Thrifty Travel Mama | Expat Life - KindergartenWhat do you do with an almost 3 year-old who has more energy than you can possibly drain (or tap into)?  Well, put him in kindergarten of course!  At least that’s what Germans do.  And we live in Germany.  So we are going to try it.  I think.

We visited two yesterday that had openings.  Apparently there can be long waiting lists to get in to kindergarten.  Unlike the US, kindergarten is all play and is for wee ones from 3 to 6 years old.  Both places we visited were not super convenient to our new flat.  Now we must decide.. put T-Rex in now or wait for an opening at a location closer to us?

While I clearly liked one kindergarten better than the other, I stumbled upon some interesting child-rearing philosophies here.  It seems that Germans believe that you should not interfere in the child’s development.  You are there should they have problems, questions, concerns, etc, but you should not tell them what to do.  Whoa.

For instance, the child can decide what activity they want to do (including going outside), put a magnet on a chart showing the different play stations, and then proceed there alone.  It kind of freaked me out a little bit that they let 3 year-olds go outside by themselves with no teacher.  To be fair, the yard was small, windows were plentiful, and the gate was locked.  Still.  I can be worst-case-scenario, and I’ve got plenty of those knocking around my brain at the moment.

I looked up German kindergartens on Wikipedia (because we all know that truth is spelled w.i.k.i.p.e.d.i.a.) and discovered something called a forest kindergarten.  Here’s how the wiki-know-it-all defines it: “A forest kindergarten can be described as a kindergarten “without a ceiling or walls”. The daycare staff and children spend their time outdoors, typically in a forest. A distinctive feature of forest kindergartens is the emphasis on play with toys that are fashioned out of objects that can be found in nature, rather than commercial toys. Despite these differences, forest kindergartens are meant to fulfill the same basic purpose as other nurseries, namely, to care for, stimulate, and educate young children.”

Both kindergartens we visited took their kids to the forest one day every week.  If the child wants to go.  Only if they want.  An optional forest field trip.  Huh.  I have a lot to learn about kindergarten.

Do you have little ones in pre-school or kindergarten?  Leave a comment and let me know what your school is like.  This is all n.e.w. to me!

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