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School System in Germany

When your kid turns six in Germany, he or she must start attending school since it is a legal requirement. There is no tuition to send your kids to one of Germany's publicly funded schools. Further, there are fee-based private and foreign institutions.

Education policy is a matter for the separate states. This implies that the location of your home will influence the quality of the schools your children attend. Curriculum and textbooks for school-aged children may vary from one state to another. States also provide a wide variety of educational options. The basic framework of the German education system looks like this:

Typically, six students enter Grundschule (primary school), including Kindergarten through Third grade. There are two exceptions to this rule: the capital city of Berlin and the state of Brandenburg. Your kid's academic achievement will be considered when you and your child's instructors pick which secondary school your child will attend after elementary school.

There are many different kinds of Weiterführende Schulen (secondary schools), but the most prevalent ones are:

● Hauptschule (general secondary school for grades 5 through 9 or 10) (general secondary school for grades 5 through 9 or 10)

● Realschule (more practical secondary school for classes 5 through 10) (more practical secondary school for grades 5 through 10)

● Gymnasium (higher intellectual secondary school for grades 5 through 12 or 13) (more academic secondary school for grades 5 through 12 or 13)

● Gesamtschule (comprehensive school for grades 5 through 12 or 13) (comprehensive school for grades 5 through 12 or 13)

Primary and Secondary Schools:

After finishing the Hauptschule or Realschule, students have the option to enter vocational training or continue their education at the Sekundarstufe II/Oberstufe (sixth form) level at a Gymnasium or Gesamtschule.


Alternative to the traditional three-tiered schooling system that combines the functions of the Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium.


Upon completing the Abitur tests in either the 12th or 13th grade, students get a diploma of advanced secondary education that allows them to enrol in a university or university of applied sciences. However, they might choose job-specific education and immediately join the workforce.

Registration of International Students at Schools

If you are moving to Germany with school-aged children, you may ask how to enrol them in a school there. The administration discusses the matter with the district's education board before making a final decision. Due to their lack of German abilities, freshly arrived youngsters are usually not allowed to attend regular school sessions and are provided special trial courses. Their eventual inclusion in mainstream classrooms is the ultimate aim.

Guidelines for identifying a high-quality educational institution

To a large extent, you have complete autonomy over the educational choices you choose for your kid. That's why it's wise to visit many educational institutions. A good school is one where students have opportunities to learn outside of the classroom via events like plays, athletics, clubs in foreign languages and music, and field excursions. The involvement of parents is another hallmark of a quality educational institution. Also, inquire about the school's extracurricular activities while you're there to see if they fit your child's interests. Make sure the school provides German courses, also known as Deutsch as a Second Language (DSL), for your children if they are not yet proficient in the language (German as a foreign language). The instructors will ensure your kid is following along in class and learning what they need to know.

Education for Young Children in Germany

Which Programs Are Considered Preschools in Germany?

In the Federal Territory of Germany, children aged 0 to 6 may participate in early childhood education, supplementary education and care.

Who Is Responsible for Preschool Teaching in Germany?

The State Youth Welfare Offices, or "Landesjugendämter," of each German state primarily oversee the country's preschool programs. They are the ones that provide permits for daycares and preschools to operate legally in their communities.

Preschool education service providers must fulfil several criteria for an appropriate operating licence. The optimal ratio of teachers to students, clean and safe facilities, age-appropriate curriculum, and enough supplies are all crucial components of a quality early childhood education program.

Lander, or "Kommunen" in Germany, provides funds for the operation and investment of preschool education institutions, and these funds are managed by youth offices.

Where Can One Find Preschool Programs in Germany?

Publicly funded preschool programs in Germany tend to be smaller and more spread out than their private counterparts. Children may attend "Kinderkrippen" (crèches), "kindergarten," or "daycare" for early education.

The government gives private groups like churches, welfare organisations, and parent's association's priority when it comes to providing early childhood education programs. If private efforts are lacking or the quality of service is low, local governments may step in to fill the need and provide preschool education.

Parents and administration work together to establish the preschools' operating hours. In contrast, most institutions that provide early education and care for children do so for a total of seven hours every day.

How Do They Teach Preschoolers in Germany, and What Resources Do They Use?

For Youngsters (0-3 Years Old)

The primary goal of early childhood education in Germany (for children under the age of three) is to foster better verbal and nonverbal communication. Second, they can communicate with others, both toddlers and adults, which grows due to these interactions.

Fingerplays, singing, illustrated books, and other teaching practices/instruments are used to teach communication and language skills with language role models (educators).

In addition, children's motor skills play a significant role in early education. For toddlers, this means fostering more self-awareness, -acceptance, -confidence, and -focus.

Physical activities, excursions into the community, early education programs with a rhythmic focus, choral singing, and active play are all great ways to foster motor development.

For Youngsters (older than two years old)

The development of cooperative skills and a sense of belonging in the larger community are fundamental goals of preschool education.

