Safari Kid is part of an international group of preschools and kindergartens first founded in Silicon Valley, California. WSA investigated what sets it apart from your average nursery or preschool.
Safari Kid is part of an international group of preschools and kindergartens first founded in Silicon Valley, California. The group has generated quite a bit of press in every part of the world in which it has opened (now in six countries including Canada, UK, India and China).
Safari Kid operates a unique curriculum which was developed by the founder of the group, Shy Mudakavi, a Silicon Valley based entrepreneur. During our visit to the group’s first UAE branch we were told that Safari Kid draws on best practice from the Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf teaching programmes and is focused on accelerating the academic achievement of children from the very youngest age.
A year after the opening of the first UAE branch (read our review HERE!) and with the group having also acquired an existing nursery in JBR), our team revisited Safari Kid at their newly opened Meydan District One (Mohammed Bin Rashid City) branch, to see if these ambitious ideals still guide day to day life at the nursery.
Safari Kid in Meydan District One is situated in a new and purpose built building situated immediately after the entry to the development. The low rise building has been created in keeping with the architecture of the rather stylish nearby homes and has its own (small) parking area where we were able to find a space with ease.
We are greeted by Nursery Manager, Renna Elizabeth who talked us through life at Safari Kid and gave a guided us on a tour of the premises. Renna has a very welcoming personal style and is also the Mum of a 2 year old ‘Safari Kid’ of her own. An experienced Nursery Manager, Renna previously worked for the well known and local Blossom group of nurseries.
Renna offered our team tea and biscuits and we kicked off our chat by asking her what she feels makes Safari Kid unique.
“For me, it’s the personalisation and individualised care. We really have a tailored and flexible curriculum. What we do is child led and not too structured. We think about kind of learner your child is and change what we do each day to reflect this".
Certainly the structure of the curriculum would seem to reflect this focus on personalisation: it is divided into elements such as Art, STEAM, ‘Turbo Toddlers’ (an active session) and varied extra curricular activities by age group.
Whether children are four months or four years old, they will have daily circle time where they begin to learn about letters, numbers, colours, shapes and song. Though perhaps structured and described differently to other curriculums, what we saw and heard on the day of our visit was very much on a par with with other good quality nurseries.
Academics aside, Renna tells us that, “The curriculum is fantastic, but relationships are where we really pride ourselves. We are a small and intimate nursery. We get to know our families well and the children even better!”
The nursery is square in shape with classrooms around the outside of the building and a central indoor play area. There is also a good size outdoor area surrounding the premises. The first room we see is the infant room. It is small and the sleeping area is inside, which may mean the children are required to nap at the same time as one another. If this is a concern, we would advise parents to explore infant routines with the team.
This is not a particularly large nursery and the classroom sizes do reflect this. That said, they have been decorated in a simple style which keep them feeling light and open. Toys and resources are mostly wooden and all are high quality brands. Overall, the nursery has a sense of uncluttered calm. Depsite being calm (and very stylish!), we did feel it could be made a little more homely in places.
Although this is a smaller setting, the outdoor space is a strength here. It is dominated by a large climbing frame/slide which, on the day of our visit was surrounded by fun looking balance equipment. There is a small bikes and trikes track and a mini splash pad in the shape of a whale (blowing water through his blow hole – very sweet!).
A healthy lunch is delivered daily by the popular Leelas Lunches delivery service. This is compulsory (i.e. no option to send your own lunches) and included in the standard fee structure. Reena says the lunch service is very popular and “healthy and organic”. She also feels that eating together helps fussy eaters to try new foods (we agree: a little peer pressure always helps here!).
Safari Kid have developed their own app for communicating with parents. This is where teachers will share photos and updates. There is also a weekly newsletter and parents are always welcome to stop in for a chat with Renna or the Class Teacher.
Most children at this branch attend for morning sessions only, although there are options for a longer day (up to 7.30 to 6.00) to support working parents.
Just as in the other branch of Safari Kid, we found this nursery to be a slick and well run operation. We felt there was less of an emphasis on “accelerated academics” in this branch, but in our Reviewer’s opinion this is no bad thing for such young children! The nursery is clean, well organised and staff are committed and qualified. A good option for nearby families.
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