Kangaroo Kids is a housed in a very large villa, close to Al Safa 2 park and convenient for Umm Al Shief and Al Manara Street junctions of the Sheikh Zayed Road.
The outside of the Kangaroo Kids Al Safa building is brightly painted and the building stands out on this otherwise quiet residential street. Kangaroo Kids has a number of private parking spaces directly outside the front gate, making drop off and pick up much easier for parents. Parents reported that there is rarely difficulty parking. There is a security gate with a buzzer for access. As we enter, we see one class planting, playing in the ‘mud kitchen’ and tending to a small garden area.
The nursery is led buy Laura Barton-Toyne, a highly experienced Early Years leader. Laura has a relaxed and natural warmth and an impressive depth of knowledge and experience of working with children.
Having obtained a degree in Social Work in the UK, Laura worked in a Children’s Respite Home (for children with Special Educational Needs) for several years, before moving on to a new career in nursery management. Laura spent much of her childhood in Saudi Arabia, and was delighted to move back to the region with her own family.
Laura is a qualified Cache* Qualification Assessor and has added to her qualifications throughout her career, now holding a Teaching Degree, an NNEB certificate (equivalent to a Cache* 3 Diploma) and a Level 4 Early Years qualification.
[*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).]
We thoroughly enjoyed listening to Laura talk about day to day life at Kangaroo Kids. Clearly an ‘early years person’ through and through, Laura as a real depth of early years knowledge and great pride in the achievements of her team and the children in their care.
We were able to watch one lesson, where teacher Autumn was using puppets and a great sense of humour to engage the children in some rhyming games - we were impressed with what we saw.
Autumn later told us that she felt Kangaroo Kids was a nursery that is ‘endlessly warm with love’ and ‘truly child led’. Autumn also believes that the nursery closely adheres to the principles of the EYFS, saying that ‘The EYFS curriculum is implemented very effectively. In my experience, many settings claim to follow the EYFS but do not implement it fully and effectively. However, Kangaroo Kids follows a rich curriculum which is created by a team of qualified professionals who are knowledgeable and qualified in the EYFS. Weekly planning and long term planning ensures all 7 areas are met and classroom environments reflect these areas’.
We agreed with this assessment of the curriculum here, having witnessed how staff fulfil requirements and plan work for individual and small groups of children, with a continuing cycle of observation, assessment and planning and with plenty of preparation time built into each teacher’s timetable. Planning is displayed outside each classroom for parents to see.
The EYFS curriculum is enhanced my the implementation of two pedagogies, The Curiosity Approach, a 'modern day approach to Early Childhood' hailing from the UK and 'Hygge', the Danish concept that refers to finding comfort in cosy, simple activities and relationships.
Laura explained more about day to day life at Kangaroo Kids as we tour the nursery. Able to cater for children aged 2 months to 4 years, Laura hopes that the nursery is an integral part of the local community and fully flexible to the needs of working parents.
In response to requests from parents and the community, Kangaroo Kids has created two new initiatives – a very early drop off option (6am) and a non-curriculum afternoon session, priced at a competitive 450 dhs per week (five, three hour afternoon sessions or, alternatively, 5 days in any one month for 500dhs). Laura hopes that this ‘Afternoon Nursery Club’ will help children build social skills, support language development and motor skills. Whilst this option is not intended to replace curriculum led nursery education, Lisa hopes that it offers a flexible and reasonably priced way to experience nursery life.
One parent, Katie, whose 2 year old son Toby attends Kangaroo Kids, told us how much she appreciated how adaptable the nursery had been in accommodating the needs of her family saying that thing that had impressed her most was “how accommodating they have been in helping with our need for dropping Toby early in the morning. They trialled a bus service for a term, and now have an extra early breakfast club that means I can drop Toby at nursery and still get to my workplace on time. We are so grateful for the effort they have put in to finding a solution for us’.
Katie also felt that her son was incredibly happy here “Toby is really happy at Kangaroo Kids nursery. He literally jumps up and down when he arrives in the mornings. He really loves his teachers. Toby learns something new every day and always comes home singing a new song or telling me about a story he has acted out”.
This is a large villa with exceptionally spacious grounds. The very youngest children have their own small building ‘The Baby Cottage’ as do the oldest (the FS1 class), who have a two classrooms for one group as well as their own dedicated messy play and art area. The garden is vast, with real grass and lots of bikes, trikes and climbing equipment with differing levels of challenge for children of all age groups. A large portion of the garden is shaded. The team have recently created a sensory garden with lots of new planting and a sensory path intended for the children to use barefoot. There is a shallow pool (fenced and gated) for splash play sessions.
Staff in the baby room are uniformed, they wear pink, and only management or a member of staff wearing the uniform is permitted to hold a child under the age of 1. The baby room is staffed by nurses and is a bright and well equipped space.
Individual classrooms are bright and packed full of displays of the children’s work. Areas have been planned to allow for free flowing activities and reflect the 7 areas of the EYFS. Whilst resources are not always the most up to date or new, we felt that classes and shared areas had been planned well to allow a balanced day for the children. There is a Dance and Music Room, a Library with interactive white board and a Literacy room. One room had been entirely designated as a Science room, where we saw examples of the children conducting experiments and learning about simple scientific concepts. In the garden there is also a small amphitheatre area where the entire nursery gather weekly for ‘community singing’.
Kangaroo Kids has a fantastically warm atmosphere, a wide variety of resources, lots of space and well qualified staff. It is not perhaps the newest or flashiest nursery, but we felt it offered a very high standard of care.
Kangaroo Kids Al Safa is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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