Advice on primary schools in Karlsruhe

25 posts in this topic

Hello everyone!

 

My family and I are about to move to Karlsruhe in coming months. Our daughter will be 8 this September and I've read that school in Baden-Württemberg starts on September 11. We might arrive there in October but I am not expecting that to be a problem and that she will be given the chance to enrol one of the local schools there nevertheless. 

 

But she speaks no German so I was wondering if anyone would like to share similar experience with their kids when they've moved to Karlsruhe? What I'm curious about is if such kids are more likely to be placed a year below grade level they have finished in their country of origin (my girl have just finished her first grade)? Or is it rather a practice to place such kids with their peers but with more emphasis put on learning the language alongside the common grade program?

 

I'd also appreciate if anyone is willing to share the experience with any of the schools in the area. Especially in terms on how much do teachers engage in teaching non-German speaking kids the language? Do teachers have empathy/sympathy with such kids or not? I know kids are fast learners and that they can learn the language by immersion - even when teachers are not that much involved with such kids and make no special effort to train them up - but if anyone of you guys has some experience, please share! :)

 

Thanks in advance!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

Welcome to Germany!

 

This topic seems to be quite popular now. It seems lots of families with school age kids are making the move to Germany soon. If you search the forums you will find many posts about enrolling kids in German schools without speaking the language.

 

https://www.karlsruhe.de/b2/schulen/schulen_ka/grundschulsuche.de

 

If you already know where you will be living you can enter your address in the link, and this will tell you what school your child is supposed to go to. I would call or email the school and inform them of your plans. They should be able to answer any questions you might have. This school year ends the last week of July, so I would try to contact them now. As no one is around during the summer holidays.

 

how long will you be staying in Germany?

You should also look into private or international schools. 

I don't live in karslruhe, but I have an 8 year old in

The second grade here  but he speaks German and English. School is hard. Harder for a kid with no German.

 

You should also inform yourself if the schools are  Regel or Ganztag schule.

Regel schools, end at 11am or noon and kids go  home, and you the parents are expected to help with homework. So, how is your German? Ganztage stay in school till the afternoon. 

 

would it be possible for you to arrive a month earlier with your daughter, so she could start with the kids on the first day of the new year ? 

 

If you haven't already then enroll your daughter in German classes.

 

Hope this helps a bit. Karlruhe is a really nice city!

 

 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @katzo!

 

Thanks for reaching out! I've searched the forum and read on experiences other parents have had with their kids. I somewhat thought that experiences varies from state to state, town to town which is why I wanted to get firsthand experience with schools in Karlsruhe.

 

I appreciate the link and advice you shared on emailing the schools, I'll for sure do that right away!

 

We do not have plans on leaving Germany soon once we get there. We might not even leave Germany, who knows. But no plans of such as of now, no.

 

And I'm interested in hearing other parents whos kids were placed a year below their grade level, were they able to catch up and how supportive teachers, school and community was in that case? Just to know what to expect. And again, experience relative to schools in KA would be appreciated. :)

 

But thanks for your reply and all the advice you gave, highly appreciated!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@kaosmonk

Do you know whereabouts in KA you will be living? Schools have catchment areas here too, so your daughter will have to go to a school in your zone. If you do know, contact the schools in the area to see what kind of extra support they offer for kids who speak no German. Alternatively, contact as many schools as you want to or can be bothered to, and if you find a school that has the kind of support and/or programs you're looking for then try to find somewhere to live in the school's catchment area. I'm fairly sure that it varies a lot from school to school. You might have picked up that quite a few refugees from non-German-speaking countries have come to Germany recently. I'm fairly sure that they (their kids) are not just dropped in at the deep end of the pool and told to "swim". But I don't know for sure. Thank God our kids could already speak German when we came here 8 years ago, because back then it really was "sink or swim" in many, many ways. Keep trying to research this - maybe you will find things have changed.

