Government funded playgroup for Israeli 3 year olds next year

This morning my husband came home with our mail – our mailbox is about a five minute walk away, in a direction we don’t usually go in, so we check it about once a week.

Thanks to my new subscription to the Shaar Hamatchil, the easy Hebrew language newspaper, I have been an educated Israeli citizen for the last three weeks.  (Said tongue in cheek.)  On last week’s front page was an article about a new law that just passed – the mandatory age for school children has been dropped from 5 to 3.  Currently, children who are in kindergarten in Israel have fully subsidized education, and apparently beginning in the coming year, three year olds will have their full day daycare experience paid for by taxpayer dollars as well (it’s not clear to me if this would apply to the programs that end at 1 pm).  Yay!  You can just hear the cheers around the  nation.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into my thoughts about if this is a good thing or not.  Obviously if you would have to pay these funds privately and now you don’t, you’ll be happy.  And it’s not clear to me that the government is lowering the mandatory school starting age with this law or not, which would be a bad thing since lowered starting ages doesn’t correlate well with national academic success.

Here’s something that struck me as interesting and ironic, though.  In our mail we received approval for ds12’s hot lunch program that we filed and paid for in August.  Not so speedy processing, but nothing new for government agencies.  And as parents of a child who will be three in the coming school year, we also received a registration form for school.  Now how in the world could an incredibly inefficient government pass the law just one week ago, and already have the forms in my mailbox?  This seems strange to me, and though there are lots of areas of government in which increased efficiency would be welcome, I’m wondering about this incredible and unusual efficiency for a brand new law.  I’m guessing it was a done deal for a while now and they were just waiting for the official vote to roll it out.

I can’t help but wonder how this new law will affect the choices of parents who might otherwise consider keeping their child home at this age.  And since it seems the law applies to full day daycare, will more people opt for the longer day? After all, it’s nice to have the kids out of the house and it gives us more time at home to get things done without them being in the way – and it’s paid for, so why not?

Earlier this year, ds18 commented to me that it must be pretty dull for ds2 to be home alone with me, after being used to the stimulation of so many siblings and constant action who were home all day.  Then one day he was home with the two of us when everyone else was in school, and he told me clearly saw how nice it was for ds2 to be home.   Not because I do anything exciting – I do the same basic things as everyone, getting the house in order, cooking, some errands.  People constantly talk about how important stimulation is for young children, they rarely talk about the need of a child for quiet space.  Being constantly stimulated is not a good thing.

In any case, these aren’t forms I’ll be filling in and sending out!


10 thoughts on “Government funded playgroup for Israeli 3 year olds next year

  1. I don’t think that the forms you got have anything to do with the new law. Dd is now in first grade, so it has been some time, and we get these forms done in the yishuv’s office, but I clearly remember having them ready for us for the first year in gan (3 y.o), and think it has been like that the last few year too.
    Mandatory gan has always been the last year gan chova- (5 y/o/) even though no one will enforce it if you choose not to send your kid),, and is free.
    The year before that (trom- chova) is also free and up till this year you had to pay for the first year in gan (trom trom chova).
    I do not think they made it mandatory (but then again I didn’t read the fine print since it’s not relevant yet), but it just means that people will not have to pay extra for the first year in gan. SInce people who work can get a discount for daycare for under 3’s, not having to pay the next year is a big deal.
    However, gan only runs till 2:00 anyway (since this year, before it was till 1:30), so any kid needing afternoon care 9like those whose parents work), will have to pay for “tzaharon: like they’ve done in the past.

    The one thing which bothers me though is that until now, if you kept your kid at home past 18months/2 years, who seemed weird, and “everyone”sent their kids in trom trom chova even though you paid for it. NOw that it will be free, wnyone keeping her kid at home vs sending him to the first year of gan will be deemed as seriously crazy….

  2. B”H
    I think research shows that children in institutionalized settings too early (3-5) do worse long term. Common sense indicates children would be more prone to burnout by high school, when they should be revving up to launch into serious academics. The government nanny state is a failure. It can’t replace real families and real parenting. It’s easy to teach a child to read; they don’t need “stimulation” or “socialization” outside of the family that Gd intended. There is no more common sense. It’s entirely uncommon. But I know we’re in agreement on this Avivah:))

  3. 1. You got the form because your DS will be 3 and eligible, not because of the new law. (Just like I got the grade 1 form for DS#1 even though his gannenet wants him held back a year…which isn’t happening, but I digress.) The forms are mailed based on DoB and registration eligibility. I will also note that whereas the grade one form states “mandatory registration for children born between x and y dates” the gan forms (all levels) state “registration for eligible children born between a and b dates”…this is true for the gan chova form as well (got one of those this year again too).

    2. I have heard only that gan (ending at 1:30 or 2:00, depending on where you live) will be “free”, not the full day (including tzaharon) program. Tzaharon is already subsidized if you qualify (like daycare), so I can’t imagine they’ll throw money into that. “Free” because the government has said they will pay 800NIS/child…and that is of course only for public (mamlachti/mamad/recognized cheder…) ganim. Here in MA the fee for 3 year old gan last year (5771/2010-11) was 793, so if it’s over 800 my understanding is that parents are going to be billed the difference.

    3. Trom-trom chova (3 y.o.) was not always expensive…some places had it paid for and others didn’t. In MA it was paid for until last year (see above point), so this will simply return what used to be the status quo. With one going in to gan not next year but the year after, I’m curious to see how long this will last.

    4. Tzaharon has never been free (even if both parents work full time) and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. If it did they’d have to provide free daycare for the infant/toddler set as well.

  4. Oh, and you don’t fill in those forms and send them anywhere anyway. (At least, not here.) They’re basically notifications and include the information on how/when to register. This year in MA it’s online registration only. To the point that they’re opening computers to the public in the municipality building for the use of people who don’t have internet access at home…

  5. i don’t think the forms have anythign to do with the law either. this is just the timeof year that your municipality sends out the forms. i think in bigger cities like y-lem and t-v it is done already.

    1. Thank you all for giving me more info on this! Years ago, my three oldest kids attended 3 yo gan in Israel, but never received notifications of this sort. So this is all new to me, though it seems the paperwork aspect isn’t new at all.

  6. Hi Avivah

    I would love if you would be able to expand on the decision to keep your youngest home another year.

    I am struggling with a similar dilemma right now and would love your input.

    (Are there no advantages to being in gan as opposed to at home? Is it really OK to keep your kid home and not plan activities for him/her? etc.)

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing