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Need opinions about Kinderkrippe

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Posted

I have a 12-month old son and am considering trying to get him into a Kinderkrippe. I know this takes a notoriously long time so I have time to think about it. I don't work currently so I would be looking for a part-time program (if they even exist).

The Germans I know unquestioningly promote the Kinderkrippe concept. In fact, I'm feeling a certain amount of insinuation that keeping him at home for a little while longer is wrong. This strikes me as a bit strange coming from the US.

Please share your experiences (good and bad) with Kinderkrippe. I'm having a really hard time deciding what is right for my son. My main concerns are that the activities will be overly structured for such small children, and that there will be a wrong and right way of doing everything. These are probably my least favorite aspects of Germany so I'm a bit sensitive about them!

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Posted

My son who is 16 months has just started and after nearly 2 months all I can say is that he appears to be thriving there and loves it. If we have another one we'd definitely be thinking of Kinderkrippe again.

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Posted

my 6 month old has been in a creche for one month. she loves it and thrives too. it's a personal decision though, and it also depends on the creche.

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Posted

My main concerns are that the activities will be overly structured for such small children, and that there will be a wrong and right way of doing everything.

You are getting overly paranoid about a stereotype of super structured organised rigid rule abiding Germans. My eldest went to a kinderhaus place from the age of about 15 months or so. There was not a great deal of structure, because, well, babies are hardly good at following orders are they. The staff at these places know that, and know that you cannot realistically reason with a child, so it is normally pretty relaxed. They kids just play about together really, but also they all learn to sit down together when it is time to eat or listen to a story. Sort of sheep mentality really, they all just do it after a while.

Just give it a go. Stick around the first few times to ease your own nerves, and give your kid a bit of a safety net, but in my mind, kids are inherently quite social creatures, and like playing with other kids.

My eldest one is now at a Kindergarten with kids of various ages. He's not even 2.5 years old yet, and I was more concerned about this place than the kinderhaus for toddlers, because there are some much, much older kids there. He loves it though. Goes every day during the week, and always asks about it at weekends.

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Posted

In my city the krippe offer 4 hour morning program, 4 hour afternoon programs, or full day, so I think it just depends on the school, but they do exist.

Mine also have up to a 1 year wait time, so if I were you I would get on a waiting list if needed.

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Posted

My very personal opinion is that the age of two is a good age to start Kinderkrippe. If you leave it any longer they may have a hard time to adapt to Kindergarten, which starts at three in Germany. If they are younger they cannot communicate what they have experienced during the day, which is I believe very important for the child and the parents.

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I worked at a kindergarten in the UK, and my kids went to kindergarten here from age 1.5, and out of the two I'd say that the UK one was actually far more structured, with a constant programme of activities aimed at keeping the children occupied and quiet. At the UK place there would be painting, then TV(!), then singing, then outdooor playtime, then gym, etc. In our German one there was very strong emphasis on letting children be children, which meant leaving them to play together, not doing many structured activities. By the time they were six I couldn't wait for them to start school and start doing something structured - in the last year of kindergarten they just about taught the kids (at age 5/6) the numbers 1-10, and how to hold a pencil, and that was it. One of our kindergarten teachers would teach the kids little songs, and did a little Christmas programme for the parents, but the other one wasn't as busy - they sang songs at Christmas, but accompanied by a recording of children singing, so they didn't even have to learn the words.

My children just went to the kindergarten half-days - if you do that, it's best to get up at a decent hour and take them in the morning, as they then get to join in if they walk to a nearby playground, or if they do learn a song. Our kindergarten ladies did ask parents to bring them in by a certain time, but that was for the purely practical reason that otherwise, if kids came in at any old time during the day, they'd never get to go out or anything.

The best thing about kindergarten was the chance for us all to make friends and improve our German - the kids then had no problem when they started school, as their language skills were good and they knew most of the people in their class from way back. I got to chat with other mums and dads at the gate. It was a very positive experience all round.

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Posted

My kids have all gone to Kindertagesstaetten from age 7 or 8 months. One of our kids went to a Kita (which we liked very much) which was pretty unstructured; there was no room there when it came to the other two (despite putting them on the waiting list as soon as I found out I was pregnant) so they have gone somewhere else. The latter place is highly structured (and also costs a lot more than the first) but for our two that we sent there it was also a good fit. Not all "Krippen" are the same in terms of structure, presence or absence (or ambition toward) pedagogical goals, etc. So it would only make sense to base your questions and your decision on the specific institutions that have (or that expect to have) places for your child. If the ones you might really like are out of your league in terms of cost or have 5-year waiting lists, then you might want to scratch the idea altogether. Have you visited and attended the parents' info evenings for the Krippen that you are considering? They'll tell you flat out whether they're Reggio-oriented or Montessori inspired, or have no plan or a mixed-bag/eclectic approach (which is often the same as no plan!).

