As an expatriate, you have a lot to think about. Your child’s education is obviously on that list, especially when you’re trying to select the right school for them. From an educational approach and curriculum to location and school amenities, there are just so many options – how can you make the right decision?
Often, the most important factors are the least known. This is especially true when it comes to international schools since only expatriate families are often even aware of the differences that exist between these schools and typical public or private institutions.
Before you choose an Abu Dhabi preschool for your child, check out these often-overlooked pointers from real parents like you:
Children Have Near-Limitless Capability – and Education Should Reflect That
When you think of a young child, you probably think of a person who needs a lot of help with basic tasks. You don’t think of a potential genius or creative mastermind, but perhaps you should! That’s because children are like blank slates upon which their environment can paint a masterpiece – if only it is filled with the right tools!
An environment that is filled with the right building blocks for learning and development often looks more like a play area, especially when younger children are involved. In the Montessori style of learning, these modified classrooms are referred to as “prepared environments”. They are staged and stocked differently than traditional classrooms – even traditional preschool classrooms! While at first glance, it may seem that these differences are all designed to encourage play, there’s actually a lot more going on than you might assume.
Montessori prepared environments use the child’s own creativity and curiosity to their advantage. They stage easy-to-use learning tools and supplies well within reach for the children. They set up group and independent work areas all over the classroom. They encourage children to work together or on their own as they see fit and to use the items that they need when they need them. It fosters a sense of self-motivation and a love for learning from a very early age – one that will travel with them throughout their educational career and beyond!
Does Your Potential School Engage and Challenge Children – or Simply Babysit?
All too often, parents find that when they send their children to preschool, they are sending them to the equivalent of daycare. While this isn’t inherently dangerous or even developmentally detrimental, it certainly isn’t bringing any benefit to the child, either.
If your child is interested in books, they may have the potential to be an early reader. This would give them a great advantage in primary school and for the rest of their lives, but only if it is nurtured in the earliest years of their development. A child’s potential is only potential; it won’t become an asset to their education unless the people who are working with them in their school environment capitalize on it.
The preschool environment shouldn’t be a difficult one, but it should be one that challenges children to think, create, and socially engage. It should be the place where children build the foundations for their primary school years, not a place for them to be rounded up and watched over like sheep. Unlocking every child’s potential should be the main focus of whatever preschool you consider – and they should be able to back up that goal with meaningful academic standards that they use to meet it.
Be sure to talk to the staff at whatever preschool you might be considering for your child. You will feel so much better about their experience if you know that they will be in an environment that fosters growth rather than one that is happy with stagnation.
A Great Education Can Come from Places You Might Not Expect!
Aside from the environment provided by your prospective preschool, it may also pay to think outside the box when it comes to location and partnerships. Many parents have found that incredible preschool experiences can be had when partnering with everyone from small, local religious organizations and churches to large, global educational groups that sponsor private nursery schools. Just because a school goes against your traditional, preconceived notion of what or where it should be doesn’t give it any less merit! Look for the best school, even if that best choice surprises you!
Remember – Your Child (and Family!) is the First Priority
Ultimately, the best preschool for your child in Abu Dhabi or anywhere else will be the one that best suits their needs and the needs of your family. Relocating to another country can make this a stressful time for your entire family, but doing your research before school begins for the year is a great way to reduce some of that stress. Remember, your children are only young once! Enjoy this special time in your child’s life and rest assured that if you choose a school that meets their needs, you’ve absolutely made the right choice!