If your little one is starting FS1 at the tender age of three, this post may be your salvation. Take a deep breath British Mums – and read on…Schooling is different here in Dubai – and we’re not just talking about the school fees, KDHA rating wars, and price hikes on a yearly basis. No, because if there’s one thing that worries British Mums in Dubai, it’s that their little ones are likely to start school at just 3 years old – a whole year earlier than friends and cousins in the UK, who get to start after their 4 th birthday. And with many 3 year olds just out of nappies, still enjoying a lunchtime nap, and barely able to string a sentence together, isn’t it just a bit too young?
Fear not British Mums, for things may not be as bad as they seem. We’ve rounded up 6 reasons to stop worrying about waving your baby off to school in September. So make yourself a mug of Tetley, grab a Custard Cream, and read on…
1. It’s won’t be a full day. Unlike their friends in the UK, who will need to get through until 3.30pm every day at the tender age of 4 years old (cue plenty of grumpy afternoons until they get used to it), our little ones will only have to stay focused until early afternoon. Then we can take them home, let them sleep (if we are lucky, at least), and enjoy their company until bedtime.
2. It’s a lot like nursery. Us British Mummies remember school well, sat at our little wooden desks with the sound of chalk scraping on the blackboard and smell of PVC glue in the air. So it will come as a welcome surprise when you step into your child’s FS1 classroom for the first time to discover colouful walls, fun artwork, and bright, comfortable carpets for sitting on to listen to stories. In fact, it looks just like their nursery, which makes it all seem a lot less frightening (for us, at least).
3. The teachers are always lovely. No stern housemistresses here! FS1 teachers choose to work with this age group as they love little people, meaning you can expect lots of fun, lots of hugs, and lots of reassurance (and that’s just the Mummies!)
4. The class sizes aren’t that daunting. Dubai private schools are never going to have huge classes, although that might not be consolation when you realise the numbers have doubled from nursery. But fear not, as days in FS1 classes generally involve activities carried out in much smaller groups – and your little person will be well looked after regardless.
5. You will see friendships flourish. They might seem young, but that doesn’t stop them developing firm friends in their class, who will stay with them throughout FS1 and FS2. Expect their social life to suddenly take off, with plenty of birthday party invitations arriving home in their bags. You would never believe a three year old could have a better social life than you, but it will happen…
6. You’ll find it harder than they do. A lot of us British Mums have been there – and we understand how hard it is to leave a 3 year old at the classroom door and walk out of the school gates. Especially when they are clinging to our legs and begging us to take them for ice cream instead (and believe us; we considered grabbing them and doing a runner on several occasions). But the truth is that little ones get into the swing of things far quicker than we do, running off to their new friends with big smiles on their faces, whilst we head off to cry into our cappuccinos. And do you know what? As the weeks tick on and your little person grows in confidence, the big smiles at drop-off and pick-up are testament to their happiness – and we start to feel better about it too. In fact, as the first school holiday rolls around, you’ll wonder what the fuss was all about (and dare we say it, even miss school a little bit as a 3-year- old bounces off the walls at home). Stay with it British Mums; it gets easier – and the cappuccinos taste just as good without the tears.
Still unsure? You can always keep them in nursery another year! You don’t have to start them at three years old – and with so many new schools opening across Dubai, there won’t be such a bun fight for places in FS2 ongoing – so you can relax, sip that mug of Tetley a while longer, and bookmark this post to read again next year….