Sunday, March 3, 2024

An American living in Denmark talks about the differences in preschool education

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Provided by Brooke Black

  • My family moved to Denmark from Los Angeles in 2020, shortly after our second child was born.
  • We sent our kids to kindergarten here and noticed some differences from kindergartens in the United States.
  • We chose to stay in Denmark because gun laws are very strict and we felt safe.

My second daughter was born in Los Angeles in March 2020, a week before the pandemic lockdown began. As my maternity leave was coming to an end, Los Angeles was still a hotspot for COVID-19, and both my girlfriend’s husband and I were reluctant to send our older child back to preschool.

We packed up two weeks’ worth of belongings and went to visit my husband’s family in Denmark. What was supposed to be a short trip turned into a move.

We sent our two children to a nursery school in Denmark, and since then we have noticed some differences between kindergartens in Denmark and kindergartens in the United States. The first was how easy it was to book a “pladsgaranti,” or daycare center. We guarantee you a spot within 3 months of signing up.

In Denmark, the working week is short, so parents pick up their children early.

The working week in Denmark is 37 hours, so most parents pick up their children no later than 4pm on most weekdays and earlier on Fridays.

I work for a Danish company and can easily leave in time to be picked up. In LA, I drove across town to pick up my kids at 5:30pm, leaving just enough time for a bath and bedtime. Now I cherish the time I spend with my children.

Children eating hot meals provided by school

Most kindergartens in Denmark have a full-time kitchen and cooking staff. Lunch is a hot, mostly organic meal of salmon, pasta, porridge (or “gled”), and curry. The diet is mainly vegetarian and contains very little red meat. Morning and afternoon snacks include a healthy combination of grains and vegetables, such as dark rye bread, homemade rolls, fruits, and vegetables.

Children learn to make bread, and the youngest children take turns spreading out the tray of food. Everyone helps each other and that is the basis of Danish society.

I was surprised to see so many male teachers.

The culture shock for me was seeing a mix of male and female teachers in many kindergartens in Denmark. Our U.S. preschool had no men on staff.

When I asked teenagers who work at the day care here about it, several said it was more fun than other workplaces, such as grocery stores or factories. Second, the children have a male figure, which brings a different perspective and energy to the younger students. This reflects Danish society, where men and women share childcare responsibilities more equally.

Children learn to read and write a year later than in the United States.

Although the daily activities are similar, I have noticed that American schools tend to focus on academics earlier than Danish schools.

In Denmark, children do not learn to read and write until they enter “regular school”, which starts at the age of six. Danes believe that extra time and freedom to play will further develop children’s social skills. I thought my 5 year old would feel like I was behind when the time came, but it didn’t feel like that at all. For now, she can focus on just being a kid.

Danish preschools are cheap

In the US, I paid about $2,185 a month from 18 months to 2 years old. Approximately $1,995 per month for ages 2 to 3. From age 3 to her age 5, the cost is approximately $1,625 per month, plus multiple fees and does not include food. In Denmark, whether in a big city or in the countryside, public day care costs about $554 per month from age 1 to age 3 and about $361 per month from age 3 to age 6. Food costs are $84 per month.

For low-income households, there are subsidies based on income, and there are also sibling discounts as in the United States.

We loved preschool in Los Angeles, but the cost was prohibitive. In America, sending your child to kindergarten felt like a status symbol.

attaches great importance to tradition

Danes also love tradition, and many schools tend to keep their own traditions, such as stickers and hugs on the last day of school, or loading children into catering trucks and rolling them to older classes at graduation. there is.

In our kindergarten, we celebrate a student’s birthday with all his classmates, and we go to the child’s house to have a party and decorate the child with lots of Danish flags.

gun control is very strict

Overall Denmark is a safe place and Danes value trust. Danish society places a special emphasis on children learning for themselves, that is, getting back up when they fall.

There is very little crime and you rarely see police cars. Gun regulations are also strict. I feel very safe here and this was a big factor in choosing to stay in Denmark.



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