Berlin Elementary School


Berlin elementary school is an institution which prepares kids for further school education in a secondary school or gymnasium.




Children start from the age of 6. Secondary education is compulsory for all children living in Germany. There are some rules and regulations regarding the age to start a school. A child has to be 6 years old as of middle of December. As an example we can consider Rene. She is going to start Berlin elementary school this year. She is 6 years old. She is born on the 10th of February, 2008.  Her parents could apply to authorities to start school earlier but she did not look like she wanted to start a serious life. And one more year was a good and pleasant thing.



The first day at Berlin elementary school. Traditional present for kids from Parents and other family members which they get only on that day.


Some parents think that their child is not ready to go to school. The year when your child goes to school is decided by the authorities. And such parents start a fight with authorities. To postpone for one year is possible but complicated. Parents have to present really serious problems the child suffers from as health and psychology problems or some other reasons. Usually children must have a special check for a general development and German language skills. Some kids with foreign background cannot start to go to a school usually due to the insufficient knowledge of German. They get a place in a special school where they learn German more intensively.

Insufficient German is a real problem for some kids. To avoid such problems kids should go to kindergartens. In Berlin starting from three years they have right for a free place in a kindergarten. Parents should pay only for lunch around 20€ per month. But still many parents do not use such opportunities and later kids have problems to study at elementary school. Normally kids who go regularly to kindergarten do not have problems with entering an elementary school. It is referred to “kids with a foreign background” as they are called by authorities and in the society.



Classroom in Berlin elementary school


So, the kid is 6 years old. He or she has to go to school. A new period in life starts not only for kids but also for parents. It is very important to choose a right school for a kid.

Selection of schools is very rich. It is a difficult decision for parents which school to choose.

First of all it should be decided if the kid will go to a private or public school.  Public schools are free of charge. Only a lunch should be paid. It is around 20€-30€ per month. The remaining part is paid by the government. Books should be purchased by parents as well. But parents pay not more than in average 100€   per year for books which are defined by the school. Remaining part is also paid by the government. Kids get the rest of the listed books from the school. Public transport ticket  for school children is 32 € per month.

With private schools situation is different. First of all they can be of various type and structure. But the main thing is that the family pays for the education. The amount depends on the income of the family. More parents have income, more they pay for the school. It can be limited to 250€, 400€ and even more per month. Parents who are unemployed and get social assistance pay around 100€ per month. The difference is paid by the government. Such kind of equality is appealing to parents with low income and not appealing to parents with high income. The latter demand more from the school, complain and generally are not very often satisfied. Very often they leave the school after a couple of years or immediately after their kid manages to enter a gymnasium from the 5th grade.

Public schools have a long history and a good image generally.  But there are some drawbacks which make them not of interest for some parents. For instance, two or three grades can have lessons together in one classroom.  Children of 6, 7 and 8 years study together. Quality of education suffers in the opinion of some parents. It is called an experiment. There are many supporters of such movement.

I was surprised to learn that there are schools in Berlin where kids from the 1st until 8th grade study together. You can hardly believe it. When I told that to my mother, she laughed and said that she studied in such a class where children of different ages were all together.  It was after the World War II. She started to go to school in 1945 and a lot of other children who did not attend  the school during the WWII also came to study. Her friend got married after the 6th grade. She was 18. My mom continued and after the school entered a medical institute and later became a doctor. But it was in Kazakhstan after the war. May be the main idea of such schools is that children will anyways manage it. They will somehow grow and become adults.

Another extreme I think that at some schools parents decide education plan and many issues related to the learning process. If in a class in an elementary school there are not more than 24 kids it means that 24 pairs of parents plus teachers will discuss such important issues. Some parents cannot resolve things related to children in their families. I can imagine what happens at  such schools. I remember attending a parents meeting where different types of pencils were discussed so seriously for a long time that I started to doubt that I understand all correct and it went about pencils and not something else. Half an hour was spent for pencils. I learnt a lot about different types of pencils.

Holidays at schools in Berlin are not fixed. All school-children have holidays at the same time but not at the same time with other lands in Germany. Summer holidays are around 6 weeks. There also winter holidays, Christmas, Easter, autumn and spring holidays which normally are from one week until 2 weeks.


Berlin Elementary School Teaching Different Subjects


Carpentry lesson at Berlin elementary school


Another thing about Berlin elementary schools is that they have special service called in German-Hort or supervision. Kids can come to school from 6 am and stay until 6 pm. Lessons start at 8 am and continue approximately until 2pm. After that some children can go home or stay until 6 pm- They have a lot of time to play, to manage home exercises, and to attend special courses if the school offers. Private schools offer much more. Starting from judo and ending with yoga for kids.

Also of interest the rating system they have in Germany and Berlin in particular. The best mark is 1 and the worst is 6. Children having too many  5 and 6 marks have to repeat the year. Teachers have a special table in accordance with which they rate the paper works or any other quiz and tests. Each mark corresponds to the number of mistakes in the test. Isn’t it fair?




When I asked our daughter when was the best time at school. She said the first two. Why? Pupils did not get marks. It was the happiest time. They studied but mainly were busy with playing and having fun. During that time she learnt a lot of new things- ceramics, yoga, knitting, sewing, walking on stilts, carpentry  and many more things. But starting from the 3d grade teachers started to demand and to rate according to the table they have. A  new time started. At some schools they do not demand for many more years. They think that consciousness of kids will defeat the laziness. Very problematic.



Puzzle making of wood is easy under proper supervision in Berlin elementary school


So, before sending kids to a Berlin elementary school parents check a lot, visit schools and finally decide. But according to the regulations they have to apply first to the local public elementary school. If they decide to send kid to a Montessori school or to sport school or to private school they decide later. After 6 years  at elementary school the family should  start a process of looking for another school. But it is different story which we also will highlight.





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