Vida had her first day at the German Kindergarten in our town this morning. In Germany, kids are able to start, what is more like preschool at the age of two. I remember moving here last year and couldn't understand where all the children were when we went to the local park, I only saw moms with tiny tiny babies.
"Kita" is like preschool and "Krippe" is for daycare and "Kindergarten" is for kids from 3-5 years old. Kids start the first grade at 6 years old.
When we moved into our house, I quickly signed her up for a spot in the school. It took about 10 months and we finally got a call for her to start school in August. I asked her teachers if it was possible for her to start in June before the baby came and her teachers said it would be a great idea for her to start the acclimation period before summer vacation. So we had a very weird start date, but we knew it would be best for both of us.
In Germany and around Europe there is a acclimation period where the parent must attend school with the child for a few hours each day and slowly, the parent is asked to leave the classroom for 30 mins, then 1hour, then 2 and then 3 etc to see how the child does without the parents there. The parent steps right outside the classroom and then right outside the school. I ended up staying in the teachers lounge for about a week.
It's really an excellent idea when you think about it. It gives me peace of mind, I don't have to drop my child off and hear her cry as I walk away, especially when my child can be a stage 5 clinger.
So today was her first acclimation day, the teacher asked me to just sit and watch in the classroom and she would show Vida around and introduce her to the children. Vida did awesome. She would look up a few times and smile at me and it warmed my heart to see her so happy playing. The teacher only spoke to her in German and I'm hoping she'll be speaking it in no time.
I had to make her favorite breakfast for her first day. Chia seed pudding with blueberries, hard boiled eggs with guacamole and sliced pears.
She didn't end up eating it, I think she felt werid being up at 7:00am but when we got back at 9:30 she gobbled all this down and went straight to the couch for a long nap. Poor girl isn't a morning person.
Her school practices the Montessori educational approach with a mix of Waldorf practices.
Vida is in the Dragon group and the children in her class are between the ages of 2 and 5.
I love seeing the little ones follow the big kids and the big kids helping the little ones. Her class uses a lot of wooden toys, which I love. Wooden toys help children use their imagination much more than using a plastic toy that makes sounds.
The children are encouraged to use their imagination and to express themselves through play and art.
Their plates and cups are either wooden or ceramic to teach the children to be mindful and gentle while playing and eating.
Many, Krippe (daycares) Kitas(preschool) and Kindergartens (also like a preschool) are not as structured as American preschools. The kids arrive and they are able to decide what they want to do. Some kids come in and go right to playing, others eat breakfast that they bring from home, others decide to paint or get together for imaginative play. I love how each child sets up and cleans up after themselves. Everything is at their reach for easy clean up. Her school offers gymnastics, music class, English and extra German classes, cooking and art workshops.
The German Government asks parents not to teach their children to read or write so that the children may learn together at the same time in the first grade. Kindergarten is strictly just for playing, building social skills and having fun. I'm so happy Vida gets to experience this type of learning because she thrives on make believe play and she always wants to be in control
of what she wants to do.
Vida is the only American in her school but there are children from England, Syria and Turkey. The language spoken in the classroom is German and thankfully right now the kids communicate through playing, so I am not to worried about the language barrier with Vida and the children, I'm confident that she will learn German quickly and will be doing so with the other non German children.
When I signed her up for school the teachers gave me a list of things she needed. It included
A backpack (Rucksack)
House slippers or shoes (hausschuhe)
Rain Pants (Matschhose) they come in a overall style and keeps them nice and dry.
She also needed rainboots and a change of cllothes.
Since Vida didn't stay for lunch at her Kita, I only had to pack her a small breakfast or snack that she could eat there. On Friday's the teachers would bring cut up fruit to share.
A lot of school are 100% waste free. I use a lunch box, and no ziploc bags! I invested in a few snack sacks with a zipper to store her snacks in. She doesn't take a water bottle because they serve the kids water and tea at the school.
So she had such a fun first day, with me there of course, she only went for two hours and I sat right next to her. She did not want to leave, when the time was up she wanted to keep playing, which is a good thing, I know when the time comes for her to go alone. she's going to do great.
I'm looking forward to what this school year will
be like for my girl.
I'm super attached to her, I can't help it, but I'm learning to let go and let her learn and grow in her own unique way.