Brussels - nurseries /creches for 18m DD?

(10 Posts)
Whatsnextforus Thu 12-May-11 09:07:33

DH may be about to be posted to Brussels (NATO but as a civilian) - we're still mulling it all over but if we go it will likely be in august for three years. DD will be 18 months in August. Can anyone tell me about avsilabity and cost of nurseries for children of that age in Brussels? Are they very expensive (we live in London now! Can they be more expensive than that?) Or difficult to find/ get into. She goes to nursery three days a week at the moment and I would like to do something similar if we went to Brussels. Would putting a pre-talker into a French nursery be traumatic for her? Very grateful for any advice - and any general thoughts about living in Brussels with a toddler / potentially having a second child in Brussels.

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Longtime Thu 12-May-11 10:00:55

Hi Whatsnextforus. A lot of mums work full-time here so there are lots of nurseries/crêches here. I can't give you specific advice but did find this for you www.blbe.be/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=1814 which gives some information. You should look for one that's recognised by the ONE (Birth and Childhood Office). I would imagine they are cheaper than London and I think they are tax deductable to a certain extent.

I don't think putting a pre-talker into French will necessarily be traumatic. Mine went to school at 3 with no French. They weren't very happy to start with to be honest but I think it's worse at 3 than when they're a toddler.

Brussels is a great place to be with little ones. The BCT www.bctbelgium.com/ is a brilliant organisation and one I can't recommend highly enough. Having a baby here is great too. You are very well looked after though it can be a bit medical which might bother you. It didn't bother me as I had pretty rubbish pregnancies so was happy to be looked after in the way I was.

natation Thu 12-May-11 13:21:57

Hi there
with an 18 month old, your child would only be one year away from being able to go to full/part time free maternelle (French) / kleuterschool (Dutch). Would you be looking for a 3 day a week creche / kribbe for work purposes or just for a break? I am asking this because there is a system of drop-off creches here which are reasonably cheap, some can be booked in advance, some literally turn-up at 9am and hope you have a place for the day. They are either called 1) haltes-garderie / haltes-acceuil and there is usually one in every commune and are for all day care, or 2) the Farandoline system (some have a different name to this) with half day care, a permanent member of staff and parents go on a rota to help with child care. I am not entirely 100% on costs, but estimate that you are looking at less than 25 euro per day for this type of care, possibly less. The other system is traditional creches. They fall into 4 categories : 1) the public creche system, virtually no chance of a place unless both parents are working and reservation is made before 4 months pregnant, priority to those on a low income too, 2) private creches which are inspected either by ONE or Kind en Gezin, typically cost 450-600 euro in Brussels, again reserve mainly full time places before 4 months pregnant, 3) private creches which are inspectec by ONE or Kind en Gezin and which market particularly to expats eg KidsFarWest and Kids Attitude which have about 10 creches in the east Brussels areas, these ALWAYS have vacancies, a full time place costs around 800 euro per month, a part time place costs 50% more pro-rata, many many expat children there on part time contracts, they are willing to give short term contracts 4) private creches which are NOT inspected at all and the only ones which are not tax deductable, not too many of these eg Thumberlinas.

You could try and secure a place at one of the International Montessori group schools in east Brussels / Vlaams Brabant, but for 3 days again you are looking at 850 euro per month, term time only at least, unlike all the other creches which are open 51 weeks of the year.They take children at some of the schools from 15 months old. International Montessori are nominally French / English but in reality these are minority languages of the children, don't expect too much French being picked up there.

No it should not be any or much more traumatic going into French than going to a new setting for a child that age.

If you do move and are interested in maternelle / kleuterschool, do look immediately for a place, the most popular schools will do their enrolments 18 months in advance.

natation Thu 12-May-11 13:31:09

PS our house is available to rent from August, it's in an area very popular with expats in east Brussels, not too far from NATO, I know 2 employees just a few houses from us. We are near to the tram, metro, cinema, sports centre, shops, restaurant,3 excellent local schools, forest is not far.If you are not paying the rent, our place is fantastic. But since we are now obliged to pay rent, we are having to move :-<< if interested, just send a message.

natation Thu 12-May-11 13:43:44

PS again. Thought it might be useful to quote in prices per day or half day. Realistically one of the expat marketed creches such as KidFarWest or International Montessori school are going to cost you in the region of €65 euro per full day, €35 per half day. A halte-garderie / Farandoline is going to cost perhaps €25 per full day, €15 per half day. A local public or private creche would similarl cost around €25 per day, but part time place there are very very difficult to find at short notice.

Remember for local public and private creches and private expat creches too, you pay for 51 weeks a year as a general rule, for International Montessori, you pay per school year of around 38 weeks, a halte-garderie or a Farandoline, you pay per day attended / booked.

vvviola Thu 12-May-11 14:40:55

You seem to have got most of the information from natation, but just wanted to tell you our experience.

We moved here when DD was 18 months, and she went into a full-time French speaking creche. (One of the ones marketed at ex-pats, but the English level of the staff was minimal, and in any case they only spoke English to us, it was 100% French with the children). She had absolutely no issues language-wise. Now, 2 years later, she is completely fluent in both French and English and attends a local maternelle which she adores.

We did move creche after just under a year - but that was more because of the illness policy of the creche (rectal temperature taking on what seemed like an irrationally frequent basis, sending children home once they reached 38.4 and requiring a doctor's certificate before they would be allowed back). When we moved, we went from being called to collect DD almost once a week, to being called twice in 9 months (by the way, there was nothing wrong with DD at all, the doctor was quite frustrated at having to see her so often - and she never had a temperature at the other creche). Apart from that one bump we've been incredibly happy with the creche & maternelle system here and we'll be very sad to leave at the end of the year.

natation Thu 12-May-11 15:13:15

www.gardes-bb.be/
Here's a website which lists creche vacancies in Brussels and surrounding area. ASBL Pomme et Canelle in 1150 post code is near me. I know a child who went there part time in 2008-9. It is a local creche NOT marketing to expats so should be around €25 per day.

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scaryteacher Thu 12-May-11 16:49:16

I think also there is a nursery/creche at NATO, can get dh to find out if you want.

Portofino Thu 12-May-11 21:46:51

Dd went to a private creche near Nato when she was 2. It cost under 600 euros a month - but that was 5 years ago, I was paying the (then) equivilent of a 1000 euros a month in the UK at the time so it seemed much cheaper. It was fine and dd was happy. They did a very good job at potty training! It was different from the UK in that it was not so structured in the way of activities. The kids just played. Not bad necessarily, bearing in mind what comes later, but a change in what I was used to.

Dd was not traumatised and in fact was extremely excited to start Maternelle at 2.5 (and free of course). I spent the first day in floods of tears, worrying that she wouldn't be able to tell them if she wanted the loo, or was hungry. She was absolutely fine. We never looked back really. She didn't speak much for the first 6 months, then it kicked in. She hasn't stopped talking (in French) since.

Whatsnextforus Thu 12-May-11 23:16:43

Thanks so much everyone. We'll probably be clearer I'm the next week or so whether or not DH is going to be offered the post - but I feel very positive following your posts. If he gets it, I'll doubtless be in touch! Thank you!

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