Les Fanfans is a 'trilingual' nursery for children age 2 months to 4 years located close to the Mangrove National Park and within striking distance of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street.
We visited Les Fanfans nursery on a quiet summer morning and were greeted by the Manager, Sarah Ali, who gave our team a warm welcome before explaining the philosophy of Les Fanfans.
Billed as a “trilingual” setting, the nursery offers programmes in English, Arabic and French. Parents can opt for immersion classes or regular lessons in the preferred languages. Sara's own children have attended the nursery and she spoke of the children and staff as a “family”.
Sarah is a Cache Level 5 qualified Nursery teacher, and all staff have relevant nursery teaching qualifications. All staff at Les Fanfans also receive the ADEK mandated 30 hours of training per year; this includes topics such as First Aid, Child Protection and Safety.
As with many nurseries in the UAE, Les Fanfans is housed in a converted villa. Situated on a quiet residential street, we were able to find (on street) parking spaces with ease, although we did wonder how manageable this would be on a busier morning.
Entering via a security gate, we noted CCTV cameras monitoring the entry. Outside, there is a small play area with a variety of play equipment, a bike track and soft, safe flooring. The outdoor area is securely fenced.
The nursery has a total of eight classes, one for infants, two toddler rooms, three younger preschool rooms and two rooms dedicated to preschool children. Whilst the rooms are well equipped and tidy, there are some areas where the décor does feel in need of updating and could be a little more homely.
The infant room has low level soft play type play equipment including matting, small ramps and a ball pit. Ideal for small crawlers! For the hotter months, there are two (upstairs and downstairs, for older and younger groups) indoor play areas which contain climbing and balance toys and a role play area. There is also a gym, where we saw children learning about colours in a jumping game.
Les Fanfans is a franchise company originating in the UAE and with a branch in Canada, and as such operates with their own unique curriculum, a blend of the English EYFS and Canadian 'Elect'. Children learn through play whilst following a predetermined set of topics delivered by the teachers. The worksheets we saw were also prescribed, adult planned and defined activities. When visiting nurseries, our reviewers do look for a ‘child led’ curriculum and whilst what Les Fansfans delivers is more teacher directed, we found that children looked happily engaged in their learning. The walls were decorated in bright art work and we saw a wide range of activities led by smiling teachers.
Sarah informed us that the curriculum comes second to the feel and warmth of the nursery.
“What we are trying to create is a homely, safe environment. What we do is not about instruction, this is not a school! We allow children to safely express themselves and to learn to socialise with their peers”.
Having visited on a fairly quiet day, we were not able to observe many of these relationships in action, but we did see and feel the commitment of the staff. We would always advise parents to watch how staff interact with children during a visit or tour.
Overall Les Fanfans is a small, comfortable nursery which will be of interest to families in the local community. The majority of children from this nursery tend to leave for to the French schools Lycee Louise Massignon and Lycee Theodore Monod. The remainder tend to leave for other local schools including Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, Repton Abu Dhabi and British International School of Abu Dhabi.
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