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.

(Source: https://www.berlin.de/familie/de/informationen/berliner-schulsystem-im-ueberblick-101

https://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/information-for-new-berliners/schools/

https://www.expatica.com/de/living/family/daycares-and-preschools-in-germany-107640/ )

 

We would like to share some information with you about compulsory vaccinations in Germany, there have been recent law changes which affect all kindergarten and school children as well as adults working in childcare or the medical sector and also for refugees/asylum seekers living in group accommodation.

From March 2020, parents will have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before they can be admitted to a kita or school.  The vaccination obligation also applies to childminders and staff in day-care centers, schools, medical facilities, and communal facilities such as refugee shelters.  Children will only be admitted to kindergarten or school if they have had the jabs and violations can result in fines of up to €2,500. The proof can can come from a vaccination certificate, a ‘Kinderuntersuchungsheft’, a special booklet parents fill out documenting their child’s vaccines, or by a medical certificate that shows that the child has already had measles.
(source: https://www.thelocal.de/20190717/germany-makes-measles-vaccination-compulsory-for-children)

Measles is one of the most contagious and infectious diseases. Across Europe, 12,352 measles cases were reported in 2018. In 2019, 501 cases were registered in Germany by mid-October. Throughout 2018, the nationwide number of reported diseases was 544 cases. Measles often comes with complications and leave lasting health issues. In the worst case, this includes fatal brain inflammation. A measles infection is, contrary to popular belief, not a “harmless child’s disease”. Vaccines offer the best protection against measles. They ensure lifelong immunity. (source https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/impfpflicht.html )

The Kinderuntersuchungshelf is also available in English.

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I 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.

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.



Winter clothing for children (and adults) is taken very seriously in Germany, mainly because it can be very cold and people like to enjoy the outdoors in all weather. If you are coming from climates which have mild or no winters then this will be new to you. It’s time to get your family winter ready!

Berlin can get cold in winter with temperatures dropping well below freezing and if you are lucky there can even be snow on the ground for weeks at a time. However, all buildings are well heated and therefore especially for kindergarten and school children, the so-called ‘onion look’ otherwise known as layering is the best bet.

One piece snow suits (Schneeanzug) are a good investment for smaller children, they can dress normally underneath and pull this on when going outside and it is a good item for children to be able to put on themselves. For older children, from around 6 years old a pair of snow pants and a jacket are often more appropriate.

Tights (Strumpfhosen)- are for both boys and girls, they come in all kinds of colours and thickness. They are worn under trousers or dresses and for smaller children in KiTa children will wear them around in place of trousers when playing inside.

Bodys (Bodysuits/Onsie) – Until children are out of nappies, they wear bodysuits under their clothing. Germans like to keep the kidneys warm and these ensure the childrens backs are not exposed to the cold. This is basically a t-shirt (short of longs sleeved) which is connected by snaps at the crotch. Littlies who sleep at KiTa will most likely sleep in this item and tights for their afternoon nap.

Warm winter boots (Stiefel) – essential item for children playing outside in cold weather as gumboots, although great for keeping feet dry, they can’t keep them warm. It is worthwhile to invest in shoes which are both weatherproof and warm.

Hats, scarves, gloves (Mützen, Shal, Handschuhe) – all these items are a must-have, having a couple of each is highly recommended as they are also the items which seem to easily go missing at KiTa and school.

Slippers (Hausschuhe) – all KiTas and many schools will have children wear slippers when indoors, especially in winter to keep the spaces the children are in clean.

Rain pants (Matschhosen) – another must-have for those wet days when it is not cold enough for snow gear. KiTas and schools will require children to have a pair there at all times.

Thermals (Thermo-Unterwäsche) – for those really very chilly days, thermal underclothes are very good to have – mainly if children are playing sports outside or for playing in the snow and skiing.

All of these items can be purchased new or secondhand. There are many great secondhand stores around Berlin and it is very worthwhile especially for small children 0 – 6 years to not have to buy everything new as it is usually only worn for one winter.



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.