 

My wife is a primary school teacher at a school in KA. Disgracefully, there is nothing like what you are hoping to find at her school. She's a Beamtin, a fully paid-up permanent member of the public service, which, in some ways is like being in the mafia. This means that I cannot tell you where she works or anything about her school that might allow the school to be identified, because, if I did, and one of the mafia bosses found out and if it could be traced back to her, she could lose her job. Nice, eh? (Just one example of the kind of people you will be dealing with, and the way things work, when you move here:D).

 

Good luck!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Kaosmonk,

 

I don't have any direct experience as my children speak German. I have an acquaintance in a suburb whose child was sent to a school outside of her immediate district because of the language issue. Their older child was told that there were no (college prep) schools to which they could send him and that he would need to attend the next higher level school. Both of those children now attend the European School. Price and availablility of places in the English track can be an issue there. It is quite far north and east in town.

 

I can ask around among my friends, but I think that rather than calling the nieghborhood school, you might want to start by calling here. They seem to be involved in a lot of the help that is offered and might be able to get you started. https://www.internationaler-bund.de/angebot/8126/

 

There is an active group of English speaking women (sorry!) in town. Your daughter's mother/your partner might want to stop by one of the brunches (organised through meetup). They are a great source of information and support.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, kaosmonk said:

What I'm curious about is if such kids are more likely to be placed a year below grade level they have finished in their country of origin (my girl have just finished her first grade)?

 

I don't think there is "grade" equivalence between different education systems.   Certainly kids start school significantly later here (6 or 7) than in my home nation.  Many kids who had done a year there (year of five, so quite often four) would still be some way from starting here.  A kid ending first year / starting second here would most likely be age 7.  (And "year" is the term here, not grade).

 

You need to look at what the system here offers for your child - not really compare it to others - and park many assumptions based on your local process.  My local schools have systems for foreign background kids and they come from a large number of nations: everywhere from UK to Mexico to Cameroon to Eritrea to Vietnam as well as (as noted) Syria and Iraq and the refugee states.  And of course these days many have dual national parentage anyway or parents working internationally, they do not come from any one system, as such.  Previous education systems can not possibly be on the school radar here (except possibly in parts the Turkish one, as the far biggest foreigner group, with close cultural links).

 

There was a discussion on the Frankfurt Main board regarding options recently including those support programmes for how German as Second Language kids get taught (albeit we're 40%+ foreigner background so it's practically a norm in many places).

 

The last poster is correct in my local experience too.  Your location matters.  It always helped to be near the school delivering this sort of thing, but more so during period of a baby boom and mad gentrification, where highly-educated "sharp-elbowed" parents are flocking to the good academic / business cities (such as Karlsruhe) and competing for the best things.  Urban life and children are the defining Gen Y / millenial lifestyle traits - hence the increasing questions - not the more slacker Gen X life of my generation arriving 10 or 20 years ago.   The two schools I mentioned (called Europaschule, state ones, not paid for) are now sought after by German parents as well.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also add that there are no programmes like that at my daughter's school either, but it is a smaller school, with no full day offerings.

 

-- Also, school registration for next year is already complete. (In one sense you're not behind and might not actually be able to register yet because you aren't resident here. On the other hand, classes are going to be broken up and assigned and teachers allocated before you arrive.)

 

Do you know yet where you will live?

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Ann_MA said:

 

I can ask around among my friends, but I think that rather than calling the nieghborhood school, you might want to start by calling here. They seem to be involved in a lot of the help that is offered and might be able to get you started. https://www.internationaler-bund.de/angebot/8126/

 

 

Wow, there you go! Excellent link!!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work with my local IB from time to time, although not on this topic, and yes it's a good organisation, although (as the English flyer notes, and the services offered to migrant parents and kids indicates) it is a training institution and more of a social services organisation (and so implicitly serves the populace needing more help).   As a result of this, you would never find the middle class business / academic foreigner class anywhere near its services (at least round my way).  Not being sniffy - I've worked with it, I have mates of background from places like Turkey and Russia who work  for it.  Just not who uses it here.  However, it looks as if it may be a support of initial support.

