One of your first priorities will be to enrol your child in a private school or nursery, where the facilities are world-class and there is a melting pot of nationalities.
The more popular nurseries have long waiting lists, so start considering places early on. If you’re after a particular establishment, it may be necessary to enrol your child before he or she is even born.
Some nurseries, or kindergartens, accept babies from as young as three months, although most prefer to take on children who have started walking (around 12 months). Fees and timings vary dramatically, so it’s best to call around and visit a few nurseries to get an idea of what’s available. As a general rule of thumb, most nurseries are open for four or five hours in the morning and charge anything from Dhs.3,000 to Dhs.12,000 per term. You can pay extra in many nurseries if you need to drop your child off earlier (for a 7am breakfast club) or collect them later, often until 6pm. In general, classes of between 10 and 20 children are staffed by a nursery teacher and as many as three teaching assistants.
Some of the bigger primary schools also have nursery sections or an affiliated nursery – if you’ve got a primary school in mind for your child, it is worth checking to see if they have a nursery, as this may help you secure a place in the school itself a few years down the line.
Most nurseries will follow one particular curriculum – mainly International, English (Early Years Foundation Stage) or Montessori – and don’t be surprised if your child starts learning Arabic or even French from as young as one.
Parents needing assistance with school fees can apply for an Education Loan with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).