22 March, 2023

The importance of building resilience and confidence from their first day at school


At NAS Abu Dhabi, we welcome our youngest learners to begin their educational journey with us from as young as three years old. For many parents, we understand that this can be an overwhelming or stressful time.

Head of Early Years Foundation Stage at our sister school in Dubai, Natalie Doidge shares how your child will flourish with Nord Anglia's child-centred, play-based approach, and what steps you can take to prepare them for the exciting world of school.

Educational approach for Early Years at Nord Anglia

Our holistic, child-centred curriculum at Nord Anglia will get your child ready for the future by nurturing the skills, interests, and confidence they need to become creative, ambitious learners. This means as teachers, we keep a close eye on each child’s individual strengths and interests, to then encourage powerful learning through the things that they love.

One of the main things that we pride ourselves on is our individualised learning approach. We never impose learning experiences on our students, but instead work to create an environment in which they are engaged, excited, and motivated to learn. While our curriculum is based on the National Curriculum of England, we also understand that our youngest students need a solid foundation to unlock their budding passions and interests.

Our exciting signature education spaces offer endless opportunities to learn in fun and natural ways. Our art area at NAS Dubai, for example, is equipped with paintbrushes, watercolours, and colour palettes to encourage curiosity and learning through play. These resources also develop their skills and give the right balance of challenge to see our youngest students thrive.

This is perfect for cultivating a genuine love of learning.

How we build resilience and confidence in our youngest students

We believe that everyone has the power to shape their own path; conformity can stifle growth and potential. That's why we prioritise a learning environment that empowers our students to take the lead.

We inspire creativity and encourage our littlest learners to approach each day with a sense of excitement and wonder. We embrace play to foster independence, curiosity, and creativity in the classroom, from the moment they walk through the door. By offering our students choice, we help them unlock their full potential and flourish both academically and personally.

We also nurture emotional regulation and friendship building in the early stages of nursery. We help our students trust that their parent or carer will come back after a separation at the beginning of the day, and we empower them to communicate their needs.

These are the stepping stones that we embed first.

We get lots of questions like, ‘when is my child going to write?’, and ‘when will they be introduced to numeracy?’, but we want to always make sure that the foundations of communication and self-control are there before we begin educational teaching. That’s what builds the backbone of resilience.

We also talk about emotions a lot through a variety of different things. One of our favourite books in the class is about emotions with different colours. How can we make you feel calm and green, or how can we make you feel happy and yellow? In that way, all feelings are validated. We talk about how they’re feeling and why and what we can do to support them. When our students know that they’re nurtured and looked after, they build resilience. They come to school with a natural enthusiasm to learn every day. We also aim for children to keep trying new things and pushing themselves every day.

Even with simple things like tying their shoelaces or reaching the next bar on the monkey bars, we want them to know they can take risks and still be supported and guided in the right direction. We emphasise to them that the fact they’re putting themselves out there and trying, makes them risk-takers. It’s that sense of falling but getting back up mentality which we strive to achieve within our children.

We encourage our youngest learners to think about how we can make things better, to ignite those thought processes from a very early age.

How you can prepare your child for nursery

The first thing you could do is to get them excited about their first day! Begin the conversations about school and the routine. The school you’ve chosen can share who your child will meet, and how their first day will go.

Also, begin to give children ownership of their own routines. Empowering little ones to have that independence of putting on Velcro shoes, or their coat for example, can be so helpful if they're playing in role play areas. It helps support that play-in learning. Handwashing is also an extremely useful skill for children to learn ahead of nursery.

Another way you can help prepare your child is to have them be around other children, especially if they don’t have siblings and they aren’t used to it. Coming to school and seeing different children that your child hasn’t met may overwhelm them. And while they socialise in the lead up to their first day at school, they can learn valuable life lessons such as sharing, communication and friendship-building.

You may notice that these pieces of advice are not purely academic. At nursery, we always focus on strong foundations to set them up for success – getting our little learners excited, ready to make friends and enthusiastic about tackling anything that comes their way is how we build confident, resilient students.

Early Years and Primary applications are now open at NAS Abu Dhabi, for August 2023. You can find out more through the ‘Enquire Now’ button at the top of the page.