Whether you are a newbie or a veteran Abu Dhabier, when it comes time to find quality childcare for your little prince or princess the whole process can seem a bit intimidating. Finding that “just right” nursery for your child can be one of the biggest decisions you make as a parent. However, if you look far enough in advance (if you have that luxury) and investigate your options, it will be worth your effort and will save much frustration in the future. So as soon as that line turns into a plus it is time to hit the phone and start making appointments to view several, yes SEVERAL nurseries. Make as many tour appointments as possible and have your list of questions ready!
As a seasoned Nursery Director I have toured many families and of course toured many nurseries myself over the past 22 years. My first and most important advice to you is; even though you may have the best recommendation from your BFF about the newest nursery in town remember: not every child is for every nursery and not every nursery is for every child. AND…relationships are the key. It is important to build a trustworthy and respectable relationship with all the nursery staff!
Now lets get started! You should never NOT ask tons of questions during the process but there is a time and a place for each question. I have compiled a list of questions that will help you get started and help you through this process with some ease. (FYI I have listed 30 nurseries and their websites at the end if you want to skip past all the questions.)
Before you call:
- Ask people for recommendations: Ask what they love and what they don’t like about the nursery. Your standards may differ.
- Check the nursery website
- Decide what is most important to you. Curriculum, staff, safety, location, timings etc? Number them in order from most to least importance.
- Be ready with a notebook and pen with your list of phone questions.
On the phone:
I always believe it is better to call if you can. It will give you a taste of the professionalism of the nursery, but remember their children come first so they can’t always spend 20 minutes answering all your questions or even answer the phone at times. Be brief and to the point! Be prepared to give your contact details, your child’s’ first name and date of birth.
- Do you have more than one location? Can I tour each one?
- Who will I tour with?
- What is the director’s name?
- How many children are enrolled in total?
- Do you have space for my child?
- If not, can we get on a waiting list, and how long is it?
- What are your hours?
- What are your tuition rates? (they may not give these out because they want you to come in, but that isn’t a bad thing)
- Which holidays do you close for and for how long?
- Can you email more detailed information?
- Can I bring my child with me for the tour?
During your tour:
Most of the time the director will address many of these questions but if she doesn’t – make sure you ask! You don’t want any surprises after you have paid your registration fee.
- How flexible are you with pickup and drop-off times?
- What are the fees?
- Do you offer sibling discounts?
- Is there a late-pickup fee?
- What is your tuition policy for family holidays?
- How and when would you bill us?
- Do you supply diapers, or is that up to the parent?
- What other supplies would I need to bring for my child?
- Do you encourage visits from parents?
- Can I come and breast feed during the day?
- What do you expect from me as a parent?
- How do you communicate with parents?
- Is there a regular newsletters or a parent notice board?
- Is there a daily report or another way you inform parents of what my child did during the day i.e. naps, bottles, snacks, nappy changes?
- Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit?
- What is your procedure for settling new children?
- Are the kids grouped by age or are the ages mixed?
- How many children will be in my child’s class on a daily basis?
- What’s the caregiver/child ratio in each group?
- How long do staff members stay at the nursery, on average? (A nursery with good staff benefits is likely to have less turnover, which means consistent care for your child.)
- How do you screen staff?
- Do you perform background checks before hiring?
- What are the staff’s credentials and training?
- Does the staff have emergency training?
- Do staff have current first aid and CPR certification?
- Do you have a nurse? Can we meet her?
- How many hours do the staff work each day? Do they get breaks during the day?
- Do staff members get benefits such as health insurance and paid holidays?
- Do you allow children to watch TV?
- What type of curriculum do you use?
- What will my child’s activities be on any given day? Is there a posted lesson plan? May I see the daily schedule?
- Do children take field trips or go on walks?
- How do you discipline children?
- How do you comfort children?
- How do you handle teasing, bullying and inappropriate group behavior among the children?
- Must children be immunized in order to attend?
- What is your sick-child policy?
- What if my child needs medication during the day?
- What is the handwashing policy for staff and children?
