A day nursery is a place where children under the age of three can play with other children of the same age under the supervision of trained early childhood educators who help your children learn through play. Appropriate meals, naps and outdoor play are all part of the program. Most day nurseries are flexible about drop-off and pick-up times. Day nurseries are run by private and public agencies and by churches. Prices vary considerably and in part depend on the parents' income. Availability differs greatly by region.
The German word for preschool is Kindergarten - perhaps you are familiar with it, since it is also used in English. In Germany, preschools are for children between the ages of three and six. More and more, preschools are focusing on satisfying the curiosity of these young children, in addition to providing plenty of opportunity for active play. Simple experiments and play-based instruction teach them about nature and technology as they hone their thinking and language skills. In Germany there are also bilingual preschools. Most of these offer English as a second language, the next most popular languages being French and Danish. The preschool day usually begins in the morning and ends either at noon or in the afternoon, depending on the specific facility. Preschools are run by cities, churches, specially-founded associations and other private entities. As with day nurseries, prices vary widely. Some preschools charge no fees at all, while others may cost several hundred euros per year, depending on the parents' income and the region.
Childminders take care of your child in their own home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with its peers. Nannies are also an option in Germany. In contrast to childminders, nannies come to your home to look after your child. Childminders and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators. However, they must be certified by the youth welfare office, and most of them have a great deal of experience with children. For a 20-hour week, childminders charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.
How to find the right child care
Step 1 - Starting your search: Start with the Internet: Local government websites usually provide a good overview. There are also websites run by and for families, where you can look for options in your area and exchange tips with other parents.
Step 2 - Making your selection: Visit some of the facilities. You can meet the teachers, childminders or nannies, and in many cases your child will have the opportunity to get to know the facility and become accustomed to its daily routine. Or ask your new neighbours, friends or colleagues if they can recommend a particular facility.
Step 3 - Registering your child: When you have found the right facility, you can register your child. Since many nursery schools and preschools have deadlines and waiting lists, it is a good idea to contact several providers as soon as possible and have your name put on their lists.