In this nursery, babies sleep outside in their strollers even in winter, children play in the yard even when it’s raining, but the tablet is one of the basic devices in the educational process, while chocolate and other sweets are not on the menu even during birthdays. This is just a standard kindergarten in Denmark. We talked with a parent in Denmark to find out how Danish kindergartens differ from the rest of the world.
Danish parents have to enroll their children in kindergartens until the age of 4 months and they determine a date when the child would start going to the kindergarten. The lowest age limit for going to kindergarten is 26 weeks. The municipality is required to secure a place in a kindergarten no later than 4 weeks before the date of starting that the parents provided. If there are no available places in а local kindergarten in that period, the municipality has to find an alternative in another kindergarten in a neighbor municipality, to cover the costs for a private nanny or pay the parents to take care of the child.
– If there is no place in the kindergartens, the municipality covers the costs as much as the kindergarten would cover, which is about three-quarters of the price. The same amount is paid even to parents who decide to take care of their child at home. The monthly cost for kindergarten is different and depends on the municipality in which it is located, the child’s age and whether they get food or bring it from home. For example, younger groups are more expensive. We pay 420 euros per month for two children. We got a discount because we have two children in kindergarten. The price is lower by 50 percent for the second and every subsequent child and families with incomes lower than the legal limit get an additional discount – Milena, a Macedonian who lives with her family in Denmark, says.
According to her, the external and internal appearance, as well as the equipment in Danish kindergartens are not much different from Macedonian kindergartens. They have simple furnishings and toys decorated with children’s drawings, paintings and projects made by the children. Opening hours vary according to the kindergarten. Usually they start early, around 6:30 am, and the working hours end at 5 or rarely 6 pm. There are kindergartens that work to 4:30 pm on Fridays.
– In the kindergarten where my children go there is an open workshop where children cut using saws, forge nails and make various objects, which is very interesting and fun for them – says Milena.
However, the most interesting part is the way children spend their time there. They play outside almost every day, at least for 2-3 hours, unless the weather is extremely bad, which means a temperature below – 10 degrees and incredibly strong winds or storms. In the summer, they are constantly out there and eat their lunches outside. Children have appropriate clothing for each season in the kindergartens. Children up to 2.5 years sleep in strollers outside on the covered terrace even in winter months.
– In Denmark there are so-called forest kindergartens where children are constantly outside in the forest. They have a hut as a shelter in case the weather gets extremely bad. These gardens are very popular – Milena says.
Children don’t consume refined sugars in Danish kindergartens. When a child celebrates a birthday, parents can bring a treat for the other children, but candies that contain refines sugars are forbidden.
Danish children work on projects similar to those everywhere. Children themselves decide the topics of the projects. For many projects they use items and plants found in nature, but an integral part of the education are tablets with educational games that children use to learn the colors, numbers, letters, shapes and so on. Every day, two children are required to assist in setting the table in the group, and also help in the kitchen. The kitchen in which the food is prepared for each group is open, so that they see how the food is cooked.
– In my opinion, a great addition to Danish kindergartens is that children are treated as equals and learn to be independent from an early age. They get opportunities to make decisions and learn to be responsible. Parents are involved in the activities of their children. We are happy with the kindergarten, it’s great and our children fit nicely, but I suppose that for some children who are more introverted the activities may be too active and socially oriented. But there are other options for these children, such as home care, where women who are specially trained take care of two to three children so that they can devote more attention to each of them – Milena says.
Finally, parents receive all the information about kindergartens online on a website that is common to all kindergartens and where every child has an account available only to parents. Among other things, parents can use this website to inform educators when their child is ill and will be absent, to get contacts from other parents, receive birthday invitations and so on.