First Days in Kindergarten

People often ask what school is like in Vienna and though we don’t have much experience, I thought I would share a little bit about our journey putting our eldest daughter in Kindergarten, which is German for preschool. Finding a Kindergarten had been a year-long process of ups and downs, both logistically and emotionally, but all of that is for a different post. At any rate, once we found a Kindergarten we soon found out that the way they handled welcoming a child into school was different than what we might expect.

When the day had finally arrived, we had been instructed to show up at 10:00 in the morning, an hour after the first activities of the class had begun, in order to begin our first “trial period.” At the time there were a couple of other new students, and the teachers wanted to stagger the arrival times of the “criers.” The process, which is fairly standard among all preschools/kindergartens in Vienna, would go like this: a trial period of Naomi in the classroom (with Mommy sitting in the back) for up to an hour or so for the first three days; then possibly extending the time up to 1 1/2 to 2 hours over the following few days, with Mommy waiting in the hallway; the following week we would let Naomi stay 2 to 2 1/2 hours with Mommy available by cell phone and within walking distance. Then, after that, I would probably be able to drop Naomi off for the full 3-hour morning and go home, depending on how Naomi was “adjusting” and how at-home she felt there.

As you can imagine, this process led to many tearful days, both for mother and child, but in the end Naomi finally adjusted and was able to stay for the whole morning by herself. Personally, I would have preferred to rip the bandage off quickly, but we don’t always get to make those kinds of choices. We often find out that our two cultures have differing values when we least expect it. In these moments we ask for extra wisdom and grace to navigate these waters.


by Liz Eck

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

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