Deciding which nursery to send your baby or toddler to can be very difficult, as you’ll want to be sure the place you choose is the best possible one for both you and your child.

The decision can be even harder to make if you’ve just moved to a new country and aren’t familiar with the area or their nursery standards and regulations. Whether you’re an expatriate living in Dubai or you’re simply looking for assistance in choosing the best nursery for your child in the United Arab Emirates, this guide could be just what you need.

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How many staff?

One of the first things to look at is how many members of staff the prospective nursery has, and most importantly, what its staff to children ratio is. The nursery might be brilliantly equipped with lots of classes, rooms and toys, but you might find out that each member of staff has to look after a lot of children each day, meaning your youngster will not get a lot of individual attention.

You have to be prepared for the ratio not to be 1:1, as no nursery has enough staff to offer each child their total attention. However, a good nursery will often have a ratio of 1:3, 1:4 or 1:5, so it is wise to look for somewhere that offers something like these.

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Types of activities

The types of activities you want your nursery in Dubai to provide will depend on how old your child is. If they are a few months old, you will be looking for somewhere that offers constant care and attention, while older children will also need teaching and a timetable that stimulates them.

It is often good to go for a nursery that has a variety of activities, whether these are sensory classes or Arabic lessons. You might have a particular idea of what you want your youngster to be exposed to at an early age; for instance, you might love the idea of your child building up their creative skills through craft sessions.

If you have a specific requirement when it comes to what they learn – for example, if you want them to be taught a specific language because it is your mother tongue – look for a nursery that provides teaching in this subject.

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Appropriate hours

Again, what opening hours you want will depend on your working timetable and lifestyle. Therefore, which establishment is best will be personal to you; you might want the nursery to open early in the morning, for example, so you can drop your child off before work. Additionally, you may prefer somewhere that stays open later, so you can pick your youngster up after you’ve finished for the day.

Some nurseries are open at 07:00, while others close at 18:30, so you can choose one that fits best with your daily schedule. Alternatively, if you aren’t restricted by working hours, you might place a greater weight on other criteria and not be as bothered whether it opens or closes early or late, as you are in position to be flexible.

In addition to its opening hours, don’t forget to check whether it’s still open during holiday times. Some nurseries mimic school breaks, while others are available for parents to drop their children off throughout the year. You might have to pay an extra cost for this, so it is worth checking if you will need someone to look after your child out of term times.

Nursery conditions

As you’ll be sending your child to the nursery, you’ll want to make sure it is in the best condition possible. Therefore, it is definitely worth visiting before signing up to any nursery.

While looking around, pay attention to certain things such as whether the place looks hygienic, where they keep their food and milk, and how they clean up the children after messy activities. You obviously don’t want your youngster to be subject to unhygienic conditions, but you’ll especially not want them returning home regularly with illnesses because of poor hygiene.

You should also pay attention to how many children are in each class, whether they look interested and motivated, and where they sleep. You’ll obviously have high standards for your little one, but if something rings alarm bells, you’ll know it’s not the right place.

Don’t forget to ask other important questions, such as what their typical routine is for children your youngster’s age, what their sleep times are, and whether they are given food and when. If your child is nearing school age or you’re planning to use the same nursery for a long time, you will also want to know whether it is affiliated with any schools in the area – and once you find this out, you’ll have to ascertain whether these are schools you’ll want your child to go to in the future.

Natasha Al-Atassi is a property investment writer for Select Property, collating the latest news about Dubai property investment opportunities, as well as updates on the Select Property brand and information to help investors interested in buying real estate.