When we moved to Germany, my 6 year old daughter had already been in her U.K. School for almost three years, in the nursery and then in reception. Children here start school later, at 6 or 7, and we rushed the move a little bit so that she could join year one here from the beginning and not miss anything and not be the only new pupil.
There was no nerve rousing central application process, just a quick visit to the school, who told me that there is always space for local children. They simply employ as many teachers as necessary to accommodate everyone. Controversial!
I was a tad worried about the language issue of course, however we live in an area with high immigration and the school is experienced in teaching German to non native speakers from a variety of countries. My daughter was immediately signed up for extra German lessons during the school day.
I can speak a bit of German, I studied A Level when I was young. That helped me to teach her a bit to prepare her for school, and we watched Youtube videos a lot and worked through this fab sticker book First Thousand Words in German Sticker Book (First Thousand Words Sticker) which one of her friends bought her as a gift. That was really super and helped me as much as her. Jogged my memory a bit.
Her first school day was on a Saturday morning. Controversial! All of the new children and their families gathered in the sports hall and watched a concert performed by older pupils. Each new child had a giant rucksack and a Schultüte with them (my daughter’s are in the cover photo). The Schultüte is a giant cardboard cone which is made at home and filled by friends and family with sweets. The tradition behind this is that the sadness of leaving the family home for the first time is sweetened by the treats in the Tüte.
The giant rucksack, well, parents here have to buy all of the books, textbooks, pens, pencils, paints, everything, there’s a long list given out, I had to label each thing, and place it in the rucksack. The rucksack is then transported to and from school each day. It’s heavy. I’m getting old and I attach it to a shopping trolley on wheels most days, otherwise my back goes, and I feel guilty to let my daughter carry it haha.
Well, my daughter loves her school. She’s been there 18 months now and is more or less fluent in German. She has enjoyed learning it, loves to speak it, she has made lots of friends and she totally loves that she will have to learn English next year. Her class size is small, only 18 children. She was very quiet in class in the U.K. and wouldn’t talk to the teachers, thats all gone now. There is a shorter school day too. They start at eight and finish at one. That’s a bit painful for me in the morning but that’s because I’m completely rubbish until around noon. It’s fine for her.
The children don’t wear a uniform and each morning they take off their shoes and put on their slippers. There is more music, more playtime, more sport, swimming lessons, more day trips. They often go to the cinema or the theatre. She’s doing great anyway. It’s been really interesting to see the difference in the educational systems. I’m not saying it’s better or worse here, it’s just definitely different. I’m very proud of my bi lingual little 😇.
If you are interested in helping your child learn a foreign language, I recommend this Kindle book, it has really helped me to understand how my daughter’s language learning has developed and ways in which I can help her. An interesting and informative read.