During our recent stint at the Schools and Childcare Show 2018, we heard a number of parents comment positively on Building Blocks Nursery in Motorcity.
Housed in a multi-purpose building, just off the main thoroughfare in Motorcity, Building Blocks nursery has a fairly unassuming exterior. We parked on the opposite side of the street where there was plenty of parking, however we could see that nearby construction might make this an issue at times (although parents we spoke to did not see this as an issue).
We were greeted in reception by Reena, owner, founder and manager of Building Blocks Nursery. Reena grew up in the UAE before leaving to study Finance in the US. After graduating, Reena spent a brief time working as a stockbroker on Wall Street, just long enough to tell her that her heart lay far away from the world of high finance.
Returning to the UAE, Reena was eventually able to follow her long held interest in working with children, first by volunteering as a teaching assistant and then by teaching in a nursery. Reena’s business acumen and passion for high quality childcare combined are what eventually drove her to open Building Blocks in 2011.
Having spent years adding to her knowledge and understanding of early years teaching and leadership, Reena is now studying for the well regarded Cache* Level 5 Diploma in Early Years Leadership and Management. She is particularly interested in the Montessori style of teaching and learning.
[*Cache qualifications are qualifications awarded by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education - the UK's leading provider of vocational qualifications for those working in the care and education sectors. Cache qualifications are divided into five different levels, ranging from Level 1 (entry level) to Level 5 (for experienced professionals).]
As we chat, she continually emphasises and references the importance of professional development, both for her and her staff.
From September 2018, Building Blocks Nursery will be catering for children aged 45 days to 4 years, with the opening of a new infant room. Reena is delighted with the staff she is putting in place for this room, with an ex Neonatal Nurse and Midwife joining the team in August. She sees opening the infant room as responding to the needs of the community, saying that Building Blocks is focussed on supporting working parents as much as they can. Building Blocks is open from 7.30 – 6.00pm and offers three terms plus holiday camps.
Reena tells us that fundamental to the ethos and curriculum at Building Blocks is the Personal, Social and Emotional (PSE) development of children – this being one of the primary areas of the EYFS curriculum which is offered here. Reena tells us that PSE is at the heart of all their classroom practice and that they aim for a ‘360 approach’ between home and nursery – by building strong bonds with parents and understanding any challenges the children and family might be facing, for example feeding or health issues or the arrival of a younger sibling. Reena is very proud of her staff’s efforts in this area, saying that they create a ‘culture of continuous communication’.
Reena believes this connection between home and nursery is also vital to encouraging positive behaviour in children. She and her staff have a strategy of using carefully worded directions to help young children to understand what good behaviour is, for example using the words ‘put your hand down’ rather than ‘don’t hit’ – a simple but effective device to enable the child to understand what is required of them. If negative behaviour becomes a frequent issue, the Building Blocks team ask parents to work with staff to understand the fundamental cause. Whether it be sleep, diet or new sibling on the scene – Reena believes that looking at the ‘whole child’ will help to find the root of the behaviour.
Building Blocks offers a range of extra-curricular activities, all of which are included in the regular termly fee. Arabic and French lessons are delivered a minimum of once per week, with parents able to opt for the child to have more if needed. In addition, the nursery has a strong working relationship with the Step Up Academy (in the same building), where children have regular dance and gymnastic lessons.
Also in the same building, and with a good working relationship with the nursery is Pure Child Health, who offer a range of early interventions for children with additional needs. Pure Child Health offer children enrolled at Building Blocks free screening between October and March each year. Reena aims for the nursery to be 100% inclusive and supportive of children with additional needs wherever possible.
Classroom staff are well qualified, with all teachers having a minimum of a Cache 3 diploma. Teaching Assistants are all either qualified with or studying for Cache Level 2 and all Classroom Assistants are qualified nurses in their home country. The infant room will have a total of three qualified nurses when it opens. We were pleased to see this attention to good quality qualifications.
We spoke to two parents, Sally and Bea, both parents to 2.5 year old boys. Sally is a working parent and her son attends full time, while Bea’s son attends for morning sessions only. Sally told our team that she has always felt entirely comfortable leaving her child at Building Blocks and that she sees the results of the emphasis on PSE in her sons’ behaviour and manners.
Sally also told us that all parents of children who attend full time receive a weekly phone call from their class teacher to share progress and communicate any issues. Otherwise, communication is in the form of quick daily chats and a communication book used to record achievements and practical details such as how the child ate during the day.
Bea described the nursery as small and friendly and felt it better value for money than other nurseries in the area. She felt that the nursery staff were ‘dedicated’ and really knew each child as an individual. Both parents were extremely happy with their choice and would recommend Building Blocks.
Reena later gave us a tour of the premises. Building Blocks is split into two areas, with two receptions, one area for the older children and one for younger children. Classrooms are simple and equipped with age appropriate furniture and most have good natural light. The windows in many are used for art displays and each room had lots of interesting examples of the children’s efforts on display. We did feel that some of the areas felt a little ‘tired’ but Reena was quick to point out that maintenance was scheduled for the summer months.
Most rooms have attached bathrooms which were sometimes a little cluttered but clean and suitably equipped. One classroom has a sleep area, equipped with cots and bouncers for daytime naps. Our reviewer would have preferred to see all children sleeping in cots, but Reena felt that this should be down to parental choice and that sleeping in a bouncer helped children who suffered with problems such as reflux.
There is a fun and well thought out indoor soft play area, used for physical activity during the hot weather. Outside, there is a small play area with varied climbing and play equipment, a good size water play area and a sandpit. The nursery also has a role play area with lots of different themed spaces. Unusually, there is also a kitchen for cooking and baking activities, with child height counters and work spaces.
It was a fairly quiet morning when we visited but we saw children engaged and happily interacting with their teachers. Some children were wearing the optional Building Blocks uniform.
Before our visit ended we were able to chat to Rachel, who has been teaching at Building Blocks for the past 3 years. Originally from Scotland, Rachel holds a Masters Degree in English Literature and has seen her own daughter pass through the nursery. Rachel likes the fact that the nursery is not too big and has a ‘cosy’ feel to it. She feels that they have become a key part of the community, with lots of families returning with their second and third children – something she feels endorses the quality of the care at Building Blocks. She has been very happy with her own daughter’s experiences.
Children moving on to school from Building Blocks to local schools such as Safa Community School, Kings Al Barsha, Repton and JESS Ranches. A handful will go to Jumeirah Primary School and DESS.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information