Sunday, December 16, 2012

German Schools

German schools are different from American schools in a few ways. Children begin in the first class when they are six years old. School attendance is mandatory as homeschooling is not an option here. (This is how we homeschool.) The school day consists of the morning with options to attend a full day. If the child stays for the afternoon they can receive help on their homework and may attend religious classes.

When kids are in the fifth class they are seperated into one of three tracks which plays a big role in determining what type of job they will have as an adult. Hauptschule prepares students for trade jobs and ends after the ninth class. Realschule prepares students for technical jobs and ends after the tenth class. Gymnasium prepares students to enter college and ends after the twelfth class. Once a student begins a particular track it is very difficult to make a change.

For vacations the children have a two week break in the fall, two weeks in the spring, two or three weeks at Christmas time and six weeks in the summer.

In talking with a few students who have had experience in both American and German schools in the upper grades, the majority say that the German schools are much more difficult. And the last big difference is that there are NO BIG YELLOW SCHOOL BUSES. The kids ride to school on the public buses.


  1. Gymnasium ends after the 12th class.
    And on the other hand: for me was it
    very fascinated to see yellow busses
    when I was for vacation in Canada!

    1. Thank you for the correction. I have wanted to write a post on the schools for a long time and been working to get the information straight. I will update it. - Thanks Julie

  2. Very interesting view on German school and how they work. Although I think putting a child on a school track in 5th grade is a bit harsh. I myself didn't come into my own with school work until nearly high school up to then I just wanted to play and have fun.

  3. I don't know. I find this awful. I know maybe one of my children will get to the option that seems to be the 'failure' one. It may be just my perception, but they told my dh in Malta he was not college material, and at 24 he came to the States and graduated in engineering with cum laude... I may be wrong as I said, but I find this method constraining, it labels children and it does not seem to treat them as persons or focus on their long term potential.

    1. I believe many schools worldwide have a tendency to teach to one learning style. Kids that learn well by listening thrive in school. My son learns by figuring things out. I could tell him something 1,000,000 times and I don't think he would have a clue on how to do it, but the second he figures it out the concept is cemented in his brain.

      He would probably struggle in public school, but does extremely well at home. I can alter the assignments to his learning style. For example, when he is learning the piano, I tell him how to figure out what notes to play, and which piece to play next. He figures it out and when I listen if he messes up a note, I don't tell him the correct notes to play. I tell him to figure out what that note is. It's a slight difference, but it has a huge impact on him. There is no doubt in my mind he is intelligent and will someday have a successful career in engineering or technology.

      I don't have direct experience with the German schools, but I think part of the separation relates to learning style. Perhaps Gymansium is more of a book learning school where as the other two may be more hands on?

  4. I attend the Realschule and some of my friends changed to Gymnasium during Realschule. It´s hard, because you need very good marks.
    The system IS hard. You can make every graduation, but that takes even more time. An example (for Baden-Württemberg): your child attend the Hauptschule (9years) it could go with good marks to the 2jährige (2years-school) to graduate with a Realschul-diploma. After that it could go to a normal Gymnasium for 3 more years or to a "Technical-Gymnasium" for 2years. With the normal Gymnasium-diploma you can study almost everything. With the "technical-diploma" you can only study special course. I hope you understand everything. It was hard for me to explain it in a foreign language! :)

    1. You explained it very well. It may not be as bad system as I think, something being difficult and rigorous it does not have to be bad.

      It is the fact of not having freedom to educate at home, and schools being the only option, and the rigidity it seems to have what puts me off.

      But I do not understand the system well because I am an outsider who has not lived in Germany or has set a foot in German schools. It seems though that if you have a will, an interest, and put some effort into it, you can achieve what you want, though. It is difficult to change but not impossible, as you said of your friends.


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