German Kita

Hi, I am a grandmother to two boys who are currently living in Germany.

One was born there, but lived most of his first 5 years in Texas, USA and the other was born in Texas.

They’ve moved back to Germany at a critical time, when school is  beginning. For the older one, who did some pre-K here in the states, this means “real school” at age 6.

For the little one, who is only 4, this means “Kita.”

So it is an exciting time to say the least and adding on some cultural differences and language barriers, it can be a challenge.

Just as my daughter has become accustomed to some of the changes, she tells me 4 days into the 4 year olds Kita experience, that she found out he and a classmate were taken to a nearby grocery by a teacher’s assistant.

Even my son in law, who is German, was initially thrown by this!

He spoke to the school director and at least clarified the school was aware of this. Basically the director said “yes we do this & yes, we knew your child was taken.”

My daughter only found out about the outing when the Polish teacher said to my grandson, “tell Mommy how much you enjoyed going to the grocery!” I am paraphrasing and of course this was said in German. The child is not fluent yet, but when my daughter heard this, she assumed there had been some sort of classroom role play, or a pretend grocery at the school like we have in our Children’s museums.

Only when she overheard the 4 year old reporting his exploits to his brother did she realize, he had actually gone to a grocery with the assistant teacher during his 4th day at Kita.

Does anyone else find this unusual?? No parent permission was obtained. No heads up was given.

Frankly, I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. I see nothing wrong with them making it clear to the school that this is unacceptable and that in future they need to obtain their permission.

My son in law then approached a teacher and they were only concerned whether the child had enjoyed the experience. They did not get the point.

I think my son in law and daughter don’t want to rock the boat. My daughter doesn’t want to be the strange American mom & they do not want there child to be singled out or treated differently.

Super awkward!

Who takes a 4 year old from a school like that?

Thoughts please. Are we overreacting?

Also there seem to be all these non-German caregivers at these Kitas. So the lady my son in law spoke to was from Bulgaria. He said language wise he was able to communicate, but she clearly did not feel that anything untoward has happened. She actually became defensive.

All outings in my daughter's kita are posted one week before so we as parents need to make sure that they have the right clothes, shoes and sometimes a small backpack. So far was school's, zoo, wald(forest) museums etc, never heard of a grocery store. As for me, prior notice would be better.

Sounds like American paranoia to me. If something bigger is planned like a field trip then it will probably be announced. But especially in nursery school, there are no requirements to be in the class room all day. They often go outside and visit a nearby park or something else of interest where the children can explore new things. I can’t know the context of why they went to a grocery but can well imagine it as a good experience. And such a thing is not such a big deal that they might announce it like a big trip; it’s just a variety of daily activities. The kids can point out things they like to eat and learn about things they don’t know. I can imagine it as a good learning experience and fun for the kids.

Not that kids should lack supervision but America has gone crazy. As a kid growing up there I used to play by myself or go riding my bike and be gone for hours and my parents had little or no idea where I was. Now even preteens being outside of the home without a parent watching over them is regarded as neglect. Not that there are no dangers but American attitudes on this matter are not in line with most of the world. Only Americans would think kids being given guns is normal but suspect some evil or dangerous situation out of a visit to a grocery store. How sad. And the comments about foreign caregivers sounds rather xenophobic. What exactly is your point?

What's wrong with a child being taken to a grocery shop?
On the contrary, like Tom I think it is a great learning experience (especially if the paranoid parents never take the boy to such normal everyday places?) and the Kita teachers should be commended to take the opportunity to bring some kids along when doing such errands.
I have two kids who went through Kita and never had any worries. What exactly is the problem with what happened?
Planned group outings are usually announced (so the kids can come in appropriate clothes and with a snack), but I see no need for that here. The parents can certainly make a scene, but the result will be less opportunities and learning experiences for their boy. Do they want that?

Kindergarten teachers in Germany are predominantly foreign. This is due to the low pay and stressfull working conditions. But they are not worse for being foreign. I personally think in our globalized world kids cannot learn early enough that people are different and not all speak the same language. Our Kita even had a native English teacher who was instructed to never speak German with the kids - I found that great!

