Most of the schools featured in this section accept children from newborn to five years of age, offering full-day programmes and half-day options. Children will traditionally begin Kindergarten (UK system), Pre–K3 (US system) or Reception (the Government system) at their chosen primary school, in the year in which they turn four.
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If you intend to send your child to one of Cayman's private primary schools and you are offered a place in their Kindergarten or Pre–K3 class (i.e. the reception year), you are strongly advised to take it. Keeping your child back in preschool so that they miss this first year at primary school has significant consequences:
- Firstly, your child will be assessed by the primary school before they are offered a place in Year 1 to see if they are up to par with the school’s expectations for a five year old (many fail this test and are not accepted)
- Children at primary school start learning to read in earnest in Kindergarten and those who have not started in their preschool may fall behind in Year 1
- Your child’s new classmates may have already made firm friends among the students
- Adjusting to ‘big school’ and its lack of freedom (to play and choose what you want to work on) can be challenging for some children, and they will have missed the transition with other children in the same boat
- On average, only five places become available in Year 1 at the top private primary schools, which means that the chances of your child being offered a place are slim at best.
If your child's preschool covers such things as the correct pencil grip, the phonetic sounds of the alphabet and how to write numbers from one to ten, then this is a bonus and will definitely help your child transition to reading and writing. The top preschools do teach these things, while placing great emphasis on learning through play, exceptional manners and appropriate social interaction, which is why they are all full and very hard to get into.
Nurseries & Preschools
Below we list the vast majority of Cayman’s nurseries and preschools. We list in detail where the school is located, what age range they take children from and to, what the monthly fees are, their opening hours, curriculum and their facilities. All preschools are also subject to regular school inspections, so make sure to read their inspection report if we list one. These reports are unbiased and truly enlightening. They say that a good preschool is the best start you can give your child. Not only are children little sponges willing to learn and grow, but they have amazing imaginations and an overwhelming desire to learn and be creative. A preschool or nurseries that encourages this with abundance is what every parent is hoping for. Cayman has many exceptional preschools and the others are trying very hard to improve what they offer their students.
Improving Standards in Preschools
Scientists agree that when it comes to a child's development, the first five years are the most important. This is when a child becomes the person they are going to be. It is when they learn appropriate behaviour, boundaries, empathy and many other important social skills that will remain with them for life. Therefore it is essential that you choose your child's preschool very carefully as there are a lot of options in Cayman and some are definitely doing a better job than others.
With this in mind, the Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Care and Education Unit conduct regular support visits to all Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Centres (preschools). One of the reasons for the visits is to ensure that ECCE centres are creating a culture of child learning and development and not just one of “babysitting”. By doing this, they are ensuring that children are better prepared socially and academically for their entry into primary school at the age of four. Standards that early childhood centres must adhere to not only include health and safety regulations, but also how the staff interact with the children and ensure that the children are being properly stimulated and exposed to age appropriate activities. Practitioners are also supported to identify children who might have developmental delays or difficulties and then how to help the child so that they will be better prepared for primary school and life beyond. All preschools are inspected regularly by the Office of Education Standards and their reports are very revealing as to what these schools are doing to raise their standards.
Early Childhood Assistance Programme (ECAP) Funding
To ensure that all Caymanian children who turn three years old before 1st September 2021 have the opportunity to benefit from pre-primary learning opportunities, the Ministry of Education offers funding to assist in the cost of access to early childhood care and education (ECCE) for qualifying young Caymanian children. To apply for funding, download the application form from this link or collect forms from the Government Administration Building, the Department of Education Services or early childhood centres across Grand Cayman. Forms can also be requested via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents are encouraged to submit completed application forms along with a copy of the child’s birth certificate, proof of the child’s Caymanian Status, a copy of the parents’ valid Government-issued photo identification, and proof of income directly to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Unit located on the 2nd Floor of the Government Administration Building or via email to email@example.com. Applications for the Early Childhood Assistance Programme (ECAP) are means-tested. Depending on your overall household income and the number of dependents you are supporting, you can expect to receive the maximum of CI$500 per month per child or the basic funding amount of CI$305 per month per child. For more information, email the ECCE or call (345) 244 3155.