Which Dubai curriculum is right for you?

Montessori, baccalaureate and more early years education programmes in Dubai


One minute you have a newborn in your arms, then blink, and you’re leafing through nursery brochures! How did that happen so fast? To help you decide between the wealth of information out there, we’ve looked into the most popular curriculums you’ll find on the Dubai nursery scene.

The KHDA states that children in Dubai are required to be in compulsory education by the time they’re six years old. But, until then, there are myriad early learning, nursery and pre-school options available to parents.

From nurseries accepting babies of three months to formal kindergarten for four year olds, and with the Montessori and Foundation Stage in between, it can be more than a little daunting for any first-time parent to negotiate.

Long-term Plans
Although you may not be considering university or even exams while they’re at such a tender age, what you choose for your nursery aged nippers now could still impact their future.

The majority of schools open for enrolment from January to March each year, but don’t rely on this. For individual school information, make sure to contact the schools you are interested in for specific enrolment details.

The Systems

The British Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
By far the most popular system in Dubai, The British Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) system has a lot to offer. FS1 accepts kids from three years old, and is designed to prepare children under five years for ‘big’ school. Focusing on a wide range of skills and knowledge, it’s based on three areas of development: communication and language; physical and personal; and social and emotional development.

Montessori Nurseries
With an emphasis on independence, freedom and respect, this nursery system encourages the teachers to create the learning programme as they see fit. The aim is to respect the kids’ natural psychological, physical, and social development. The system also mixes ages and genders in each class and is famous for creating specially designed areas for maximum learning. With no fixed curriculum, these schools can vary in quality, so it’s essential to view the school and sit in on potential classes.

Reggio Emilia
This nursery system is similar to Montessori in its style of teaching. Focusing on learning through play, it’s based on principles of community, responsibility and respect, and parents are expected to play a significant role. With no set themes, teachers are free to create content based on the interests of the children. Like Montessori, this system lacks a standard curriculum, and therefore schools can vary wildly. For this reason, its best to visit the school and observe classes in progress.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
While the British system may be the most popular, according to a recent report by the KHDA, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is hot on its tail. A relatively new system for most of us, it’s fast becoming the curriculum of choice for expats who know they’ll be moving elsewhere. The system accepts kids from four years old and remains independent of educational, political or country programming. It encourages students to take more responsibility for their learning as they focus on all round development.

The American system
The American system creates a foundation for later learning within the US system. It promotes active learning with an emphasis on exploration, investigation and playing with a variety of materials. The students are encouraged to become little inquirers, making choices, asking questions and working together.

The best of the rest

HighScope Approach
Based on six key developmental indicators and a plan-do-review process, HighScope strengthens essential learning skills

Holistic and Home-Grown
Get back to nature with lessons in conservation, preservation, saving rainforests, protecting endangered species, composting, recycling and organic gardening

The International Curriculum for Languages and Creative Arts
The ICLCA boasts an amalgamation of the world’s leading curricula, combined with a fresh take on what’s really age appropriate in the 21st century

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