I agree with Beppi’s comment that there are many foreigners in such jobs since they are unfortunately not well paid. But modern Germany, In cities anyway, is multicultural whether one likes it or not. Kids are going to be with other kids from various nationalities and no reason this should not be the same with the care givers. The important thing is the passion they bring to the job. And some parents hire au pairs especially to give the kids a chance at getting exposure to a foreign language – or look for a kita that offers English or other languages being spoken at least part time. The kids are going to benefit from the cultural diversity. And I doubt a person would keep their job at such a place if they couldn’t communicate properly or acted inappropriately.

Wow, as expected a wide array of responses.

First off, the bottom line was that this was not expected at all. The outing, not the varied responses.

Come on, cut me a little slack here.

We are all in favor of the child having “experiences” and do not want him to be left out. This could even be considered an earned  privilege, for good behavior. We understand that.

Should this have been explained to the parents in advance. Yes!! I get that this was not a big deal or a true field trip, which in that case will be posted in advance and prior permission granted. I think that is what made it stand out.

I do not think that should stop the school from making parents aware that this is something done on occasion.

I think any normal parent would agree. That does not make anyone paranoid. Jeez.

They do not necessarily have to ask permission for every little thing, but rather just explain in general this is something that is done on occasion.

Unfortunately, the Kitas are not easy to get into and I think everyone is afraid of complaining in fear of kids being removed and not being given another spot. From what I understand, once you are out, you risk losing your place entirely.

Thanks for the jab about guns. As if I am not all too aware that we have an issue in this country. I am not pro-gun. In fact 100% opposed.

I have just sent my youngest off to a college in a state that allows licensed students 21 years and older to carry a gun on campus. Am I in favor? Absolutely not. Scares the hell out of me.

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew who I was, where I lived and who my parents were. Everyone was accountable for their behavior.

That is not the norm and we live in different times, be it here or in Germany.

Also, we are made up of a very international family. My children all have dual citizenships as do my grandchildren. We live on 3 different continents. So I resent the remark made in that regard. I may come from a small town, but I am “woke,” and well traveled & have lived abroad. This actually made me angry!

I am in no way prejudiced toward foreigners. After all I am one! Having lived abroad I see things from both sides. Just an observance about the school workers.

We live in a much more diverse community here in the U.S., than the one my daughter is in in Germany. We are totally open minded in that sense.

Bottom line, the issue was that an assistant teacher took my grandson along to the grocery during his Kita time. Maybe something common, maybe not.

His mother was completely unaware & only found out indirectly.

Had this been after being at the school longer and my daughter having had more time to get to know who his caregivers are/which by the way, they seem to change frequently, it might not have been as worrisome.

I truly appreciate the more independent approach/albeit somewhat negligent  approach offered in the Kitas. I fully understand the time spent there is often more about being socialized. Which is a big deal!

I also agree we have become entirely too guarded in our schools. Sadly for good reasons.

Was the trip to the grocery educational? I highly doubt it.

Don’t even get me started on German groceries. Not exactly an environment for striking up a conversation and chilling.

It’s okay. We all have our differences. And I would hope that we all agree, our children are our greatest treasures no matter where we live or who we are.

I am just upset about what happened, because my daughter who is actually adjusting very well and is totally open minded was put in this awkward position.

And honestly not everyone takes kindly to Americans, so she is now in a position of speaking up and speaking out, or keeping quiet so she is not looked at as the odd American lady.

Now who is prejudiced????

Sorry, and last thought: cultural diversity was not the issue.

Actually, not sorry.

Grandma :

Wow, as expected a wide array of responses.

First off, the bottom line was that this was not expected at all. The outing, not the varied responses.

Come on, cut me a little slack here.

We are all in favor of the child having “experiences” and do not want him to be left out. This could even be considered an earned  privilege, for good behavior. We understand that.

Should this have been explained to the parents in advance. Yes!! I get that this was not a big deal or a true field trip, which in that case will be posted in advance and prior permission granted. I think that is what made it stand out.

I do not think that should stop the school from making parents aware that this is something done on occasion.

I think any normal parent would agree. That does not make anyone paranoid. Jeez.

They do not necessarily have to ask permission for every little thing, but rather just explain in general this is something that is done on occasion.

Unfortunately, the Kitas are not easy to get into and I think everyone is afraid of complaining in fear of kids being removed and not being given another spot. From what I understand, once you are out, you risk losing your place entirely.

Thanks for the jab about guns. As if I am not all too aware that we have an issue in this country. I am not pro-gun. In fact 100% opposed.

I have just sent my youngest off to a college in a state that allows licensed students 21 years and older to carry a gun on campus. Am I in favor? Absolutely not. Scares the hell out of me.