HTH

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Posted

Yes, I agree with those who say the Kinderkrippe, Kita, etc. is a good idea. My daughter loved it.

Regarding your worry that they will promote German social behavior, I find that quite the opposite is true. Free play - and learning through play - are sacrosanct in Germany. There will be impressively little directed structure until First Grade. Yes, they do activities with the kids, but nothing regimented, nothing especially disciplinary. In France, kids start "école maternelle" at 3, where they are expected to be quiet and learn things. Nothing like that here. In my perception, it doesn't get better than a German childhood: lots of freedom and play. The switchover to the organized and well-disciplined Germany we all know so well doesn't come until later, probably at 10, when the reality of getting tracked into Gymnasium, Haupt & Realschule, with all its consequences, hits home.

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Posted

Thanks for all the great answers. This is encouraging me to just go for it.

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Posted

Kinderkrippe in the original sense means a daycare place that takes in kids below 12 months. The more general term would be Kindergarten or Kindertagesstätte.

In our town (and it should be typical of most of Baden-Württemberg), there is:

- Regelkindergarten: starts with three year olds and is mornings only, fees are affordable

- Ganztagskindergarten: two run by the city, one by AWO, they take in 12 months+ and offer full daycare

Regelkindergärten are run by the city or churches. Fees are subsidized by city and state and are about 70 € / month. Some started experimenting, such as with taking in two year olds, or offering afternoon care, but it is essentially worthless if both parents are working (e.g. you had to pick kids up for lunch and could return them for 1 - 3 in the afternoon). If they receive subsidies, they are required to follow the Bildungsplan, something that was introduced after the poor Pisa results for elementary school kids. This will usually be done in a playful manner and the kids still have plenty of time to play.

There is a Waldorf-Kindergarten, too. They have a different concept and I think they are not subsidized.

Then we have two Ganztagskindergärten run by the city and one run by the AWO (a non profit organzation that was originally the social care branch of the unions). Fees are a lot steeper. If you have a midrange income, fees are 350 € / month for the first and still 200+ for the second. Here, all have mixed age groups.

Our son started out in on of the city's at 14 months and loved it. In his group, there were 1 to 6 year olds, and that seems to be a very good environment for the kids.

When it was time for his sister to join him, the Kindergarten initially couldn't offer a a place for her, so we went shopping around. AWO could, even though we hadn't been on their waiting list, and even when the first eventually offered a place, we still made the switch, and it was one of the best decisions ever.

Our son went to a group of 3 to 8 year olds (school kids coming in only in the afternoon), while our daughter went to a 1 to 6 group. This Kindergarten had been doing all the educational things the Bildungsplan required for years, but in a less formal way, so they had a waiver. They make much less of a fuzz about it and just do a lot of activities and outings with the kids and find ways to teach them playfully. The best thing are the people working there though. They simply have a very good hand at selecting compatible employees.

So my advice to you is to visit as many Kindergartens as possible, have a chat with the headperson and do the tour. Usually, you can also just join one of their groups for an hour. Just try to find one that feels right...

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Posted

You haven't really said much about why you want to put him in a Kinderkrippe. Don't let other peoples opinions influence you too much, daycare for under threes can be a controversial topic for some and everybody you speak to will have an opinion along the lines of what they decided to do with their kid was best for them.

Some things to bear in mind are:

How are you feeling as a full time carer - do you need a few hours to yourself?

How many languages is your child hearing, would the bilingual balance be better if he spends a bit more time among German speakers?

Do you have other opportunities for him to be with other kids such as Spielgruppe?

How will you feel leaving him in the care of other people?

My own instinct was not leave my kids with anyone until they were talking and able to tell me in simple terms if something was wrong and I felt responsible for them learning English. I was also determined not to miss out on their early development (although my son took his first proper steps when I was napping on the sofa and had to be woken up to see them.)

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Posted

We've enrolled our wee, now 10-month-old, one for daycare starting in January. The main reasons is because I hope to return to work 40% beginning in January and I since I would need some overlap timewise with Germany, we have him enrolled for the afternoon sessions. What I'm asking you guys is how did you prepare your little one for daycare? He'll be in a class of 8, the youngest 5 months, most of the children 14-16 months old. At 18 months they move up to another, separate class.

Unlike stories I've heard from mamas who have their kids in a German daycare, there is no mandatory Eingewöhnung period here. It is not disallowed, but not encouraged. I insisted so I was told 2-3 days maximum (but I can drop by any time if I want). My friend who is putting her 7-month-old into daycare in Germany has a MANDATORY 4 week period!

