Jack of all trades Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘An investment in education often pays the best interest.’ Echoing this sentiment is our guest today who went all out to discover the very best education for her child, even if that meant liaising with a globally renowned institute in childhood development whose founders include Nobel Prize laureates! Yes, you heard that right.
In her current role, Tania Siddiqui is the very capable co-founder and Director of Masterminds Education in Dubai and (most importantly), a hands-on mother to 8-year old Athena. In the past her professional accolades have included experience in Corporate, Film and Television as a trainer and professional presenter, and a Human Resources Consultant working with blue chip clients like ABN-AMRO, ANZ Grindlays and Shell. She is also accountable for launching, operating and bringing to success Athena’s Quilts, a socially responsible business established to provide financial independence to women and free education to children in developing countries. Having completed basic and advanced courses in child brain development and spent several months of hands-on training at The Institutes in Philadelphia, she is fully certified to ‘train the trainer’; although, her unexplored interests include directing and acting in theater and film. Quite a jack of all trades herself, isn’t she?
Let us get to know her better.
What is the story behind Masterminds Nursery?
The idea for Masterminds Nursery was conceived along with my daughter, Athena. Like every parent, I wanted to provide her with opportunities far beyond what we had. It was difficult to accept that not much had changed in education since I went to school, thus triggering a global quest to find the most pioneering thinking in early childhood development. After researching numerous options all over the world, I finally came across an institute in the US. After walking the grounds of their on-campus school and seeing these happy 4, 5 and 6 year olds all of whom could read, do math, talk about great artists of the world, speak three languages, play the violin, do gymnastics and have a love of learning that I had never seen before, I knew that I had found something extraordinary.
I took the programs home and started doing them with my daughter when she was almost two, which helped me personally witness the extraordinary results of this approach. What was frustrating, however, was the realization that while I was doing these great programs with her at home, she was spending the best hours of her day at a nursery which was good, but simply not equipped to stimulate her to her extraordinary potential. This was when we decided to partner with the US-based institute to establish a nursery in Dubai that not only practiced such programs with children but also engaged parents in their development rather than shutting them out.
What, would you say, is the ideology of the nursery?
Children are born learners, as long as the process is joyous and operates at the pace of the child. We simply leverage their instinctive desire to learn while providing them with opportunities, experiences and guidance to develop intellectual, physical and social excellence within each child.
Combining a mother’s traditional wisdom with 60 years of leading-edge neuroscience and research in child development, our robust curriculum includes French and Arabic immersion, Violin, Gymnastics, Swimming as well as enrichment programs which ensure that children can read, do Math and have exceptional knowledge by the age of 6.
Some might question if this a bit too much for children this young? Incidentally, 75% of brain growth is completed during the ages of 0-6. But naturally, they are more adept to learn during the first 6 years of life than later and we, as parents should seize this opportunity to nurture them.
What differentiates the nursery from other nurseries in Dubai?
- 60 Years of Global Experience
- Extraordinary Enrichment Programs and Learning Outcomes
- Personalized Attention with the Smallest Class Sizes in Dubai
- Bespoke Campus, themed after the likes of Van Gogh, Thomas Edison, Shakespeare and Rumi
- Exceptional Teachers with Specialized Training
What were the challenges in setting up your own nursery?
It has been a long and (often) challenging journey to bring this concept to Dubai. It took us over 2 years to secure the licensing agreement with the institute and nearly as much time to secure the required investment and work through regulatory and other hurdles to launch it.
There is room to streamline the regulatory environment across Middle East markets, particularly to support innovation.
How has the journey been so far? What has been the feedback from parents?
The journey has been challenging but rewarding. We have a wonderful set of children and parents who love Masterminds Nursery. Unlike other nurseries, we have parents coming in from all parts of Dubai for our offering because they want the best for their child. We are highly encouraged and humbled by their support.
Masterminds Education has also been endorsed and used by celebrity parents, including world number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, and his wife Jelena, for their son Stefan, as well as the singer Shakira.
What plans do you have for the nursery going ahead?
Following the success of our Flagship Nursery & Kindergarten in Dubai, we are embarking on an expansion strategy to launch our early year’s concept in Abu Dhabi and Doha, as well as launching a primary school within the next five years. Each facility will offer specially designed classrooms – developed for the children rather than the teacher – music rooms for learning the violin, as well as a swimming pool and running course.
The licensing agreement with our US partner institute gives us exclusive access to 18 markets across the expanded Middle East and North Africa region. Over time, we will be looking at expansion across other regional markets as well.
Why do you consider yourself to be a geek?
When it comes to wanting the best for my child – and searching the globe to find it, I am certainly a geek.
Masterminds Nursery is located at Villa 17, Rumiah Street, Umm Suqeim 3 (opposite Burj Al Arab). Catering to children from two years to 6, their standard day timings are from 8:30am-1:00pm for Pre-Nursery & Nursery and 8:00am-1:30pm for FSI & FSII, with flexible options like the Early Bird Start and Late Club. Standard Term fees are 16,600 AED / term across all classes.