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew who I was, where I lived and who my parents were. Everyone was accountable for their behavior.

That is not the norm and we live in different times, be it here or in Germany.

Also, we are made up of a very international family. My children all have dual citizenships as do my grandchildren. We live on 3 different continents. So I resent the remark made in that regard. I may come from a small town, but I am “woke,” and well traveled & have lived abroad. This actually made me angry!

I am in no way prejudiced toward foreigners. After all I am one! Having lived abroad I see things from both sides. Just an observance about the school workers.

We live in a much more diverse community here in the U.S., than the one my daughter is in in Germany. We are totally open minded in that sense.

Bottom line, the issue was that an assistant teacher took my grandson along to the grocery during his Kita time. Maybe something common, maybe not.

His mother was completely unaware & only found out indirectly.

Had this been after being at the school longer and my daughter having had more time to get to know who his caregivers are/which by the way, they seem to change frequently, it might not have been as worrisome.

I truly appreciate the more independent approach/albeit somewhat negligent  approach offered in the Kitas. I fully understand the time spent there is often more about being socialized. Which is a big deal!

I also agree we have become entirely too guarded in our schools. Sadly for good reasons.

Was the trip to the grocery educational? I highly doubt it.

Don’t even get me started on German groceries. Not exactly an environment for striking up a conversation and chilling.

It’s okay. We all have our differences. And I would hope that we all agree, our children are our greatest treasures no matter where we live or who we are.

I am just upset about what happened, because my daughter who is actually adjusting very well and is totally open minded was put in this awkward position.

And honestly not everyone takes kindly to Americans, so she is now in a position of speaking up and speaking out, or keeping quiet so she is not looked at as the odd American lady.

Now who is prejudiced????

No. You should be cutting the care takers some slack instead of ranting on about nothing but your paranoia.  So no, such a thing in no way has to be planned out in advance; it is within the scope of everyday activities. One doesn’t have to make a big deal every time the kids go outside since this is a normal occurrence. You have merely doubled down on the idea a visit to a grocery store is somehow outrageous when it is nothing of the sort. To equate  lack of paranoia to neglect sounds pretty delusional. 

Any you think “any normal parent would agree with you”. WRONG we are parents here strongly disagreeing with you and trying to respectfully explain why. Your concept of what is normal as a person living in Texas is not inline like with the mentality in Germany, or most of the world. We see it as sadly misguided and paranoid although meant well.

And the quip about “not getting started on German groceries” is also beyond any logic. There are all kinds of fruits and veggies in supermarkets and many kids might not be familiar with them all. So why not show them and let kids who are familiar with ones the others aren’t be able to tell their opinion about them. A bit more food awareness these days of junk and processed food cannot hurt.

I don’t know what was presented but I could personally give much information about healthy food, food preparation, different dishes and customs and such and make a very educational and interesting presentation for kids. The produce section is colorful! Maybe you don’t have the fantasy for this but that is no reason to assume others don’t. And that some activity would fail to be educational is hardly a ground to make such a rant, so maybe you can clarify what your real issue is? 

Another thing you might not be aware of is that it has been exceptionally hot recently in Germany. Not by Texas standards but just the same. And supermarkets are air-conditioned which is not a common thing here! Hot and sticky out? Pop into a supermarket and get a drink but first linger and enjoy the cool air.

And “not everyone takes kindly to Americans” sounds paranoid and arrogant at the same time. There is NO anti-Americanism in Germany. What people take issue to is when Americans or any other nationality act loud and brash that they know everything better and start making an issue where none exists. And you are a fine example since obviously nobody else had a problem with the situation. If one doesn’t act like an odd American they won’t get treated like one.  To assume prejudice against Americans is a fantasy.

And you claim cultural diversity was not an issue. Then why the quips about foreigners and a care giver being Bulgarian? It is at least suggesting there is something wrong.

Thanks for all your contributions - but PLEASE tone down your words, otherwise we'll have to close the thread before it becomes an emotional fight!

I see this now as a very typical inter-cultural issue: Something is seen as perfetly normal (and by some even desirable) here in Germany, but unacceptable in the USA.
Fine, such differences make the world interesting and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion!
But unlike the grandmother in Texas, the mother is a guest here and will have to adjust and accept our local ways (as long as no harm is done to the kid - which is assured in this case!).

Tom, I have asked to have the entire thread pulled and my account removed. Hopefully after you read this.

