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 Zurich
The city of Zurich has day care centres (Kinderkrippe) for children of pre-school, kindergarten and school age. Local communities fund public centres for children living in the area.
Here are a few places to begin looking for different types of child care in Zurich:
- The Red Cross (Croix Rouge, Rotes Kreuz) (DE) offers qualified babysitting services, bookable in advance. This service is for occasional child care support.
- The Gemeinnützige Frauenverein Zürich (GFZ) (DE) selects and supports qualified child minders who look after children in their own homes.
- Lilliput (DE) is a comprehensive resource with listings for nurseries, nannies and other childcare.
- Rock My Baby offers a nanny and babysitting service.
- In and around Zurich with kids is a useful guidebook.
- You can always contact your local community office or "Familienclub" for information on playgroup times and lists of certified babysitters.
- The City of Zurich also has some useful resources for parents.
- globegarden provides bilingual child care
Starting primary school in Zurich
The regulations for schooling in Zurich are explained here (DE). 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 have registered at your permanent address.
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.
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. The Canton of Zurich website has more information, in English, on international schools in the area.
Some international schools in Zurich:
- SIS – Swiss International School (Wallisellen and Wollishofen) is a top bilingual school for kids from kindergarten through to college.
- ICSZ – Inter-Community School Zurich
- ZIS – Zurich International School
- ISZN – International School Zurich North
- ISW – International School Winterthur
- Find more listings in the Hello Switzerland Directory
Other private and bilingual schools:
- Obersee Bilingual School offers bilingual day care and schooling from three months old.
- Lakeside School is a private bilingual day school for children ages three to 12 years old.
- Freies Gymnasium provides schooling from fifth grade.
- Tandem is a multilingual day care, pre-school, kindergarten and primary school with multiple locations.
Learn more about public and international school options in the following articles: