Child care services in Switzerland
Child care centres are managed and funded by communes within each canton. Children are admitted to facilities in their local community. Fees for public centres are charged on a sliding scale according to income. Private child care centres have fixed fees and are generally more expensive. However, waiting lists for public centres are frequently longer. It is advisable to apply for child care as soon as you know where you will be living.
Crèches (day care centres) are generally open Monday to Friday, 07:00-18:30. The age of admittance is from about three months to four years. They usually follow a pre-school curriculum. Some crèches also offer lunch and after school care for older children, up to about age 11.
Child care in Bern & Biel/Bienne
Child care in the Canton of Bern is in great demand but there are many options available. Here are a few resources to use as you search for different types of child care in Bern and Biel/Bienne:
- The Red Cross (Croix Rouge, Rotes Kreuz) (DE) offers qualified babysitting services, bookable in advance. This service is for occasional child care support.
- Kinderbetreung Bern offers information in English on child care in Bern.
- The education and sports department of Biel-Bienne (DE/FR) provides a comprehensive list of available childcare institutions.
- Kids au Lac (DE/FR) child care in Biel/Bienne
- Read about the municipal day care centres (DE/FR) and crèches (DE/FR) in Biel/Bienne.
A few day care centres to start looking into:
- Private unsubsidised crèches in Biel/Bienne
- Private subsidised crèches in Biel/Bienne
- Public crèches in Biel/Bienne
- The English speaking playgroup in Bern
- Feusi Preschool in Bern
- Montessori Bern
Starting primary school in Bern and Biel/Bienne
All of the regulations for schooling in Bern are explained thoroughly in the English brochure as well as in several other languages. From the age of four it is compulsory for children to attend kindergarten in Switzerland. Primary school is compulsory at age six. Children attend the school in their neighbourhood. Curriculum in schools includes languages, science, mathematics, art, music and sport.
Public schools in Switzerland often close for the lunch period and children go home to eat. Check with your school to see if they offer lunch for the students. Parents from the school often share care responsibilities so it is always a good idea to speak with other parents at your school.
In Switzerland, children attend the school closest to their home. It is not always a possibility to visit schools before moving to an area, but all schools meet the same high standards. Each public school district has its own website with contact and application information. It is advisable to contact the local school as soon as you know where you will be permanently living.
Attending public school can help children learn the local language and make new friends. Language integration courses will be offered to students who need them. The duration of integration classes depends on the child. Once the child has sufficient knowledge of German, they can join the local school. In surrounding villages, integration classes generally take place in the village school itself.
Instruction in English is available at private and international schools. International schools in Switzerland have their own programmes and do not require German knowledge. These are private fee paying schools and must be applied to individually.
A couple of international schools in the area are below, or find more listings in the Hello Switzerland Directory.
Learn more about public and international school options in the following articles: