Preparing your Child for Preschool in Germany

Ready to play

Ready to play for a living.

Do Germans have a saying for “When it rains, it pours”? After months (and months) of house hunting we finally got a place, only to be offered another Wohnung right after that. Now we just need to find a Nachmieter (a renter to take over our current lease), move, clean and settle into the new place…all while our baby is starting Krippe (baby daycare). Easy, right?

Her first day of school is October 1st and I am almost thankful for the housing chaos.  With all this madness I don’t have too much time to think about my baby leaving me.

There is no doubt she is ready. We had no idea if she would be when we applied for KiTa months ago, but these days she seems desperate for more kiddie friends. Every time we take her to a playground she heads to the other small people like a beacon. Plus, her babble game is fierce. We want at least half of that babble to be in German. Besides all of these hopes for her, I simply need a break. I have been working full-time from home and taking care of her since she was born. Now that she is fully mobile it feels like I have taken on three more full-time job as a janitor, clown and chef.

So her first day is rapidly approaching and, once again, I turned to my fellow German-Way Bloggers to prepare my baby for Krippe. This has given me some perspective on what to expect, but I also found a few things that might be useful for other people in my situation.

Apply for the KiTa Gutschein early

Not every state in Germany offers a KiTa Gutschein (daycare subsidy), but it is one of the benefits of living in the former east. This supplement covers a large portion of daycare costs in Berlin, and when your baby turns three schooling is completely free.

Unfortunately, as master procrastinators we didn’t apply until mid-summer. That should be enough time for an October start…right? Wrong. We have been sweating it with regular, polite “What is wrong with you Amis?” e-mails from the daycare center…until last Thursday when it finally arrived. Whew!

Clear Your Schedule

German paperwork

So much German paperwork

Germany’s pre-schools have a system of acclimatization into school known as the Eingewöhnung. This schedule is dictated by each individual KiTa, but generally means starting off slow. Very slow. Like just 15 min a day at first slow.

So much for the Krippe giving me a break! I don’t know how parents with traditional work hours make this happen. Ideally, Matilda will adapt and this will ramp up quickly so she will be eating, napping, playing there in no time ( and actually giving me some time to work ).

Father is Best

I was nervous the first few times my husband took the baby out on his own. I knew he could handle it, but she can be a bit needy when I am around and want to eat constantly. It is like I have two feedbags strapped to me and that is all she can see. I wasn’t sure if that would wane when I was out of reach.

Apparently, this is a common phenomenon. Babies can be slow to adjust to the Krippe with mom around and a common tip to minimize the drama is to have the father be in charge of drop-off. I am more than happy to hand off this task.

Doctor’s Note

Reading over our daycare contract, we saw that we needed to get an ärztliche Bescheinigung to clear her from school. I went straight to google to figure out if this was a full exam, if I could get it last minute and if I needed an appointment. Google wasn’t sure.

So I called my Kinderarzt (pediatrician) and asked. Harried, they assured me I could just come in. The nurse didn’t even look at my baby, but checked her records and proffered the slip of paper – with stamp. Simple!


On the Expat Babies group I follow I have seen some mention of specific clothes that are required for KiTa. Tights, rain pants, Hausschuhe (slippers)…do we have any of that? Even though our little girl’s clothes drawers are overflowing, she is quickly outgrowing anything warm from last winter.

Again we referred to the contract and found that our little lady is to be equipped with two full back-up outfits at all times. She should also be sporting the aforementioned Hausschuhe and have a pair of outdoor shoes. For inclement weather she needs a winter jacket and rain pants, plus a snowsuit.

Looks like we have some shopping to do. And some moving. And a whole lotta madness to distract me from this baby heading to school.

For more information for kids in Berlin, I can’t recommend enough the expat site Berlin for all the Family.

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  1. Pingback: Dressing your Kid for German KiTa | The German Way & More

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