Kuwait has a growing number of quality preschools and nurseries including bilingual, Montessori, play-based, Reggio and more. Most accept children ages 1-4 years but a handful also accept babies as young as a few months old and / or offer afterschool hours. See a list of our favorites with full contact information here.
Kuwait's spring is short and sweet - with only a few weeks of clear, sunny skies before the heat of summer kicks in full force. Enjoy the time outdoors at a local park or playground. Kuwait Moms Guide loves visiting the local parks and playgrounds and has a full round up of places to visit with the kiddos here.
‘The challenges facing parents with special needs children in Kuwait’
By Asmaa Belrhiti
Kuwait offers a growing list of services for children of special needs, varying from government services that are free of charge to private sector options. Understanding the process, however, can take time and for moms who haven’t yet received a diagnoses, it can be confusing and upsetting.
The struggle starts at the diagnostic stage. If you are a mom with a child who is either born with special needs, or looking for a qualified development pediatrician to assess your child because you feel he or she is not developing as their peers, be prepared for a lot of legwork and research on your own. Unfortunately the government system is not fully developed when it comes to diagnosing special needs and the private sector is fragmented and expensive.
If you are embarking on the public health route, you will need to start first with your local area clinic. There you will need the doctor to write a referral for your child to visit the specialized pediatric department in Al Sabah medical center. You will need a lot of documents including: Child’s health card, civil id, referral paper and appointment card. To obtain an appointment can take as much as a month or more. Finally, during the visit the doctor will examine and assess your child. They may or may not ask for bloodwork or other tests. Then you will receive a diagnoses.
Unfortunately, that may just be the start of your journey. Because the reality is that diagnosing a child facing developmental delays is not the work of just one doctor but of many specialties and it should not happen in just one session but should include a range of tests and assessments. Also be prepared, doctors sometimes will make a diagnoses that can be scary or shocking without offering guidance or reassurance and this lack of a proper ‘bedside manner’ can be very upsetting.
A diagnoses that involves special needs can be upsetting and set the parents off on an emotional roller coaster. Parents will first be completely emotionally shocked and then will be facing a near blank slate of information. Where do you go next? What do you do? What does this mean? What about support or guidance or information? Doctors aren’t always helpful and in some cases can even offer the wrong guidance or advice.
For example, when I realized that my son might have a developmental delay, I set about this process. After a long process, I personally received many different – and wrong! – diagnoses for my son from different doctors in Kuwait. The doctors at the pediatric department at Alsabah hospital diagnosed him with severe mental retardation. (Yes, they are still using that unhelpful and unprofessional term.)
Two private health care providers also assessed and diagnosed my son. One diagnosed him with MERLD “Mix Expressive Receptive Delay” and the diagnosed him with Autism spectrum. In both experiences they saw Bader in one session that didn’t take more than two hours. These sessions did not include a child psychologist, nor speech or occupational therapists to have a well-rounded diagnosis. Now, private healthcare is very expensive in Kuwait and this is as good as it gets, not to sound pessimistic but this is our sad reality in Kuwait.
As a mother to two special needs children and down syndrome & Autism activist, I would love to see in the near future a proper department in Alsabah pediatric department, where there is a committee that consists of a pediatric developmental doctor, a child psychologist and OT & ST (occupational & speech therapists) conduct proper assessments over the course of a few sessions. A more comprehensive review from a team of doctors with specialized knowledge will result in a more well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of each individual child’s case.
I feel that also parents need professional support to navigate this overwhelming news by giving them physiological support, which is crucial to their and their child’s well being.
For the time being there are couple of support groups like Warriors Parents [DM @ProudMomDiaries for contact/details] that gather at Kuwait Dream Center. This parents support group is run by myself and Ms. Dawn, owner of the Kuwait Dream Center, as well as the down syndrome association that focuses on new parents to children with down syndrome.
The growing need for support groups and greater comprehensive understanding of special needs in Kuwait is one of the reasons I started a social media account, @ProudMomDiaries on Instagram and Snapchat as well as the website, www.proudmomdiaries.com to help others during their journey, ask questions, find help and to share information and support.
I know how important it is to have a support for parents of special needs children and just so you know you are not alone.
Lots of love from Saja, Bader and myself.
Looking for resources for special needs in Kuwait? Check the KMG list of available resources here.
Last year I visited Dew's Studio in Salmiya to experience for the first time the pleasure of pottery. I've always wanted to try it and finally had the chance. The studio is beautiful, light and airy with lots of sunlight, warm hardwood floors and shelves and shelves showcasing hand made pottery, glazed and unglazed, in every imaginable shape and form.
