With different curriculum’s in-hand for parents to choose for their little ones, we came across Art Village Nursery which is the only nursery in UAE having a Swedish curriculum with Reggio Emilia approach since 2015. Hand-picked favourite nursery for many parents in Dubai, we thank Nina Farokhfal, Managing Director at Art Village Village for sharing an insight on the overall approach.
- What are the key concepts that Swedish curriculum encompasses?
The Swedish preschool curriculum is a way of living rather than a set of rules to follow. The inviolability of human life, individual freedom and integrity, the equal value of all people, equality between the genders, as well as solidarity with the weak and vulnerable are all values that the preschool actively promote in its work with children.
Democracy forms the foundation of the preschool. We promote all children’s development and learning, and a lifelong desire to learn. An important task of the preschool is to impart and establish respect for human rights and the fundamental democratic values on which our school is based. Each person working in the preschool should promote respect for the intrinsic value of each person as well as respect for our shared environment.
The attitudes of adults influence the child’s understanding and respect for the rights and obligations that apply in a democratic society. The preschool should be open to different ideas and encourage their expression. Each child should have the opportunity of forming their own opinion and making choices in the light of their personal circumstances.
- Being in UAE, does your preschool incorporate the values that the country follows? Since education is given high importance by the local government body and has constant developments with regards to government policies.
We are following all guidelines and requirements set for us by the Ministry of Education and Knowledge and Human Development Authority. Education is of the highest value for us. We have an endless amount of understanding for the individual child’s need to be acknowledged and respected.
To be allowed to play and grow in a healthy environment that emphasizes a holistic learning. For us, the local authorities, parents and our community play an essential role in the success of our school.
We want to work and collaborate closely with everyone to be an important part of our educational setting. All this to benefit the children’s growth, learning and development.
- Have you hired teachers that specialize with this curriculum or are they Reggio Emilia inspired?
Yes, absolutely. However, you don’t need to be a Swedish teacher or to be specialized within the Reggio Emilia to learn how to work according to the curriculum and philosophy. We do specialize our staff within the curriculum and philosophy by having weekly trainings and workshops for deeper and better understanding of the curriculum and the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
We have teachers who come from different backgrounds and curriculums, and they get so inspired of our philosophy and values that they say that they will always practice this knowledge they have learnt no matter where they work.
The owner of our preschool and the nursery manager are both from Sweden and have worked within preschools in Sweden for many years and have certificates from the Reggio Emilia Institute from Stockholm, Sweden to ensure that the quality of the curriculum and philosophy is maintained.
- How are special or gifted students assessed and catered to?
We see all children as special, gifted and unique individuals. At Art Village Nursery every child is supported, challenged and encouraged in a way that suits the individual child.
Children are already born with numerous competences, skills and abilities, and they need present, positive, passionate and curious pedagogues / teachers to develop their skills and to discover new abilities and interests.
- What are the schools you recommend for further education that will enhance the student experience and knowledge after studying this curriculum?
Children are ready to move from Art Village Nursery to any other school and curriculum. The Swedish preschool curriculum and the Reggio Emilia approach prepares the child for a life-long learning, with a question-based learning method that allows all hypotheses to be possible.
Through the holistic learning approach, children develop as independent thinkers and problem solvers, finding endless amount of innovative solutions. Their communication skills are advanced and connecting literacy and numeracy theories with practice as well.
Therefore, they will have a solid base to transfer to any other curriculum.
- How do you implement critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity into academics, assessments and extracurricular recommended under this curriculum? Can technology be integrated to teach this curriculum better?
All children are critical thinkers and observers by nature. At Art Village Nursery we believe in letting the child be the facilitator of their own learning. We co-explore the world around us and learn by asking questions and finding answers to them.
Every moment is a learning moment, and the teachers are the most important learning tools and support for the children. By inspiring, challenging and encouraging with a descriptive language, challenging vocabulary to grow on all areas.
The academic learning is developing non-stop. We believe that it is a part of the daily play and exploration. You can not separate and isolate it because it will not make sense for young children.
We use technology as a tool to find out information about questions we may have and/or build our knowledge by watching short documentaries and informational video clips to enhance and develop our projects and activities.
- What is the uniqueness that Swedish curriculum and your preschool offer?
All children 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 our preschool works as the “third pedagogue”, supporting children’s independence, self-esteem and curiosity to learn.
Nature plays an essential part in our daily life. We are surrounded by natural material that we use as inspiration and learning tools. We do not have plastic materials or furniture in the classrooms or elsewhere in the school, we believe that natural materials are essential for wellbeing.
Our children go for “Nature Walks”, to investigate and explore the world around them. We connect with nature and people in our community and take walks in our area, climb trees, investigate animals and plants on our path.
We work close and in co-operation with the home. Parents have the opportunity within the framework of the goals to be involved and influence activities in the preschool. Our doors are always open for parents to join and to help and support their children in their learning and development.
We also have a very gentle settling in period when the child first starts at the school. The parents are welcome to join the child for as long as it takes for the child to settle in to their new environment.