Thursday, February 2, 2012

Annika’s First Day of Kita

 After wading through all of the paperwork to get Annika enrolled at Kita here, her first day finally came!  We were ALL excited.  Soo excited in fact that we forgot to take any pictures as we hustled out the door.  Oops.  I’m sure somewhere the mommy patrol are taking note on my scorecard.  Oh well. 

Kita is short for Kindergarten in German, and it isn’t at all like Kindergarten in the states.  Almost all Kitas are government subsidized and take kids from 3 months until 5 years.  Kita is a pretty amazing thing, and we will be so very sad to leave Kita when we return home where we couldn’t afford preschool at all last year when she would have loved to start.  The Kita that we chose for Annika is only 2 blocks away from our apartment and they focus on experiential learning and nature.  We really got lucky with the location and the amazing people that are there, and I know that Andy is especially thankful to get to go grocery shopping without a rambunctious 3 year old along. 

For her first day we had to bring a few things:
-a change of clothes (just in case)
-a couple changes of underpants (just in case)
-waterproof pants to wear outside (to keep their clothes clean-ish)
-a small breakfast for her to eat with the other kids

She had waiting for her:
-a cup and toothbrush with her name on it
-a towel
-a cubby, basket, and hook for storing her stuff
-a little bag hanging from the hook with her name painted on it

Her typical day there will go like this:
8:30 Breakfast as a class
9:00 Circle time for singing songs & dancing
9:30 Free play (typically outside if it isn’t raining)
10:30 learning activities, experiments, art projects
12:00 Lunch (provided by the school)
12:30 Pick-up time for ½ day kids

We can drop her off as early as 7:30am and then pick her up at 12:30.  If at any point Andy has a job here, we can bump her up to full time there too. 

She has one girl in her class that speaks English, and both teachers understand her when she speaks to them in English.  The teachers always answer her in German though. 
The usual German “fresh air” principle applies here, which is why we have to send her with really warm clothes and lots of bundling articles right now.  Yesterday the temperature was -6 C (about 20F) and her class played outside for around an hour.  

When kids start at Kita, they have the parents stay for the first few days for settling the kids into the routine of it all.  Typically, the parents stay the whole first day and then dwindle it down by an hour each day until they don’t stay at all.  For Annika that process should have lasted about a week.  Of course, she prefers to be the exception to most rules anyway! 

When I went to pick her up from school yesterday, I asked the teacher how it went.  She told me that she’d never seen a child take so easily to Kita and that Annika had instantly made herself at home with the class.  She spoke English most of the day, but happily practiced her German with the other kids and the teachers.  Andy had spent only 1.5 hours there in the morning before they told him he could leave.  Today, when he went to drop her off, the teacher told him he didn’t have to stay at all unless he wanted to.  He went grocery shopping and came home instead. 

I have to say, that so far we seem to have done a pretty good job of raising a confident and independent little girl.  I know that some (or much) of that is personality traits that I had nothing to do with really, but I so want to encourage that in her.  Hopefully, things keep up this well! 


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