Orange Tree Children's Nursery, located in Bur Dubai, is the first nursery in the world to be licensed to operate the International Pre School Curriculum.
Orange Tree Children’s Nursery is located on a quiet residential street in Al Jaffiliya, a convenient location just a few minutes drive from the Trade Centre roundabout. Parking is in bays along the street and a bus service is available for parents who need assistance with transport. The building itself is a thoughtfully converted residential villa secured by a high perimeter wall. We were impressed to see that all parents have swipe cards to access the premises and that CCTV is in operation to identify any other visitors.
The nursery caters for children aged 4 months to 4 years, all cared for in separate and age appropriate rooms. Staff to child ratio are as follows:
The nursery has three qualified nurses on site, one who is the designated School Nurse and two who staff the Baby Room – an excellent idea in our opinion.
Most children at Orange Tree attend for morning sessions, but the nursery offers a variety of options to cater for working parents, with extended hours from 7am to 6pm. Children have both a general uniform and a PE uniform, with every Thursday being a fun “non-uniform” day.
Meeting the Director and Co-Founder
We were met by Juliana Bokelman, Co-Founder and Director of the nursery. Juliana is an ex KG stage teacher who now holds a Cache Level 4 Early Years Diploma. She is warm and very approachable and obviously passionate about the nursery. Juliana is excited about bringing the International Pre School Curriculum to the UAE. Orange Tree was the first nursery to be licensed to operate the curriculum, not only in the UAE but anywhere in the world!
Before taking a tour of the nursery, Juliana took a few minutes to brief us on the International Pre School Curriculum, which is has been created to allow children a seamless transition to International Curriculum schools. We learnt that the curriculum is formed of six “Core Content Learning Areas”, these being:
To deliver these areas of learning, a nursery can choose from a rotation of twenty one “Thematic Units” (topics). These cover a wide variety of areas (at the time of our visit all the children at Orange Tree were learning about “Our Universe”) such as “Fairy Tales”, “Shapes and Patterns” and “Around the World”. The children at the nursery certainly seemed engaged in many interesting activities – we were able to see a yoga class and active play in a small soft play area, role play and dress up, numerous craft activities, singing and story time. Overall, we felt that this was a strong, well thought out curricula which would equip children to enter not only International but British, American and Indian curriculum schools.
Touring the Nursery
Our tour began in the welcoming reception area. The whole building has retained a homely feel and the reception area is no exception. Parents are encouraged to visit the administration office and tea and coffee is available for them should they want to stay and chat. We were able to view all of the classrooms and were impressed by their spacious feel and interesting displays. One display in particular (themed around “Our Universe”) covered not only the walls but part of the ceiling too, and was completed by twinkling fairy lights for stars! Each room has an attached bathroom, areas for crafts and messy play, age appropriate seating, storage for personal belongings and, we were delighted to note, lots and lots of books. Arabic lessons feature heavily here and each classroom had an Arabic display board for arts made during language lessons.
In the main hallway there is a recycling centre which parents are encouraged to use, with the children using many of the objects for crafts and activities.
The baby room has a padded floor (no shoes allowed for hygiene), several swing seats and each child has their own labelled cot. Although there is not CCTV in the classrooms (Juliana cited privacy concerns for the children) the nursery operates a “drop in any time” policy which parents are heavily encouraged to use. Juliana feels that this open door policy is especially important for parents leaving their very young babies, and helps everyone to feel comfortable during the first phases of separation anxiety.
Outside, the children have access to several different shaded play areas – some of which are available for all and some which are for older or younger children only. There is plenty of varied play equipment, a splash area, sandpit and bikes for all age groups. The walls are covered in beautiful murals featuring a street with shops, petrol stations and schools – designed to encourage role play and really brightening up the garden.
Communication with parents operates in the form of a real time app, which parents can use on their phones. Teachers update the app at regular intervals during the day so that parents can login and see photos or written details of their child’s day such as eating and toileting. In addition there are termly written reports and regular parent teacher meetings. We felt that communication was a real strength of this nursery.
Children graduating from Orange Tree tend to go on to the nearby Gems Wellington School, although the nursery has just announced a new partnership with Safa British School. Teachers from SBS will visit the children at Orange Tree for assessments and to ensure a smooth transition to the school.
Lastly, we were able to meet with a parent who described the staff as “professional, caring and understanding. She particularly liked the app, which allowed her great insight into her child’s day. She felt that her child had learnt a lot and developed “tremendously” since joining Orange Tree.
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