Dear Parents, 

in this FAQs we wish to answer some frequently posed questions which are generally asked by non German parents who seek childcare. We hope you find the following information helpful. Should you have any questions or additional suggestions, please feel free to contact us.

1. Why are there so many different types of childcare in Germany?

2. What are the different childcare options available?

2.1 For children from eight weeks to three years

2.2 For children from three years to six years

2.3 For children who are six years and older

3. How long in advance must I register my child?

4. Registration procedure 5. How is the acclimatization managed?

6. Food regulations

7. German as a language

8. The cost

9. (The children´s) stability

10. Further questions

1.
The German childcare system has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. 10 years ago, it was common, that children who were younger than three years were cared for in the family home and primarily by the mother. Parallel to this private care system a new nursery system developed, but initially rather scattered. For many years the Kindergarten had looked after children between the ages of three and six. For several years now, it has become increasingly common to have children younger than three years of age in professional care. The new nurseries were often built next to the already existing Kindergärten so that first, the parents needed to search for a nursery place and additionally a Kindergarten place for their children.

2.1
(a) At home
(b) Nursery
In the various Zipfelmützen crèches the children are given the freedom to develop at their own pace. With us, each child experiences an environment which is attentive and affectionate. The children´s emotional and social development is of utmost importance to us. That means, that we do not have a program where all the children must learn numbers, letters or a foreign language. We believe that a daily routine is the best learning environment. The groups accommodate 10 children and the staff consists of trained educational professionals.
(c) Playgroups
Playgroups are only offered in Walldorf. In the Playgroup we provide a service for children from ca. 14 months to their third birthday. Here our procedure is very similar to the crèche. The solitary difference is that care is only available on two or three mornings a week. Equivalently, the groups contain 10 children and equally the staff consists of fully trained educational professionals.
(d) Daycare professional
A daycare professional takes care of fewer children (usually 3-4) and normally in their own home. Most daycare personnel have completed several child education training courses and are subsequently surveyed by the German Youth Welfare Office. Generally the children are cared for very well and active learning is encouraged and promoted. The advantage here is the smaller grouping and the flexibility.

2.2
Children from three to six
(a) At home
(b) Kindergarten
Children who are three years and older may visit the Kindergarten. This is not a legal requirement. The majority of the children in our region, who have reached their third birthday visit a Kindergarten. Naturally, each Kindergarten has an individual concept. In the Zipfelmützen Kindergarten all children encounter an environment, where they can develop at their own natural pace. A loving and interesting setting is created for all children. The children´s emotional and social development is of utmost importance to us. That means, that we do not have a program, where all the children must learn numbers, letters or a foreign language. We believe, that a daily routine is the best learning environment. The groups have a capacity for 20 children and the staff consist of trained educational professionals. We are proud to be able to offer a very special option called "Waldkindergarten" or forest kindergarten. The specialty here is that the children spend all their time exposed to nature. Similar to the normal Kindergarten all projects, e.g. drawing, colouring, crafts etc. are available. And this "Waldkindergarten" option is available in both Walldorf and Wiesloch. The normal Kindergarten is only available in Walldorf. Parents from non-German backgrounds are often uneasy, because they are used to having their children being presented with the idea of school at a much earlier age than in Germany. Particularly for those parents it is difficult to understand, why their children do not learn reading or writing at four years of age. In Germany, we have a saying "Grass does not grow any faster when you pull it ". This is our conviction. The children who show a curiosity for letters and numbers get the opportunity to work and learn more in this area and those who show other interests likewise become the material to fuel their interests. This way each child learns through its inquisitiveness and self motivation. The German school and Kindergarten system work hand in hand with each other. This means that the children who learn to read early do not automatically have an easier start in the school system. The most significant qualities in primary school are emotional maturity, good social skills and the ability to concentrate. All these skills are automatically learned from day one; regardless of whether the child visited an establishment or was cared for at home. Naturally, in our facility, we take extreme care that all children learn these good traits, but also simply good manners. Most importantly, we take great care that the children learn good quality German. This is the most significant factor that ensures a successful start in school life.

2.3
Children six years and older
Children who celebrate their sixth birthday on or before September 30th are required to be enrolled at school in that particular year. In Germany, it is not allowed to "Home school" your child. There are only a few exceptions to this rule: Parents who wish that their child attends school from the age of five onwards must have the agreement from both the Kindergarten and school. A child that goes to school at the age of five must firstly be, emotionally stable, and also be able to concentrate to ensure that the child can cope well with school life. In primary school "Soft-Skills" are even more important than reading, writing or mathematics. In some cases, the children are 7 years before they visit the first class. Also in this case it is essential that the school is in agreement. This option usually concerns the children who´s German is not sufficiently dominant or simply the children need more preparation time. It is not usual to inspect the local primary school. The selection is worked out on hand of the home address of the family. Exceptions exist for private schools.

3.
How long in advance must I register my child?
"The sooner, the better" is the best registration advice for crèche and Kindergarten. But at least six months, before you need a placement. In exceptional cases, you will get a placement faster, but at the moment this is becoming less feasible. Children aged one year have a legal right to a nursery placement. Parents must enroll the child at least six months in advance.

4.
Registration procedure
In Walldorf, the children can be registered through the internet link portal.little-bird.de/walldof. This page is also available in English. The registration for the Wiesloch facility is also available through the internet link www.wiesloch.de . For those who do not wish to use this method, they are advised to contact their preferred facility, per telephone and a personal registration appointment can be arranged.

5. The adjustment
It is policy, in all our facilities that the children are not just handed over. We prefer to welcome each child individually in a lengthy and intensive adjustment period. This process is extremely important, so that each child can feel at ease with their new situation. This means, that during the first few weeks it is common that the children are not able to spend the complete time in either crèche or Kindergarten. We realize that for parents, this time is difficult to organize. This adjustment period is not only important in our own belief, but scientific studies show how important it is to have the parents as a robust haven for both their child and the Zipfelmützen. During the first meeting, which takes place before the child enters our facility all details are explained thoroughly. No child gets used to something new by crying, children just give up crying should they not be listened to. We do not want this situation. It is extremely important, that parents adhere to the timeframe agreed upon with the person in charge. Please inform us should your child not be able to attend.

6. Food regulations
It is common that families have different, often religious rules about the menu. Some children should not eat any pig meat and others no beef, other families are strict vegetarians. We also have children with allergies and certain food intolerances. Most parents are concerned that their young children are not able to make the necessary choices in regard to what is allowed and what is not. During our first meeting we encourage you to inform us of all your wishes and worries. It is usually possible for us to facilitate most food habits.

7. German as a language
Numerous children start with us and do not have any German language skills. This is not a problem. The most children learn a foreign language naturally and quite quickly, when they are hear it every day. Our staff is well experienced in dealing with children who need to learn German. As parents, you can also help your child to grasp the new language through regular exposure, e.g. visiting one of our facilities, at the playground or during the afternoon at a sports club. It is recommended that parents should continue to speak to their child in their mother tongue.

8. The cost
There is support available from the Social Services and from the local community for parents who are not able to afford the care costs. The costs are partly relative to family income and size.

9. (The children´s) stability
For any children between zero and six, a stable relationship is the most important feature. Naturally, you as parents are the most important person in your child´s life. Not only the parents but also the educators and the other children have an important role to play. Please try to keep in mind, when you as parents investigate the different facilities, what your care needs are during the next few years. For example: Initially six months in the three day a week playgroup and then a change to the crèche (everyday) is often very a difficult adjustment for the children.

10. Further questions
Should you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 06227-355900 or email at info@zipfelmuetzen-walldorf.de.