Q+A: The Children's Garden Kindergarten, Dubai
The Children's Garden Kindergarten in Dubai (part of the Taaleem Group of schools), is a multi-lingual kindergarten for two to six-year olds. There are three branches in Dubai located in Al Barsha 2, Green Community and Jumeira 2. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour...
How old is the school?
The Taaleem Group's first school, The Children's Garden Green Community (TCGGC) was established in 2005. As a result if its success, two more branches were opened, one in Jumeira (TCGJ) in 2009 and the other in Barsha (TCGB) in 2011.
We at TCG strive to provide a nurturing, homely and creative environment that offers not only a gentle introduction to social life beyond the family, but also helps each child to develop independence and fulfil their potential.
How many students do you have?
Across our three branches we have more than 550 students enrolled in the programme.
What accreditations do you have?
Our school is under the supervision of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
What assessments are required to enrol?
We do not conduct formal assessments upon application for enrolment. However, we do undertake class observations that help inform the teacher as to the individual needs of each child.
Can you give me a breakdown of where your students come from? (nationality)
We have children from all over the world. We are a truly international school with staff and students coming from over 50 countries, including the Americas, Europe, Australasia, UK, Africa and the Middle East.
What happens when parents visit the school?
Parents receive a warm welcome from our team at The Children's Garden Kindergarten (TCG), and are invited to take a guided tour of the school to look at our wonderful educational facilities, and see our teachers and children engaged in their daily routines and activities. We are very proud of the quality of education we provide for our students and of the beautiful work displayed throughout the school, made by our children, aged two to six years old. Parents will get a chance to see learning in action, as the children busily create experiences and memories with their teachers and peers.
What facilities do you offer?
In all three sites we have:
- a movement room
- a music room
- an art studio
- a library
- a Mathazone area – a unique area dedicated to mathematics and inquiry
- outdoor playgrounds
- indoor learning areas.
We also have a swimming pool at TCGGC, a water park at TCGB and a sensory room at both TCGB and TCGJ.
Why should I send my child to your school?
Every child is full of promise and ideas, and our multi-lingual Early Years Programme ensures that students gain invaluable exposure to languages, movement, music, the arts, literacy and numeracy. It also encourages children to play and explore, to discover and grow and to persevere, learn and understand.
Our wonderful team of experienced staff is dedicated to engaging and nurturing children as they learn. We welcome and encourage the partnership between parents and our team, and are deeply committed to making a positive difference to the lives of our students and their families. Our unique ethos and happy, family-oriented learning environment ensures that your child will feel safe and happy, and will enjoy their first experience of school.
What do you do to help children settle in?
We have a team of highly qualified, caring and friendly teachers that are ready to welcome the children with a warm smile. We conduct an orientation programme for our students at the beginning of the year that allows them time to adjust to their new environment.
We make sure the children have a warm welcome at the school and feel comfortable. Our teachers and senior leaders collaborate with parents to ensure that each child’s needs are catered for, so that they can adjust at their own pace. We ensure children have a buddy from their class when they first arrive, who can show them around and interact with them.
What curriculum do you follow?
Our early years framework encourages children to play and explore, to discover and grow, to persevere, learn and understand in an environment full of language, communication and creativity. Everything we do starts with the child and we use the environment to stimulate their imagination, curiosity and sense of wonder. We give them the praise, encouragement and confidence to see themselves as successful learners on their life-long learning journey. Our curriculum is based around international best practice for developmental milestones.
How have you adapted the curriculum to suit your location/country?
Dubai is a cultural melting-pot. We support our children in developing a positive sense of their own identity and culture, and help them to establish personal values as a foundation for the development of a moral sense, and an understanding of a wide range of cultures. Our multi-lingual approach encourages children to communicate in more than one language, hugely important in our multi-lingual, global society. As we are in the UAE, Arabic is a feature of all three schools. Children have the opportunity to learn it as one of their three languages taught at TCG.
What is your teaching philosophy?
"Childhood should be a journey and not a race’’. We recognise that every child is unique, and that children develop in different ways and at different rates. We equip children with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to foster their all-round development. We develop their curiosity, exploration and play, which lie at the heart of their creative and expressive experiences. We encourage active and collaborative learning within a secure and supportive environment, where children acquire confidence, begin to take responsibility for their own learning and relate constructively and harmoniously to others.
What links do you have with other schools?
As we are a part of the Taaleem group, we have direct links with our sister schools including Jumeira Baccalaureate School, Greenfield Community School, Dubai British School and Dubai British School Jumeirah Park. Children who complete the full programme to KG2 at TCG have automatic entry into one of our Taaleem sister schools.
What is the background of your teaching staff?
Our teachers come from all over the world, and are all highly qualified and experienced in the field of early years. We select only the best. Their passion and enthusiasm for working with children certainly shines through.
How do you teach reading?
We have adopted the 'Letters and Sounds' programme, and use the recommended methodologies and approaches in teaching reading across all languages in our schools. It is an internationally acclaimed programme, which adopts play, games and early years' activities to develop phonological awareness, tricky word recognition and develop the child’s capacity to read and write in a fun and creative way, and at an age-appropriate level.
Do you do much work in the community?
We are a group of schools who focus on the community. We hold numerous events across the year, where we invite members of the community to join in; market days where local businesses can sell their wares, fundraisers for local companies, visits from authors in our region and community fun days, where friends and family of TCG children can come and enjoy themselves as a part of the TCG community.
How can you ensure continuity if my child moves between countries?
Our professionally qualified staff take the time to get to know the children personally and academically, to ensure that needs are met, talents and interests are nurtured and progress at the child’s own level is ensured and sustained. We celebrate the diversity of our global community, respecting and learning about the many cultures across our school, and have an increased emphasis on the development of the mother tongue.