 

It's a support to what the education system offers but it's not the education system itself described in some earlier replies.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Aussiedog We're currently in a search of an apartment. So basically we do not know anything yet. In the meantime we've managed to find an information that two schools - Gutenbergschule and Leopoldschule - both somewhat centrally located have classes for kids that does not speak German. We don't know anything about their program yet but trust me when I say that we're doing our best to find that out soon. :)

 

That's a scary thing you said about the environment your wife works in. Why would she lose her job when nothing bad about that school or teachers teaching there haven't been said? It saddens me to hear that, especially knowing that criticism toward the education system should be seen as a positive thing. At the end, schools are bringing up the future generations that are yet to lead progress and prosperity in the country.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How mature is your daughter for her age? Because what I might do in your situation is investigate whether she could start school right at the beginning, in the first class. There will almost certainly be a sprinkling of 7-year-olds (possibly even an 8-year-old or two) in the class and everyone will be starting new together, which might make it easier for your daughter to integrate. It also gives her extra time to pick up German at a more basic level, before the grades start getting so important.  She might find many of the lessons rather babyish to begin with, having done a year of school elsewhere already, but that’s probably better than being overwhelmed.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with katzo that it would be better if you could arrive in time for your daughter to start with all the other kids. If you could manage to get here towards the end of the summer holidays, so much the better:  you might be able to start establishing some contacts in the neighbourhood.

 

Definitely continue reading all the other threads on this subject, although you are quite right that experiences vary not just from district to district but also from school to school and even class to class. I’m in Karlsruhe “Kreis” but not in Karlsruhe proper and when my kids were starting school there was absolutely no formal support at all. Fortunately they had already picked up their German in Kindergarten – very quickly, I might add.  That was some 10 years ago, though, so things may well have changed and in Karlsruhe proper it’s likely to be different anyway.

 

Hope it works out for you. You’re coming to a nice part of the country!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Ann_MA, thanks for you feedback, appreciate it. Since our plan is to stay in Karlsruhe for a longer period of time, I guess that we're not aiming to send our daughter to European school but we would like to try and enrol her with one of the public schools there so that she could actually start learning German right away.

 

Forgive me if I misunderstood you and if European school actually offers classes in German language as well! Only thing I read about European School is that it's tricky to get and find a spot there.

 

Thanks for the link you shared, will check it out!

 

Can you please share that meetup group name so that I could tell my wife about it? It might even be a better place to get some more relevant information, who knows?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey @swimmer! Thanks for the feedback!

 

These schools you have mentioned - the ones that have programs for foreign background kids - do you know if such kids are enrolled with the common group and are attending the same program as other kids does (but with emphasis set on learning the language maybe?) or is it a special class/group with only foreign kids with the special program?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you said is as close to as good as you are going to get, probably.   That is what large numbers of foreigners are donig to educate their kids.

 

The way you would better it (or confirm it's about as best as is available) is if you could find one where teaching kids with German as 2nd language is integrated in the schooling and its methodologies.

 

10 minutes ago, kaosmonk said:

 In the meantime we've managed to find an information that two schools - Gutenbergschule and Leopoldschule - both somewhat centrally located have classes for kids that does not speak German. We don't know anything about their program yet but trust me when I say that we're doing our best to find that out soon. :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey @Prosie, my daughter is more mature than the rest of her generation I'd say which is why I'm so reluctant to the idea of heaving her being sent with the younger kids, attending the 1st grade again. But on the other hand I am fully aware of that German education system is though and that grades count and start early on. And in order to have good grades one need to speak the language.

 

I'm not sure we can be there on time before the school starts. I have done everything in my power to do exactly that, but at the end it was impossible to succeed in that intention. So we will have to go with what we have and can do.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, kaosmonk said:

Forgive me if I misunderstood you and if European school actually offers classes in German language as well! Only thing I read about European School is that it's tricky to get and find a spot there.

