Young children up to the age of 3
Are you and your partner working and have a small child (a few months old up to the age of 3 years)? Then you could put your child in a crèche. There are not many places in crèches. Because of this you should register your child as early as possible. From the age of 3 children can go to kindergarten. They can play, sing, paint and do craft activities here. In many kindergartens the carers take the children outdoors in the summer. Kindergartens frequently offer language support. For instance they play language games with the children and read them stories.
Kindergartens and children’s daycare centres
Kindergarten prepares children for school. Every child aged 3+ is entitled to a kindergarten place. There are kindergartens even in smaller communities. But register your child with the kindergarten in plenty of time. There are not that many places here either. Your child is also exposed to contact with the culture through the kindergarten, and will be able to get to know the new country quickly.
Some kindergartens are only open until lunchtime (from 7am to 12 or 1pm). Other kindergartens are open all day (from 7am to 4 or 5pm). These kindergartens are also called Kita (Kindertagestätte; children’s daycare centres). Your child is given lunch here. You normally have to pay for a place in a crèche or kindergarten/children’s daycare centre.
The costs vary from one federal state to another. And not everyone has to pay the same amount. It depends on various things: how much do you earn? How old is your child? And how many hours does the child spend in kindergarten? There are state-run and private crèches or kindergartens. Private crèches/kindergartens are more expensive. Some private kindergartens are binational. They speak 2 languages there, for instance Spanish and German.
In many kindergartens/children’s daycare centres there is a language test for all children before they start school. Sometimes German is difficult even for German children. Children who do not pass the test can spend another year at kindergarten or they can receive language support.
Frequently asked questions
When do I have to put my child’s name down for a place in kindergarten/Kita (children’s daycare centre)?
As early as possible. In some towns/cities there are not enough places. If that is the case, you have to sort this out as soon as the child is born.
Additional information for asylum seekersEvery child refugee has the same entitlement to child daycare as every other child in Germany. The claim is valid as soon as the child leaves the initial reception center and has been assigned to a local authority.
How can I secure a kindergarten place for my child?
Almost every community has a kindergarten. The youth office holds lists of all your local kindergartens. Phone up the kindergarten and ask whether they have any places. Register your child in plenty of time. You have to fill in a form and you can look around the kindergarten. Look for at least one alternative. It is possible that you won’t get a place in the kindergarten of your choice.
My child is only 2. Can he/she go to kindergarten?
In some kindergartens yes. But only for a few hours per week to start with. Your child can get to know the new environment. This makes it easier when he/she spends more time there later on. You can also put him or her in a crèche.
My child does not speak German. Can I send him/her to kindergarten?
Yes, that isn’t a problem. Children learn the language quickly. They can often play without using words. It is the contact with other children and the new language that is important.
Can my child do sports at kindergarten?
There are no formal PE lessons. But many kindergartens play sports-related games with the children. Usually they take the children out for a walk as well. Or there is a big playground outside. So the children have plenty of opportunity to move around.
How many carers are there?
Normally 2 carers are responsible for approx. 20 children.
Will my child be given anything to eat?
Not every kindergarten provides meals for the children. In that case your child will have to take a packed lunch. Kita daycare centres usually offer a hot meal though. The best thing is to ask when you register your child at the kindergarten.