The German School System – Elementary School

Over the years, a frequent question in conversation with ex-patriots is about the complex structure of the German school system.

This short outline covers the main parts of elementary schooling.

* Grundschule

All children from ages six to ten years old must attend a primary school (Grundschule). You cannot choose the school, instead your child will be assigned to the one closest in your district. This is usually in walking distance.

Before school admittance, all children are tested (Einschulungstest). In the old days, if a child could reach with his/her right arm around the head and touch the left ear, the child was often found suited mature enough to start first grade. The criteria has changed a lot since then.

Today, children have to go through various tests to show their physical, mental, emotional, and social capabilities. There are also “Kann Kinder” (capable children) who may start school earlier at the age of five, provided they turn six before 31 Dec in the same school year. There are also “Darf Kinder” (“may start school early” children) who may start school earlier under different guide lines (more bureaucracy).

First day of school tradition: the Schultüte

Schultüte/Zuckertüte

A common practice throughout all 16 states in Germany is giving the Schultüte or also known as Zuckertüte (definition: large cornet of cardboard filled with sweets and little presents given to children in Germany on their first day at school).

This tradition began in Saxony and Thuringia in the 19th century. Today, the average parents spend euro 69,52 on its contents ( with parents in the eastern part of Germany spending more). More parents (54%) in the West make the Schultüte themselves, in comparison to only 16% homemade Schultüten in the East.

The contents are most often school supplies, candy, plush animals, and other small gifts.

In primary school, children are taught to read, write, do maths, and they study local history, geography, and biology. Unlike most other countries, students also have religious instruction classes. In addition to their homeroom teacher (Klassenleiter/in), they have separate teachers for music and sport.

Very little homework is assigned – usually 30 to 40 minutes a day.

In the student’s fourth and final year at primary school, teachers evaluate the child’s next level of schooling in discussion with the parents. If the students seems apt for university education, then he/she will move directly into secondary school (Gymnasium). Those students who need two more years to develop their academic skills can continue middle school (Gesamtschule), where they can choose from three tracks: intermediate schools (Hauptschule or Realschule) or Gymnasium.

My previous post about kindergarten can be read here:

http://www.pension-sprachschule.de/faq-by-expats/the-german-school-system-kindergarten/

 

Motivating Writing in Middle School

This useful guide, comprised of the best teaching ideas from prior National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) publications, is meant for K-12 teachers to help students meet higher literacy standards.

Click here for more information:

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