Samui Wining & Dining
Samui tiny steps offers nursery and preschool education in a home-from-home environment.


When it comes to early years education, it’s important to know a little about the face behind the organisation, so we chatted to Debra, owner and centre manager at Samui Tiny Steps, to find out what inspired her to open a nursery school here on the island.

        Debra is a mother of two, with a daughter of nine and a son of seven years old. She first came to Samui in 2002 with her husband, to visit family and to travel around Thailand. They stayed a few months, and returned the following year to do the same. Her children were later born in the UK, and the family decided to relocate to Samui when the children were four and two years of age.

        Debra explains, “I have lived here for five years now, and when I first arrived with my small children. I realised that there was a lack of facilities for young learners. As I was involved in preschool teaching in the UK, I was very aware of the social interaction and learning through play that every child should have access to. So with this in mind, I wanted to create an environment where children could be involved in imaginative play, arts and

crafts, music and movement and lots of books and story times, with access to learning materials and plenty of space to explore nature and enhance their motor skills.”

         Samui Tiny Steps opened its doors in October 2013, and since then has grown steadily, and now has children of many different nationalities. The nursery sits on 2,000 square metres of land, allowing for plenty of outside shaded areas to run and play, with slides and cubby houses. Inside, you’ll find light and airy classrooms, a dining-room reception area, adult and separate children’s bathrooms and an also an outside covered soft-play area.

          With Samui Tiny Steps being purpose built, the school has the unique advantage of ensuring all facilities are suitable for this age group, both from a safety and a practical point of view. Every care and consideration has gone into the safety of the nursery, so parents can feel happy and confident to leave their children in the loving care of the staff.

          Debra feels passionate about guiding this early years age group, as this can be a child’s first experience in learning about the world around them, and how to express themselves. She considers preschool age to be a big transition to future learning within a school, and her goal and hope is that Samui Tiny Steps will allow the child and parents to enjoy a smooth transition.

          Samui Tiny Steps also teaches EFL (English as a Foreign Language), and Debra uses ‘Jolly Phonics’ as a learning tool to help children with their reading and writing skills. Many schools on the island use Jolly Phonics, and Debra felt this would help make the transition easy, and give the children at Tiny Steps a good head start.

          Jolly Phonics is a fun way to learn letter sounds and is a great way to prepare a child for school. Many UK primary schools use Jolly Phonics to teach reading. It’s a systematic, sequential, phonics program designed to teach children to read. Children learn more than 40 sounds of the English language, rather than just the alphabet. They’re then taken through the stages of blending and segmenting words to develop reading and writing skills. This method is also a great tool for teaching English as a second language. For this age group, the focus is on teaching the letter sounds using multi-sensory methods such as songs, actions, activities and games, and keeping worksheets to a minimum. The system also encourages parents to practice with their child at home.

          Debra decided to adopt the ‘British Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum’ (EYFS) and the EYFS teacher, who is fully qualified with a degree and teaching experience, leads the preschool class for children aged three to six years. Debra is the nursery teacher for the youngest learners, and she starts to help and gently guide the little ones through certain milestones such as separation anxiety, social skills and various needs including toilet training. As the nursery is nicely growing, the school is also seeking classroom assistants to join the team and make Tiny Steps a complete package.

          “I’m sure every parent will agree, starting school can be a very big step for toddlers and parents alike. And so we designed a safe and secure, friendly and educational environment, where children can not only learn through play, but can also develop the skills to become confident and independent when they join their first school”, says Debra. And as a parent herself, she understands this stage all too well. She explains further, “We have various options available for our nursery class to aid the ‘settling in’ period. I find that at two years old and sometimes even threes years old, children are not yet emotionally equipped to leave their parents for too long, so we offer part time (morning sessions) as well as half week (three full days). These options, as well as the individual needs of each family can be discussed before joining.

          Debra encourages parents who are considering nursery or preschool for their children to book a visit to discuss the options available at Samui Tiny Steps, where they’ll be given a full tour of the facilities. Says Debra, “I have met truly amazing parents and friends in my five years on Samui. They have given me the inspiration to focus on my passion in life – Tiny Steps.”


 Rosanne Turner


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