Schools for English-speaking children in Stuttgart

Options and advice on schooling for the kids

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My husband has been offered a job at Bosch, and we would dearly love to relocate (from Idaho). The biggest hurdle right now is schooling for our daughters (ages 7 1/2 & 3).

I have found info about ISS & a European school in Karlsruhe, but these schools are prohibitively expensive (after taxes & misc, net income is around 3,100, making these private schools too expensive for 2 kids).

I fear putting my second grader into a public German speaking school, as she does not speak the language yet. I do not want her to feel lost & intimidated. Moving will be a big enough adjustment without her feeling ostracized by classmates.

I cannot imagine that every English-speaking child in Stuttgart is enrolled at ISS. What are options? Has anybody put their kids into a German school before learning the language? How have they adapted? We simply cannot come over if our little girl will be miserable at school.

Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated!
I am American and my wife German, and our 8 year old is off to FSG Marbach next year. They have American exchange students there, so English is the second language.
PES, thank you. I have read many of the posts such as "my child was fine after 3 months at school," yada yada. Great. I really need to see alternatives specifically in the Stuttgart area, so I will check out this school & contact you for more info.
A friend of mine sent her daughter to a school in Sindelfingen that catered to Non German speaking kids. There are a lot of Turkish people in the area and many of their kids start school speaking little to no German. If I recall she said it was an immersion type programme where the kids had intensive German lessons until they were fluent enough to be able to join the main group. I'll ask her where exactly it is.

I think the main problem you are going to encounter is if you are unable to pay the ISS or US military school fees (Approx $17,000 a year per child) then you are going to have no option than to send them to German school. Home schooling is not an option here either. I know you may not want to hear it, but just doing it is the best way. There is definitely an acclimatization period, and it's tough on the kids being unable to communicate at first, however they really do pick it up very quickly. Mine were fluent after 6 months in Kindergarten. If you add in things like the local football club or Karate then they will be accepted as part of the community and learn the language at the same time. I can put you in touch with someone I know who bought their 7 year old over here from England and who now is getting on famously.

I also have contact with someone who works at the European school in Karlsruhe. I was under the impression if you work for a German company and live in Karlsruhe the fees are not that bad. That is a great school which teaches the kids in three languages, it has a great community feel to it and they do a lot of extra curricular activities too.

I really think if you are looking at educating your child exclusively in English you will have to cough up a lot of money, there are really no alternatives. This is Germany after all, when in Rome and all that!!

If you want info about the Karlsruhe school, I can forward questions onto my friend.
I have no kids to speak of (thank goodness), but perhaps a bit of anecdotal advice, similar to the prior post:

A friend of mine did a 6-month stay here from the states with his wife and 5- or 6-year-old daughter. She was put into a German speaking kindergarten (granted the age difference may be key) and in no time had picked up a fair amount of the language and had made friends. Kids are little sponges, especially when it comes to languages, since their brains aren't fully hardwired in that capacity yet, so if your goal is not to absolutely find an english school, I would not be too worried about the language being a terrible barrier in a German school - she will probably pick up the language quicker than you would expect, and definitely quicker than you will...just throw her in. On top of that, kids seem to be pretty damn resilient.

Apparently when the family moved back to the states, the little girl went through a similar process at her american school. She missed her friends in Germany and wanted to come back...
My boys are in the ISS so I have no school advice for you unfortunately. I think that someone mentioned a Swiss International school in Stuttgart though. I have a friend who has been researching local schools for her children and said she found a few that are German/English speaking.

Good luck with your search!

How long are you plannng on staying in Germany? if it is more than a few months then...
Your daughters are the perfect age to learn German and I would send them to a German school. IMO you are doing them a favor. Why be in Germany and not speak the language? I am starting German class this week- I hate not speaking German. Even though most Germans are helpful and will try to speak English, I feel that I should be speaking German since I am in Germany.
Sorry, off topic a bit. I really think that your daughters are at a perfect age to learn a new language and please remember it is a lot eaiser for them.

When we were in the UK, we had neighbors from Belgium. They sent their 6 year old to the local primary school. In Belgium he would have been in kindergarten, but in the UK he was year one. What they did was get their kid an English tutor a few months before they left Belgium. The kid new some basic English words and he adapted to school very quickly. I would say in four months he was comfortable enough to speak English and he had made lots of friends.