Throwing is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things I've ever experienced. The wet clay, the spin of the wheel and the complete focus needed to manipulate the clay create a full immersion, sensory experience and you walk out afterwards hardly realizing that two hours have gone by. I highly recommend it for quality time with hubby or the kids and even if you just want to relax and create something with no pressure and no expectations.
In fact, Nada, the owner, encourages you to focus on the experience and the process rather than the final product and this is a perfect approach for children and beginners.
So this weekend, I decided to take the girls and give them a chance to experience it. Sabel took to it like a natural, spending nearly the entire time immersed in the process. She played with the clay (we tried both the lush white stone clay and then the soft brown earthy clay), creating bowls and cups and saucers, flattening it out and then building it back up. She's only seven and I was surprised with how focused and immersed she was the entire time. Safyre enjoyed it to but then got distracted by the soft furry Lujain (the resident rabbit).
The studio offers walk in classes for children, teens and adults (see pricing below) as well as full length courses, studio access, birthday parties and private events.
Children walk in visits
من ٣سنين ونص لي ٦ سنوات -١٠د.ك
من ٧ لي ١٢ سنة - ١٥ د.ك
١٣ سنة فما فوق - ٢٠د.ك
اذا فيه من الاطفال الفئة الأولى السيشن عبارة عن ساعة وربع
السيشن - ساعتين اذا المشاركين مو من الاطفال الفئة الأولى
الحجز مسبق المقاعد محدودة
3,5 to 6 years | 10 kd
7 to 12 years | 15 kd
13+| 20 kd
If there are children from the 1st age group the class is 1:15 min
For the rest its 2 hrs/ session
The booking is in advance due to the limited seats the confirmation is upon the payment.
Instagram DM @dewdrop79 or whatsapp: +965 9992-5028
A rain forest in Dubai?
Last year over winter break we took the girls for a short trip to Dubai. I wasn't up for shopping so we instead visited The Green Planet. Located near The City Walk in Al WAsl area, The Green Planet is a five-story simulated rain forest inside a building. I was a bit skeptical at first but hubby convinced me that the girls would really enjoy it and he was right.
The Green Planet looks like another Dubai building from the outside until you round the corner and see the cylindrical glass casing that houses the ‘rain forest’. Inside there are literally thousands of plants, free flying birds, butterflies (sadly these are quickly eaten by the birds when released) and other insects and reptiles.
The Green Planet is multi-storied, so you start at the top and wind your way down, around a massive rain forest anchored in the middle by a simulated tree. Birds including toucans, parrots and others native to tropical rain forests fly freely around the atrium. The staff are friendly and offer short lectures on the animal and plant life.
Our girls had the chance to pet a snake – something both weren’t too keen to try but eventually did. They learned that contrary to popular belief, snakes aren’t slimy but as Safyre noted, “they are squishy under their skin, like they just ate a giant rat!”.
There is a butterfly exhibit showing the butterflies hanging in the chrysalis stage with a staffer to explain the process. Reptiles, a sloth, jeweled beetles and other small animals comprise the most exciting of the exhibits and there are a few interactive videos that help explain what an ‘ecosystem’ is and how it works.
To walk the entire ‘forest’ takes about an hour, more if you pay to pet the sloth or feed the feed. We stopped to watch birds being fed and take photos.
If you are planning a trip to Dubai over the winter break, I highly recommend this. It was an unusual and educational experience that we all enjoyed. Totally worth it and one of the highlights of our trip.
Entrance is AED 99 (AED 89 if you book in advance).
Sunday – Wednesday: 10am-7pm
Thursday – Saturday: 10am-8pm
(Last tickets are sold one hour before closing)
Kuwait now offers a full buffet of after school and extra curricular options for kids including academics, arts & crafts and sports. In our newest guide, updated for the 2018/2019 academic year, we've got the details for the most popular programs around the country. We hope you find it helpful.
Back to school is often one of the most stressful times of the year for both moms and kids. We stress and worry about so many details – uniforms, backpacks and lunch boxes and school supplies, finding the class room and meeting new teachers and making sure we’ve got all the logistics organized for getting them back and forth to school, fed and rested, then homework and dinner and bedtimes.
Meanwhile our kiddos are fighting their own fears – worried about finding old friends and making new ones and establishing their place within a new class, building a relationship with a new teacher and new classmates and taking in all the new and challenging information and responsibilities of studies.
Rather than continue with this trend, however, I’m going to tweak our planning to try and make it as stress free as possible. Here’s some of my ideas:
Wishing all your kiddos a happy and peaceful start to the new school year!
1. Go ice skating or swimming – There are two ice skating rinks in Kuwait @promenadeicekw & the skating rink in Kuwait City and you can always get a day pass to the Swimming Pool complex in Salmiya.
