My ♥ CPH: “The Danish way of parenting completely resonated with me.” 

Chava Sanderson is the founder of ‘New Kids in Denmark’ – a one-stop shop that provides services to expats raising their kids in the Danish way

Chava Sanderson, 42, first realised that Danish childcare culture is very different from her own upbringing in the United States when she dropped her kids off at daycare for the first time. She quickly noticed that many expat parents were asking the same questions in Facebook groups and social gatherings about the Danish parenting style, and this led to the birth of her website, ‘New Kids in Denmark’ – a one-stop shop that provides parenting advice and other services toexpats raising their kids in the Danish way.

I settled in Denmark because … I met a Dane and, over time, we decided that Denmark was the best place for our kids to grow up. I came here in 2008. 

If you ask me if it was love at first sight, I would say … yes! When someone arrives in Denmark, their honeymoon period starts. Everything seems great in this country, but after a year you ask yourself: “What am I doing here?” It took me about seven years to finally accept this place as home. 

My favourite thing about living in Copenhagen is … that it is kid-friendly and safe. This city has a lot of space for kids to be themselves. 

The most interesting thing I learned about Danish parenting was … that they send their kids to daycare when they are only 10 months old. Most parents in the US prefer to keep them out of daycare for at least two or three years or be stay-at-home parents, which is non-existent here. Many parents who contacted ‘News Kids in Denmark’ were also shocked that they are expected to put their kids in childcare so soon. At daycare, there’s a lot of focus on learning through play – especially social skills. Similarly, children start late at school and they are not required to be able to read or write beforehand. They are taught this in the first year of school. 

I chose Denmark/Copenhagen to raise my kids because … Um, I really like it. The Danish way of parenting completely resonated with me. The reason is that kids are allowed to be kids here. Even the parents here like kids to be independent people from a young age. They learn to figure out their likes and dislikes and express their opinions. I also appreciate the way parents let their kids experiment with things a little more and try things out – like you would never see in the US. For instance, under supervision, kids can play with specific sharp objects like a saw to cut up a picnic table. The idea behind this is to let them learn by using it because who will the kids learn from if they don’t try? I think it leads to kids becoming adults who are much more self-aware and have more emotional maturity and independence.

My startup in Denmark … has been very successful.  There is a lot of interest among expat parents to learn about Danish parenting. I hold courses for parents who want to learn about daycare in Denmark. These courses help with their individual questions and issues. The participants are usually parents who already live here and would like help others with dealing with problems in the daycare or finding a daycare, and parents who will be moving to Denmark soon and would like to be prepared when they get here. I have also been contacted by parents who would like to learn about schools in Denmark. I am in the process of creating services for parents of school-age children.

My favourite observation about the Danes is… that they’re really good about being content with life and seeing the positive aspects of their situation. 

Here in Denmark/Copenhagen, I never get used to… the long and lovely sunny days. I am continuously in awe of them. Even though I’ve been here so long, I still love the idea that the days are so long and the summers are beautiful here.

 Jeg kan tale … Danish really well. I worked for Copenhagen Municipality for eight years. One of the first things I did when I moved here was spending a year to learn the language and then trying to get a job where I could speak Danish. 

On an integration scale of 1 to 10, I would say I’m a …. Nine! I feel more at home here than in Texas, where I come from. 

I have more international friends in my social circle because … even though I completely relate to Danish people, I have very few Danish friends. I have a good time working with and interacting with them, but getting close to them is hard. But I also think it’s because I’m a person who is kind of closed and introverted. I have a hard time making new friends anyway. So the combination doesn’t work very well. I guess they’re also like that. So it’s very easy to make friends with other people who aren’t Danish because they’re automatically a little more open, and we have more common interests.

If I recommended a visitor to Copenhagen, I would tell her/him to visit …. Frilandsmuseet, an open-air museum in the north of Copenhagen. It is located in Lyngby and has many houses from different areas in Denmark. It’s a beautiful place with animals and activities for kids, especially during the summer. It’s also a great outing to take your friends or family there for the day, walk around, and enjoy the weather. 

If I should select three food and drink venues, I would opt for… Reffen, Copenhagen street food. Although my husband is Danish, he doesn’t eat much outside. But whenever we eat out, we opt for Reffen. One can find many food options, but my husband always gets the same meat and potatoes. 

The three words that best describe Copenhagen are … cosy, green and kid-friendly.