Bright Kids Al Najda is one of five Bright Kids nurseries in Abu Dhabi. The nurseries are owned by the multi-disciplinary KBBO Group, which includes schools and universities within its education portfolio.
Bright Kids Nursery, Al Najda is situated in a quiet mostly residential square. There was ample parking outside and we noted that the nursery is surrounded by a high security wall. There is a buzzer system for entry.
Passing through the gate, we walk into an outdoor area where we see children playing on the trikes in an attractive play area that is mostly covered with safety flooring. The outside area is not overly large, but the team has created several interesting areas for children spanning the nursery age groups. As well as the bikes and trikes area, we saw a sandpit, a 'sound wall' and lots of varied play equipment.
Bright Kids (Al Najda branch) is led by Hanaa Loutfi. From Lebanon, Ms Loutfi has over 27 years experience in education. Her role also sees her acting as Co-ordinator for all five branches of Bright Kids. Prior to joining Bright Kids, Ms Loutfi's previous role was as KG Supervisor at Al Ittihad School, Al Ain. She has a diploma in Early Childhood Education and a Montessori Teaching Diploma. Our team liked her overall teaching philosophy that “every moment is a learning moment”. Ms Loutfi is a warm and personable leader who was praised by teachers and parents alike during our visit.
The nursery offers an ‘adapted’ version of the EYFS curriculum. Although mostly working within the EYFS, classrooms and resources have been adapted with the principles of Montessori in mind. Several technological enhancements have also been included in daily life, with robotics and coding offered to children age 2+. Children also use specially adapted tablets and “Magic Carpets” – an interactive system of educational games (projected by a ceiling mounted system onto the floor of the gym), and which every class are encouraged to use regularly.
The Bright Kids group also offers its staff training in the principles of neuro-science and brain development, stating that it aims to “plan activities which create learning strategies carefully mapped to the ways in which the brain develops”. The team learns neuroscience based learning strategies in the areas of Motor Development, Emotional Control, Symbols and Patterns, Hearing and Language & Communication. This concept is clearly something that the entire team was invested in and very excited about.
The strength of being part of a larger group was mentioned several times during our visit. One major benefit is that the team can call upon the help of several specialists if needed. For example, if the team suspects a child has some additional needs, there is a Masters qualified SEN specialist at hand. In addition, the KBBO Education group now has its own training centre, where each member of staff receives a minimum of 120 hours of training per year. Outside providers are also used to add to these training hours, with all staff receiving regular training in First Aid, safety and hygiene as well as specific topics such as planning. All of the nurseries have recently undergone and passed a rigorous health and safety audit by an external provider (SWS).
Parents can also benefit from this group-wide expertise with regular Parent Workshops (some with the Bright Kids team, some with specially invited experts) and access to the KBBO training lab.
The children are exposed to a very varied programme of both adult initiated and child led activities. There are regular music lessons, plus Arabic daily and French twice per week. This is in addition to the ‘Brain Smart’ brain development lessons (which are part of a pre-articulated curriculum). Circle Time is important here, with teachers trained to use lots of open questions in an ‘atmosphere of creativity and openness’.
The all-important ‘settling in period’ for new children is managed with sensitivity at Bright Kids. Children can start part-time and move to a longer day when they area ready. Parents are encouraged to visit several times along with their child, and the team asks for very detailed information about the child’s preferences and routines prior to joining.
We were able to meet the Mum of a three-year-old “Bright Kid”. She had great confidence in the nursery and felt that the teachers were the ‘number one’ standout feature here. They are ‘kind but strict’ she said, commenting also that behaviour is excellent throughout. Teachers gave daily updates on her child and were ‘always willing to chat’.
She also felt that focus at Bright Kids was very much on social skills and creating happy and confident children. Arabic provision was considered very good
The uniform was generally ok, although she found there was an issue with the fit of the sleeves. Traffic and parking were no problem at all. Overall, she felt that was a ‘welcoming and happy’ place and would highly recommend Bright Kids (and, she told us, often does!).
The nursery is open from 7am – 6pm and there are bus services from several residential districts in Abu Dhabi.
Talking to the Teachers
We met teachers Lavina, Maryam and Ayesha who between them teach children between the ages of 2-4 years old. All had been employed by Bright Kids for approximately one year.
The team agreed that the strongest aspect of this nursery lies in it constantly striving for improvements to their provision for pupils. They felt that Bright Kids was a very flexible employer that offered them plenty of scope to develop in their own career with numerous training opportunities. Teachers have creative freedom in their classrooms and feel that the daily focus is very much on productive play.
Our overall impression was that the team appeared cohesive and had very positive attitudes to its employer.
Bright Kids is housed in a re-purposed residential villa. At present seven classrooms are open, plus an indoor gym. They are not the largest classrooms we have come across but they are well presented, well-resourced and very clean. Reflecting the space available, student numbers are kept very low. Bathrooms were of a high standard and also very clean. Both upstairs and downstairs feature open play areas for the children to use when indoors. Toys and play equipment are mostly wooden and of a good standard.
Adult to child ratios are as follows:
We believe Bright Kids Nursery Al Najda represents a solid option for parents. It is a well-run and well-resourced nursery with an enthusiastic team. There has clearly been new investment and the management team demonstrated a commitment to constant improvements. Whilst we always welcome well thought out curriculum enhancements and adaptations, we are equally keen to remind parents that young children learn best when allowed to spend the majority of their time in unstructured, child initiated play.
With an adapted curriculum such as that available at Bright Kids, we would advise parents satisfy themselves that their child’s day is balanced in favour of play.
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