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5 good questions to ask when choosing a pre-school

At this time of year, parents of young children face the important task of finding the best preschool for their toddler. It is normal for parents to want their child to be happy and well-prepared for the future, but it can be difficult to decide which preschool is the best match.

Before drawing your shortlist, it is important to first consider your values as a parent. Think about your parenting style, how you interact with your child, and what you want for them. Being clear about your priorities will help you identify the best match.

When you visit, apart from questions like the daily routine, curriculum, fees, try to understand the values, culture, and staff approach so you can make an informed decision about your child’s early years education.

5 things to look for when choosing a preschool
Here is our advice for parents about the essential questions they should ask when choosing a pre-school for their child.
Question 1. How do you support new children to adjust in the first weeks? Are parents allowed in during the transition period? Is there an adjustment plan or routine you follow? If my child is upset, how do you offer comfort? How long before they go back to normal?

At our pre-school, we prioritize a supportive and nurturing environment for new children. The transition period includes a special routine and schedule for the first few weeks. Parents are allowed to stay with their child for one or two days to help build trust with our staff. Our trained and experienced teachers understand that every child is unique and may require different levels of support. They offer individual attention and care to ensure that each child feels safe and secure in their new environment. This process can take from two weeks to over a month. Parental support is key so we work together with parents to help the child make this big step forward in their growth.

Question 2. Do you have a specific philosophy or approach to learning? Can you give examples of how children learn in your pre-school?

At ICCC, we believe that children learn best when they are actively engaged and having fun. Our philosophy is centered around fostering creativity and a love of learning in each child. We provide a variety of materials and activities that encourage hands-on learning and exploration in different learning centers such as home area, construction and play area, art area, math and science area, literacy area, etc. Some activities are teacher led but there is plenty of room for child-initiated experiences in the classroom and on the playground. With the right support from their teachers, in their play children develop important skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. For example, when playing with blocks children can learn about shapes, sizes, balance, and spatial relationships.

Question 3. What is your approach to discipline? How do you handle conflicts between children? Do you have a policy for bullying?

This is a crucial age to teach children socially acceptable behavior and working together with families in absolutely necessary. At ICCC we don’t have a specific disciplining procedure. We use modeling and conflict resolution strategies to guide children through the complexities of learning good social skills, empathy and cooperation. At the beginning of the school year in each group, together with children, we establish what is good and what is unacceptable behavior. We use story characters and real life situations to teach continually the rules we agreed, and we equip children with conflict resolution skills. When there are attempts at bullying behavior, we involve parents and look for solutions together, sometimes engaging professionals to help.

Question 4. What kind of communication can I expect from the pre-school? How often will I receive updates about my child’s progress? Is there an open-door policy for parents to speak with teachers?

ICCC is a parent association with an elected Board of Parents that work together with the Director to run the pre-school. The Board takes key policy decisions with the needs of children on top of the agenda. We ensure communication runs both ways, is honest and open.

ICCC values parent-teacher communication and we keep parents informed about the daily activities and their child’s progress through special publications and daily informal exchanges. Parents are encouraged to speak with teachers and staff and share any concerns, feedback, or questions. Formal progress updates are provided twice a year and we run parent-teacher conferences mid-year to talk about the child’s overall development and set goals.

Question 5. How do you handle emergencies or unexpected situations that may arise in the pre-school?

At ICCC, we have comprehensive emergency protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and staff in the event of an unexpected situation such as serious injury, fire, or earthquake. Our staff is trained in first aid and emergency response, and we conduct drills to practice our emergency protocols. For less severe situations, such as a child becoming ill or having an accident, we notify parents as soon as possible. Our goal is always to ensure the safety and well-being of children and staff and to handle each situation with the utmost care and attention.



International children's creatovity center teacher miss Irina Radeva

Interview with Irina Radeva

Meet the teachers!

Miss Irina is part of ICCC team since September 2021. The classroom environment and nature are her very best co-teachers. What moves her in her teacher career is walking and learning in sync with children through their precious early years.

What is your name, how do children call you?

My name is Irina. My parents named me upon their favorite mountain Pirin.

The children often call me Ms Irinka, Ms Iiinka and My Ms Iiiinka.

Tell us something about your education and experience.

I graduated Sociology at Sofia University and completed a PhD in Early Years Sociology. My experience with young children is both as a teacher and outdoor trainer. I have worked with children 2-5 years in private pre-schools in Sofia, and most recently at the Anglo-American School of Sofia as Teaching Assistant. Nature and its abundant teaching resources have been my true inspiration. I am happy to bring this passion to ICCC since September 2021 when I joined the team.

What is your favorite part of the day as a teacher?

