My baby and I have been inseparable since birth and I could not imagine her being taken care of by a stranger. In India, where I come from, there are grandparents at home to take care of children so kids have to go to school after 2 years of age or later. But since living in Sweden, I have started working and I had no option but to send her to förskola.
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One of the disadvantages of living away from your family is that you do not have help to care for your kid if you work. Also, I feel that kids do not see many people around. It is just mama and papa which makes the kid’s world very small. My baby doesn’t really like to be around strangers. I also realized I am too attached to her and I needed to distance a little bit so that she grows as a person and learns new things. As we all know, being overprotective can hinder your child’s growth.
The basics of förskola
Here in Sweden, kids need to be minimum 1 year old in order to go to förskola. In Gothenburg, you need to apply here and there is a queue to get admitted. They give you a place usually very close to your home to make the commute easy. It is advised to apply at least 6 months before you want to start school.
Timing is everything
We started förskola when my baby turned one and did inskolning for 3 months during winter time. However, my baby cried a lot and could not settle down. Teachers and I tried our best but it was just too much. I was then advised by teachers to take a break and start again the next semester in a different school as she will grow a little and might respond better. My best tip is to judge the situation and understand the right age to send your child to school. Every kid is unique.
I failed in my first attempt and I am trying again in August. My child responds better when I am not around now. Teachers are fun and patient and they are helping us with a flexible schedule too. One week it will be just 2 hours of my baby being alone in school, then in the second week, she will be eating food at school. The third week she will get to sleep there. Teachers have been patient enough to take a step by step approach to settle kids.
The first day I cried like a baby myself as I could not bear the thought of abandoning her. Leaving your kids with strangers for long periods of time is a tough task. But when the Swedish förskola system gives you so much help, you feel mentally strong enough to go ahead and send your child to them.
Here’s some information that I have found useful about förskola in Sweden:
- The “inskolning” is for 15 days but can be longer or shorter based on the child’s needs. Some kids settle down in just 3 days. For others, it might take 1 month or 2. Kids can start at age 1 and you will find kids until the age of 6.
- Teachers are extremely patient and loving towards kids. They give personal attention to each kid particularly when they start.
- Kids are fed healthy meals and the menu is different every day of the week. If Monday is soup and salad, then Tuesday is pancakes and salad. Wednesday is rice, curry and salad. Thursday is mashed potatoes and falafel. These are vegetarian options and there are non-vegetarian options too. Preferences need to be provided on the first day of school.
- Förskola usually starts between 8.30- 9.00 depending on the parent’s schedule. Then 9.00 to 10.30 is playtime and activities such as singing and dancing to nursery rhymes. They play with water and floating boats (during summer), build Lego castles, cycle, play on swings or colouring and drawing. During this time, kids are given fruits snacks such as apples or bananas. Then 11.15 to 11.30 is lunch time. 11.30 to 1.30 is sleep time and 1.30 to 4.00 is play time. Schools close at 5.00 so parents have to pick up kids before that time.
Kids usually love the förskola atmosphere as it is very positive and child-friendly. There are numerous toys and books. Every corner is child-friendlyy so that they do not get hurt while playing.
All in all, it is a wonderful and safe place to leave your kids as they learn new skills and develop values such as sharing and caring in a fun way. At the same time, one as a parent learns to let them grow on their own one step at a time.
Make sure you mark your kids clothes somehow. And I mean EVERYTHING they bring to förskolan. Shoes, socks, hats, favorite cuddly toy, blanket etc. With 15-20 kids in a group it is impossible for the teachers to keep track of every kids every clothes item and things will definitely disappear. Also, you will find items arriving home that do not belong to your child – and it’s nice to be able to send it back to the rightful owner. You can mark with a pen, embroider if you are ambitious or use stickers.
Find out how to make the most of your experience as a parent in Sweden here.
Written by Jyoti Kadukar
I was born and brought up in Mumbai India and have lived in different parts of India before arriving in Sweden. Luckily after coming to Sweden I got pregnant and had an extremely good experience delivering and caring for my child full time. Recently I started working full time and have been enjoying the work culture here. I love the fact that I can work and take care of my child here without compromising family life.