Not sure why you felt the need to “quote” my entire response, when one can scroll and read the thread.

As for Fantasy grocery experiences:

I’ve had some unpleasant German grocery experiences. This was in another region in Germany. More working class. Seems everyone is always uptight and in a hurry and certainly not wanting any pleasantries. Definitely down to business. No messing around in the check out line. I was warned about it before hand.

That’s okay.

We Americans can be overly false and at times fake with our smiles and apologies.

Germans are more pragmatic and literal. It is actually refreshing. I am not being facetious.

All the more reason we were disappointed in this no rule approach with the grocery outing.

I should not have let you pull my chain.

So now I will just bow out.

There is wrong and there is right.

I still stand by the fact that my daughter & son in law should have been told that the Kita does the perfectly harmless, most likely completely non-educational grocery outings from time to time. Probably just a simple outing. No more no less.

And BTW my 4 year old grandson gets around and has done plenty of grocery shopping with his Mom & Dad.

It drives me absolutely nuts, that no one gets the point. Which is, the parents should have been told. Plain and simple.

Peace out.

USA & Germany are 2 different countries, both with different cultures. I get both views to be hot top at the moment.  I second Beppi's post calm down.

Grandma

Has bought out attention to things that might not be well known to foreigners.

Now you have to remember Expat.com is a  site where one can share and also ask questions.

I'm sorry Grandma, but maybe you should bring this is up with the school(s) as its the norm with locals. Unless they are informed about it how do they know?

It’s been brought up.

My son in law, who is German spoke with the director and one of the assistant teachers.

He asked my daughter what she hoped to get out of questioning it all. Good point. And as I said Germans are practical.

I guess I was just looking for a sounding board.

Apparently we are in the minority and this is something that is done in German schools or Kitas anyway.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Appreciate that John got my point.

I should not have bought into Tom.

Should have stayed in the high road.

Anyway, it is all no big deal. The assistant teacher pointed out that he enjoyed the outing & did not get the point of parents being informed in any way shape or form.

I personally would not feel comfortable with the inability to see eye to eye with the school.

Then again, this is my Grandson. I am not his parent. Therefore, I should not be so concerned or involved.

I just got fired up, because I’ve lived abroad. I am extremely open minded. And as I said, I can appreciate both sides.

I’ve asked that the topic be closed (and yet she keeps typing, lol), so will see how long it takes.

I enjoy hearing others opinions. Enjoy the debate even, as long as it does not turn ugly.

Diversity is a beautiful thing.

My grandson is precious. Really cute little guy. Still bugs me to think of him being taken by the hand by, let’s face it a stranger, on a grocery visit. Kids are fully trusting at this age.

The director said she was aware of the outing, but I wonder to what extent. Did they sign the child out? Did they know which child went out?

Or did the director simply mean that this is something that is done.

Seems like a huge liability to me. Sorry, we have attorneys in the family!

Again, hopefully no harm done and I believe my daughter has decided to “let it go!”

I am the one bothered. If I was able to take on some of the burden and worries, I am fine with that.

I need to get a life! Youngest has gone off to school & I have time on my hands. There you have it!

My sharp little German grandson actually asked me, “what are you doing Grandma?” Point taken.

Hard to unlearn concern for your kids & it continues on with the grandchildren.

This thread raises some good points that might be valuable to future readers and expats or wanna-be expats. Therefore I am not in favour of deleting it or closing it.
Grandma’s account, however, is hers personally and she is free to close it and cease frequenting this forum at any time - even though I’d find it a pity, because every new viewpoint (even if I don’t share it) enriches the discussion.

Very interesting article on many presumptive aspects ;) Also think questionably harsh as well. Probably a good thing this was not face to face but rather on a forum :)

My interpretation on the topics and for the sake of "enriching the discussion":