2. Learn to knit or crochet – Several places offer workshops for adults and children. @fakhri_arts @littlemomsgroup @needlesandyarn
3. Tour the playplaces. For younger kids, @playkuwait Discovery and Promenade malls, or @futurekidkuwait Kids, @magicplanetmena.
For older ones, try @trampoofficial in Murouj. There’s a new playplace in @alhamratower too.
4. Get some books. Take the kids to the book shop @spectrawidebookstore @thatalsalasil @q8bookstore & Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyya has storytimes on Saturdays. Better Books in Salmiya is doing a summer reading challenge for kids. (visit their FB page for more info).
5. Do some YouTube art/crafts/science experiments – There are a million+ videos for kids to do arts/crafts. Check your supplies and search based on what you have on hand. Just be sure to view the video first and make sure its age appropriate.
6. Take them to work with you for the day – if you can – and give them small tasks.
7. Learn to code. There are tons of free or low cost resources online for learning to code and even summer camps here that offer it. Introduce them to the concept and see if they want to take a class – online or in a camp: @catchcaravan
8. Go for a workshop. @artspaceq8 @7erafy @thelittlesewing_instituteetc offer lots of summer fun workshops.
9. Put on your sneakers and go for a marathon walk around the Avenues. Take the kids to lunch afterwards as a treat.
10. Take a yoga class as a family. There are like a gazillion yoga places in Kuwait. Ask for a class for moms and kids.
Finally, kids should also be able to entertain themselves. Give them some books, legos, puzzles, building blocks, colors and paper & leave them to it. Trust me, it’s good for you and them.
#KuwaitMomsGuide #KuwaitMoms #KuwaitKids #q8kids #q8moms #kuwait
There is so much to see/do at the newly opened Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center in Maidan Hawally. There are six massive museums:
2. Arabic & Islamic Science
3. Science & Technology-Human Body
4. Science & Technology-Transportation/Robots
5. Natural History-Ecosystems
6. Natural History-Our Earth.
We spent 3+ hours during our first visit and barely scratched the surface.
We visited Space, Ecosystems & Science/Human Body but did not have time to explore all the exhibits in each. Its worth it to visit one or two at a time and save the others for the next visit in order to get the full experience. Also be sure to tour the outside grounds to see all the amazing sculptures including dinosaurs and some by Nadim Karam.
There is also a Fine Arts Center and the museums will offer regular workshops, performance and outdoor activities. Regular workshops, lectures and other activities will also be taking place and you find the updates on the ASCC social media and website.
Saturday: 9am to 7pm
Monday: 9am to 7pm
Tuesday: 9am to 7pm
Wednesday: 9am to 7pm
Thursday: 3pm to 10pm
Friday: 3pm to 10pm
(Be sure to go early. Sale of entrance tickets will stop 1 hour prior to closing; museums closed 30 minutes prior to closing.) Timings may change on public holidays.
Adults (18+) KD 3
Kids (18-2) KD 2
Under 2: Free
1. Wear comfortable shoes
2. Take snacks/water for the kiddos. There are cafes (the ones in Science / Human Body museum & Arabic-Islamic art were open but I didn't see a lot of kid friendly-food.)
3. Go early. It gets crowded fast & they will stop letting in new visitors when capacity is reached.
4. Be prepared to get lost or be given wrong info. We were directed to the wrong entrance for the rainforest/ aquarium 2x & told there was a cafe somewhere there wasn't. It's newly opened so staff are also still learning their way around. Be patient.
5. You won't be able to see it all at once - so take your time & enjoy all the exhibits at your leisure. You can always come again to see a different museum
6. Definitely do the Planetarium in the Space museum. It's an extra KD 2 per person but TOTALLY worth it.
7. When you enter Science / Human Body, get the swipe card. It will track all your games / scores & give you a record at the end. Also the kids need one to run the race tracker, play basketball & soccer and most of the games. Oh and the giant, multi-story slide inside ST-Human Body is amazing! Be sure to take your kids to enjoy it.
Visit the museums website here to learn more
One of my favorite places to take the girls for a morning outing is the Bayan Botanical Gardens at Bayan Palace. The gardens are only open to the public on Thursdays from 9:30am to 1:30pm so its something special when we have a chance to go.
The gardens are comprised of manicured lawns with grass, fresh flowers and small ponds and three massive green houses. There are thousands of plants representing six different gardens and four different climate zones including tropical, dry, Mediterranean and European environments. There are small waterfalls, a pond with some fish and a sitting area for those who want to take a break and relax.
The gardens make the perfect field trip or play date destination. There is no good or drink available, however so be sure to bring water for the kiddos. We've visited several times since it opened in 2015 & always discover something new each time we go.
Entrance is free but you should bring your Civil ID & register at the reception.