How do you support pupils who are struggling, and how do you challenge the more able?
Firstly, our qualified staff take every opportunity to observe the children, both formally and informally, to ensure that they have a clear understanding of each individual child’s needs. Methodologies, approaches and activities are designed to support the pace and ability of each child, as well as their preferred method of learning. Students are given opportunities to access one-to-one attention, explore areas of interest and develop their abilities through structured, extended exploration, as part of our continuous provision, and they are engaged daily in activities specific to their needs and levels of ability.
What additional help do you provide for children with learning difficulties?
Following observations of the children, attention is given to drafting specific plans for students with learning difficulties, in any given area of the curriculum. Teachers will determine the strategies and approaches to use in class that best suit the individual child’s learning and progress. Teachers communicate regularly with parents, and work collaboratively with them in understanding, supporting and structuring school and home activities to further the child’s progress.
How are pupils with English as an additional language supported?
As a multi-lingual school we are fully qualified and equipped to support students who do not speak the language of instruction in their Homeroom classroom. We take care to use welcoming and caring body-language in getting to know the student, and adopt teacher and peer modelling as one of the many methods to ensure that the child will not feel lost or unsure.
Given the multi-lingual classroom settings, children also quickly realise that they are not alone in learning the new language, and foster close relationships with their peers. Continuous support is given to each individual child to extend their vocabulary, and ensure that their understanding and capacity to speak improves daily.
How do you support children who find maths difficult?
The Mathazone Programme used at TCG aims to define mathematics as a way of thinking, that it is not just a series of calculations. This thinking methodology is more important than the ability to simply calculate. We focus on improving the child’s problem solving and critical thinking skills, through stories, songs, life-coaching and exploration of the mathematical concepts, using the Mathazone number characters. This child-centred, age-appropriate and concrete approach has proven to be effective in supporting students, who previously struggled to grasp abstract mathematical concepts.
What languages do you offer?
We have English, French and Arabic Homerooms in our branches in Barsha and Jumeira, and English, French and German Homerooms in our branch in Green Community, with Arabic as a third language.
What is your approach to languages in the school?
We are a multi-lingual setting. Children are educated in a main language of instruction, as chosen by their parents and, in addition to this, parents are free to choose their child’s second language class, where they will receive five hours instruction per week. The children also attend a third language class for one session each week, where they explore and learn simple listening, understanding and speaking skills. We take a fun, creative and age-appropriate approach to the learning and teaching of all three languages in our schools.
Do you have a mother-tongue programme?
Languages are extremely important to us at TCG. As we focus on four languages of instruction, we take into account a child’s mother tongue, as we explore and immerse the children in the four languages of instruction.
How do you actively support students in maintaining their mother tongue?
We collaborate closely with parents to ensure that they maintain the use of the mother-tongue in the home, and understand the importance of doing this. We have an international day at school, where cultures, foods and languages of all our school nationalities are championed and celebrated.
During topics such as ‘people and places’, we explore the language and cultures of the children in the classroom, and encourage home involvement by sending into school cultural and food items, and inviting parents to teach nursery rhymes and songs, as well as to read stories in their mother-language. Many communal areas across our schools have multi-lingual signage.
How can parents get involved?
Throughout the academic year, presentations, newsletters and topic overviews encourage parents to share their particular gifts and talents. School events are often centred on parent attendance and involvement, and parents are encouraged to help in the planning, preparing and execution of them. Class teachers invite parents to read and make presentations to the children, as well as assisting with and conducting both classroom and home activities.
How often are parents invited to attend assemblies?
Being proud of what we do and achieve is important. Across the year we often invite parents in, during end-of-unit celebrations, for performances and for Arabic events and other specific assemblies. The smiles on the faces of the proud children and parents is priceless.
Do parents come in and help with reading?
Yes, and they are encouraged to read in both the language of Homeroom instruction, as well as in their mother tongue. Parents are always welcomed.
How often do parents receive written reports?
We have a communication journal that is used by the teacher on a weekly basis, to report and feedback to parents on everything from social, emotional and personal development, to academic progress and areas for improvement. It also provides a chance for parents to feedback from home to school. Following formal and informal parent-teacher meetings, the parents also receive two formal written reports.
How important is music and the arts in your school?
In addition to the children receiving weekly instruction in music and the arts, we at TCG use these as part of our everyday methodologies in teaching all subject areas. As an early years setting, we acknowledge the importance of using music, the arts and play in furthering the child’s learning. Research has proved that these activities in early years promote confidence and a sense of enjoyment and, when used correctly, can result in a more effective transmission and acquisition of curriculum learning objectives.
Do you have a swimming pool on site?
Our branch in Green Community has an age-appropriate swimming pool on site, while our branches in Jumeira and Barsha have fun and enjoyable waterparks.
How do most children travel to and from school?
Given the age levels of children at our schools, we don’t provide transportation for safety reasons. Parents accompany their children to school in their own form of transport, the majority by car, to drop off and pick up their children.
Do you arrange for guest speakers, such as authors and experts to come to the school?
We arrange for a host of speakers and experts to attend our school across the academic year. These include dentists, firemen, doctors and nutritionists, as well as authors, actors, musicians and dancers. We welcome anyone that can further the education of our children, and provide for extended exploration of skills and concepts.
How do you tackle bullying?
Our highly trained and caring staff are constantly observing children’s behaviour and behaviour patterns, with a view to monitoring, identifying and preventing bullying. We foster close collaboration with parents to ensure that an open line of communication is established and both parents and teachers can remain informed as to the experiences, worries and emotions of their children. We have a school policy on bullying which clearly outlines the step-by-step process adopted in managing and tackling any bullying should it occur in our schools.
All images: The Children's Garden Kindergarten
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