Herbert’s first day of Kindergarten was Monday. In Germany, “Kindergarten” refers to childcare from ages 3-6. There is little to no academics; for example, children are not taught to read until 1st grade. In Brandenburg (the state where he live now), childcare is free except for 36 euros for lunch.
One thing that we really appreciate about German kindergarten is that they have a weaning in process. On the first day, William stayed in the room with Herbert, and they were there for less than an hour. On Tuesday, William was in and out of the room. On Wednesday, William dropped him off at 9 and picked him up at 10:30 – just long enough for free play and snack time. Thursday he stayed a bit longer, and Friday he stayed through lunch.
Herbert loves everything about kindergarten and never wants to leave and doesn’t seem bothered that they only speak German. Nonetheless, I appreciate this time to get used to kindergarten. Since he has never been in childcare before and he doesn’t speak the language, it’s good that they are easing the transition.
His kindergarten expanded this summer and opened a few new classrooms. As a result, until more kids age up into Herbert’s class, there are only 6 other children. One of them told her mom there is an American boy in her class, and the next day greeting him with, “Hello, my name is Lena.” So that’s the cutest thing that has ever happened.
As far as I can tell, Herbert spends the entire time playing with trucks and vehicles. The teachers say he listens well, and he always tells us what he had for snack or lunch. In the morning, as soon as we enter building, he runs down the long, winding hallway to his cubby. Once I take his shoes off, he runs to his classroom, opens the door himself, and goes to play. He doesn’t even say goodbye to me!
Yesterday, however, he stayed until the start of nap time. He hasn’t napped regularly for a long time, but it seems that the rest of his class still naps. When I came to pick him up, he was crying. Apparently, he saw the other kids changing into their pajamas, and started crying because he didn’t want to take a nap. Poor kid, hopefully he does okay on Monday (he’ll be required to do quiet time, but obviously they can’t force him to nap). But today he keeps asking to go to kindergarten, so I think he’ll be fine.
Monday he’ll stay through nap time, and Tuesday will be a full day! Unless we need more and get special permission, he will be going for 6 hours every day.
Overall, Herbert is thriving. He loves kindergarten, he loves the parks, he loves the parent-child room at school. He is looking forward to having an apartment and a train set, but he also loves the people we are currently staying with.
I’ll update with what’s happening with my school and our lives later.