The Child-care system in Berlin is fantastic however one of the biggest issues we see in our ‘new Berliners’ arriving with young families is finding Kita placement. We would like to introduce two great new start-ups which are offering an interim solution to bridge this problem and/or provide an alternative.
Work’n’Kid: Co-working with Child-care
Work’n’Kid understands the need to create a work-family balance; they offer a reliable child-care service on-site. They have a team of experienced childminders that take care of your child right next door to the coworking space and you have the chance to continue working at your own speed. In addition to your flexible desk and the existing infrastructure, they can provide you with plenty of networking opportunities with like-minded people from different backgrounds. Work’n’kid targets mainly parents of children from the age of 4 months to 3 years; however, if your children are older they are open to helping you find a solution. The costs can be reimbursed by your local Jugendamt, Work’n’Kid can assist you with the application for this.
Kids Circle: Childcare nearby & Online child-care
Kids Circle Nearby . Each group of children is looked after by accredited Kids-Coaches with extensive child-care experience. Activities span a wide range from playing, handicrafts or painting to dancing, reading, theatre and joint storytelling or music. The child-care is provided at 5 outdoor locations in Berlin and upon request at other locations too. Nearby takes place outdoors in all weather and only move to a child-friendly indoor location in case of heavy rain or thunderstorms.
They offer you:
- loving child-care care close to home (e.g. the park or the playground next door) through a large number of care services & Kids-Coaches
- flexible bookable child-care, 2 or 3-hour child-care care offers, which provide the greatest possible flexibility; can be booked up to 3 hours before the start
Online Childcare Kids Circle offers exciting online child-care services for children from 4 years to 11 years. Up to 4 children meet in a video conference and are looked after by online-proven Kids-Coaches. The coaches encourage the children to participate and are also the contact person for questions. The children can see each other and talk and interact with each other. The video conferences last 60 minutes and follow-up care of 30 or 60 minutes can be conveniently booked online. The video conferences are hosted on the Norwegian provider Whereby for data protection reasons because parents do not have to enter any personal data. In addition, the operation is very user-friendly and easy to understand.
Encountering a new school system can be a real challenge for parents and children. We would like to help you understand the basic structure of the German school system and what you and your child will encounter.
Although there is a wide range of international schools in Berlin (and Germany), often families relocating to Germany choose to send their children to the local school. Chances are you are not familiar with how the school system is structured and how your child’s school day will look.
School attendance is mandatory from age 6 and schools are state-run and therefore have no fees. Although there are private schools, most schools are state schools. The individual states within Germany are responsible for the education curriculum in their own state, therefore the curriculum can vary from state to state. After the first 4 years of elementary school ‘Grundschule’, children are streamed into one of three different types of schools according to academic ability and in consultation with teachers and parents. Berlin and Brandenburg are an exception, here Elementary school can go up until 6th grade. The three types of school are Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium, these can then be from 5 – 9th grade or up to 12th grade.
If you decide to send your children to the local school, you will be assigned to a school in your catchment area. If you want your child to attend a different school, then an application will have to be made to the city and approved, this will usually be based on if there is sufficient places at the school you wish your child to attend. Regarding language ability ‘When parents register a child for primary school, the school tests the child’s ability to communicate in German. Wherever a need for improvement is identified, the children are required to take a half-year language reinforcement course before they enter school. This way, all children start school equipped for success.’ (source: https://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/information-for-new-berliners/schools/)
If you choose a private school or an international school the curriculum could be very different from the German system. Private schools have varying fees and will also be subject to an application process.
The school year starts in August, the date depends on which state you live in. School vacations are staggered state by state over the summer to avoid a big rush. There are various vacation during the school year, Fall-break, Christmas, Winter-break, Spring-break (Easter) and then public holidays. Summer is the longest break at around 6 weeks, Christmas is usually around 2 weeks.
The school day starts around 8am and goes until around 1.30pm (this can vary). The lesson periods are 45min and include breaks for snack/play. The exception to this can be so-called ‘Ganztagsschulen’ which offer a longer day. However, all schools offer ‘Hort’ which is an after-school programme where children are served lunch, home-work help and can play – this needs to be applied for separately.
