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Toddler Education: The Foundation Stage 1 Curriculum

Some schools in Motor City Dubai use the National Curriculum of England. This is expected. While there are 17 curricula in Dubai, the British curriculum is the most popular. As of autumn 2023, 80 of the 216 Dubai private schools and 36% of the 326,001 private school students are on the British curriculum.

Every British curriculum student's journey begins at the Early Years Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) or the nursery stage. In Dubai, this applies to toddlers who are three years old by the first of September.

If you have a toddler and are seeking information on what a British curriculum school can offer, read on. This article provides an overview of the FS1 curriculum in Dubai British schools.

Communication and Language

Toddlers in FS1 expand their language skills and learn how to communicate. Communication and language skills are the building blocks of literacy. They are also fundamental to socialisation and self-expression. Children make connections, speak with teachers, and express themselves using school-taught words and communication strategies..

During the FS1 stage, children read (or are read to) stories, listen to and sing songs, and learn and recite rhymes that incorporate various aspects of communication and language.

In the process, they get to know and use new words, phrases and expressions, experience small-group or individual discussions with adults and their peers, and practise predicting story outcomes using the new terms and expressions they have just picked up.

Daily learning activities include play with classmates and teachers, teacher demonstrations, group discussions, class activities, and everyday language use inside and outside the classroom. Over time, toddlers learn how to enhance their communication using tenses and conjunctions, appropriately react and respond to what other people say, and effectively share their thoughts and feelings.

Physical Development

The FS1 curriculum emphasises two primary aspects of physical development: fine and gross motor skills.

Children hone their fine motor skills by writing patterns, using a pencil to strengthen their grip, shaping play dough, manipulating small tools like tweezers, and engaging in other activities that involve using the hands to handle, move and change materials with precision.

Children work on their gross motor skills through physical education (PE) lessons, outdoor activities and in-classroom playtime. These activities help children develop spatial awareness, strength, balance, and coordination.

Physical development through varied experiences within and outside the classroom is vital to children’s growth. It helps them understand their body and what it can do, develop their strength and enhance their physical capacities.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

In the FS1 curriculum, a nurturing school environment where toddlers feel safe and happy is critical to children's personal, social, and emotional development.

Teachers establish a robust, warm and supportive bond with the children. This encourages children to understand their (and other people's) feelings, manage their emotions effectively and build a positive self-image.

Children develop their confidence in school by setting manageable goals and practising patience and persistence until they've accomplished them.

Teachers use adult modelling and guidance to teach children healthy eating, proper nutrition and life skills. Their daily interaction with their peers teaches children how to cooperate, resolve conflicts peacefully and forge strong friendships.


The FS1 curriculum emphasises literacy and inspires in children a deep appreciation for reading and writing, definite requirements for advanced learning later on.

To foster oracy, imagination, and creativity, a British school can use the Talk for Writing framework, a multisensory and interactive approach that uses the following methods to develop writing and storytelling capabilities in children

* Listening to and learning texts
* Listening and learning stories
* Drama and role-playing
* Story mapping
* Collecting words

The in-depth exploration of quality texts across diverse topics serves to enrich children's vocabulary and hone their storytelling skills. The curriculum also supports young learners in independently and verbally expressing stories using their unique interpretations of images and symbols.

Phonics is a crucial component of the FS1 literacy curriculum. It starts with the learners becoming attuned to natural sounds and then progressing to recognising word rhymes. Children learn different sounds over time; for each sound, teachers demonstrate the pronunciation and provide a supporting rhyme to illustrate letter formation.

The literacy curriculum in FS1 is comprehensive, focusing on reading, writing, listening, and sound recognition. It strives to equip children with the ability to discern and use auditory, environmental and instrumental sounds.


 In FS1, toddlers learn to understand numbers.

The FS1 curriculum immerses young learners in practical, hands-on activities that enhance their understanding of numbers, counting skills, shape awareness, and pattern recognition. A unique aspect of the curriculum is the use of natural resources as manipulatives, which bolsters number sense and accurate counting.

Mathematical activities are expertly crafted by staff for both classroom and outdoor settings. Problem solving forms a core part of the curriculum, and children are given situations and practical problems to reinforce their mathematical learning.

Understanding of the World

The FS1 curriculum instils scientific curiosity. It helps children develop prediction, observation, testing, and recording skills that aid them in making sense of their environment.

Children take an active role in their learning journey. In every classroom, they are given numerous opportunities to observe and experiment with various objects and materials, thus enriching their scientific exploration.

Expressive Arts and Design

The curriculum uses various media and materials to facilitate the expression of thoughts and feelings through art, music, movement, dance, role-play, design, and technology.

Choose the FS1 Curriculum for Your Child

The FS1 stage of the British curriculum uses play-based techniques to foster learning in mathematics, literacy, world understanding, communication and language, and expressive arts and designs.

The holistic curriculum also ensures physical, personal, social, and emotional development. It provides a ready system that empowers children to explore, learn and develop through various interactive, multisensory, and adult-guided activities.

Have you decided on a British school for your toddler? Time to check out GEMS Metropole school fees and admission guidelines so you can take the next step.