Just over two years ago, I wrote a contemplative post about the first time we placed Sophia into daycare, and how we’d arrived at the decision to send her to Twyla Nursery here in Doha. It was a parenting choice that was a little forced upon me, because after five and a half blissful months spent exclusively with my baby by my side, I had no choice but to head back to work.
Spoiler: there were quite a few tears and a few days of wobbles (almost entirely from my side, it must be said!), but we soon got into the swing of things.
Two years on, and I’m happy to report that sending Sophia to Twyla Nursery was not only a good choice, but it has actually been one of the best decisions that Mr Sunshine and I have made as parents so far, as it has had a key part to play in shaping her big and loving personality, her enthusiasm and confidence and her ever-surprising development.
Miles away from our families and feeling as though we needed to relinquish a bit of control and fully embrace the next best thing that was on offer as a childcare solution, we have come to view our nursery as a warm extension to our expat family.
Here are just a handful of the reasons why:
The World Class Facilities
The first thing that you notice when you enter the nursery is its bright and spacious interior, adorned with fun soft furnishings and magical installations. You enter the Gathering Hall through two enormous mushrooms, and find yourself in a cavernous space, containing play equipment and a life-like tree taking centre stage.
The classrooms can be found down two interlinked corridors leading off the main hall, and all are well-appointed with adjoining toilets and nap rooms.
It’s some of the newer additions to the nursery that have really got me excited, however…
A large soft play room, with a huge world map mural painted on one of the walls, which is perfect for group activities and physical play…
A new sensory room, with light installations and glow-in-the-dark toys to stimulate, develop and engage your child’s senses…
There’s also an outdoor adventure play area, bright lunch room, children’s library and many other spaces besides.
British Curriculum vs. Extra-Curricular Activities
It was important to us that we sent Sophia to a nursery which follows the British Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum, so that we could feel safe in the knowledge that all teaching and play is based around a framework that we know and trust, that she’s developing the knowledge and skills she will need to be able to start school confidently and happily, and above all that she is being kept healthy and safe while we’re not with her. It was also a huge bonus that English is the only language spoken by all staff and support staff throughout the nursery.
However, the best part of the Twyla experience, in my opinion, is not the formal learning, but the range of extra-curricular activities that are on offer for your babies and children, ranging from ballet to gymnastics and playball to children’s yoga.
What’s more, all children, from the smallest babies, to those that are just about to start school, get to experience Baby Bojangles music classes on a Thursday, which provide fun stimulation through music and movement.
A Hands-On, Play-Based Learning Experience
I’ve always loved the monthly themes which are adopted across all classes throughout the nursery, and which form the basis of the children’s days.
This month, it’s “Animals”, and today Sophia excitedly headed off to nursery dressed as a rabbit. A couple of weeks ago, some friendly furry visitors from QAWS and Barkin’ Q descended on Twyla Nursery for the children to meet, which was not only thrilling for them, but gave us parents a great opportunity to give something back to these charities which do so much for animal welfare in and around Doha. The nursery encouraged us to bring in pet food donations, and it was an important lesson to our children about the importance of charity and giving something back to the society that we live in.
Last month, the theme was “Seasons”, which involved learning about the different seasons of the year through sensory play and real-life learning. Us parents crunched through brown leaves in the Gathering Hall on our way to pick up our little ones during autumn week, and we watched them slip and slide across shaving foam snow, on pretend skis and sledges at the culmination of winter.
It’s a fun learning environment, and whenever you enter a classroom, it’s a hubbub of activity, with arts, crafts and sensory play at the centre of everything they do.
One of the things that strikes you when you walk through the front doors of Twyla Nursery is the constant buzz of happy children: singing, chatting and engaging with each other in ways which warm the heart.
Sophia has made some incredibly close friends during her time at Twyla Nursery, and I know that the strong relationships, based on kindness, care and respect, that are being built and nurtured within these four walls will provide a solid foundation on which all future relationships will be built in years to come.
Wonderful and Supportive Staff
Finally, I can’t write a post about Twyla Nursery without mentioning the vital cogs that make everything run so smoothly, from dawn until dusk. We saw a switch in management part-way through our time with the nursery, and I was worried that it might rock the boat, but the transition was seamless, and if anything things just got better and better.
I want to give a huge shout-out to Sophia’s current class teacher, Miss Syndi, whose warm, welcoming and personal approach to teaching means that (much to my disappointment!) she often doesn’t want to leave to come home at the end of the day! Like all of the teachers that I have encountered at Twyla Nursery, she is firm but fun, as well as open and loving, and she’s a great role model to all of the kids in her care.
She is supported by some of the kindest support staff I have ever known, and there are many hands on deck, meaning that although the class sizes tend to be on the larger size compared to other nurseries around Doha, the child to teacher ratio is excellent (currently 4:1 for Sophia’s age group).
The nursery manager, Bella is approachable and friendly, an ever-present positive force of energy who is always at hand to take on feedback, listen to any concerns that might arise and act accordingly. She is full of ideas, and has implemented so many new things within the nursery since she took over, from overhauling the interiors, to recently implementing training to acquire International Accreditation with Safe Childcare under Boecker (which acknowledges the nursery’s commitment to health & safety as well as high standards of hygiene, cleanliness, food safety, policies and procedures).
I am excited to see what she has up her sleeve next!
I know that placing your child into the care of other adults (no matter how experienced they are!) is always going to be a tough decision to make, but I am over the moon with our choice, so much so that I wanted to let you know about it too!
If you have any comments or questions about Twyla Nursery, including admissions or policies then you can drop Bella Kennedy an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the front desk on: (+974) 4444 2018. The nursery is also happy for parents to pop in at any time for a tour (no appointment necessary!).
Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about our personal experience then please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below (or an email if you would prefer to ask something in private) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
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