It seems every post I write has to do with kids, but that is how my life looks right now! At the moment, both of my little ones are in the midst of the Eingewöhnung process in their respective nursery schools (Kindergärten). My youngest is starting Krippe (loosely translated as daycare) and his sister is starting nursery school. When I signed them up, I was told to prepare to be available during the acclimitization process. Little did I know, they have it down to a science.
I figured that Olivia wouldn’t need much time to get used to Kindergarten, and I was right. She is 2 3/4 years old, which is the time one is allowed to start Kindergarten here, as long as there is a spot free. She has been ready for at least six months. She watches her sisters go off to school and asks when she can go. Of course, she corrects any English speaker who dares ask her about school, because as we know, Kindergarten is not school here! Potty training was not yet successful, but apparently that is not a criteria for starting preschool anymore, so we are safe. Off she went on the first day and said “alone” when I asked her whether I should stay. The subsequent days have not been as easy as the first one, but generally, she loves it.
Noah is starting Krippe at 18 months so I can get back to work, and the process there is somewhat different. The Krippe follows the so-called Berliner Modell. Basically, it is set up over a span of three weeks, giving the child the chance to feel comfortable in the Krippe and comfortable with being left. I have to bring Noah to the nursery from 10:00 – 10:45 am for the first week, with a bit longer period on the fourth day and an attempt to leave him alone for 15 minutes on the fifth day. The next week the time he is at the Kindergarten is longer and the periods where he is there alone (with me being available in another room or at home) also are gradually increased.
The system seems to work quite well, but it is certainly complicated if one is already working when the child starts. I am assuming most people are not already working, because being at the Krippe from 10 – 10:45 is not really very practical. I have to say that the system appears to work. The Krippe just opened in January and all of the kids who are there now have just gone through the process. Only one still seemed a bit weepy, and she was much younger than the rest. The whole process is probably harder for the parents than it is for the children, but after experiencing it first-hand, I am confident that my baby will do okay.
Having never gone through the process in the US (daycare, etc.), I don’t know how things work there. But this is yet another case where I truly appreciate German efficiency and organization. Let’s hope Noah appreciates it as well and that the process works as it should!