Kindergarten school in Germany

Day care or preschool?

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JenamenaP
Hello All,
I was wondering if Kindergarten in Germany is more like a daycare rather than preschool. I want my child to go to preschool..or kindergarten (in US, kindergarten is the 1st class of school) but from what I read kindergarten is more like daycare. Anyone have any experience on kindergartens in the Göttingen area? Thanks
pog451
Hello All,
I was wondering if Kindergarten in Germany is more like a daycare rather than preschool. I want my child to go to preschool..or kindergarten (in US, kindergarten is the 1st class of school) but from what I read kindergarten is more like daycare. Anyone have any experience on kindergartens in the Göttingen area? Thanks
Cant say anything about Göttingen specifically but certainly Kindergarten are less "schooly" than pre-school in other countries tend to be. The result is that the first couple of yeras of "real school" start from scratch - kids who have been to pre-school can get bored.

If youre ehre for a while a tip - Let your kids go through the system as it is intended, dont try and bend it to fit your concept of schoolimg at home. Its a pretty good system in most places.
JenamenaP
Thanks for the advice..believe me German schools seem to be far better than the schools here! Many Thanks Jena:)
kathik
I agree. While there is less "book" learning, I think there is more "social" learning if that makes sense. The kids are together in groups ages 3-6, so the big kids help the little kids. My daughter will be going to school in the fall (1st grade) and is therefore a Vorschulekind and they do extra exercises and things that are more "book" learning. I think it is fine. She will learn to read and write when needed. If she were a genius, we would know about it already, and otherwise, why rush things?
JenamenaP
Kathik, I totally agree why rush things. My main concern was that it was a preschool, not a daycare. Here in the US daycare is for children whose parents work. I just wanted a little 'school' for my 4 year old to go to, for social play, to help learn German and learn a few things too. He likes 'school' and he is being big like his older brother. That is all I was wondering about really. Is it daycare or kindergarten/preschool?
Ms_nevergivesup
In many US States your child has to attend pre-school by law. So, I definitely understand where you are coming from. And, now that I have a child myself and unfamiliar with the German school system -the same thing has crossed my mind a couple of times. However, based on my Bekannten, husband who is a teacher here in Germany (a Beamter) and his mom she works for an organization called the Lebenshilfe which happens to operate an "Integrated Kindergarten", I think you should visit and sit-in on a regular day of a Kindergarten of your choice (btw be sure to register your child with enough time, because from what I know in Germany there is even a waiting list for that) and determine if you like their curiculum or other teaching models they work from or not.

Now, going back to my MIL and what she told me is that some Kindergartens do teach, some are bi-lingual English and German, but they are usually private. The one at the Lebenshilfe where she works integrates children from different places with regular German kids, but also handicapped kids. Some Kindergartens are very well structured and others are not. Most of the time the Kindergartens are owned or operated through the city (local) gov't so the standards will differ. I hope this gives you some insight. The only thing I would truly avoid if you are in any way like me in terms of structure are these "Waldorf" schule - I know some pedo freak is going hate me for saying that, but I believe in the good ol' traditional book fashion.

good luck
cinzia
In many US States your child has to attend pre-school by law.
That is just not true. Pre-school in the US is almost always private, and no state that I know of requires children to attend pre-school (which would also in almost all cases require families to pay for it.)

I also disagree that the German public school system is better than the US public school system (if you can even generalize about national school systems), but that's been discussed elsewhere on the forum.
westvan
Is it daycare or kindergarten/preschool?
Well, it's both, really, but it's not a the year-before-first-grade kindergarten in the US sense and is NOT connected to the German school system at all. Children can attend German kindergarten voluntarily from the ages of about 2 1/2 to 6 and both working and stay-at-home parents use the service. Single and working parents are usually given priority depending on how many spaces a kindergarten has open and you need to register your child as soon as you can. At most kindergartens you can decide how many hours your child will attend - just mornings, mornings and afternoons with lunch included or just afternoons depending on what they offer and how much space they have. Fees are income-based at state and church run kindergartens. Private kindergartens will have their own fee schedule.

There has been a lot of criticism of kindergartens here because the teacher training is not especially good and the teachers are not required to have a degree in early childhood education as they are in many other countries. It's really hit and miss and you need to do some research and visit a few places to find one that's right for your child.

If you're just looking for a place for your child to go a few hours a week to socialize you could look into finding a so-called Tagesmutter, basically a babysitter who looks after a small group of children in her own home.

I also disagree that the German public school system is better than the US public school system
Oh, so do I, but that's not really on topic here.
Ms_nevergivesup
Cinzia – thanks for correcting me and I apologize for the misinformation. I had based my answer on what my mom told me. Oops – momma doesn’t always know best does she? Lol. I would like to add that I had not questioned this belief because she has worked for the Public Schools in Massachusetts, where she worked in a Pre-K classroom. She also worked for the PSs in the state of New Mexico, she worked in an ESL classroom with different aged children. Mom also worked in Special Ed. Plus, as a child I had also gone to a bi-lingual Pre-K. I am all for schooling your child early on and if it is not a law anywhere I think it should be. (From a personal perspective)
I also agree with your second statement. I cannot agree that the German system is better or that ours in the US is bad or better either. I LOVED school in the US. I still have to explain to my husband how sad I find it that High Schools in Germany don’t really seem to have much of an identity. Where is that school spirit? Go Wildcats! Lol. He doesn’t think it is important or necessary – he adds cheerleaders are dumb and sexual. He also says that Vereins are the same. I said, yeah, but what about drama club, dance teams, or so on. He believes that you have the same here only set up differently. Ah, I gave up trying to explain why schools are the way they are in the US. All I can say is having a Hispanic background I do not believe that I would have had as many opportunities elsewhere. Furthermore, I hope that when I have to cross that bridge to decide to send my kid to pre – k, I am not going to hold my child back from learning. I hope that I also take my role as a parent in that situation well. This means that I will not wait and expect the Kindergarten to teach her everything. I believe as a parent I have responsibility not only to care of her but also to encourage and support her learning.
cinzia
It's true the Germans don't have the school mascot/school sports/ra-ra thing, but many Germans shy away from that kind of thinking altogether, since in their past it has gone spectacularly wrong. I think you could make a good argument that the early "school spirit" emphasis in the US often feeds into an over-abundance of nationalistic patriotism in adults, which is all the more dangerous because nobody ever questions its value or harm to society.

