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Tag Archives: Preschool education

33%

This post may sound a hint too critical, I am sorry for that in advance.

In Graz there is a number of early education centres such as nurseries and kindergardens. For more details, the curious reader is invited to see the post “Preschool Education in Graz”. The government guarantees that ALL children in Graz are provided with daycare, i.e. as long as both parents work and thus need this support from the state. This need is in ALL cases catered for. So they say on the media.
 
Well, the small print is:
“The goal is to provide daycare to 33% of all children below the age of 3 as set by the EU”.
 
This raises a number of questions, which need to be carefully considered and which are directly related to socio-political systems. First of all, in Austria there is a maximum maternity leave of 3 years. Aha, so you don’t have to go to work for 3 years?? In theory yes, that’s true. Whether that is the best solution for both mother and child, and on the other hand to society in general, is another question.
 
What are these 3 years based on? What are the beliefs and convictions behind them? One could say…
a. “It’s for the children’s sake because dueing the first 3 years they are best taken care of by their mother as says developmental psychology”
b. “It’s for economic reasons because other people are employed during your maternity leave and create new jobs”
c “It’s a pure patriarchal system embracing the women’s role to be at home and not working”
 
Where I actually believe in the validity of argument “a”, I still find it difficult to grasp why this system is designed to enable families to dedicate themselves to having kids, while on the other hand we all know that the labor market is not waiting for us women for 3 years. Besides, this is not a compulsory maternity leave. You could legally even go back to work after 2 months. Not that I stand for that but legally it’s a possibility.
 
So what about the women who decide to have a family and still get back on the professional track after 1-2 years? What about them? Oh, they are probably the mothers to 33% of the kids in Graz, I see… Being one of those mothers I can only report what a difficult endeavor it was getting a place for my son in a nursery. And you have to face so many compromises:
 
1. you are not able to choose the best institution for your kid. You are possibly given a place somewhere and you MUST be really grateful for it.
2. when you go back to work, you’re back for real. You can work part-time but what about the times your child gets sick? Who will look after him/her? Not to mention awful situations like the Summer holidays that will force you to find a “solution” for your kid for up to entire 7 weeks while you still have to go to work. That solution could mean you hire a babysitter, if you can afford it, or your toddler is placed in another nursery for that period where he is looked after by complete strangers.
3. once you were generously given a place you are not supposed to get involved in any pedagogical discussions, let alone complain about anything because nursery and kindergarden teachers have a much harder life than you do* and BE REALISTIC – you are in no position to be picky…
 
All in all, this is reality in early education. I have to be fair though and say I’m fully aware that there are much worse realities and at least we know our children are staying in daycare centres with all necessary infrastructure, food and a warm bed. Most teachers are very committed. The teacher-student ratio at nursery level is actually very good – groups with up to 12 kids are entitled to up to 5 teachers depending on the kids’ age. That is really good.
 
However, by the time your child hits 3 you are forced to deal with much higher challenges like finding a kindergarden in Graz which:
a. is open beyond 1.30pm
b. allows a nap time
c. has more than 2 teachers for 26 children (this one being an illusion as it turns out)
 
In the end, you need to make your choices as you believe them to be the best for your child. Compromising is probably something you need to adapt to.

*Refer to the study by the Karl Franzens University “Wissen, was los ist”!
http://www.graz.at/cms/dokumente/10023271_394423/14245642/Wissen%20was%20los%20ist_Endversion%20Studie%20Wustmann%20Dez%2010.pdf
 

Find out why Vienna is ahead of the game with nursery places:
http://www.austriantimes.at/news/Education/2012-08-01/43280/Vienna_ahead_of_the_game_with_nursery_places/a>s

Via gepostet DraftCraft App


Another school year just began! For my son it’s his 2nd year at nursery school in Graz. One year ago I was an absolute beginner and I encountered many questions and doubts along the way…

What kind of daycare to choose from?
How to get started?
What to expect?
How to get accepted?

This article is just for reference and it does not aim at replacing any research that parents should do on their own. The goal is to give a first guidance and to share some personal experiences, especially as this topic is missing on the Graz Expat Blog and I was asked to contribute. So here it goes!

1. General Information
Preschool education is not compulsory in Austria. Except for the last year before primary school, children have the right to stay at home until the age of 5. This means the state is not 100% responsible for providing families with enough daycare centers to cover the actual demand. When I applied for my son in 2011, one director told me that the state centers only cover for about 30% of the actual demand in Graz!
This said, you can imagine how DIFFICULT it is to get your child admitted into a state daycare – or any daycare at all.
Until the age of 3 children attend the “Kinderkrippe“. Sometimes it is called “Krabbelstube”. Here the teacher to student ratio is quite good. The younger the kids are, the higher is the number of staff looking after them. Maximum are 12 kids per group and it can amount to 5 teachers/assistant teachers. There are currently 16 such public centers in Graz.
From 3 to 6 children attend “Kindergarten“. And then they move on to primary school, which is compulsory as is education until the age of 15. Here you can find groups of maximum 24 kids being supported by 2 teachers. There are currently 48 kindergardens in Graz.


The differences among the different centers are huge:

Some offer only half-day, others full-day. Full day can mean from 7am to 5pm OR from 7am to 3pm. Children are not allowed to stay for longer than 8 hours/day. Some offer all snacks and lunch, others don’t. Some have large green outdoor spaces, others have smaller ones but in general they all cater for outdoor activities. Some are closed during 8 weeks in Summer (plus Christmas, Carnival and Easter) and other offer their services almost continuously except for 3 weeks in Summer and all public holidays.

2. Finding a daycare center
There is a centralised organisation in charge of the entire coordination, it is called Kinderdrehscheibe Graz: kinderdrehscheibe@stmk.volkshilfe.at.
3. Applying for daycare
The period for application normally takes place in the beginning of March each year. However, all public centers have open days during January and February. You can check the dates at:
It is very advisable to go there on such days and get to know the director and staff. However, my experience has shown that what you see during the open day is really just a reference. More interesting to me is how the center WORKS on a DAILY BASIS. If you would like to see that too, try to schedule a visit for a regular day. Some centers go with that.


4. Plan B
If your child does not get a vacancy at a daycare center, you might want to think about going for a care taker. Care takers are called “Tagesmuetter”, i.e. “day moms” because they look after the children during the day.
4a) Is it easier to find a vacancy? NO.
4b) Will you need to make several phone calls, visits and spend sleepless nights before you EVENTUALLY find the right care taker? Definitely YES.
4c) Are there happy endings when looking for a care taker? I’ve heard of some!


Here’s where you can look for one:

Tagesmütter Verein
Volkshilfe

GOOD LUCK and happy beginnings!

 



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