I don't know if I can "teach" him anything until then, but he's a very active, curious little guy. Unfortunately, he likes to bite, chew things, and grunt quite loudly. I know he's only finding his voice, but it sounds like he is grunting because he is angry or frustrated. I know he's not, but I'm not sure anyone else will understand.

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Posted

It is of course a personal decision but I think I can allay some of your fears. According to my American colleagues at kindergarten, German kindergartens are less structured than their American counterparts, so do not worry that your toddler will be put into any kind of intensive academic program. For under 5s it's pretty much exclusively free play, with some song singing, story time, sport and activities (only if the children choose to do them, at a frequency of about 3-4 a week) related to themes e.g. making things for Christmas. There'll be a bit more structure in the Vorschule (year before school), but proper lessons and academics do not begin until the First Grade. And especially since your son is still a toddler and will just be at a Krippe, he will probably just play the whole day. Parents of course find it difficult when their children begin kindergarten, but children usually really enjoy it after the first few weeks, begin to develop their social skills and autonomy (e.g. all our kids over 3 are able to clear their plates and put them into the dishwasher by themselves) as well as their language skills (if your son doesn't have a German speaking parent, it'll be especially good for him).

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Posted

Joaupair- Elfenstar doesn't live in Germany anymore. :)

Elfenstar, we did the Eingewöhnung at Kita with our then 14 months old daughter at the local Kita mostly following our and the caregivers' gut. I think I was there two days with her for three hours and then I started leaving the room for a while. On day five I went for a coffee at a cafe down the road and that was that. We started out with short days (dropping off at 9ish for the morning circle and pickung up at 11:30 before lunch), after a couple of weeks we added lunches. A week after that naps. Worked like a charm. She absolutely adores Kita now and is will ask to go on the weekends when she has to hng out with just boring old Mama and Papa. I guess if you count the whole thing it was several weeks, but really I was just there with her the first 4 days and not even in the same room the last two. Hope this puts your mind at ease a bit.

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Elfenstar, my experience when our son started Krippe at 14 months 4 years ago was very similar to Calibear's. Although I think the theoretical Eingewöhnungszeit (settling-in period) was 4 weeks, we were told that there would be no problem with me going back to work after 2 weeks when my Elternzeit (paternity leave) ended. And this was the case - like Calibear, I stayed with him for the 1st day or 2, then left him there for 15mins, and the length of time was increased each day. By the middle of the 2nd week, I was fine to go home so long as I was "on call".

I have to admit I'd be very wary of no Eingewöhnungszeit at all. Our son took a very long time before we could leave without tears & clinging - around a year or so - even though he was clearly happy when we picked him up & indeed often didn't want to leave. Indeed, he's now just 5 and it's only in the last 9 months or so at Kindergarten that saying goodbye has become absolutely no problem at all. It's clearly a charecter issue with him (he's extrovert with people he knows, but doesn't like big groups of strangers, especially children), and I can only imagine it would have been a lot worse without an Eingewöhnungszeit.

At the age your son is, I'm afraid I don't see there's much you can do in advance, but it's good you managed to get a 2-3 day introductory period. If he does get clingy when you leave, do make the arrival & departure in the morning quick. At first we stayed with our son for a few minutes with the idea of waiting till he was involved playing with something, before then leaving. It didn't work. After a year, a new staff member advised us to just leave fairly quickly (leaving him with a staff member he likes) and it did seem to help.

Good luck with the start! By the way, I wouldn't worry re the chewing or biting - that sounds pretty typical so I'm sure the daycare centre you have will be used to it.

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Posted

Ok I have to have my rant here. I cannot help myself. Why is it that so many mothers are willing to give away one of the most important jobs in the world? I worked in a Kinderkrippe here in Germany and what I saw was NOT good. Your young child can never say to you what he/she has experienced there cause they do not have the words to tell you. You may think, "Oh I will know if my child likes it there or not by the way he/she acts, when I pick him/her up and drop him/her off." I call b**&%$^t. I have seen so many women screaming at 6 month old babies telling them to be quiet because they think the baby should not be crying. "You've been fed, changed and cannot be tired so you don't need to cry!!" GREAT LOGIC. I have had women take children out of my arms because they did not think the child should be held because the child had no reason to be crying therefore, the baby should not be comforted. I have been told to leave crying babies on the ground because well, that baby needs to learn to be alone and we can't (as daycare workers) carry children around all the time. In my opinion, you should NEVER tell a child to stop crying. Would you do that to an adult? Would you say to your friend, "Hey stop. You are being silly/stupid/irrational. You don't need to cry about that."? If you would, then I am not talking to you. But most people, I think, would not say that. It's disrespectful. We need to allow people to have their emotions, regardless of what age they are.