I love surprises. My favorite part of the day is preparing surprise play invitations in the mornings. I love those moments of arrival when children realize that something is different in the room and dive in exploration. Another special moments for me are the weekly walks to the nearby forest. You can hear the happy humming of children. We always find some treasures to observe and many other to collect for our classroom.

What inspires you to keep working with children in pre-school age?

Early years are important for so many foundations for life. I believe that children are curious and

Creative. They enjoy collaboration, they are capable of so much and do care. My inspiration is

to walk and learn with them through those precious early years. And to sparkle some nature and

magic on top.

How do you motivate children?

The classroom environment is my best co-teacher. Besides my wonderful colleges, of course.

Whenever children own their learning spaces and whenever their natural curiosity is supported

to deepen, they always do their best and love to stay focused on their favorite things for

longer. Nothing else is needed but keeping that space open-ended and inviting.

How do you face difficult challenges throughout the day at school?

I see the available resources and all the best in each child. In challenging moments, I ask myself

what is the basic need that stays behind a difficult behavior and how to support that need. The

children are eager to learn as soon as they feel safe and acknowledged for who they really are. I

try to engage children in problem solving as much as possible, too.

What is the best part of being a teacher?

I will share a favorite quote of Rachel Carson to answer: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” Being that adult for the children is a true blessing. And by all means, I am learning thousands of jokes daily and witnessing thousands of precious moments to celebrate with children.

What sort of morning routine do you have to get ready and in the mood for the class?

When I enter the empty classroom in the mornings, I see it full of possibilities. That is a great start! We greet each other with a hug. Children love to hug their friends. Then they would rush to find their magnet, climb a little chair and place the magnet on the classroom board. This is how everyone says “Here I am!”. Later children choose where to start their work and whom to explore with.

What is your favorite child book/author and why?

My favorite child author is Eric Carle because of his amazing illustrations and because he creates so much space for children’s imagination within his simple nature stories.

What is the most surprising and funny thing you heard about yourself from children?

I will share a sweet recent story. A girl brought her watercolor painting to me as a gift. She was excited to share that she had painted a cherry tree and she had also painted both of us dancing around it.

And one more story:

Me: What sounds would you like to listen during dream time? The waves of the ocean or the birds chirping?

The kids: Play the tractors for us!

Interview with Petya Petkova

Meet the teachers!

Miss Petya studies Early Years Education and Reception Year at UNISA (University of South Africa). She has taught children between the ages of 3 and 6 for the past 15 years, most of which in South Africa. After that she returned to Sofia to teach in the British School of Sofia and joined ICCC in September 2021. Also, Miss Petya is trained in Jolly Phonics, Thinking Based Learning and Suggestopedia.

Her favorite part of the day as a teacher is the first contact with the students at the morning.

What inspires her to work with children, is the difference a teacher makes in children’s lives. To see a child grow emotionally is an amazing feeling. When one gets appreciation from the parents, for taking such great care of their kids, this motivates the teacher to give even more.

What is your name, how do children call you?

My name is Petya, the children call me Miss Petya. Sometimes, usually after the weekend or a holiday they start calling me “mommy” for the first few days at school.

Tell us something about your education and experience.

I studied Early Years Education and Reception Year Teaching at UNISA (University of South Africa) in 2006 and 2007. I started off as a substitute and an afternoon teacher at LRPPS (Lynnwood Ridge Pre-Primary School) in Pretoria, South Africa. In 2008 I became a permanent class teacher and taught there until the end of 2019, groups between 3 and 6 years of age. Upon my return to Bulgaria, I worked as a teacher at BSS (British school of Sofia) for a year and in Sept 2021 I joined the ICCC team where I am very happy to work and be a part of.

What is your favorite part of the day as a teacher?

My favorite part of the day as a teacher is my arrival in the morning. My shift starts at 10am by which time all children have arrived. Seeing me at the door, they all start talking excitedly at once with a sparkle in their eyes and many hugs to give, hairstyles and dresses to show.

What inspires you to keep working with children in pre-school age?

My inspiration to work with children is the difference we make in children’s lives. When you see a child grow emotionally right before your eyes and you know you helped that child along the way, the feeling is amazing. Getting appreciated by the parents for taking such great care of their kids, children willing to come to school and being excited about the different activities and games we play.

How do you motivate children?

I personally try to motivate children by praise and encouragement. They get easily discouraged when faced with the unknown from fear of failing. So, by giving them the confidence to try even if it isn’t perfect first-time round, I believe they learn faster and easier.

How do you face difficult challenges throughout the day at school?

Facing with difficult challenges I often rely on the support of my colleague, Stella with whom I teach alongside. In such a short period of time we have managed to work together so well, that we often just look in the other person’s eyes and know. 

