“Be careful what you teach, it might interfere with what they are learning.” – Magda Gerber

For many parents living in Dubai, knowing where to enrol your young child can be an extremely difficult decision. It’s your child’s first steps into education and, for many, their first steps away from you. At Little Land Nursery, we appreciate the magnitude of making that decision. It can also be confusing to understand the differences between the different educational options.

It’s important to fully understand the differences between an FS1 classroom and a nursery and what’s on offer at a school. It’s not only important in order to reassure you as a parent, but because these early years, as your child’s brain continues to develop, are so significant.  That’s why we have broken down some of those main differences so you can be better informed and make the best choice for your child.

One of the main differences between an FS1, a nursery and a school, is the way in which children are taught; how children learn to learn.

Learning to Learn

In a typical school system, even at the age of 3 years old, the focus of both the overall syllabus and the day-to-day teaching can be grounded solely in results. Whereas at a nursery like Little Land, the focus is on the process of learning; not just what is learnt.

At Little Land, for example, children are taught how to learn and, most importantly, they are given the freedom to do so. We believe children become invested in their own learning when given both the correct amount of guidance combined with being left to their own devices. For example, when children are moving, singing and exploring toys, they are participating in their learning environment and consequently are more engaged with the experience inside that environment.

Little Land Nursery - Children Montessori Activities

In a school classroom, a child can be told what to do and exactly when to do it. At a nursery, the child is given a choice; they are given choices by the environment. When given the opportunity to think freely and to not only explore the choices available in the classroom, the child’s brain can continue to develop appropriately and they can freely explore their imagination.

At both a FS1 and a school nursery, children will be taught important skills, such as how to count. However, there is a difference in teaching between FS1, a nursery and school when it comes to topics outside of essential skills. There is less of an emphasis put onto formalised learning at a nursery. Whereas at a school, children are often taught in a ‘black is black and white is white’ method. At nursery, we believe it is important not to stifle a child’s imagination; we teach using all the colours of the rainbow.

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Using the same methods to teach children as used to teach adults, is not how a nursery such as Little Land operates. Rather than treating children as mini adults, the nursery acknowledges that children have a different and very unique way of learning. At a school, a child of 3 may be taught using the same teaching methods used for children 10 years old or even older.

At many traditional schools, there is an importance placed on learning the most amount possible as early as possible. Schools believe that this can help them get better results in the future. However, at Little Land, we believe that we have shown it is not the case, through our own work and our own students’ successful results.

In European schools, children often don’t attend school until much later, usually around the age of 6 or 7 years old. Of course, spending those extra years at home does not mean that the child is behind in learning – even at home, a child can be learning. For instance, in the home environment, a parent can be encouraging their children’s reading skills development by sharing books and reading together.

Another great way for parents to help their child to learn at home is through activities such as cooking. Although the main skill will appear to be, of course, cooking, there are a number of opportunities to incorporate secondary skill development. For example, mathematics can be taught whilst measuring ingredients; reading skills whilst reading a recipe; language development whilst instructing. Informal learning in the homeplace is just as essential as the more formal learning that takes place once a child begins their education in a classroom.

Nursery or School?

For some families, the early start age of a school may be extremely beneficial because of their family’s schedule. A family with several children, for example, may find it easier to have all children in the same school, rather than be rushing around in the morning before work, trying to drop four children off to two or more different places. In circumstances such as these, it could be far less stressful to enrol the youngest child in school – and it’s paramount that parents seek to remove undue stress from their family lives, especially when it relates to the child’s education.

A nursery is a very sociable environment. There may be some children who benefit from a more academic focused classroom, if they find socialising difficult. This could be due to a sensory disorder or a learning disability. For some children, the more quiet setting and more stringent routine of a school classroom provides a more suitable experience and one in which they will do well. However, it is not always the case that a child who struggles initially with socialisation in their early years, will not take to a nursery such as Little Land.

At Little Land, we believe in letting a child think – not telling them what or how they should think. Through the use of playing, choosing, moving and freedom, we provide a fun, educational space where children flourish. By acknowledging a young child’s pace and style of learning, we can match their brain development and deliver the appropriate early years education.

To find out more about how Little Land Nursery and Montessori Centre can provide a safe, fun and educational experience for your child, contact us through email: info@littlelandnursery.com, or by phone on: +971 4 394 4471.

You can also book a personal tour on our website and see how we do it at Little Land Nursery.