Reliable childcare is important to all working parents. It allows them to reconcile their career with their family obligations. Childcare institutions also help your child meet other children, learn German easily, make formative experiences and prepare for school. FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) has a large number of different childcare options.
The term “kindergarten” is used in many countries around the world. The concept of early childhood education originally comes from Germany, and there is something here for any age.
Childcare facilities (Kindertagesstätten)
The term “Kindertagesstätte” (abbreviation: Kita) refers to all types of childcare facilities. Depending on the age of the child, the specific institutions are:
1. Kinderkrippe (nursery) for children up to the age of 3
2. Kindergarten for children aged 3–6
3. Hort (daycare centre) for children at primary-school age
There are many good reasons for parents to take advantage of childcare facilities. The children learn social skills from the pedagogic staff and other children. Those who do not speak German yet get an opportunity to acquire the language quickly and in a fun environment. They get to spend their time doing crafts, painting, reading and discovering the world. Parents benefit from less time pressure.
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Childcare is voluntary in Germany, but many people use it. More than 90% of all children between 3 and 6 attend Kindergarten. In FRM, 28.9% of all children under the age of 3 go to a nursery.
Most childcare facilities offer all-day care. Your child can play, learn, eat and nap there from the morning until the late afternoon. Regular opening hours are from 7:30 am until 4:30 pm.
There are many alternative options, some of which start considerably earlier or stay open until the late evening. This depends on the needs of the parents and the individual institutions.
Childcare for children aged 0–3
Nurseries offer childcare for children up to the age of 3. They look after babies as young as 3 months. Once your child reaches his or her third birthday, they attend kindergarten.
Nursery care primarily focuses on looking after your child and taking care of her or his needs. It also teaches basic skills. Nurseries have especially large numbers of pedagogic staff who look after the children.
Besides nurseries, there are also childcare centres for children aged 0–6. This often involves groups of children of very different ages in order to promote interaction and joint learning.
Childcare often serves the purpose of allowing parents to work. Alternatively, there are institutions that are designed as a place for parents and children to meet and mingle. This includes toddler groups and playgroups.
Since 2013, parents in Germany have been legally entitled to childcare for their children under the age of 3. On account of very high demand, we recommend that you apply for a place at a childcare centre early on.
Childcare for children aged 3–6
Once your child turns 3, he or she can go to kindergarten. You are even legally entitled to a half-day place for your child.
Kindergarten adds to the children’s family upbringing, it offers basic educational programmes and enables the children to interact with each other. The qualified pedagogic staff effectively supports important aspects of your child’s development. They teach perception, language, coordination, thinking and empathy in a playful manner.
Instead of sending your child to nursery and/or kindergarten, you can hire a childminder (Tagesmutter). One childminder usually looks after up to five children in a family atmosphere. This type of childcare is usually organised and financed privately.
More and more companies and universities are offering their employees childcare services.
Childcare for children aged 6 and above
Once your children start their first year of primary school, they can stay at a day care centre after their classes finish. This option is usually available for grades 1 through 4. Day care centres are closely affiliated with their connected primary schools, both geographically and in terms of their organisation. Other institutions also offer day care facilities.
Most day care options involve a communal lunch for all children. They often receive help with their homework and get to take part in leisure activities.
Day care hours vary depending on the individual institution. Many of them open even before primary school classes finish and do not close until the afternoon. It is not unusual for day care centres to stay open throughout the holidays, offering special holiday programmes.
There is great demand for day care places, too, and competition is fierce. Again, we recommend making arrangements far in advance.
Childcare is subsidised by the state, and the fees do not vary much between institutions. Parents’ monthly contributions depend on their income, place of residence and number of childcare hours required. In addition, they pay for the food their children get at day care.