What is the best part of being a teacher?

The interaction with the children on a daily bases is the best part of being a teacher. They are funny, honest, lovable and affectionate. They give back much more than they receive. Each day is a surprise, because you never know what to expect and who would make you laugh with their actions or stories.

Do you notice any changes in children’s behavior for the past few years?

In my opinion, there is definitely change in children’s behavior over the past few years. They have become more confident and out-spoken, especially when communicating with adults. They are a lot more informed and use technology freely and with ease. In my opinion it has both positive and negative effect on them.

What is your favorite child book/author and why?

My favorite child’s authors are Julia Donaldson and Nick Butterworth. I particularly enjoy the rhyming and humor in J. D’s books. The stories and illustrations in N. B’s books are wonderful and most of his books include a huge fold-up page or a maze which allows the children to get involved and explore the book in an exciting way.

What is the most surprising and funny thing you heard about yourself from children?

One day when I took a day off school one of the children in my class started telling every parent who came to collect his/her child, that I have left and I am never coming back. According to her I have told all the children the day before that there is another class with children who have no teacher and I had to go for good. The story was actually half-true but most of the parents believed I won’t be working at ICCC anymore and started sending me messages to find out what’s happening.

portait picture of Gergana Popova teacher at International Children Creativity Center

Interview with Gergana Popova

portait picture of Gergana Popova teacher at International Children Creativity Center
Meet the teachers!

Today we put the spotlight on Gergana Popova, one of the Clever Kittens teachers at ICCC.

The International Children’s Creative Center (ICCC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, is here to help local and expat families.  Children find a safe place to adjust, learn and feel at home here. 


What is your name, how do children call you?

Gergana Popova, the children call me Miss Geri

Tell us something about your education and experience.

 My education is in Arts and Graphic Design. I have taken various courses in Education and I am currently studying Education Science at Sofia University. I have been working at ICCC for more than eight years. My previous experience with young children was in a day care center, teaching art.

What is your favorite part of the day as a teacher?

It is Story time when I get to do all the voices and be silly. I also love playing outside with the children, just kicking a ball around or play tag and things like that.

What inspires you to keep working with children in pre-school age?

The children are my main inspiration. It is a very rewarding age where responses are immediate and some results often follow quickly. It is an age where you love your students and they love you back and the world is still an amazing place full of wonders.

How do you motivate children?

 I rely on old and tested as well as spur of the moment techniques. Generally, I aim towards making things interesting and inviting, a more hands-on than frontal approach.

How do you face difficult challenges throughout the day at school?

 Most difficult situations are related to convincing a child to do something they don`t want to. It takes a lot of quick thought and flexibility, taking it case by case and knowing your children well. There is no one thing that answers all situations, yet me keeping my cool is key as well as always seeking better understanding on the subject, including books, seminars, the help of colleagues.

What is the best part of being a teacher?

 For me it is the pure connection and relationship with the children. I love discovering their personalities and helping them along their way. It is also the personal development it requires. Being a teacher always challenges you to work on yourself to be a better person, a more skillful communicator, a sensitive and vigilant supporter.

What sort of morning routine do you have to get ready and in the mood for the class?

 It is not quite a morning thing for me. I like to plan at least a day ahead, a week or sometimes a month, often together with my colleague. This gives me a clearer picture for the day that I have in my mind going in. Often on my way to work while driving I would remember some of the sweet things the kids did the day before and that helps me keep an open mind toward them and their needs.

Do you notice any changes in children’s behavior for the past few years?

Every day. Growing is a challenging business, it is sometimes more a tango than a quick-step, but change is always there.

What is your favorite child book/author and why?

 Erich Kastner is my favorite author. His insight into a child`s world is both heartwarming and eye-opening. He tells hard truths with humor and even though he wrote a century ago I find relevance and meaning in his books.

What is the most surprising and funny thing you heard about yourself from children?

– Miss Geri is my relaxing teacher. 

– Miss Geri, you are coming to my house and I am going to share this walnut with you.

– Look! I have a bucket of rainbows!

Me: Tell me about your vacation. Child: I hate Greece!

Share an interesting story about yourself.

When I was a child, I remember I was always imagining to be a teacher. I taught all my dolls really interesting lessons. Somewhere along the way I forgot about that and I became a graphic designer. Despite odds though teaching found me and I am really glad about it.

Interview with the director of Iccf

New School Year – Interview with ICCC Director

The International Children’s Creative Center (ICCC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, is here to help local and expat families.  Children find a safe place to adjust, learn and feel at home here. 

Interview with the director of Iccf

At the beginning of the new school year ICCC celebrates 25 years. Snezhana Daneva, Director since September 2010, tells us more about what this kindergarten in Sofia, Bulgaria offers. What makes it a special place for children and families?

