On the hunt for a gan

January 20, 2010 - 2:30 PM by

I’ve been on a gan hunt. For the last two months, okay, maybe more like six weeks, I’ve been searching for the right day care options for my boys, who will be 23 months old in September.

I had no idea that finding a gan — or mishpachton, nursery school, or any other kind of day care center — would be such an ordeal. I mean, this is Israel, land that loves children, land that is always last minute about everything. It just never occurred to me that I’d have to start looking for the appropriate childcare situation for my boys in December, for September.

But when you have twins, people told me, you want to be sure you get the right place with space for two kids, not just one. You want to be sure there’s the right ratio of ganenet — the gan teacher — to kids. As in 6 or 7 kids to one adult, as opposed to 12 or 15 to one adult (although I’ve never seen that on any of my gan visits.) You want to make sure that the food served for lunch is freshly cooked, not microwaved schnitzel. That they offer plenty of outdoor playtime, fun arts and crafts, and the right kind of space for naps.

This all made sense to me. After all, I’ve got enough reservations about putting my kids into an institutionalized setting at the tender age of two. If I’m really doing this, I want to make sure it’s in the right kind of place, with the right kind of teacher.

But something about the search made me feel like a New Yorker fighting for space for my kid in a top-notch private school, to ensure them the right path in life. As in, if they go to the Kol Haneshama gan, will that automatically send them on the Reform schooling route? Will a mishpachton in someone’s home not offer the same kind of finger painting options that they’d have in a more formal setting? And should it be an English-speaking setting as opposed to Hebrew-speaking, creating a bi-lingual option in their developing brains?

Yes, all these and more, were the questions floating around in my brain, knowing all the while that none of it, really, makes a tremendous difference at age two. I finally did what I usually do in these life-altering situations — as in profession, relationships, health — and went with my gut.

That led me to Gaby, a lovely South American ganenet who leads seven small people in her home-based mishpachton, just over the busy corner makolet owned by her husband and brother-in-law, where we often stop in for milk and bread. True, you sort of have to walk through the makolet to get to the staircase that leads to her apartment. And you pass crates of soda, boxes of cereal and the cups of Turkish coffee being drunk by the makolet workers from an overturned crate. But Gaby just calls down to Sasson, her husband, if she’s run out of Multi Cheerios for breakfast, and someone runs it up to her. And if she’s taking the toddlers down to the backyard for some outdoor play, her husband or brother-in-law come up to help everyone down.

You know how it is. It’s the Israeli way.


7 Comments on On the hunt for a gan

  1. Nicole on Wed, Jan 20th 2010 3:35 PM
  2. You know that the law in Israel for a mishpachton is one adult to maximum 5 kids under age 3, and that most mishpachtonim have 1:3 or 1:4? Does she have another adult working with her? (not just in the makolet)

  3. IsraeliMom on Wed, Jan 20th 2010 6:33 PM
  4. I’m not a native speaker, but to get the right pronunciation, should it be “searching for a gun”? ;)

    And yes, it is an ordeal. By the time you find one that you actually want, turns out you had to register for it back when you had the first ultrasound test.

  5. jessica on Wed, Jan 20th 2010 6:40 PM
  6. she does, but thanks for checking with me.

  7. Tanya on Tue, Feb 9th 2010 6:53 PM
  8. Hi Jessica…am enjoying reading your blog entries. Do you know if by any chance Gaby has a music teacher? I am a ritmikait and only work with little ones in mishpachtonim and peutonim and am looking for work for next year, You contact me at tanya@jacobs-shipway.org

  9. Yaffa on Mon, Jan 24th 2011 4:55 PM
  10. See, I wish someone had informed me of this. I thought I was being all prepared, looking in January. I feel like I missed the memo and I don’t even know when it arrived. Now I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to find someone for my twin girls and haven’t got any idea where to even start, and it’s nearly February! Good for you for finding a food option, at least!

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