I grew up in the GDR, but unlike most children, I was not in the crche or kindergarten. When I came to school that was a shock. The other children knew each other long ago, I was the stranger. I had spent my childhood with adults only, especially with my grandparents. I had no idea how to talk to children, how to build friendships, how to fight back. During the first few months, I locked myself up in the toilet during every break and cried. At some point it got better, but I decided: If I ever had children, I would spare them that. You should go to the daycare.
There are also mothers today who refuse to visit Kitas because they are afraid that the children will become depressed adults. While researching the “Kit-Free” Movement, I once met a young woman who looked after her children at home. She could not stand it alone at home. With an acquaintance she rented a room for a children’s meeting. After attending an educational two-week course, she began to advise other parents and take care of other children.
Some mothers criticize Kitas as “outside care” – is that true?
An educator training takes three years, if one does not complete the training extra-occupationally, there is no remuneration. Some schools even charge tuition. So you have to see how you make ends meet for three years. Maybe there are savings, maybe parents who help you. You have to be motivated to choose and sustain such an education. How can you feel more competent as an educator after completing a two-week course?
A mother from Berlin, who has more than 45,000 fans on Instagram, recently discussed whether and when to give a child in foreign care, as she called it. Third-party care – this word is reminiscent of seventeenth-century France, when wealthy families gave their children nurses right after birth, barely visited them, and only picked them up years later. If they were alive then. One mother said, “My sons can decide for themselves every morning if they want to go to kindergarten, they will not be deported.” What kind of work did this woman have? And was there really “deported”? As if German kindergartens were something like the camps in the United States where President Trump has migrants’ children imprisoned.
You need a village to raise a child – part of it is the kindergarten
Our educators are not strangers, they are Christian, Anja, Angela. They took the time to meet our son and our daughter before we left the children alone in the daycare center for the first time. You can comfort them and laugh with them. Portraits of educators in newspapers often begin with how many diapers they have changed. But the work includes so much more. In the day care center the children make their first friendships, they learn to negotiate conflicts, to plan small projects. When I say goodbye to the children, I feel like they are in good hands while I work. That they learn more than I could ever offer them at home.
It is said that you need a whole village to raise a child. We do not have a village, not even a nanny or grandparents who jump in regularly. Our village is our kindergarten.