My daughter is only four and she just started German kindergarten. It is a bit of change for her since she was in reception in the UK where they were learning to read and write. It was very structured and all day. Now, she is basically at "playgroup" again, but it is a perfect setting for her to learn German. Even though she doesn't speak a word, she loves going to kindergarten everyday.

Another option is to talk to Bosch. Does their HR dept have any recommendations?

Good luck with your move.
Germany is a lovely place.
I fear putting my second grader into a public German speaking school ... We simply cannot come over if our little girl will be miserable at school.
Don't put your fears onto your child. She is only 7 1/2 years old (not a teenager) and she will adjust a lot easier than you.
Don't let your kids ruin a chance a wonderful opportunity. She may be miserable for a month or two but it will pass and she will have a fantastic time, make new friends and experience a whole new world.

Good luck.
My two children (ages 3 and 4) started school at the U.S. military pre-school, and we were not impressed. We pulled them out and placed them in a German Kindergarten 500m from our house, and they absolutely love it. They have been in the school for three months and have intensive German class each Wednesday. They are speaking basic German very well and have had no issues with other children teasing them or otherwise.

I say you just go for it. As several other members have already stated, your children will have no problem adjusting to the move and will pick up German like sponges. It's a scientific fact!

See you when you arrive!
I just PMed you.
Looking for more info on the instensive language course for your kids!
My name is Ramona. I am coming from Romania. I intend to move to Stuttgart at the beginning of 2008, so that I am interested in a secure job. I have been trying in sending my CV or resume to many English schools and kindergartens, but till now there was not a positive answer. My basic profession is that of French - English teacher, but in present I am working in Romania as a French - English translator. If you have any suggestion for such an institution, private one, anything, please let me know. I would be very happy to find firstly the job, and than to move to Stuttgart. I hope that there won't be any disadvantage, jus because I am a Romanian.
Hi there!
We, too, are moving to Stuttgart this summer, with a 4 and 7 year old. We are choosing to send them to German schools instead of military schools b/c I want them to learn the language and come away from our time there with a new language and true feel for the country. We hope to also have the language stay with them for years to come! We know many people (we are military) who have done the same and they absolutely RAVE about their and their children's experiences. There will be a period of transition, but you can prep your 7 1/2 year old with some basic German and even have her tutored when you get there. I, too, struggled as my 7 1/2 year old is shy and I don't want him to be left out from day one. However, I am placing my fears and emotions on him, and he seems okay with it. We do know from moving alot that kids are VERY resilient at this age and are much less affected than we presume them to be!

Also, we lived amonst many Bosch families here (in NC) that have made the transition the other way, and whose children knew very little English and who had no choice but to send their kids to American schools, and they all do just fine - many of them much older and harder to transition!

Good luck with your decision!

I am going through the same thing right now. I was very surprised indeed that Stuttgart, with all its international companies, doesn't offer more internationa programs for schools. Surely people are more mobile now and travel with their kids? My husband is in the miltary and we could have put the kids in the base schools. We decided not to that after living on base in Japan for a few years. I never considered putting my kids in the Japanese school system, though I toyed with the idea of putting them in the International school in Yokohama--in some ways I wish I had, since I was the only one who learned any Japanese! Anyway, I, too, was also frantically writing around to find out what to do with my 3d and 6th graders. This is what I have learned and experienced so far:

Yes, a new Swiss bilingual school is opening; you can find the thread in this forum. I just talked to a guy who has his kids in the other international school. Seems they called a big meeting for the parents and said that the new school would be no competion, that it was just for Germans who wanted to educate their kids bi-lingually, etc, etc. I don't know about that. I do know that the main branch of the International School of Stuttgart doesn't really offer German, and coming from Northern Viriginia, my friend isn't too impressed by their academic standards but they enjoy the international atmosphere. I believe the satellite branch offers more German. These schools are all outrageously expensive (including the base schools for the non-affiliated) with the dollar being so weak. We did ask about scholarships, etc., and decided a 25% or so reduction still wouldn't cut it for us.