Hort is a childcare service offered by schools offered to parents for before and after school hours. Childcare is usually offered from 7am – 6pm, for parents who need childcare due to their own working hours. This is available for children from 1-4th grade, for 5-6th grade a special application needs to be made. Hort fees depend on the state, in Berlin grades 1-2 are free and further grades are based on income.
Hot lunches are also free for all children in Berlin from grade 1-6.
The BVG (Berlin Transport) has introduced a new ticket for school children. School children now ride all forms of public transport in AB Zones for free. This also includes all children from 6 years, who do not attend school yet – you will need proof: admission notice from the school, the school assignment or the notice of default. This ticket also includes free transport of a bicycle, a dog or a child under 6 years.
The ‘Schülerticket’ needs to be applied for, this can only be done online. You will need to get a Schülerausweis from your school office, this is proof that the child attends the school.
Order chipcard online – to order the chip card (fahrCard) simply upload the photo and current student ID I *, enter data and order directly online.
Note processing time – Until your fahrCard arrives in the post, you can use your student ID I * to ride the public transport from 1 August until 30 Nov, 2019.
(Source: https://www.bvg.de/de )
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‘Berliners’ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.
It is no secret that moving is stressful, then if you add moving to another country and bringing a family then the idea can seem exciting but at the same time very daunting. Not only will the person being relocated be starting a new job, which in itself is a big change but there will be a lot of other adjustments on a personal level.
A new country may mean new language, new culture and a completely new place to navigate. It is very important to do your research and have some idea of what will be expecting you when you arrive. This will help you to feel a little more secure and confident in this awesome adventure ahead!
Your first port of call, if you have a chance is to connect with colleagues or perhaps even friends or acquaintances who might be able to give you an insight into your new home city. Talk through some of their experiences and ask lots of questions. There are also many blogs & ex-pat groups on Social Media, make use of these, ask other ‘new Berliners’ your specific questions and get advice on topics which will be important to you in your new home. Lastly, your relocation consultant, make use of this fantastic resource, explain where you are coming from and what your needs will be, especially regarding your spouse and children.
Language – Berlin is very international and most germans speak reasonable English, however, it is very important for your integration to learn some german. It will help with integration in all areas but especially for meeting new people and community – which in turn is crucial to feeling at home longterm in a new place. Spouses and children should also do a german course if possible. Let people you meet know you don’t speak the language but you are willing to learn, this always help break the ice.
Culture – there is no doubt you will experience all kinds of cultural differences. Be open, be willing to learn and you can read about some of those quirky german ways here…. Germans are generally open and interested in people from other places. Berlin is very multi-cultural and there is a good chance you will also have plenty of opportunity to connect with people from your home country if you would like, this often helps to alleviate homesickness.
Weather – this seems like it wouldn’t be important but it is. If you are coming from a much warmer or sunnier climate then you will find that you should make yourself familiar with what to expect in Berlin. Spring is the awakening after what can be a very long, cold and dark Winter. Summer is usually good and it can be very hot at times, up to 35-39 degrees Celcius. Fall is usually mild with a good mix of rain and shine, golden and a very beautiful time of year and then from mid to late October Winter can appear again and last through to March or even April. Winters can be extremely cold, temperatures plummeting to -10 degrees Celcius at times – a good winter wardrobe is required for all the family, especially children, as in Kindergarten and school the children will spend time playing outside no matter what the weather.
Children: Schools/Kindergarten – It is vital that you do your research regarding how your children will be integrated in your new home town. If you have kindergarten or school-age children, it is important to have an idea what is on offer and particularly if your children have any special needs – how/if these can/will be catered to. International schools may offer a familiar environment but if you are thinking of entering the german school system then it is advisable to understand the basics of how the system is set up and what will be required especially if your children are not yet speaking the language.
A move with children is a big upheaval, but the great news is, children especially those attending school and kindergarten tend to integrate the fastest due to their open nature and quick ability to pick up on language.
The success of a relocation with a family is ensuring every family member is well taken care of and happy. Moving to a new place is such a fantastic experience which will teach life long lessons and make precious memories for life.
Some resources below:
About the author
Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.