Sunday, August 19, 2012

I. Love. Vuggestue.

In late April, Riley started attending a Danish vuggestue (daycare). (You pronounce vuggestue like vogue-estoo.)

I was nervous about this transition for all kinds of reasons: I was afraid being immersed in a school where Danish was spoken would be stressful to Riley, I worried about whether Riley would eat the Danish food served, I was afraid of him being sick all the time, I wasn't sure if the school would be good or not, and basically, I was just afraid to let go.

I had been with Riley full time with very limited help (due to the fact that we moved to a foreign country far from family when he was 7 months old) for about 22 months. Riley had begun some part-time daycare with our regular babysitter when he was about 18 months old (a few hours three days a week) but it was different, because we were comfortable with our babysitter, Riley loves her and she speaks English to him. Now, suddenly, I was taking my little guy to a Danish school where he would be (gasp) away from me! and immersed in Danish (oh the horrors!).

The first day of Vuggestue was definitely culture shock for me all over again. I arrived with Riley and kids were all over the place, on the floor in the entry, climbing on window ledges, just everywhere. I was supposed to stay with Riley while he got to know the teachers and the rhythm of the day at vuggestue, but I felt very out of place in the classroom. Not only did I not understand most of what was being said, but there just also wasn't a place for a parent in the room. I was always in the way of someone trying to do something, climb on the couch, serve food to the kids, etc.

Even entering the school is different. There are two wooden gates that anyone over 5 feet tall could open - unlike the super-secure daycare entrances in the U.S. The gates here are designed to keep kids in, not bad guys out.

There was one kid throwing heavy objects in Riley's class - this worried me a bit. The teachers seemed to be pretty good about stopping him before he hurt his classmates, but he was clearly working through some issues and I didn't want them worked out on Riley's head.

The kids sat on benches that they climbed up onto themselves and they weren't strapped in! They were drinking from ceramic cups, not sippy cups. I was a nervous wreck and Riley really didn't want me to go anywhere either.

But, I realized on that first day that in spite of my nerves, I LOVED the teachers. I felt instantly comfortable with the staff at the school. They are calm, caring, professional, and amazing. There are men and women working in each classroom. Riley's first teacher that he bonded with was a young man named Morton who was cool. I don't remember any daycares we visited in D.C. while I was pregnant with Riley having men on staff. And if they did have men, I think in the US, we might wonder why those men wanted to work in a daycare. Not here. Cool young men work at daycares. They are attractive and have hot girlfriends. They unashamedly work at daycares and they do an awesome job.

We had a standard adjustment period and then Riley began to thrive. He has come home with Danish words - kanin is rabbit, sommerfugl is butterfly... He has friends, he loves his teachers, he is particularly fond of the rugbrød meal they serve on Wednesday. Today, Riley said he wants to go to school tomorrow. He may say something different in the morning, but the fact that he said it at all is pretty fantastic. 

I. Feel. So. Lucky. to have such an amazing place to send Riley during the day. He has gained confidence and independence. He is establishing relationships on his own. He is growing. One week, he got to go on field trips to the beach three times, another week, his class took a trip to see horses because he requested it. 

The school supplies diapers and food throughout the day and we pay 1/3 what we would be paying the daycare in Washington, D.C.

Need I go on? I love vuggestue! Denmark really gets childcare right.


  1. Wow - sounds amazing. I will admit to feeling a bit jealous!! :) Enjoy it!!

  2. Interesting read. Our two year old is starting American daycare next month. Coming from Denmark the prices and security is surely something to get used, but that aside I have a great 1st impression. We moved here from Austria where it's much more like Denmark. It's so fascinating for me to read your blog. Haven't lived in DK for 7 years so

  3. Sorry I keep having trouble posting comments. Anyhow, its interesting to read about your experiences as I have my own far away from home. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Mange hilsner, Dorte in Boston

  4. Read this?