Entering your child into school, even nursery in a foreign country is a daunting task. When discussing this with our relocation liaison, the one point I was 100% sure of was that our child should be in a school where he will learn Svenska (Swedish). That automatically removed at least half of the international schools from the list of options, as they are 100% English. My son may be a toddler, but his English vocabulary is stellar. Case in point, today he said “Friend wind is being a bit harsh today” and “I do not appreciate friend wind today” about the weather (which was admittedly quite harsh). He also said, “Mommy, you have a big pimple here” (thanks for that kid) and “I just want to go away without you right now” (right back at ya kid). As you can see, he has no issue with expressing himself in English and he clearly needs time with people other than myself. Apparently my novelty has worn off 😉
The primary lure of the first nursery we checked out is that the staff are equally versed in both English and Svenska. They also have a very holistic pedagogy that reminds me of the Montessori approach; using the child’s interest as cues for what to learn and how to approach learning. Mainly, they play. Like all nurseries in Sweden, there is also a strong focus on spending time outdoors. The small ones get lots of fresh air in Sweden, regardless of the outdoor conditions.
We arrived a bit late to our first meeting due to weather and coming from a different area. Despite this, the staff were warm and welcoming. Having fallen asleep for a bit in the car, my little guy was initially a bit reticent. He quickly warmed up after a short tour of the facility. At this point, I should probably mention that I am a person who believes in fate and with good reason… While touring the kitchen, I saw the name of a child on the refrigerator that matched the name of a child we met the previous day. So what, eh? Lots of children share the same name. Scoff not dear readers! After initially commenting on the coincidence, I found out during discussions with the staff that the child we met and the child attending the nursery were indeed one and the same! You concede that is at least a bit odd, no? Yes, that can happen; but there are other factors to consider. We met this child purely by accident at our new apartment building the day before. Our apartment building across town. The appointment we were currently attending was scheduled the previous week. The child’s mother did not tell me which nursery he attended. How is that for a coincidence? Which takes me back to fate…
In addition to that odd coincidence, several other factors stood out for me:
- Friendly staff
- Current availability (it is a new location so not yet full)
- My son’s obvious comfort
- Bilingual staff (one teacher is American and the other is Swedish)
So, what is a mom to do when faced with these factors? Rather than continue touring nurseries, I decided to go with my gut and give this one a try. After all, if it isn’t a good fit, we will figure it out soon enough. That said, I suspect it will be a great fit.
That means that for a full month of 5 hour days, we will pay about the same amount we paid for 1 day of nursery in the UK.
Nursery in Guildford, where we were living, is crazy expensive. Previously, the boy attended one day per week and there was a flat fee of roughly $90 per day. Yikes! Clearly, more than one day wasn’t an option, because my job doesn’t exactly rake in the cash (darn toddlers don’t pay well). Here things are a bit different. The nursery recommended we slot five days per week from 9am to 2pm; so I can schedule myself into full time Svenska classes. Conveniently, there is a school that teaches the language just down the block from the nursery. Going from one day per week of nursery to five days per week is a bit of a shock to my system. I’m not sure how he will cope, but I guess we will see. Now to the nitty gritty, how much is this going to cost? Based on our income, we will need to pay the max allowable. Wait for it…wait for it… That is a grand total of SEK 840 per month. Those of you who remember previous blogs will remember that isn’t nearly as much as it appears. In fact, it’s roughly $98. That means that for a full month of 5 hour days, we will pay about the same amount we paid for 1 day of nursery in the UK. Crazy, right?!?
Sweden is very serious about ensuring all individuals have equal opportunities. There is a concept here that no human life has more value than any other and that as such everyone should be provided the same opportunities. It is also considered important for parents to return to the work force after children are born. Providing good quality, affordable childcare empowers them to do that. While I don’t yet know who I want to be when I grow up; I appreciate them giving me a chance to rediscover find my path. 😉 Feel free to make me a world famous blogger so I can make my way with speaking engagements and the power of the written word… 😀
After a full week utilizing the new nursery, I can say that I have no regrets. The commute is a bit long (30 minutes by tram) and the boy swears he is not having fun (because I’m not there). That said, he’s eating lunch there like a champ, and when his teacher held out her hand to him this morning, he immediately took it and went in to play. He’s also becoming more independent. Tonight he kicked me out of the room at bed time. Within 20 minutes he was sound asleep. Is nursery the cause of this newfound independent streak? I don’t know, and as leery as I am of it, I am also proud of him continuing his journey and finding his way.
Until next time…