Top Tips for Approaching Nurseries With MultiplesTwinsplus Arabia
Mummies, when we have more than one child to offer a nursery or school place, we represent something of a time saving for the school. Fewer parents to have to get to know, fewer emails to send – a reduced administrative burden for the institution. So it isn’t unreasonable to ask for a discount, either for twins or triplets or for additional siblings. I was surprised at the number of nurseries and schools that didn’t offer a discount, when I was looking. But it didn’t stop me from just asking for a discount.
Mind you, a really difficult parent of two or three could also be seen as a potential time-waster, instead of a time-saver, so you need to make your discount requests with care. A short, polite enquiry: “Do you offer a sibling discount applicable to my twins/triplets?”. Of course the answer may just be “no”. In which case it may be that there is no chance of getting a discount, or it might be worth enquiring further.
So, specific to hunting for a great nursery AND a great deal on a nursery, here are the steps that we suggest you take!
Do your research. Printed guides to Dubai nurseries are nice but if it’s not clear that the reviews are independent, then they are likely to be paid for. Check out WhichSchoolAdvisor UAE online which now covers a great number of Dubai nurseries, and who’s reviews are wholly independent. The prices and availability of discounts may not be exactly accurate as these can change frequently, but you can get a good flavour of the different nurseries. And you can search by location.Decide on your priority nursery location. Depending on where you live and if you are dropping at nursery before you go on to work, you might want close to home or close to work.Some schools have nurseries, which give priority places for entry level school places. Other nurseries are affiliated with certain schools, so if you have strong preferences for which school you will eventually choose, this might dictate the nursery you choose.Then list the key things that are important to you in a nursery. It’s going to be different for everyone – one mummy might want outdoor space (and a nursery policy to have time outdoors every day of the year), whilst another mummy might want a computer room. The nursery hours you want are going to be key here – if you need all-day 365-day care to cover you whilst at work, or just two mornings a week – as nurseries vary widely in the hours they offer. By all means, ask the TwinsPlus Arabia group for any comments or views on the nurseries you are interested in – but, just keep in mind that everyone’s views are their own, and other mummies’ priorities will be different from your own!WARNING! Nurseries are educational establishments and publicly sharing opinions that could be offensive to an establishment (or a person) is a criminal offense in the UAE. By all means ask TwinsPlus Arabia for views and opinions, but never, never invite, encourage, ask for or offer any negative information or opinions.
Once you have narrowed down your search to a list of nurseries your research shows are potentially suitable to you, it’s time to visit. Prioritise your list and start with the ‘best’.
Independent reviews and other peoples’ opinions and recommendation is all valuable, but finding the right nursery for you is a subjective thing. Your idea of heaven will be different to another mummy’s! Do take your babes with you if you need to. And if work or something prevents you from visiting, then call the nursery and ask if a supervisor can be booked to give you a ‘telephone tour’ or even a virtual tour by Skype or a brief out-of-hours tour. For working mums it may well be booking a holiday day and filling it with nursery tours.Ask if there are the number of nursery places you need available, right now, without the nursery needing to hire additional staff to maintain pupil-staff ratios. If they will tell you, ask how may empty places are currently available. Now, late January and early February, is a very good time to press for a discount on fees. If the second term of nursery has started and classes have empty spaces, this is essentially ‘wasted money’ for the nursery because the staff are employed, the rent is paid, the space needs to be filled!
(The third term, in the summer, is always the most popular term for nurseries. This is when mummies who have only sent their children three days a week up to four or five – and it’s for the very sensible reason that when it is hot outside it is that much more difficult to keep our little ones entertained! So, if you leave looking for a nursery place to the summer term, you will probably have less choice, and you will be in a worse negotiating position for fees.)
So, if you have asked for a sibling discount and already been told no, then if the nursery has spaces then you can ask again: “I see you have spaces in the class that my twins/triplets would enter. While you said that you don’t offer a sibling discount, can I ask if this is company policy, or if it might be possible for me to approach the nursery owners to ask for a discount?”. You will always need to judge such conversations and how to proceed yourself. Just bear in mind that being overly insistent may just mark you out as a ‘problem’ mummy rather than an astute one trying to find a way to afford the nursery of her dreams…
How you eventually decide on a nursery may be as a result of meticulous visits, note-taking, and creating comparison spreadsheets – or it might just be the one that is closest to you and cheapest! The only thing that matters is that you are happy with your choice.
If funds are really tight, then there are also some other creative ideas that you could think about discussing with some nurseries. A few ideas are:
The preferred hours for nursery care are mornings. Some of the larger chains of nurseries sometimes employ staff for a full day, but may have fewer children in the afternoons. So asking about discounts for afternoon-only care might be an idea;Some larger nurseries may have playrooms or gym space that is not always used; you might be able to ask for free use of such a space that you and a few friends could use on a regular basis (forming a sort of multiples coffee morning meeting..) where your tots can play and run about;Ask about the possibility of you working at the nursery as an assistant, and whether this could be done in exchange for nursery hours;Potentially you could ask if your little ones could ‘fill gaps’ on an ad-hoc basis for a low pay-as-you-go fee – for example, if the nursery has gaps in a class between children leaving and others starting, or if class children are away on family holidays, or for illness, etc. Bear in mind that such an ad-hoc approach is most suitable to the confident more extrovert children who won’t be distracted by the lack of proper routine. If you can, do all of the above with another multiples mummy! The negotiating power of two mummies with four-plus children is likely to be greater. Use TwinsPlus Arabia to scout out any other multiples mummies who might be looking at the same places at the same times as you!
Good luck with your nursery search. Do share any great ideas or deals you come across with the group!