Hello Mrs. Daneva, can you tell us more about what makes ICCC exceptional for the children and their parents?

Every aspect of life at ICCC is special – if I have to single out one thing – we are like one big family. Our teachers create a truly warm and caring environment. Also we are constantly looking to improve. Our families bring diverse cultures, experiences, and very high expectations so naturally we set ourselves high standards.

What is also special about our pre-school is that parents and staff are partners. Not just in the day-to-day life and learning of children but in the management of ICCC through the Parent Board who represent the parent community in the policy and decision making.

What is your educational philosophy?

Pre-school education is so special! It is about sowing seeds – the seeds of love and care for people and the environment, the seeds for respect and cooperation, the seeds for learning. In early years teachers sow the seeds with love, patience and professional knowledge.

Young children learn all the time through their daily experiences – they learn to understand and manage their emotions, to communicate effectively, to move confidently and safely, to manipulate and explore objects and materials. They study how to make discoveries and make connections about things around them.

Unlike in ‘big school’, teachers can’t pack this knowledge into structured lessons because children can’t ‘sit down and learn’ when you want them to. Every pre-school teacher knows that children gain information when they are curious and interested. The job of the teacher is to support them when it happens – to capture the interest, spark that curiosity and provide rich opportunities for interactions that naturally lead to learning.  

In the same way, the teacher should support children to be independent and competent socially, emotionally and physically. Teaching children strategies to solve conflicts, look after their physical and emotional needs. This is a very important shift – support rather than direct, offer children strategies rather than do something for them. This is the direction we follow at ICCC, and it is a long journey, but totally worth it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a kindergarten director?

I see my role as helping children, their families and my staff feel safe, happy and confident.

I often say that I have the best of both worlds – I work equally with teachers, parents and children. I am so lucky to interact with children every day, to have conversations with them, laugh with and help them. At the same time I have my ‘adult world’ responsibilities and communication, and this is a great and rare balance I can enjoy in my work every day. A smile or a hug by a small child brightens my day!

How do you prepare both parents and children for their first entry into the kindergarten?

For young children who haven’t been separated from home yet, starting school is like jumping from a cliff. They are thrown into the unknown which, naturally, is very distressing. I always explain to parents what their child is likely to experience and how to support them. We want them to trust us, to have confidence in the process and how we handle it.

Our strategy for the start, when new children transition from home to school, is to have a very short stay in the first week, and gradually increase the hours as they become more confident and comfortable.

But before we get to this stage it is important to establish connection with the new families and find out what they want for their child, and if we are looking in the same direction. We are partners, we need to build trust which rests on common values like respect, open mindset, international mindedness, etc.

Who is your favorite children’s book author, and why?

Julia Donaldson, Valerie Thomas with her Winnie The Witch series, Eric Carle, David Shannon, Anna Dewdney and many more. We have a rich library at ICCC, and children love listening to the stories we read every day.

It is a tradition at ICCC for children to donate a book for school on their birthday, and we also have parents come and read a favorite book. This is how we discover new authors and books.

How would you describe the perfect day in ICCC?

No accidents! On a more serious note, a perfect day means a good buzz in each classroom with  children busy playing; happy noise from the playground; a happy reunion and a good word from parents at the end of the day.

What would be your inspirational message for the children and their parents?

Trust play! Playing is the key to high quality learning. Trust your child, they are able to do amazing things. Value every moment spent with them. Give them your best because all paths in their lives start from childhood. And you won’t notice how quickly it ends!

Do you have questions?
Call or visit us.

+359 879 403 677

Address: 20, Akademik Hristo Hristov Str., Dragalevtsi, Sofia 1415

Monday – Friday:
08:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Application Form




    *ATTENDANCE PLAN: 5 full days5 mornings (LLB and BBB only)



    *What language(s) is /are spoken at home?

    *Does your child speak English?

    *Does father speak English?

    *Does mother speak English?

    Have you already visited ICCC?

    If yes, when did you visit? If not, are you able to visit and when?

    Has the child been in a nursery / pre-school before? YesNo

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    How did you hear about ICCC?

    ICCC Membership is annual and is paid in full for the school year in attendance (September – June). Attendance in July and August is optional. When a child joins after the start of the school year the fee is calculated proportionally. There is no discount for longer absences for holidays or other reasons.

    ICCC is open 12 months a year between the hours of 8.00a.m. to 18.00p.m.. While all care and attention will be given to safeguard the children during these hours, the Center will not be responsible for any injury caused beyond the control of staff. No responsibility will be taken outside working hours.

    ICCC admits children based on space availability and age. Priority is given to siblings, English native speakers and expat families.


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