personal research.

When you visit a prospective nursery, feel free to ask any question you want, said Jane Gammage, the experiential learning manager at Bidayaat, a local childcare development company.

Parents can even ask to see a copy of the nursery's licence from the ministry.

"There should be one displayed in the reception of every single nursery," said Sharon Ward, the director of Emerald City Nursery, in Dubai.

Ms Gammage advises parents to bring their child with them on visits.

"Quite often that gives them a really good idea about how they're going to respond to an environment," she said.

While visiting, consider location, curriculum and health and safety issues. According to guidelines from the ministry, each nursery should have a qualified nurse.

Parents should also ask whether the nursery has an emergency plan, said Samia Kazi, the chief operating officer of Arabian Child, a local consultancy.

After the basics, the most important thing is the way teachers interact with children, Ms Kazi said. Ask about staff-to-child ratios, staff qualifications, professional development training and turnover rates.

"How long do the teachers stay at the nursery?" Ms Kazi said. "Those kinds of things say a lot about the culture and environment."

Parents should be concerned if the nursery does not encourage parent involvement, or if the director does not allow parents to observe a classroom, Ms Kazi said.

Finally, pay attention to your instincts, Ms Ward said: "When you walk into a building, does it feel warm? Are people friendly? Do you feel comfortable in that environment?"

vnereim@thenational.ae

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