Creative Nest Nursery, which follows the Reggio Emilia approach to nursery education, resides in a purpose built state of the art facility "designed and resourced to the highest standard in early years education."
We believe that purpose built and brilliantly equipped facilities that area managed by true Early Years Professionals are the future of Early Years Education, and we are excited to see what the future holds for this innovative and spectacular nursery.
With the general quality of Early Years provision here being very high, it takes something really quite spectacular to blow our reviewers away – Creative Nest Nursery in Al Mizhar did just that.
Creative Nest nursery is situated on a quiet residential street in Al Mizhar 2, Mirdiff. The low rise, purpose built building has a small private car park (manned by a security guard, onsite 24/7) as well as on street parking. The building is secured by a perimeter wall and feels clean, welcoming and safe on approach.
We meet with both the Managing Director, Zeena Assam and Head Teacher Nada Dragin. Zeena is of Iraqi/Canadian descent and is the founder of the nursery. Zeena holds a Masters in Education and found that motherhood sparked her particular interest in and love for Early Years education. Zeena now also holds a Cache level 5 Nursery Management qualification and is very much involved in all aspects of the nursery. Creative Nest is a personal passion, and many of the ideas and innovations in the building design have come from directly from Zeena herself.
We tour the nursery with Nada. Nada is from Serbia and is quite clearly an Early Years professional through and through. She was previously Head of Early Years at a school in Oman and has additional teaching experience from Qatar and from an English Kindergarten in Serbia. We loved her utter commitment to the children’s experience of Creative Nest as well as her gentle and obviously fun loving nature.
We felt Nada had a great rapport with all of the staff, from housekeepers, to assistants to the teachers themselves. There was a lots of fun and laughs being had throughout – adults and children alike! Nada told us that on returning from her holiday in Serbia this year she packed her suitcase with pinecones and other natural resources for the nursery – we could just imagine her doing this! She is a great advocate of healthy lifestyles and healthy eating and is keen to implement many such programmes at Creative Nest.
Nada and all of the staff we met mention the being inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. This popular school of Early Years thought encourages five key aspects of learning:
It was evident as we toured the building and met staff that Reggio is indeed an intrinsic part of life at Creative Nest. Learning opportunities are many and varied and classrooms well lit, equipped and curated.
Like all the teachers at Creative Nest, Nada is Muslim, and we begin by chatting to her about how Islamic Education is delivered within the setting. The approach for Islamic teaching is not only to deliver Islamic lessons but to weave Islamic values into the wider curriculum, whilst also giving the children daily age appropriate Quran readings. Though all teachers are Muslim, it is not a requirement for children to be Muslim and those that are not receive a ‘Living Values’ curriculum whilst their peers are learning about Islam. Nada tells me that empathy, tolerance, peace and kindness are the key values they hope to instil in all their students.
Arabic is another key feature at Creative Nest, and Nada hopes that their ‘best practice’ approach will deliver a very high quality level of Arabic fluency and confidence in the children. English and Arabic teachers plan together weekly to ensure that their lessons complement each other and allow seamless delivery of topic work in both languages. Traditional ‘rote’ learning of Arabic is discouraged and Nada tells me that their Arabic teachers are just as likely to be outside with the children in the Mud Kitchen, planting or messy play areas as to be working inside the dedicated Arabic classroom.
English and Arabic teachers plan together weekly to ensure that their lessons complement each other and allow seamless delivery of topic work in both languages.
The first classroom we visit is the kitchen, where a group of summer camp attendees are making salt dough. The kitchen is incredibly well equipped with all work surfaces at child height and all cooking equipment child adapted (ovens are in separate room, accessible only to adults!). We could see straight away how having this adapted environment gives children the confidence to prepare and experiment with food technology. Everyone looked very happy and playfully engaged.
Next we visited the sensory room. Again, thoughtfully laid out and equipped this room is a centre for supporting children with additional needs. Nada tells me that the nursery has an open acceptance policy wherever possible. During the last academic year a number of children were supported by shadow teachers - something the nursery is very happy to collaborate with parents on.
We then tour the remaining classrooms. All are light and bright with fantastic resources and a portion of individual outside space for each class. Thoughtful details such as mirrors, wooden and natural décor and toys, plants and flowers in vases are present in each class. In the cooler months the outdoor areas are used for free-flow and messy activities. There is a central play area with high quality play equipment and a climbing wall for older children.
To the rear of the building there is a large open hall which can be divided into two smaller rooms. This will be used for celebrations and performances. On the day we visited part of the room had been prepared and dressed so that children could experience a traditional Arabic style picnic.
The classrooms and sleep areas dedicated to the very youngest children are fantastic, being equipped with high quality toys, beds, and change areas. We noticed one baby room area decorated simply in black and white – a nod to the fact that very young babies are only able to see in monochrome. There is comfortable and private breast feeding room within the baby unit.
Outside is equally as impressive, with children having access to a brilliant splash pad (with adjacent shower rooms), a mud kitchen, cycle track and play area and well as areas for planting organic vegetables.
We had a few minutes to chat to Miss Alia, a teacher who we had earlier seen having enormous fun with her group in the splash pad area. From Mexico, Alia has perfect English and a Cache Level 4 qualification. Alia loves how Creative Nest aims to serves the local community with learning, great care and a gentle emphasis on Arabic and Islamic values. She feel the nursery offers superb opportunities for professional development and values the inputs of their staff highly.
Later we spent some time with a Creative Nest parent, Shaima. Shaima’s child was previously at another nursery and she tells us that the difference in her child since joining Creative Nest is amazing. She loves that her child has a great range of experiences, especially cooking and gardening. Overall, Shaima feels you should choose Creative Nest ‘If you want to feel like a great Mum’!
Staff to child ratios are very good here, being:
Children wear a smart uniform which the parents seem to like very much. Early bird, afternoon and evening provision is available to support working parents.
Overall, this is an outstanding nursery with well driven and highly committed staff throughout. We highly recommend Creative Nest to parents in the local area.
Fees for Creative Nest Nursery are dependent on the number of days and hours each day you send your child. Fees for 10 months of "full time" care, 7am to 5pm five days a week, runs to AED 29,890, which is on par with many nursery in Dubai, especially for the numbers of days and hours.
In addition to school fees, there are registration fees, medical fees, and the cost of the uniform. There is also a 300 AED "Toolkit Fee" which covers the cost of books and supplies. On our visit, it was clear that the school utilizes all of their resources.
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