Language, writing, and communication; personal and social development; the cultivation of values and religious education; mathematics, natural sciences, (information) technology; fine arts/working with various media; and these are just a few of the pillars of the German preschool curriculum for children older than two. Natural and cultural settings, as well as the body, mobility, and health.

Self-directed education, imaginative education, team-building exercises, scientific inquiry, and pedagogical experimentation all influence these ideals.

Review of Preschool Education in Germany's Educational System

Attendance at a German preschool does not affect a child's rating on standardised tests for school readiness. Instead, students are closely monitored by their teachers or trainers to ensure that they are making progress in their lessons.

Teachers share their thoughts with the kids' families, and everyone comes to a consensus on how to help their children grow academically.

What If a Kid Isn't Quite Old Enough to Start Mandatory Education?

There is a compromise alternative for kids who have reached the age of school attendance mandates but lack the prerequisite skills for continuing their education. This is essential information for parents of special education and disabled children. In preparation, some Landers send their children to a School Kindergarten (German: "Schulkindergärten") or a Preliminary Class (Vorklassen).

Compulsory Schooling in Germany

Starting at age 6, all German children must attend school until they graduate from Gymnasium after nine years or from another general education school after ten years of full-time study.

Children are required to attend left-behind lessons at the secondary school level if they are not enrolled full-time in either a general or vocational school. This is still the case even if they are far over the age at which they must attend school. This is a 3-year requirement known as "Berufsschule Berufsschulpflicht."

It is possible for youngsters who have never attended any school to be made to enrol in intensive lessons (for vocational schools only).

All children, including those with disabilities, have the right to appropriate public education and must fulfil their legal responsibility. Depending on their requirements, they will go to either a regular or a particular school called a Sonderpädagogische Bildungseinrichtungen.

In Germany, students are required to attend school and participate in various educational events, both formally and informally, as part of their obligatory education. This obligation also applies to the parents, who must keep tabs on their children's homework and attend mandatory parent-teacher conferences. Companies providing vocational education also fall under this category since they are responsible for maintaining records attesting to students' attendance and participation in the program (for vocational schools).

School Attendance Is Mandatory

The German belief that public education is essential to fostering informed citizens and a feeling of shared purpose contributes to the lack of private and church-affiliated schools in Germany. In Germany, going to school is mandatory. From the ages of 6 and 15, students are mandated by law to attend school (Schulpflicht) regardless of their academic performance. Hopefully, now you'll have a better understanding of why homeschooling is prohibited in Germany.

Teaching Students with Disabilities

In contrast to the United States, which advocates for the full inclusion of children with disabilities wherever possible, Germany encourages the use of separate educational programs for individuals with different needs. In Germany, children with moderate to severe learning difficulties, blind or deaf, and those with physical disabilities attend special schools known as Förderschulen or Sonderschulen. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the European Union ratified in 2008, advocates for more inclusive, integrated education for disabled students, and this practice has been criticised for not meeting that goal. It is estimated that 430,000 German students are enrolled in separate schools. Those who disagree with the German education system argue that it fails disadvantaged pupils by isolating them from their typically developing peers. Physically disabled pupils are particularly affected by this. Some kids with special needs are included in mainstream classrooms in Germany, although only in a few locations.

Typical German School Day

In Germany, the school day typically begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. However, several schools in Germany have begun providing full-day classes in recent years (Ganztagsschule). They provide a cafeteria meal and study halls for students to do their assignments. Adding a cafeteria is a costly endeavour in Germany because most existing schools lack one.

● Plans for Instruction

The course offerings in German secondary schools are somewhat varied, much like those at American universities. There are classes for specific courses three days a week, while others meet just twice that often. On Monday, a student may take five classes: (1) German, (2) religion, (3) calculus, (4) French, and (5) physical education. On Tuesday, a student might have five classes: (1) math, (2) history, (3) art, and (4) English. During the school day, students can take a few minutes for a short break (Kleine Pause) and a more extended break (große Pause). Due to the lack of a cafeteria and the short length of the school day, most kids bring their lunch from home. German schools are more intellectual in focus, although they do provide some physical education. Few interscholastic athletic competitions take place. Athletes often participate in extracurricular sports clubs outside of the classroom.

For quite some time, Saturdays were considered part of the school week in several regions of Germany. Saturday lessons were still being held in Baden-Württemberg schools as recently as the 1980s. Every Saturday in East Germany was a school day. Most students in Germany, including those in Baden-Württemberg, have had the luxury of a three-day weekend since the early 1990s. Saturday lessons are only offered by a few local schools (Samstagsunterricht).


Parents still have options, especially in bigger cities, once they've determined what kind of school they want their children to attend. Five or more Gymnasien or Realschulen may be available in a city of even ordinary size. Schools are not assigned to children based on where they live, as is the case in the United States. Every student and their family is free to choose any accredited institution that will accept them.

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