Kindergarten Fun (TGC)

Yes, this is a German Chronicles post on a Friday. My week has been kind of topsy-turvy.

For the first time in a long time, I have a FAQ that I want to answer. Why isn’t Kayla in a preschool/nursery school/kindergarten?

The short answer is because Germany. I’m guessing that’s not what you want, though.


So, the full story.

In South Africa, it’s basically a question of finding a kindergarten you like. You know, among the abundance of kindergartens in any given area. Some are private and posh, some are run from someone’s house, some are on the local primary school’s premises – something for every taste.

Enrolling is as simple as filling in a form or two, paying the fee and hey presto, your kid is in. In some cases, they may be able to start going to school the same day, otherwise the next.

So. Germany does it differently. Just a disclaimer here, this is our personal experience in our area. I have no idea if this is the same in the rest of Germany; every German province has their own rules and regulations.

Anyway, most parents in our district send their kids to kindergarten when they’re a year old. This means they fill in the forms for the waiting list during the pregnancy, and everything is ready when the child is born. It also means that their classes remain full, as the last year kids go on to school and a new group of one-year-olds start at the lowest class. A cycle.

For us, this is a problem. We arrived in Germany a few months before Kayla turned two and took some time to find our feet before worrying about kindergartens. Back in SA, I’d always said I’d send Kayla to preschool when she turned three, and this kind of remained in the back of my head in Germany.

Sure, my mind changed. The biggest reason I wanted to send her to a kindergarten sooner was for her to learn the language. Of course, it didn’t work out that way, or I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Because most schools take kids from age one, the classes are full, as I mentioned above. Spots do open when families move, so there’s a waiting list. With any kind of list or paperwork in Germany, you can expect procedure. This case is no different, but I won’t bore you with all of it now.

We had to apply to be included on waiting lists before October last year, which we did. We went to three schools in our area and handed in the forms, met some of the teachers and saw how the schools worked. This last point, by the way, is totally different than in South Africa; my mind was a blown.

We’ll find out if we’ve made a waiting list at one of these schools between end-January and middle-February. If we’re on a list, Kayla will start attending when the school year starts, which is around September.

OK, so every child in Germany is entitled to a place in a kindergarten from age 3. So, technically, Kayla should be allowed to enrol immediately, right? Well, no. Her birthday is in November, which means she’ll be in the next year’s class. Had she been born before July, they would allow her to start directly.

In the event that she doesn’t get included in a waiting list, we’ll have to petition the youth division of the province for a place in a kindergarten. This will take time, as far as I understand, and can also result in us being allocated to a school two hours’ drive from where we live. Obviously, we don’t hope it goes this far.

If it does? Well, we’ll soldier on.

And that’s my answer. Because Germany.

Have a good weekend, folks.






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