- How often do you clean the toys?
- Are indoor and outdoor play areas childproofed and escape-proof?
- How old is your play equipment? When was it last inspected?
- Are the children ever left unattended?
- Do you have a sign-in and sign-out sheet? Are the doors secure so strangers can’t just walk in?
- What is your pick up policy and who can pick up my child?
- What is your disaster plan? Do you have procedures for handling fires, earthquakes, intruders, and other emergencies? Are the staff well trained for these situations?
- Do you provide breakfast, lunch and/or snack?
- If not, what kind of food should I bring for my child? Are there any food restrictions?
- Do you have a refrigerator for storing lunches, snacks, bottles of breast milk or formula?
- Do you feed babies on demand or on a schedule?
- What is the nap schedule?
- Where do the children sleep?
- How often are the bed linens changed?
- Do you place babies on their back to sleep and follow other safe sleeping practices to reduce the risk of SIDS?
Things to look for:
- Are toys and activities age-appropriate?
- Is there a comfortable, childproofed indoor play area where babies can safely explore and develop physical skills?
- Is there proper shading on the outdoor areas? (We are in the desert ya know!)
- Do the electrical outlets have plug covers?
- Is there a safe, enclosed outside play area that encourages large-motor skills?
- Are there inviting and well-defined areas for different kinds of activities like art, music, blocks and toys, and quiet reading?
- Do the staff and children seem happy and engaged?
- Do staff cuddle babies and comfort children?
- Does the director/staff talk directly to the children at eye level?
- Are the staff’s tone friendly and caring?
- Are crying children responded to immediately?
- Is the nursery clean and pleasant? How does it smell? Minus the dirty nappy that was just changed.
- Is the bathroom a pleasant setting, encouraging children to use it?
- Are appropriate safety measures (fire extinguisher, first aid kit, fences, etc.) in place?
- During the hours you and your child are apart, will you feel at ease knowing your child is in this setting?
There are thousand more questions that can be asked so please let me know if you feel I have missed something! You have to ensure the answers you recieve are good for YOU and your child, not your BFF. I have listed a few nurseries in Abu Dhabi. In no way are they recommendations or my top list. You have to make the decision yourself. Happy Nursery Hunting!
- Apple Bee Nursery
- Baby Bird Nursery
- Bright Beginnings Nursery
- British Orchard
- Butterfly Montessori – 02 6658611
- Caterpillar Nursery
- Clever Hands Nursery
- Edu Care
- Emirates KinderCare
- Giggles Nursery
- Humpty Dumpty Nursery
- Jigsaw Nursery
- Kids Academy
- Kidz Link Al Rowdah
- Kipina Kids Nursery
- Ladybird Nursery
- Learning Spaces
- Little Haven Nursery
- Little Smarties Nursery
- Mosaic Nursery
- Noah’s Ark Nursery
- Odyssey Nursery
- Piccadilly Nursery
- Redwood Montessori
- Spring Fields Nursery
- Stepping Stones Nursery
- Teddy Bear Nursery
- TreeHouse Nursery
- Windsor – Early Years Nursery
- Young World Nursery
- Starfish Lane Kids
Fairly new, Treehouse Nursery. However becoming very popular choice for parents in khalifa city A and surrounding areas.
This is a wonderful guide Vanessa well done, the fundamental point is what suits you and your child might not suit the next so makes it so important to visit the nurseries yourself and see how your child reacts – I chose different nurseries for my children due to their personalities and environments I thought suited them best.
Another thing to bear in mind in Abu Dhabi (and I’m sure true of most expat locations) is how quickly things can change. There is naturally a transient population but the movement of key staff can significantly change nurseries and year to year (even term to term) favoured nurseries can change. Consistency is very important to kids so look for those with good track record and good staff retention – on top of all the factors mentioned here – a lot to think about I know!
Check My soft steps nursery in al khaldia
What did you like the most about my soft steps nursery?
Hi! Thank you for making this list! I had so many insights.
Thank you for the guideline. keep up the good work.
Excellent read . thank you so much !