Changes Up Ahead!

28 Jan

I’ve been wanting to write this post for nearly two weeks now, but wanted to make sure all our ducks were in a row before I spilled the beans. And no, that’s not it. Shame on you for even going there! 😉

Neve’s changing schools! Starting Monday, she will officially be a student of the Evangelisiche Kindertagesstätte! And the best part? It’s less than two blocks from our house! We’ve played on their playground before!

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So, this is something we’ve thought about for a good while now. We considered putting her in German preschool from the day we arrived, but not knowing where we’d end up living, how long it would take on a wait list, etc., we ultimately decided that a German Immersion program through the American base could be the best of all worlds and help with smoothing the transitions.

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Rewind to the first day of school back in September. That’s her school in the background.

Now I won’t say that the fall semester was seamless, but it was good. There were alot of changes, alot of school things to get used to (of course, when you come from such an awesome program that we did!), plenty of settling into things…But along the way, Neve made some great little friends, I met some cool moms and we became friends with her awesome teacher, Ms. Rachel.

Fast forward to the holidays and Ms. Rachel tells us that her fiance has been offered a three month position- he’s an attorney- in the States and that they’ll be leaving after the Christmas break. Best part of the news? They’ll be back by May and looking forward to hanging out again! 🙂 Worst part? She won’t be back at the school. 😦 Obviously we were so bummed- Neve especially- but were confident that the school would make the transition to a new lead teacher as smooth as possible, starting with bringing in the replacement during Rachel’s last week at school. Except that didn’t happen. And then a week went by, and then another. Still no new teacher, but a whole long slew of substitutes and new faces. Less German being learned, less consistency day to day…and no gameplan from the school for rectifying the situation. No communication period, really.

Well, it just so happened that our neighbors had toured a kindergarten just after Christmas and loved it. So Neve and I checked it out, too, a few weeks back and had the same good feelings. Most German kindis keep waiting lists 1-3 years long, so we knew we’d need to get on a list if we even wanted the option at some point. Guess who called last Friday to say that we had a spot if we wanted it? YEP! The same day John and I reached our ropes’ ends with the current school situation, they called with the news! Once again, the Universe had a plan all along and worked it out in perfect timing. We knew the decision had been made for us.

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How cute is this alleyway? I’m standing on our road looking down toward the school. If I were to turn to the left, I could see our building just one block away.

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Just a closer view…

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This gives you a better idea of how close we’re talking. Same spot I was standing in for the first picture, just looking back toward the house.

How totally awesome is that? To get to walk to school every day! I, for one, am beyond pumped to forego the twice daily 30-minute drives to and from school, battling horrible traffic and crazy weather!

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Last 30 minute drive home! WOOHOO!

But more importantly, we’re really excited for the German kindergarten experience. This school is so warm and inviting. It’s not the newest, not the most modern, not the fanciest, but it’s warm and it feels good. There’s one big central room with a tree (yes, a real one!) going up the middle and it’s canopy going out over the room. Cubbies line the walls, along with snow boot racks, musical instruments and lots of kids’ artwork. In the center, under the canopy is a big circle of little chairs surrounding a big, fluffy rug and lots of books. That’s where they start their days. Branching off from this room are smaller rooms with different purposes- the ‘Home’ room with dolls, kitchen sets, tool benches and reading nooks, the Art room with drying racks and supply shelves galore, the ‘Engineering’ section with blocks, legos, pulleys, etc., the Puzzle corner, and then the kitchen where lunch is catered every day from the organic co-op. Outside, a huge playground- yep, right in the middle of the city. I could tell that Neve felt good from the moment we walked in and as soon as we left, she asked, ‘When can I start going there every day?’ *YES*

Kindergarten (literally “children’s garden”) is both a German word and a German invention. The kindergarten pre-school educational philosophy has been widely adopted around the world, so it’s somewhat ironic to discover that kindergarten in Germany is not usually part of the state-supported school system, even though about 85 % of German youngsters 3-5 years old attend voluntary community and church-supported kindergartens. School officially starts with the 1st grade at age 6. So the term is used for preschool, as well as kindergarten itself. 

Here in Germany, the purpose of kindergarten is different than it is in the US. Very little, if any, attention is given to reading, writing, math…The focus is on developing and maturing the child socially rather than academically. They feel that the children have their whole lives to read and write and sit for extended periods- that this early childhood stage can be better spent becoming the little people they’re meant to be. They encourage exploration, curiosity, trial and error, decision making, social interactions and discovery. They work to build self-confidence, independence and ‘real world’ abilities- Neve’s class will be taking the subway once each week, as well as the public bus. (Yes, that gives me a tinge of a stomach pit, but it’s OK…)  They will also be gardening, painting (their art section is fabulous!) building forts (yes, with real tools), helping to prepare some meals, and always going outside (as the Germans say, ‘there’s no bad weather, only bad attire.’)…

So yeah, overall we are super excited to watch as Neve (hopefully) grows in ways we’ve never seen before- for her to really start to spread her wings. We’re also pumped to hear her German truly take off now that she’ll be immersed in it every day, but building on a great foundation from the last 5 months. Yes, our Type A, American personalities have most definitely made it a challenging decision, but it’s one that we’re confident in having made the best one given all the variables. (That sounded so nerdy, I know. But hey, it’s us 😉 ).  We will definitely continue, just as we always have, working on things at home- writing her alphabet (she can writer her name perfectly now!), reading books, building her English vocabulary, counting…Afterall, we’ll be back in the States at some point and our girl has to be ready for that, too! Wish us luck!

I’ll leave you with a couple shots from today’s swim lessons, taken right before I watched her jump into the deep end all by herself, bounce of the bottom and swim a few feet to the side. I was beaming. ❤

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3 Responses to “Changes Up Ahead!”

  1. Marilyn Deatley January 29, 2016 at 2:56 AM #

    Always glad to read about your “happenings” and this is certainly a special one. Hope she loves it and thrives while there.

  2. Robin January 29, 2016 at 1:50 AM #

    I am so glad that this worked out and you and Neve don’t have so much time on the road every day. I love thinking of the 2 of you walking hand in hand to school and back – just talking about your days.

  3. Eleanor January 28, 2016 at 9:37 PM #

    Another decision made and hopefully it is the right one! I am sure that Neve will grow and learn and we will all be so proud. Actually, she is one lucky girl to have such great parents. She will be teaching her Mom and Dad soon! Watch out world, here is Neve!

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