- There is a trust in german protocol for Kindergarten practices, please share this policy.
- The kindergarten is a controlled environment, no single person / teacher should be exclusively taking toddlers for "errands". I don't care what the learning experience is, this is too exclusive especially for a child that cannot articulate themselves effectively in ANY language. There are many serious risks exposing the toddler that cannot be controlled or even predicted. Ie, navigating traffic direction, whom to trust personally, bathroom etiket, medical conditions / allergies and even criminal acts that happen too often in South Africa (not needed to be shared in this forum).
- I do somewhat share the "surprise" when my daughter (similar age) told us about school excursions that we weren't informed or aware of. I understand Germany is more socially trusting and open minded, it would have been great if we new of these 'planned' excursions before hand.
- I agree, it is not that easy to confront and ask regarding these topics in the school. It is always of the highest importance to respect all cultural diversities and respecting the opportunity to be placed in a kindergarten. Most of us always want to avoid being "Oh that complaining parent". Best approach in my opinion is always ask what is the process and policy and focus on the application of the process and policy rather than the person / teacher / act.
- Taking a child out on the 4th day I would say is a bit quick, they have not even settled in yet. I am not saying only focus on a german fluent children to invest excursions in, but I must be honest, even I would not be ecstatic finding this out. There needs to be a bit more awareness on the diversity of parenting and newly immigrated kids. 
- The fact that a classmate or more than one child went with, is however softening the concern.
- No parent wants to be surprised by their toddler being the single source of logistic information concluded. I might be a new parent but must be honest this is universal.
- The topic turned a bit to being American focused, I would however want to say those days that we run free as kids in the streets between neighbors houses rocking up only for food is long gone. Irrespective of country, we live in a different world now.
- Instructing a teacher to not speak German, in my opinion is not setting them up for the future in Germany. Everyone needs to speak Deutsch at some point. I love the statement however that the younger kids start to understand diversity in language and culture the better.
- Kindergarten teacher and any teacher for that matter should be carried on our hands. They play a fantastic and critical role in the evolution of our child's nature, integration and readiness for the world of knowledge and experiencing it profoundly in a constructive manner.
- The teacher keeping her job as a benchmark for being trustworthy does not alleviate the risks exposed to "your" child.

A few suggestions that worked in South Africa:
- The school has a diary for each child. If there was a unique event that day, it is listed / mentioned. End of story, this works and really gives a lot of comfort to the parents. This diary can of course be a single whiteboard in the classroom as well.

On the topic of non-german, well anyone that has been in DE more than an hour would know the definition of being "German" is as glorious, diverse, colorful, direct and vast in uniqueness as imaginable. Everyone should however follow the processes, policies and Law of Germany irrespective of origin / culture or religion.

On the statement of being a "guest" in germany, I must be honest, this is not the way that any foreign national should be considered, even by themselves. This might be a fundamental point and issue that is raised indirectly. If foreigners: legally entering DE, paying tax, enrolled kids in school, investing in the economy, integrating socially and contributing to the community with active participation are seen as "Guests", almost tourists, and not Equal Citizens being new, we are laying the foundation for Xenophobic Bias in Germany.

Cheers :)

A lot of assumptions on your side HelmutRS. Who said the caretaker was simply doing errands? Such a thing would not likely be allowed. More likely something was being bought for the kids and/or caretakers rather than one going off to do personal shopping. And the care takers are not stupid. Of course they watch the kids and usually have a decent ration of adults to supervise them. And who said a teacher was instructed not to speak German? A likely false assumption. In some kindergartens they offer say English as well so that they kids can learn German and English. It would be advertised if a kindergarten or school had exclusively English instruction, something some international people might want and especially choose. To assume a kid will go to a normal Kindergarten and not be properly supported in German is rather strange. And the suggestion that anyone at the kindergarten did ANYTHING not in line with German culture or law is just unsupported speculation. On the contrary, things were done the German way and someone who doesn’t even live here is trying to judge from their own cultural bias. No foreigner was being treated as a guest; more like they seem to have expected to be treated as a guest and have their own way of doing things take priority.

I wrote that the native speaker at my kids’ kindergarten was asked to only speak English with the kids. That is because kids learn a language best if they fully have to switch to it in certain situations. I fail to see anything wrong with this.
And also the idea of foreigners as guests who should accept local norms came from my post, althought taken out of context. I think “When in Rome, do as the Rimans do!”

I was responding to all comments on the thread and I live in Frankfurt.

Ah then we are in perfect agreement :)

HelmutRS :

I was responding to all comments on the thread and I live in Frankfurt.

And I stand by my comments that much of what you have written is speculative. And I didn't suggest you were not in Germany; I referred to the OP who lives in Texas.

Before this thread derails once again, let’s just agree that things are different in different parts of the world and this is one aspect that makes this planet so interesting.
This forum exists to help those who venture out of their comfort zone to understtand how things work in the new location. This is best done with an open mind, without emotions, assumptions and judgements!

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