We put our kids in the German school system. We managed to get our daughter in a Gymnasium since her Terra Nova scores were very high. Our town, Dettenhausen, is linked to Tuebingen, which has an international program (not school) in the outskirts of that town. The Dettenhausen school, therefore, could legally reject my kid and send him into Tuebingen. I haven't been impressed with the school, frankly. It is liberal in outlook and serves only vegetarian food (my son is our only vegetarian in the family) but the international program is geared more for the kindergarten-1st grade level, and operates under the assumption that the pupils and their families are immigrants from outside Western Europe, already speak some German and are settling here permanently. This has caused some problems; not much actual teaching is going on. My daughter is going to a private tutor 6 hours a week (yikes- it is expensive) and when I found out my son wasn't learning any grammer, I added a few hours more for him. Yes, kids are little sponges, but much also depends on the personality of the kids. My daughter, being more outgoing and assertive, is doing better. My son is more reticent, and though we knew this would be a problem, we originally sat back and operated under the idea that the language will just flow in with him. This has only been only partly true. We must just push! BTW, neither of my kids have been ostracized. In addition, the kids have to keep up with English and U.S. History or Civics, to keep them up to speed. It has been exhausting, frankly.

But what are the alternatives? I have spent many years overseas and have watched my friends struggle with these choices. Sometimes the choice worked out, and sometimes it didn't. What I did know was that I did not want my kids to be in a little American world again, even though we knew quite a few Japanese people, and did as much as we could in that country. I decided I did not want my kids to live yet again for years in a country and not be fully integrated. You know, General Schwartzkopf, in his autobiography, wrote some thoughful passages on cultural isolation in Germany.

Ultimately, it is going depend on the personality of your kid. Some kids are like exotic plants; they just don't move well. Kids can be and are resilient, but sometimes we ask perhaps too much of them just because it is more convenient for us to believe they can handle anything.

It's hard, I know. Good luck!
I teach at an International School in Ulm, which is 1 hour south of Stuttgart. I can highly recommend the International School of Stuttgart as an excellent school. My previous School Director has also just started a new school call the Swiss International School of Stuttgart and I know she will make a wonderful success of any school she sets up. Mrs Anderson is an excellent educator with many years experience in International Schooling. This school is a totally bi-lingual school with mostly German or part German children where parents want them out of the German system. They start in July with a Grade 1 and Grade 5 class.

The International School of Stuttgart is an IB school where children can pass IGCSE, and go to any University in the world. They have an excellent website and would be very open to you phoning and even asking to speak to other American families that are in the school, to give a recommendation. English is the language of Instruction and the math and English program would be very similar to what your children would be getting in the States, Canada, Australia, Britain, New Zealand etc etc The only difference is that children get to learn Science, Social Studies, History with Math and English, in a Inquiry based method. Read or is it .org, for a more complete explanation.

The inquiry method of teaching is really exciting for kids and I have had American Children going back to the States and being ahead of their peer. I have also had German children who have moved to the States with their parents and are able to keep up with their new American peers. So the IBO/PYP system is very effective. I believe that there are a few changes in management as there always is in International Schools, but the core of teachers is very strong so have no fear with that. They also have an effective special needs program if any of your children need extra assistance with learning.

You could also ask Bosh to put you on to other American families already in Stuttgart, who could tell you about their school experiences. Any schools you approach would be able to send you their policy regarding Learning German and how many months of support that they would get.

Hope this has been helpful. Moving to a new country with your children is not easy for them initially but the gains in their confidence, making life long friends and becoming very Internationally minded in their thinking, is a very powerful and worthwhile experience. It is often the parents who find the transition harder than their children, if they are supported to make friends early. The parent support groups in International Schools are excellent by the way.All the best with your decision!
The other thing to consider is your length of stay in Germany. If you are here for only a year or two and want to put your child back into the American Education system, I would say go with an International School that uses English as the language of Instruction, but also learns German. If you want to stay in Germany long term, you could try a lot of options. The German system does however have draw backs if your child is not a a rote learner or has any sort of learning difficulties. At the age of 9-10, children are separated or segregated, depends on how you want to look at it, into gymnasium as the top level and the only level that historically gets to go to university, then two other levels. The bottom two levels are taught a very different program and do not have the opportunities that late bloomers have in most western cultures. So if you are staying long term and your child is any way artistic or has special learning needs, you would be better suited in an International School environment. Some of the children we get at our International School are those that have had a terrible time in a traditional German School setting. This is not meant to be a horror story, if your children are of average to above average ability then they will be ok in a German system. One of my colleagues sends her children to a local German school and has good things to say about it however it is like going back 20 years in the way children are spoken to and treated.

The other thing to think about is that some children can take up to one year or two years to be fluent in a new language. A lot of research tells us that most children learn faster if their mother tongue reading and writing skills are well established. If you are working with your daughter at home with her English Skills, as well as going to a German School she might be okay. Most English as a first language speakers are bored in English classes.
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