I saw one employee trying to force a little girl to walk. The little girl was crying the entire time. Children learn to walk by themselves. I constantly had to hear another employee scream at the children for not using their utensils properly and for not keeping their other hand on the table at all times. Remember these are little children learning to eat. I could rant for hours about the things I have seen there and it would not be a nice rant. For me, it was like bootcamp for children. The faster the children can learn and do everything the better it is. The faster the children fit into our little idea of what is good here in the kinderkrippe the easier it is for us.

I took it upon myself to talk to one of the owners of the Kinderkrippe and his excuse was that they have a lot of young girls working there with little or no experience and also that the education for people that want to work with children here in Bavaria starts with learning about children from the age of 3. WUNDERBAR. So that excuses their improper behavior? I would not do what some of those woman did to any human being.

I worked in more than one building in the same kinderkrippe and in many groups. This did not just happen in one building nor did it happen in just one group. I honestly think some of the children in these krippes will be damaged for life. The ages from 0 to 3 in a child's life are so important and what they experience during that time period, if it is negative, it cannot be repaired. Look it up. Yes, some children seemed to be okay there and to enjoy it but the sensitive ones...they suffered and their parents did not seem to see it. But, even the ones who seemed to enjoy it, always wanted their moms or dads. I cannot tell you how often the children say, "Mama, mama." That's who they want. They want you.

In Kinderkrippes, parents cannot just appear at any time. We know when you are coming to pick up your child and we have your child ready to see you and looking happy. Those employees put on a show for you. During the Eingewohnungszeit, they seem to be all loving and caring but when you are gone, so is that show of of emotion. Not with all employees but with a lot of them. Be careful what you do with your child. You can never get that time back. Your child is only little once.

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Posted

My experience is mixed and I went back to work when the little one was 6m. In my town, the Kita's take children first from 12m on if space is available and they are only open until 14:00. Our solution was to find (from an excellent reference and friend), a women who took care of our daughter from 6m - 12m. She is her only child, so almost like having a grandmother! At 15m, she started Kita from 8:00 - 12:00 and our "nanny" picks her up for the afternoon. The Kita here is nice and small, 12 children under 3 and has three preschool teachers. This option worked nicely for us since she had the advantage of being with other children, improving social skills (only child) and getting the phase of catching all colds etc behind us! The part-time solution with our private "German Oma" is expensive, but gives our daughter quality time, perfect German and a back-up for when the Kita is closed or when she is "under-the-weather" but not sick.

Downside, compared to the US system, there is no structure and at most the children learn a few songs and how to sit at a table and eat together. There is no organized circle time, theme related topics and lesson plans(like Winter, Summer, Christmas, etc where a lesson plan is filled with related songs, colours and art projects). As I am a strong believer in toddlers can learn when it is fun (my mother was a director of a daycare). .. we do this all at home and spend lots of time with English books, art projects. Our little one knew all colors at 16m, recognizes the concept numbrs and counts at 2 1/2 (only to five) and sings the alphabet song and does recognize individual letters (concept) for much of the alphabet. This is not from the Kita but from our play at home, where it again has to remain fun. She still chooses books over most toys and the television although this is also allowed at home.

In March our daughter will enter a Kindergarten and here things are different. 25 kids to only 2 preschool teachers and mixed ages between 3 and 6. I was concerned about the class ratios and the method that the children learn from one another and structured lessons are first at age 5 in preparation for primary school. We have made alternative plans and will put her in an English private kindergarten which is extremely structured from 8 -2 and then our German oma will have here a few hours to make sure the days are not too long and there is still fun and the German language. In all, KITA was fine, but Kindergarten really depends on your own philosophy! My advice, go check out the options there are so many choices and the Waldorfkindergartens are also wonderful for preschool and was our second choice if even if it is "contradictory" to a structured environment.

Oh and before the feedback on how can you go to work so quickly, I still have one day free just for my daughter and take vacation often just for a day at the Zoo, the play, the farm etc...prefer to work and have fun in our free time then stay at home and cook/clean etc. This works for our family!

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Sorry I should have said parents not mothers. And I realize my view may be offensive to some people and I guess I have to be okay with that. But, I am also sorry to have offended you Calibear. I was offended by what I saw in my working environment and wanted parents to know they may be putting their child in a very bad situation without being aware of it. I know that what went on where I worked was not something the parents were aware of. I think it's very good you have a place where your child is happy. That's how it should be...

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