 

They have a German section, but that wouldn't help you. The English section offers some German as a second language, but I know parents there who get German tutoring to help their children "keep up" with kids in the German schools.

 

Schools are one of the most difficult things to navigate moving here - there are wonderful things about living here too (in case this headache and the apartment search cause you to lose sight of that from time to time)

 

Adding - first grade is the alphabet in block letters and most of the script, accompanied by reading and addition and subtraction to 20. I don't think that's a great idea if she's been in school for 2 years already.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of parents think their kids are "more mature" than the others.  It is really important not to transfer the risk of migration onto children.   Schools dealing with migrant kids are highly aware of this risk.  I've also seen enough migrant kids burn out later as a result (often the oldest, who gets lumbered with the expectation of coping). Changing any school is a stress, not just the education, but making new friends etc.    Entering an education system in a foreign language is an enormous challenge and stressful for many kids and lines like "but s/he is mature, she can cope" only pile it on.  

 

One thing I actually like most about the education system is that there is no pressure on kids to be "mature" here.  Young kids are allowed to be kids.   Not labelled or hothoused.   I think that is very very good.

 

I was that kid who got labelled "mature" and I was invariably the brightest.  So what was expected of me aged 6 or 7 is that I helped the less able kids.   That's the usual way the genuinely outlying "mature" kids are dealt with.   They are not made to be older than they are.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If she is only turning 8 in September, then repeating the year is no biggie. We had a kid in our last Grundschule class who started a year late because her Dad (lawyer) knew the teacher in the class she joined was brilliant. So it is much more flexible than most of us are used to, and as time goes on, kids will stay down from the class above and be her age, and if she grabs the language well and performs above the expected level, she will be offered the chance to skip a year, so will end up where she would have started. 

 

It would be interesting to know if anyone has a kid who skipped a year, and how it went - kid#1 was offered it most years, but she wasn't great at Maths, so that had 'disaster' written all over it, and she had friends she wanted to keep, so she never took it up. I wonder how it goes for those who do?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ann_MA said:

 

 

Adding - first grade is the alphabet in block letters and most of the script, accompanied by reading and addition and subtraction to 20. I don't think that's a great idea if she's been in school for 2 years already.

A more gentle introduction to learning German and getting used to a very different system, though. And possibly an opportunity to be excused certain lessons in order to get some more support with the language, if the school is amenable.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone, I really appreciate all the insights and all the people who left the comments! I haven’t expected such a great response and I want you to know how grateful I am!

 

And as @Ann_MA said - navigating schools and apartment search are the most frustrating things when moving there. But for me personally apartment search is _nothing_ compared to assisting your kids to get around with the new environment and surroundings especially since none of us speaks good German that would allow us to engage the community with an ease.

 

And that’s my greatest fear (which should have already become obvious to anyone entering the discussion here lol) - the language/communication gap that definitely will be there and that will greatly affect my ability to interact with the teachers and to navigate our way through the German education system.

 

So @swimmer yes, what you said - "It is really important not to transfer the risk of migration onto children" and thanks for bringing it up as this is the highlight! We’ve been traveling and moving across Europe a lot in the last 6 years but I have never ever felt so restless about it as I feel now. :) My German is quite basic and I have fears I won't be able to interact with the teachers with an ease (knowing the English wont be much of a help there) in the most stressful period of adaptation. My wife and I definitely set ourselves on the track to learn it but it'll be a struggle in the beginning.

 

And it’s not only the language gap that makes me feel that way - but also that kids are being judged at the end of grade 4 and then being told what type of education they are allowed to take on next (eg Gymnasium, Realschule, etc)? Even tho I have read that it’s not that common practice anymore, I’m not sure about Baden-Württemberg region, if it’s still there or not?

 

@kiplette - thank you so much for coming here and leaving the comment on the opportunities for skipping a year! I read about it as well - that kids who pick up on the language and show interest and potential, will be offered with an opportunity to skip the class. It would be nice to hear if anyone has been granted such opportunity?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now