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Kindergarten and school


Since august 1, 2013 every child that has completed the first year of its life, has the legal right to a place in a kindergarten (Abbreviation: KiTa) or a daycare centre. Quite often though, reality in german Kitas look rather differently. For the development of your child it is extremely important, that it is encouraged as early as possible. Especially, as far as age appropriate language acquisition and the general preparation for starting school life, are concerned.

Even more important is, to enrol your child in time at an institution of your choice and do try to keep in mind, that demand often exceeds the available capacities!!!

In Germany there are many possibilities of childcare.
Up to the age of three:

  • Toddler groups
  • Baby minders
  • Playgroups
  • Nurseries
  • Age mixed kindergartens

From three years onwards to starting school

  • Kindergarten
  • Other school preparatory institutions, children day care centre
  • Day care

School age upward

  • Schools that last all day long
  • Hoards
  • Homework supervision
  • Supervised schools etc.


Schleswig-Holstein has compulsory full time schooling, lasting 9 years, followed by a compulsory vocational school until the age of 18.
The parents, respectively the legal guardians are obligated to ensure, that their children indeed go to school every day, regularly.

All children, who live in Germany must go to school!!! If your child fails to do so, you may be fined or in the worst case, the police will be involved.

Going to school in Germany is free of charge. However, additionally, there are private schools in Germany as well. These schools generally charge tuition fees that have to be payed by the parents.

Primary school (Grundschule)

All children in Schleswig-Holstein visit primary school, starting at the age of 6 years old. Earlier or later enrolment, however, may be possible. In general, children are assigned to a school, based on their place of residence. Parents have to register their children at a school and the deadline to do so, will be sent to them in written form.
Based on the obligation to attend school, all children will be automatically accepted at their competent school. Quite the opposite, compared with the registration at a daycare or at a kindergarten. You do not have to worry, that your child will not get a place. School enrolment at a school of your choosing is also possible in Germany. This, however, has to be checked upfront, if additional capacities might be available.
In case you want to do so, be sure to contact that particular school in time.
At the primary school, the daily schedule is organised by it, and consists out of a fixed timeframe. In grade 1 and grade 2, four lessons per day are scheduled. In grades 3 and 4, the number increases by one to five lessons per day, for all pupils. Most of the primary schools offer supervision prior to, or after regular school hours, in order to facilitate, that parents have the possibility to be flexible, as far as their working hours are concerned. This kind of care is subject to charge.

Secondary School also known as High School (Weiterführende Schule - Sekundarstufe I & II)

After they have finished primary school, all children will continue by attending secondary school, according to their capabilities. This might be a support centre, an interdenominational school or a gymnasium.

Listed below are the different types of school in Germany:

  • Modern schools (Hauptschulen) (until grades 9 or 10)
  • Middle schools (Realschulen) (until grade 10)
  • Schools with more than one course of education (here school-leaving-certificates from modern as well as middle schools can be earned)
  • Gymnasiums (until grades 12 or 13)
  • Interdenominational schools (Gesamtschulen) (with or without an upper gymnasial part all school leaving certificates can be achieved on this kind of school)

There are many possibilities in Germany to continue and to pursue your education. After having successfully finished one school, you have the possibility to go on with another one. You can go all the way, until you have achieved the last final exams and gotten your "general matriculation standard" (in Germany it is called „Abitur“). This is the highest form of graduation that is scholastically possible and enables you to begin a study at any university or higher education institution.
While going to school, changing from one kind of school to another sort is possible, if the performance of the child permits this. The educational system in Germany can be seen as being very flexible and opens up a huge range of career options. Do not miss out on them and make the most use of the opportunities that are offered to you, by continuing your education. When achieving the "general matriculation standard" (Allgemeine Hochschulreife), you get access to a range of most diverse professions. In addition you can take on a study and get an academic degree.

School trips, excursions, school parties, school events, swimming lessons etc. are a very important and vital part of the daily life at school. Be sure to let your child participate in them and get involved yourself as well. Your personal participation in school life is nurturing for all, but most of all: It strengthens and enhances the motivation of your children.

In case your child is going to kindergarten, it will be getting support hours every week, in order to learn the german language in a proper way and to prepare for the entry into school.

If you and your family have only recently come to Germany and your child has the age where it has the obligation to go to school, in this case your child will visit a so called DaZ class, before going to school. DaZ is an abbreviation and stands for: Deutsch als Zweitsprache (German as a second language). Specially trained teachers teach your child the german language. In a second step, your child may attend standard lessons in a regular school. At first, in certain subjects, after having acquired sufficient knowledge of the German language, the child will pass over to a regular standard class and only will be receiving a couple of remedial teaching lessons per week. You will receive the information from the school at your place of residency, which DaZ centre is the competent one for your child.

From the age of 16, youths visit the DaZ classes of the vocational education centres.

Parents often ask themselves in which language they should talk to their child/children. The Federal Institute of Early Education has put out a parental letter in multiple languages.

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