My daughter is now 4 and has gone to pre-school for two years, but not all day, every day. The first year, she went two mornings a week, and this year it's three mornings a week. She'll start public kindergarten next year, five half-days per week. She's going to be ahead of some of the kids in her class, but it's hard to hold them back when they're ready to learn.

A lot of what she gets out of pre-school isn't the alphabet and numbers, anyway. It's learning to hang up your jacket and backpack, sit still and listen, socialize appropriately with other kids, etc. Even a decent child care facility that isn't curriculum-based can provide that.
JenamenaP
OK..maybe you all won't agree with what I have to say here...but, it is how I feel about the American school system..in which I find majority of the foreign professors that my husband works with (as he is foreign as well..meaning he is not from the US) the schools, especially high schools do not prepare you well for University here..they don't prepare you well for anything really except how to socialize a great deal. I especially like the high school system in the Netherlands and Germany seems to have it as well...the 3 different levels of high school. I find this is a good system for those who are academically inclined as well as for those who are not. I like how school is academics, not other fun stuff. The fun stuff should be done on ones own time. I think having school spirit is weird...school is to learn. Teens have a hard enough time trying to stay focused, why throw out any more distractions? Like sports, cheerleading, etc? Also, I took Spanish for 4 years in high school..I walked away with an A every report card, yet I can not speak it. My husband learned 5 languages in his high school and is fluent in all of them..tell me, doesn't it sound like their system is better? Everyone I have spoke with that is in our group of foreign friends all say American High school is Mickey Mouse school...it is for fun. My husband is a Mathematician and teaches Mathematics at UVU, he says these kids are completley unprepared. So, ok..maybe it is not better, but I can say I feel that the school systems seems far more advanced on teaching than what I have experienced and seen others experience. I also, have been to really good schools in the US..unfortunately, we live in Utah where the schools are not a priority to the people here.
cinzia
Obviously, you did not go to a good high school if you got A's for four years of Spanish, an easy language, and you cannot speak it.

The local public high school where I live requires all graduating students, not just college-bound ones, to be proficient in at least one foreign language. It also regularly has state champion sports and inter-mural academic teams.

Whether or not a school is good has nothing to do with whether it offers extra-curricular activities. And, as I have written several times on this forum, you can't generalize about "American high schools" or an "American high school diploma." The variation among states, schools, and requirements for a diploma are too great.
JenamenaP
Cinzia, As I stated before..what I was expressing were my feelings and opinions. I guess it is too bad that everyone can't live in Minnesota to go to high school. I am only putting out what has been observed, especially here in Utah. The schools in Germany, as I say, seem far superior to the ones here. Yes, maybe I shouldn't generalize by lumping the U.S. into one category as each state is different..I have lived in quite a few states and find that the California schools I was going to were far less superior to the high school I went to in Virginia. Yes, it was a good school..I can read Spanish, I do not speak it..though it has been 14 years since I have had Spanish class. What is proficient in the U.S. in a foreign language does not mean fluent. I learned Spanish, and I am not fluent as my husband and all of his family in the Netherlands are in at least 3 languages, my husband speaks 5, fluently. Also, you should not generalize that Spanish is an easy language. I found learning Dutch far easier than Spanish. Anyways, I thank you for your responses. I am glad you can connect with the ache of missing Germany here on this forum, as you seem to know it all. I am sure you are having a grand time holed up in Minnesota where the high schools are amazing. Best of luck to you.
katheliz
Oh, my. All that is affectionate and insincere.

EDIT: BTW, JenamenaP, I greened you for post #11.
kathik
Comparing schools and systems is really pointless as everyone has their own experience. I was lucky to grow up in Upstate NY where school taxes are high and thus schools are well (relatively) provided for and have a lot to offer. I did well in HS, did well in University and grad school. But really, it was important to my parents that I got good grades and thus it was important to me. So I pushed myself. If my parents wouldn't have cared, neither would I have, and I am sure I would think that the school was mediocre. The CA system, I believe, used to be the cream of the crop - then the taxation system changed, there was no more money left, and lots was cut from the system - arts, libraries, etc.

But back to the topic. I think, in what I have experienced, that there are some curriculum based kindergartens with an emphasis on learning ABCs and 123s here in Germany. But I think it is a minority. I used to be of the opinion that academic based is superior and needed. I am no longer sure. I am happy with what my girls "learn" at kindergarten, and as I said, if they can't read by day 1 in first grade, they will learn. I don't think it will affect their SAT scores if they learned to read at age 5 or age 6. But that is just my 2 cents, from one over-educated mommy.
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