The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai

"The Aga Khan Education Services, a philanthropic agency, will draw on its own extensive experience in many parts of the world to offer broad, holistic, early childhood education on a secular and non-denominational basis at the highest standards of excellence. The objective is to have a curriculum of proven calibre, taught by competent teachers, to help lay strong foundations for a child's continuing educational growth."

His Highness the Aga Khan
The Ismaili Centre Dubai, 2003


At Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, we follow the British curriculum called Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

We provide a broad and balanced bilingual (English and Arabic) EYFS curriculum at the early learning centre, which ensures that children establish a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and understanding upon which they can build throughout their lives.

All children are respected, valued and nurtured. Children are offered activities that are free from prejudice and discrimination. All programme materials (toys, books, dress up clothes) are reflective of the rich diversity of the communities served.

The EYFS Areas of Learning

We follow a holistic approach and cover seven areas of learning to meet children’s interests, needs and development. Children start to develop the 3 prime areas first. These are essential for healthy development and future learning:

Prime Areas

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Specific Areas

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

A model of the High Scope approach is integrated in our EYFS curriculum offering children opportunities to express their ideas and needs through a variety of planning and small group experiences (Plan-Do-Review) at the early learning centre.

The Nursery Programme

Active Learning

The AKELC Nursery Programme for children aged one to four years is based on the principle that the early years are the most critical in a child’s development. Scientific research has highlighted that 85 percent of brain development occurs during the first five years after birth. Every aspect of the programme is designed to support and encourage active learning. Young children learn best when they are actively engaging with people, materials, events and ideas. They learn when they have objects they can manipulate, have opportunities to explore and experiment with and when they can learn through trial and error within a safe and stimulating environment.

The Learning Environment

The indoor classrooms and outdoor spaces are set up to promote active learning and encourage different types of play. Each room is divided into areas that support specific types of activity and learning. Materials are logically grouped and clearly labelled so that children have independent access to them. The materials are chosen to reflect children’s natural interests and the diversity of experiences in the lives of their families.

The Daily Routine

A predictable yet flexible daily routine responds to and encourages children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. It provides consistency and helps children gain a sense of security and confidence enabling them to anticipate and engage with the different parts of the programme. Children are encouraged to develop their planning, implementing, decision-making, problem solving and reflecting skills through the plan-do-review cycle of the daily programme. They also have the opportunity for individual, small and large group interactions through adult initiated activities.

Bilingual Programme

The programme is offered in both Arabic and English to support children’s integration and appreciation of local culture while preparing them for full participation in global society.


The classrooms are structured according to the children’s age groups. Each classroom will have a Lead/English teacher and Arabic teacher to support the Bilingual programme, along with an appropriate number of assistants to meet ratios. Each classroom has an appropriate toilet within and direct access to the outdoor area, as well as, ease in transition to other areas of the Centre.

The 1-2 year old classroom has a ratio of 1 staff to 4 children with the nap room attached. Our holistic approach allows children to develop in all areas by providing age-appropriate activities, such as sensory experiences, fine and gross motor skill development, music and movement, begin language development through music and library time, and much more.

The AKELC adheres to recommended staff-to-child ratios that are lower than the Ministry requirements.

Toddler Classes

Toddler classes are offered for children in the age range of 2-3 years.

A Lead/English teacher leads each class session, which follows a balance of child and teacher initiated routines and learning activities to promote overall child development. The staff to child ratio is 1:6 which remains lower than the Ministry requirements.

Toddler classes are offered for children in the age range of 2-3 years. Specifically scheduled times for hygiene needs and nutritious snacks are included throughout the day, as children are encouraged to develop their skills in self-awareness, self-regulation and independence. Language and communication skills are a key priority for this age group, and the curriculum is offered in both English and Arabic, while supporting children’s home, or first, language as much as possible.

Daily staff-child ratios meet, and often exceed, the Ministry of Education (MoE) requirement of 1 staff for every 8 children.


A Lead/English teacher and Arabic teacher, along with the assistants, provide an engaging curriculum, based on the High Scope model (plan-do-review and key experiences approach).

The curriculum is also infused with supplementary literacy and numeracy activities from a range of sources, including the highly effective Jolly Phonics programme and elements of the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS) from the UK.

Teachers understand that children’s interests and abilities vary widely at the preschool level and thus individual, small and large group activities are planned that support children’s needs and promote development of cognitive, language, social/emotional and physical skills.

In the preschool classroom, opportunities for children’s creative exploration are balanced with teachers’ guidance during intentional teaching and learning activities.

Settling In: How Parents Can Help

Nursery is often a new experience for children and it takes time for each child to feel comfortable and to develop positive relationships with Centre staff and other children.

Entering a new environment can be an emotional experience for both parent and child. At the AKELC staff work together with parents to make the separation process as easy as possible.

Careful planning and the knowledge that some separation anxiety and tears are normal can make the transition process go more smoothly. Our aim is to settle your child into the nursery environment as soon as possible.

How quickly a child adapts depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The child’s age and stage of development,
  • The child’s past experiences,
  • The skills of the staff, and
  • The parent’s ability to prepare themselves and the child for separation.

Parents can help by:

  • Becoming familiar with the Centre policies, routines and environment and talk about this with their child each day during transitions between home and school,
  • Spending time in the Centre during the first few weeks to comfort their child as needed,
  • Reminding their child that they will return to pick them up at a set time, and do this consistently. Children may become quite upset if parents are not prompt,
  • Speaking positively about the Centre and the activities so their child can feel safe and secure in their new environment.

Enrichment and Afterschool Sessions

Each term the AKELC offers a variety of enrichment and afterschool activities that are tailored to children’s and parents’ interests and requests. These classes are open to the wider community.

In addition to the regular Afternoon Programme that is offered to AKELC enrolled children, the Centre is now offering several options for afternoon classes including Music and Movement, Dance and Soccer (football) classes.

The soccer and dance classes are offered by Sportzcise each term. These weekly afternoon classes are appropriate for children aged 2 years to 6 years. The Music and Movement class is offered by Music Monkeys each term. This class is offered weekly and in the afternoon for children aged 1 year to 4 years. Please contact AKELC for the availability of classes, dates, timings and fees.

To recommend specific programmes or for updates on the most current offerings, please feel free to call the Centre or stop by and talk with the Head of Nursery and Preschool. Our Centre is always receptive to innovative ideas and recommendations that support children’s learning experiences.


For more information about schools in Dubai and their most recent performance according to the quality standards of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) please visit

More about the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai