Last year we moved back to Romania, after 4 years of living in Bratislava, Slovakia. We headed back to our home country and decided to move to Bucharest, so started to feel like a foreigner in my own country, facing the needs to find a new home in a town that I did not know, a new kindergarten for our son, adapting with the new city which was completely new to us.
After one month of accommodating to the trembling traffic in Bucharest and facing other challenges related our new home, we started to look for a kindergarten for our son, Erik. He was 2 years old back then, but he had experienced kindergarten since 1 year and 2 months. In Bratislava we were lucky to find a lovely kindergarten were the little ones were encouraged to be independent, loving the nature, spending a lot of time outside, being integrated into a loving ,like “second family”, group. So we were having high expectations related a new kindergarten for him.
Based on these expectations we structured some aspects that we took into consideration when we started to look for THE Kindergarten for Erik:
Traffic and distance between home/ work and the new Kindergarten
I started to narrow the search on web based on this aspect, as we did not want to spent more than 30 minutes maximum in the traffic. Traffic can be a real nightmare during rush hours in Bucharest and spending more than 30 minutes looked like a waste of time for us back then. So we started to “Waze” it, “Google” it and so on , making a first list of possible places, that we then narrowed it down to a shorter list.
Language courses and method of teaching, the curriculum
This one was difficult as I wanted to search for a Montessori Kindergarten, meanwhile my husband wanted to put accent on German language, taught as a mother tongue. Unfortunately the Montessori ones were very far from the area where we were living/working, so started to focus the search on the German kindergartens nearby.
Private vs Public Kindergartens
As we were searching during January – February, so the new school calendar already started in September, the year before, chances of finding a place available in a public kindergarten were very small, so our only option was to go for a private one.
When taking the decision as if to go for a public or a private kindergarten, take into consideration also that public system of education is based on a free – tuition system, but usually the classes in public institutions are more crowded and security is sometimes poor in the public system. Some extended details related education in Romania can be found here on wiki.
At this point I had only 4 kindergartens on my list based on: 30 minutes maximum time to spend from office/home to there, private, teaching German as a mother tongue, website information at a first glance looked OK .
So I started to call to see if free places were available. Only two of them had still free places, so I went at the first one to visit, taking also Erik to see if he likes it there.
The details I focused on, while visiting the kindergartens:
♥ Legal Authorizations to Function.
OPERATING AUTHORIZATION. Checking if the place has the proper and legal Authorizations to Function. You will be surprised, but some do not have all the authorizations in place. So just look if they are registered as Limited Company (“SRL” in Romanian) or as an Association. The registration certificates are usually displayed on a notice board close to the entrance. If they are not displayed you can always ask for a draft of a contract, where you can see this kind of info and simply google it, to see if everything looks OK with the company.
HEALTH AUTHORIZATION. Checking if they are preparing internally the meals for the kids they should have a Health Authorization from the local authorities (“SANEPID” called in Romanian). This should also be displayed publicly.
SAFETY AUTHORIZATION. Checking Fire Safety Authorization, ARACIP -Ministry of Education, safety related – from firefighting local authorities.
POOL. While visiting one of the kindergartens I noticed that in the court yard there was a big pool, that was not secured, like with a small fence or something else, so it really looked dangerous for kids to play near it.
STAIRS. The stairs to go to the upper floor were very narrow and from slippery marble, and looked difficult for little kids to safely go up and down by themselves from floor to other.
♥ Cleaning and Health Check
BATHROOM AND KITCHEN. Just look at anything that draws your attention for example in the bathrooms or in the room where they eat.
DOCTOR. They should have a nurse or a doctor who comes regularly and checks the kids’ health.
♥ Meal Plan
FOOD. Some are offering the meal that is cooked in their internal kitchen or some use catering for the lunch meal. If it is provided by a 3rd party, catering company, just make sure you know as many details about them . Asking for example the menu they have for the hole week, it can help you to decide whether something might not be OK .
♥ Disclosure of Daily Schedule
ACTIVITY PROGRAM. In some cases the daily program was until 17.00 which was to early for us, as we could not leave the office until 17.30, so make sure the schedule fits your own working hours plus the time you spend in traffic.
HOLIDAYS. Check how the holidays are set. We had the “surprise” to choose a private kindergarten which was closed for a month during summer, so we had to find a solution to this, as we could not have such a long vacation.
♥ Education Method
CURRICULUM. Check the education method they use. Depending on what you feel is the most suitable for your kid, you can choose from traditional method, Montessori Kindergartens, Waldorf, etc.
♥ Optional Activities
ALL INCLUDED OR NOT. Understand what other additional activities they are organizing. Some have optional activities for which you can subscribe like: going to the theater once per month, arts and crafts workshops, swimming courses for little ones once per week, chess courses, dancing classes, etc. Take into consideration that these activities are to be paid extra the regular monthly fee you need to pay for a private kindergarten.
In the end we found a kindergarten where Erik is happy and this is what really matters, that he is happy there and safe, while spending quality time with the other kids.