How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
The bathrooms in large supermarkets do have a space to change diapers. There are also many well maintained playgrounds all around the city and surrounding areas.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
As mandatory schooling only begins when the children are between six and seven years of age, the existing structures for child care before this age play an important role in the flexibility of family life.
One of the best resources for trained, reliable and reasonable baby-sitters is the Red Cross (Croix-Rouge, Rotes Kreuz). Requests must be made at least two to three days in advance. Telephone: 026 347 39 40.
DAY-MOTHERS (Mamans de jour/Tagesmütter)
Qualified women who belong to the Association des Mamans de jour/Tagesmütterverein (026 322 69 26). This association is used by families who do not necessarily want nursery schools, but prefer to have more individual care for their child or children.
NURSERY SCHOOLS (Crèches-garderies/Kinderkrippen)
The closest equivalent to the day-care centers commonly found in the US, UK, and Scandinavia. They provide qualified child-care for infants and children from 6:30 am or 7:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. These nursery schools are reserved, with priority given to children of the resident municipality and the waiting list is often quite long. The daily rate is calculated with regard to the level of family income.
DAYCARE (garderies d'enfants/Spielgruppen)
Pre-schools for children. They emphasize arts and crafts and have good quality materials available. A list of options can be found in the phone book under "Garderies d'enfants/Spielgruppen".
Organized by parents, local residents' associations, parishes, large department stores, etc. for the purpose of freeing up the parent for a few hours during the day on an occasional basis (for example to let you do your shopping in peace). There is no advanced registration or reservation needed, the prices are moderate. For example, you will find this service in the Migros department store of Avry-sur-Matran.
KINDERGARTEN (école enfantine/Kindergarten)
Is not mandatory by law in the canton of Fribourg, but it is widely viewed as an excellent opportunity for children age five to learn fundamental social behavior and basic language skills and it is free of charge. This is particularly important for foreign children.
At the age of six or seven, children will have to start elementary school, which is mandatory and lasts six years.
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
There aren't any issues that are out of the ordinary. Basically, you can't go wrong with exercising caution around traffic and just being aware of what children are up to.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
Kids usually really enjoy visiting magnificent old middle age castles, such as the Castle of Gruyères or the Castle of Chillon by Lake Geneva.
Fribourg does not have its own zoo, but there are some not too far away in Bern or a bit further in Basel. There are also some museums that are particularly adapted for kids, for example the regional museum of Estavayer le Lac presents a collection of preserved frogs displayed in human-like activities or there is the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne. For older kids, the International Red Cross Museum, the Olympic Museum or the Museum of Food and Culture could be fun and educational. Activity parks such as the Aquapark, the Swiss Vapeur Parc, representing a miniature railway layout, or the huge labyrinth of Evionnaz, offer activities almost all kids enjoy.
During the month of July, a special day camp program for children aged 7 to 16 is organized in the city of Fribourg. This program, called "vacation passport" ("passeport vacances"/"Ferienpass") offers kids a very wide range of activities to choose from.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
Usually, schools are very well informed on the various types of activities that children can participate in after school or on weekends. The open-air swimming pool "La Motta" in the old town of Fribourg is a good activity in the summer as well as skiing in the winter.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Teenagers usually participate is some club activity, such as dancing, sports, etc., which can take up quite some time after school. On the weekends, they usually hang out in the local bars.
Note that the drinking age in Switzerland is 18. Your child will not be allowed to buy any alcohol or cigarettes before the age of 18 and the cashier should ask for an ID card if they are not sure about the age.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
The Fribourg scout club offers adventure, amusements and activities to develop a sense of responsibility for boys ages 6 to 18. There is also a co-ed adventure program for ages 14 to 20, with an emphasis on high adventure activities. Programs are centered at local schools.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
As for learning the language, young people can either learn it in school or take special language courses. The best way of learning a language, however, is to be surrounded by people who speak it. This is also a good way to assimilate into the local culture.
The school will also propose some activities for your children during the summer holidays.
Fun Places to Go:
- Castle of Gruyères
- Castle of Chillon
- Zoo of Bern
- Museum of Estavayer-le-Lac
- Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne
- Swiss Vapeur Parc
- Labyrinth of Evionnaz
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