Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deutsch Kindergarten

The moment we found out we were being stationed in Germany I knew that I wanted to enroll little r into German Kindergarten.  Nothing necessarily against little r attending an American pre-school on the Post, but I really want him to have the cultural experiences of living in Germany.  My parents were stationed in Germany when I was about the same age, and I attended a German Kindergarten from ages 3 to 6.   Even though I was young, I have some fond memories of kindergarten (too bad the German language didn't stick with me).  You hear all sorts of stories from various sources and people about how to get your kids into kindergarten here and how old they need to be, etc.  One of my friends said that everyone she has talked to has had varying experiences with it, both because the school's are different but also because the kids are, as she put it, "wildly" different.  I can easily see now how that can be the case.

We have two kindergartens here in our local town, and I was hopeful that little r would be attending one next year.  My mom's memory was that kindergarten started when the child turns three and I had heard that from several others as well, so I had that age in mind and just assumed little r would start school after his third birthday next year.  Either way, it's advisable to look into the schools and get on a list in the hopes that when they do come of age, they hopefully have a school to go to.

Last week while I was attending the PEP class, little r was able to spend the entire time in the daycare on Post.  He absolutely loved it.  I think he missed being around other kids and having the structure that school can bring to your day.  This encouraged me to look into these kindergartens more seriously.  I spent some time translating the websites, and then one afternoon last week I built up the courage to go visit one in town.  It was pretty late in the day, so only a few teachers and kids were left in the building, but one of the teachers spoke English fairly well and she gave me the business card for the Director of the school and told me to call to set up an appointment.

Instead of making a fool out of myself calling the school (and let's face it, probably dialing the wrong number AGAIN), I drafted and translated an email to the Kindergartenleiterin (Kindergarten Head), and before I knew it I had an appointment set up this week to see the school and meet with her. My new German neighbor (and friend) kindly offered to go with me to help translate.  The Kindergartenleiterin spoke about as much English as I know German, so I was very relieved to have my friend with me.  Although she was convinced I would have been fine on my own. HA! Muddling through it would not have been much fun for either of us.  

This kindergarten is really amazing.  This particular school will accept children into the kindergarten when they are 2.5 years old AND they do NOT have to be potty trained. YAY! (little r might be potty trained by then, but it's nice not to have the pressure - I'm sure he appreciates that as well.)  My timing was good and they happen to have a slot available for him.  We filled out all the paperwork (thank you again to my lovely German friend), so little r is registered and will start school on 1 February.  I feel very lucky that everything worked out so well. I'll most likely write greater details about the school once he starts in a few months, but what I initially saw of it was fantastic.  The school has three separate groups of children ages 3 to 6.  Each group has about 25 children and they are of all different ages, in other words, they don't separate the kids based on their age.  This gives the kids a chance to socialize with both older and younger friends.  Very cool.  The school seems to be centered around teaching the children important social skills and responsibility.  They learn how to play together, follow rules, and be independent.  Every day they have Brotzeit (or late breakfast) and the kids wash the dishes and clean up afterwards.  They even get to cook their Brotzeit once a week!  They have these kitchens that are "mini" so the kids can easily reach the sinks.  Too much fun.  They also allow the children to go outside and play every day despite the weather.  The kids don't have to go out, but apparently most do and they all love it.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that little r will love going to school, especially this particular kindergarten.  We can walk there in 5 minutes from our house and make it a fun morning routine with the puppy.  School starts around 8:30 a.m. and goes until 12:30 p.m. (or later if we wish).  And it is ridiculously affordable at only 85 EUR/month.  (I'm having one of those "pinch me" moments again...)

My mom asked if I took any pictures, but of course, that's a fabulous idea that never occurred to me.  Instead, here is a link to the website if you are interested in checking out little r's new school: http://www.kindergarten-bischberg.de/index.html

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