Like many other parents of toddlers, we've starting the tour of kindergartens, visiting open houses, filling out applications and setting up the all important personal interviews. Kindergarten in Germany more like preschool in the United States. Children attend kindergarten from three to six years old, and it isn't mandatory, though there are many public kindergartens available. Children don't start formal schooling until six years old.
At first I was rather opposed to sending Max to a kindergarten, much less one of the two year programs that many kindergartens offer. I am not ready to give Max up. If we were in the States, we definitely would not be considering preschool yet.
However, Paul made a very convincing argument. Max needs to learn German, and he isn't going to learn it at home. Many children don't start speaking until three or older, so it would not be a stigma for Max in a two year program. However, if we wait until he's older to expose him to the language on a consistent basis, it could be a problem. We've heard horror stories of children who speak only English and start school, and are completely ignored by the other children. We don't want Max to feel socially isolated, so we need to get him into a language program earlier while it will still be easy for him to learn.
Because the language is the main factor in our kindergarten search, we've decided against the bi-lingual kindergartens. We've also crossed off the parochial kindergartens, as well as the public kindergartens after a very underwhelming visit to the local public kindergarten.
This leaves us to the private kindergartens. From what I can tell, there are three main categories of private kindergartens. There are the kindergartens that are more like day-cares. There are the kindergartens that are practically college prep, and there are kindergartens that fall somewhere in between. There are also different types of pedagogue, Montessori, Parent-Child-Initiative, Waldorf, and probably some others that I don't even know about.
After next week, we'll have visited four kindergartens and interviewed at three. I already have my favorites picked out, but we'll see what happens after all is said and done.