Take care of your young child
In Germany, school attendance is required from the age of 6. If your kids are younger, you can choose between different options, depending on your children’s ages:
- In day nurseries, children under 3 can play with other children under the supervision of qualified professionals. These nurseries – where price is dependant on your income – are run by private and public agencies and by churches. Most of them are very convenient for working parents thanks to their flexible drop-off and pick-off times, but it can be quite difficult to get a spot in certain regions.
- Preschools, called Kindergarten, are aimed at children between 3 and 6. Lots of these preschools practice experiments and play-based instruction to improve their thinking and language skills. Some preschools are bilingual and most of them teach a second language (options are often English, French and Danish). Preschool will usually take care of your child from the morning until noon or the afternoon. Preschool may be run by cities, churches, associations or other private entities, and their prices vary widely according to your income and the region (from zero to hundreds of euros a year).
- Childminders take care of your child (and often other children in the same time) in their home while you are working. Nannies come to your home to take care of your child. Both must be certified by the youth welfare office, and most of them are very experienced with children. For a 20-hour week, childminders charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.
To find the right childcare in your region, you can surf the web on local government websites or websites run by families. Once you have identified some places, you can visit them to talk with the people who might take care of your child. You can also ask your colleagues, friends or neighbours if they have some good contacts. Bear in mind that lots of nursery and preschools have deadlines and waiting lists — contact several schools as soon as possible.
Your child is required to go to school from the age of 6 to 15. Most of German schools are public and free of charge, but you can opt for for-profit private and international schools.
Kids tend to begin their school life in Grundschule (primary school), which covers the first four grades until the age of 10 (12 y/o in Berlin and Brandenburg).
At the end of primary school, you and your kids’ teachers will decide which secondary school (Weiterführende Schulen) your child will attend:
- Hauptschule (general school up to 14 or 15 y/o) or realschule (more vocational school for grades five to ten). If they successfully completed one of these schools, your child is eligible for vocational training or can transfer to senior high at a Gymnasium or Gesamtschule.
- Gymnasium (more academic school up to 18 or 19 y/o), at the end of which students can be entitled to study at a university if they successfully took the examination called Abitur.
- Gesamtschule (comprehensive school up to 17 or 18 y/o), that combines the three previous schools.
A diagram made by Make It In in Germany showing the structure of the German’s education system:
The admission of a child in a school is decided by the school management, in consultation with the local education authority. Don’t worry if your child can’t speak a word of German – they might be offered special trial lessons before they can integrate a regular school class.
You are free to decide in which school you want to enrol your child, so check if the school offers, in addition with high-quality education, extracurricular activities (theatre, sports, music, etc.). Make sure the school offers German classes (so called “German as a foreign language”).
If it’s in your budget, an international school is an excellent choice for you and your family.
The Council of International Schools or the International Baccalaureate will provide you with some of the main international schools in Germany. You can also do a quick search on the web to check if a specific international school offers courses in your language.
School day and habits
German school day starts between 7:30 am and 8:15 pm depending on the region, and ends between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, with five to six 45-minutes lessons, from Monday to Friday (except in some regions). After that, activities are often offered and kids can do their homework at school. Children also take part into clubs during the afternoon.
Germany has a world-renowned higher education system, with some of the most prestigious and prominent universities in the world, like LMU Munich, the Technical University of Munich or the Humboldt University of Berlin.
More than 500 degrees from Bachelor’s to Master’s are taught in English.
Times Higher Education offers a ranking of the best German universities.
Get more information about education for your child in Germany on Make it in Germany.
Here you find the most important information needed to answer your questions about Education. If you know other tips or want to share your experience, do not hesitate to contact us. You could even send your testimony which could be published on our website! Thanks for your contribution to the Leon community!