First Steps towards German Schooling for foreigners.
If you are a non-German and have arrived newly in Germany with kids of school-going age ( 6+ years), this article may be helpful for you. In this article, I share my experience of integrating my children into the German education system.
Step 1: The first step starts in your home country. When you have finalized your plans of coming to Germany and still have a few months before the children arrive in Germany, I strongly recommend making your children join German language classes. 1-to 2 sessions per week for a couple of months should be good enough to get them a basic understanding of the language.
Step 2: Start reading about the German school system, connect with people in Germany, and get a basic understanding of the school system before you come to Germany. My article on the German Schooling system will be posted soon.
Step 3: Once you arrive in Germany, register yourself and your children at the Rathaus ( The city office). Once you officially reside in Germany, you must send your children to school. To look for the right school, connect with the people in your city to get general feedback about schools in your city. Also, make an appointment with Schulamt (The education authority). They can guide you and get your children a seat in a school.
Step 4: The Schulamt will suggest a school offering an Intensiveklasse ( meaning intensive course -an exclusive language course). During this program, the children will be exclusively taught German. Once they start getting good at it, they will be introduced to other subjects too. Children progress from exclusive German classes to partial integration into the German school system ( called Teilintegration) to moving to regular classes with children of their age ( called Regalklasse). I have written an article about Intensiveklasse and all that it entails. Please read it here.
During this time, while the children attend Intensive classes, parents can research more about schools in their city and vicinity. Find the general feedback about schools and their specializations (for example, focus on MINT/Languages/ Music, etc.). Also, find out if there are bilingual schools in your area. All this information will help you later when the intensive classes get over and it’s time for the child to join a regular school.
Step 5: At the end of intensive classes, the teacher holds a meeting with the parents and gives them feedback. He/she may suggest the schooling system ( Realschule/Hauptschule/Gymnasium/Gesamtschule) suitable for the child if the child is in 5th grade or above. He/she could also recommend taking a year back( which is quite common) so the child gets more time to learn. After the meeting, the parents can decide the course of action.
To get a basic idea about the German Schooling System, click here.
To read other articles about education in Germany, click here.
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