I’m an American living in Denmark. Kids learn to read and write later than in the US because there’s more emphasis on playtime.

By Brooke Black for Insider

My second daughter was born a week before the pandemic lockdown in March 2020 in Los Angeles. When my maternity leave was ending, LA was still a COVID-19 hot spot, and my husband and I didn’t feel comfortable putting our older child back in preschool.

We packed two weeks’ worth of things and went to visit my husband’s family in Denmark. What was supposed to be a short trip turned into a move.

We enrolled both kids in Danish day care, and since then, I’ve noticed several differences between preschools in Denmark and those in the US — the first being how easy it was to get a day-care spot through “pladsgaranti,” or a guaranteed spot within three months of signing up.

Workweeks are shorter in Denmark, so parents pick their kids up earlier
Because the Danish workweek is 37 hours, most parents pick up their kids by 4 p.m. at the latest on most weekdays and even earlier on Fridays.

I work for a Danish company and can easily leave in time for pickup. In LA, I would rush across town to get my kid at 5:30 p.m., leaving just enough time for a bath and bedtime. I cherish the time I get with my kids now.

Kids eat a warm meal that the school provides
Most Danish preschools have a kitchen and cook staff on-site. Lunch is a mostly organic, warm meal, such as salmon, pasta, porridge — or “grød” — or curry. The food leans vegetarian and rarely contains red meat. Snacks in the morning and afternoon consist of a healthy grain-and-greens combo, such as dark rye bread, homemade rolls, fruits, or vegetables.

The kids learn to bake, and the smallest ones take turns rolling out the food trays. Everyone helps each other out, which is a cornerstone of Danish society.

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