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Little Stream Nursery in Dubai

How a unique curriculum at Little Stream Nursery is changing the face of early years education in Dubai

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It seems no school curriculum these days is complete without STEM (that’s the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths collaboratively, based on real-world scenarios) and it is starting to underpin the delivery of lessons in classrooms the world over. Younger pupils than ever before are being exposed to the concept, and now one Dubai nursery has taken this approach one step further.

Little Stream Nursery opened its doors just a year ago and STEM sits at the heart of what their specially created curriculum does. They’ve decided to let creative juices flow by adding reading and art to this method, creating the “STREAM” from which the nursery takes its name.

Co-founder and passionate early years educator, Salwa Dib, explains: “If we look back at education, the science and maths element of STEM have always been taught in classrooms. The engineering has also always been taught although not necessarily called this – building blocks, the ‘push and pull’ and ‘sink or float’ theories are all technically methods or lessons in engineering but we might not necessarily refer to them this way. And then along came the ‘T’ for technology, present in almost every aspect of life now.

“We wanted to introduce into the mix, the traditional elements of reading and art to bridge the gap between them and the modern aspects of teaching contained in STEM, as we believe they go hand-in-hand.”

Dib and her co-founder, Maia Bulbul, had the vision for Little Stream more than three years ago, when Dib was working as department head of early years at a school in Abu Dhabi and Bulbul in business development. Bulbul’s background means she is responsible for the operations side of the business, while Dib’s expertise drives the creation of this unique curriculum.

“The nursery is split across two floors with the ground floor dedicated to the four to 24-month age group and the upper floor is split into specially-designed, individually-themed classrooms for science, technology, reading, engineering, art and maths for the two to four year olds,” Dib continues. “The Little Scientists room is where all the exciting experiments and exploring take place, the Little Engineers room is equipped with all the latest age-appropriate educational technology and robotics equipment, the Little Brainiacs room is for literacy, maths, art and linguistics, the Little Bookworms space houses our wonderful library and the Little Shakers is the music and movement room.”

Pupils rotate around these rooms to experience the full spectrum of this integrated curriculum, although, interestingly, Dib still cites the Little Bookworms library as the key area of the nursery. “Reading is the most important element of all,” she says. “It is through words that we can teach everything else and to instill a love of books in all children is crucial. The art of reading – the feeling of holding a book in your hands and flipping the pages – underpins it all.”

Dib also describes art as similarly important to STREAM. “Everything can be taught through art. If you want to introduce a new topic to the children, you can do it through art, expression of feelings can be done through art,” she explains.

Although the STREAM-themed classrooms are primarily for the older children, once pupils in the younger age group are confidently walking and can tackle stairs without too much difficulty, they too can move upstairs on occasion and experience elements of these specialist classrooms.

In short, you’re never too young to learn. In fact, the toy truck was first patented by a six-year-old in 1963; Frank Epperson was only 11 when he invented the frozen popsicle at the turn of the 20th century and a bunch of eight year olds in the UK published their own scientific bee study not too long ago. We have a feeling Dib and her team may well be on to something very special here.
Villa #87, Street 14A, Al Manara, www.littlestreamdubai.com (04 338 9883).

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