What Type of Kita is Right for You?

28 January 2022 | By Lisa H

As you’re doing your research, you might be wondering what type of Kita is right for you. Especially if you’re looking for a young child, it can be hard to know what will suit your child’s needs and interests best – at least I thought it was hard when I was looking for our daughter!

While I don’t have the magic formula for you, here’s a few criteria that may help you decide:

Type of Kita

There’s three main types of daycare facilities in Berlin: Kindertagesstätten (Kitas), Tageseltern (also Tagesmutter, Tagespflege) and Kinderladen/Elterninitiative.

The most common type is the Kindertagesstätte (Kita), which is run by an organisation (private or affiliated with the city) and usually takes care of kids between 1 and 6 years old. A Kinderladen or Elterninitiative is a Kita run by parents for kids 1-6 years old. Meanwhile, a Tagespflege oder Tagesmutter in Berlin takes care of kids aged 1 to 3 years old.

All of the types of daycares accept the city-funded Kita-Gutschein (voucher).

Size of Kita and Age of Kids

There are Kitas of all shapes and sizes in Berlin – small, intimate groups of just 3-5 kids (usually found at a Tagespflege or Tagesmutter) and big Kitas of 150 kids or more.

Is one better or worse than the other? Not necessarily! Just because the Kita is big overall doesn’t mean that individual groups are big as well (although they may be, especially if the Kita has an “open” concept (offene Arbeit in German).

You will also find different concepts when it comes to age – some Kitas have groups for kids 1-3 years old (Krippe) and a group for those kids 3-6 years old (Kindergarten). Some Kitas are altersgemischt meaning kids aged 1-6 years old are all taken care of together.

These questions may help you decide what type of setting is right for you:

  • Does your child prefer intimate settings and is easily affected by noise?

  • Or does your child prefer being able to choose where and who and what to play with and wants lots of choice?

You will also want to consider that in big Kitas staff can substitute for sick teachers whereas this is harder in smaller Kitas and for Tageseltern that work on their own.

Last but not least, I am not sure if there are any studies on this, but we have found that our kids got sick a lot in the first couple of years at Kita (with 14 other little kids in their group) whereas this was not the case with friend’s kids that were at a smaller or more mixed group (age-wise). But again, this is just our personal experience!

Concept

There are a ton of different concepts out there – Reggio, Montessori, Situationsansatz, Fröbel…

These concepts structure the day-to-day work at the Kita and define how teachers, parents and kids work together – but it's hard to know what they all mean! Let us know if you’re interested in learning more and we’ll do a separate article on this!

For now, here’s an overview of the most common concepts (in German).

Focus

There’s different focus areas for Kitas such as movement, nature/outdoors, integration (of kids with disabilities), theater, religion, etc. It varies if and how these are implemented, so ask what this means for the Kita’s day-to-day.

Hours (and summer closure)

Make sure you research the hours of your target Kitas to make sure they align with your work schedule since some Kitas (and often Tageseltern) close fairly early, i.e. at 2 or 3pm.

Every Kita will also have some days that they close for team days, workshops and usually for some time in the summer – this can vary between a couple of weeks and more than a month, so it’s good to find out about this (and if they offer any “emergency” care during this period).

Location

Location is probably the first thing you will look at when building your Kita list. Check what Kitas are near where you live, how easy it is to get there for you (can you walk, ride a bike with and without kids, what is public transportation like for a rainy day…?).

You may also want to consider Kitas on your way to work, although with Covid this is perhaps less relevant at the moment.

Other

What is else important for your family? Think about languages (there’s a good amount of bilingual Kitas in Berlin but do check their requirements), food (vegetarian, vegan…), is it important for you that the Kitas have their own outdoor space?

❤️ You can build your list by hitting the heart icon on the Kita details page and then adding your own notes about what you like, when you contacted them, when to follow-up etc.

Good luck and let us know what else you want to learn more about!

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