The majority of young children today begin their education in a preschool or nursery programme before entering kindergarten. Numerous advantages provided by these early childhood education programmes set the stage for a strong education as the foundation of a child’s growth and educational preparation is laid during the nursery and preschool years.
The foundation of Art Village Nursery was laid on achieving these goals and becoming the early companion in the early growth of children.
Art Village Nursery opened in September 2015 with only six pedagogues and eight children enrolled. Today, the nursery has reached its full capacity with a long waiting list of children to be enrolled. The Founder and Managing Director, Nina Farokhfal, had a strong vision to create a nursery school that was different from the mainstream schools and that was true to her beliefs of a good educational system. She wanted to create a school that has an endless amount of understanding for the individual child’s need to be acknowledged and respected as well as to be allowed to play and grow in a healthy environment that emphasizes holistic learning.
A Humanistic Approach
Art Village Nursery’s pedagogical vision is that each child shall be able to show their true potential based on their own requirements. The nursery realizes this vision by continuously listening to the children. Its work is based on a humanistic approach, respect and confidence in the child’s potential and desire to learn.
Art Village Nursery challenges children by stimulating their interests in creative activities, natural sciences, song and music, dance & movement, theatre & drama, and art & design. These areas are integrated into its daily educational activities. Its inspiration comes from the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which was founded by the Italian pedagogue Loris Malaguzzi. The fundamental idea is that children like to discover and that children need to be agents of their own learning.
Creating an Inspiring Environment
Nina Farokhfal is the Founder and Managing Director of Art Village Nursery. She has a strong understanding of early years education and is passionate about creating an environment for children that is inspiring and creative. Nina has a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent Development from California State University, Northridge, United States. She has a CACHE Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health, Social Care, Children and Young People’s Services. Additionally, she has been trained by the Reggio Emilia Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and has also visited the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy to gain more profound knowledge of philosophy.
For the nursery, the pedagogues, parents, and the community play an essential role in the success of the school. The school wants to work and collaborate closely with everyone to be an important part of its educational setting. All this is to benefit the children’s growth, learning and development.
Promoting a Healthy Learning Environment
Art Village Nursery follows the Swedish curriculum and Reggio Emilia’s approach, which is a very productive mix to promote a healthy learning environment to support children’s development and growth.
All children at the nursery are respected and valued for who they are, how they think and what they feel. The children are supported and encouraged, respecting everyone’s personal needs, to grow and learn in unimagined ways. The environment at the school works as the ‘third pedagogue,’ supporting children’s independence, self-esteem, and curiosity to learn.
Staying Close to the Nature
Nature plays an essential part in daily life at Art Village Nursery. Everyone is surrounded by natural materials that are used as inspiration and learning tools. The school does not have plastic materials or furniture in the classrooms or elsewhere.
The school believes that natural materials are essential for well-being. The children go for ‘Nature Walks’ to investigate and explore the world around them. The school believes in connecting with nature and people in the community, going on walks in the area, climbing trees, and investigating animals and plants on the path.
Ideal Parental Involvement
The school works closely and in cooperation with the home. Parents have the opportunity within the framework of the goals to be involved and influence activities in the preschool. Its doors are always open for parents to join and help to support their children in their learning and development. The school also has a very gentle settling-in period when the child first starts the nursery. The parents are welcome to join the child for as long as it takes for the child to settle into their new environment.
The school has contributed in many ways to uplift preschool education in Dubai. Starting with the fact that it sees all its children as strong and capable protagonists in their own learning and supports the opinion of each child. Its belief is that children are natural communicators who share and demonstrate learning, thoughts, ideas, and feelings in whatever way they want.
Dictated by the children, projects in the nursery are created that they can return to when they wish rather than imposing strict timetables. Learning always takes place in small groups, as building relationships and experiencing different points of view are considered essential to the learning process.
Tailoring the Learning Needs
Art Village Nursery tailors learning around each individual child’s needs, interests, and abilities. Therefore, each child has an Individual Development Plan, which enables the pedagogue to know exactly where the child is at in their development.
For children, this type of planning identifies their interests and personal learning characteristics and is used as a plan to stimulate and challenge the next step. The school continuously strives to challenge each child and talk about skills like competence, cognition, independence, influence, movement, and expressive arts that all together prepare its children for life.
Valuing Every Voice
The school takes every opportunity to explain and clarify the goals of the curriculum to bring the stakeholders together. Art Village Nursery tries to understand where stakeholders come from, and it is truly interested in their thoughts on how it could do things better.
This will help the school in educational partnership and develop solutions that would work. Its continuous work with the feedback cycle helps it in decision-making and ensures that everyone important to the outcomes feels like they have a voice. This important process continuously brings the focus back to the goals in the curriculum.
The school has won many recognized awards based on its unique practices and approach. It is very proud of its team and the ethics that it follows. However, for the school, the most important recognition has been the parents’ feedback and their positive reviews of its practices.
Expansion of the ‘Art Village’ Dreams
The future plan of the school is to continue offering the best nurturing environment, combined with its inclusive approach, which engages children, parents, and the community. The school wants its children to be viewed as having unlimited potential and being eager to interact with and contribute to the world. The school is also planning to expand by opening other branches based on the high demand of parents who want to enroll their children. It is also planning to expand its horizons by reaching out to different schools for affiliations to extend best practices and help children to transition smoothly.
Being the only nursery school following the Swedish Curriculum in the UAE makes Art Village Nursery unique and different from the other schools. In its diverse environment, children take an important role in co-constructing their own knowledge, which gives them control over the direction of the curriculum.
This encourages self-expression, communication, teamwork and problem-solving in the children. It claims its environment acts like a ‘third teacher’ and offers children the chance to work in close connection with teachers to plan and adapt the learning process, activities, and resources appropriately.
The school values positive relationships with parents and children, creating a family-like approach. It proudly calls itself a home away from home for many families.