What do children study in German schools?


The student will compare and contrast daily life of a family in Germany to a family in the United States.
The student will describe characteristics of a “typica#148; day in the life of a German child.


• Teacher Resource “Going to Elementary School in Germany”

• Handout “A Typical School Day in Germany” (pictures on this page and page 3)


Cultural traits and values are influenced not only by the use of leisure time, but by the type of educational system. Begin the discussion of schools in Germany by asking students to generate a list of questions they would like to have answered about elementary school in Germany. The information in the Teacher Resource, “Going to Elementary School in Germany” should provide the answers to most of the students’ questions.

Next, show the students the photographs on “A Typical School Day in Germany”. Students should examine the photographs and make a list of events which occur at a German school. Students should note how the children are dressed, how the classroom is furnished and decorated, and the activities in which the students are engaged. The teacher should lead a discussion in which the following points, among others, are noted:
• student dress in Germany is similar to clothing worn by students in the United States
• students in Germany work on activities individually, in small groups, and large groups
• students in Germany study science, math, and social studies
• classrooms in Germany look like classrooms in the United States with chalkboards, student work displayed, and desks. There are no computers in these classrooms, however.

During the afternoon and evening, students must complete lengthy homework assignments. In addition, many students enjoy being involved in community activities such as sports, music lessons, and playing with their friends.

Frequently asked questions and answers

Teacher Resource

When do children begin school?
Usually, German children begin school when they are 6 years old. To celebrate the first day of school, parents or friends give the children a Schultüte, a big colorful cone filled with candy and school items such as a pencil case and a Füller (fountain pen). The fountain pen is the tool with which most school children are required to write.

What kinds of schools are there in Germany?
The school system in Germany is very different from the United States. Everyone goes to the Grundschule for grades 1 through 4. After the 4th grade, the children, their parents and their teachers choose the track in which the children will continue their schools. Many go to the Gymnasium for grades 5 to 13, which prepares them for the university. The other children go to either the Hauptschule, the Realschule, or the Gesmatchule (comprehensive school).

What are school schedules like?
In general, school starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends around 1:00 p.m. There is usually a short recess period around 10:00. Children go home at 1:00 p.m., when most families eat their biggest meal of the day, the Mittagessen, which is usually a hot meal. Although they get out of school early, they have a lot of homework to keep them busy in the afternoon. In some states, German children also have school on Saturdays.

What kind of classes do they take?
The classes are very similar to classes in the United States in the way they are taught, but some of the subjects are different. Children learn math, science, reading, music, and history. They also have a gym class and in 5th grade they start to learn a foreign language. English is the foreign language most people learn, but some children also take French. Later on they learn other languages.

Do they have vacations?
German children have a shorter summer vacation than children in the United States. They only have six weeks off in the summer. It is common for families to travel during vacation to such countries as France, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Spain, or Denmark. More people are also visiting the United States. Since the summer vacation is so short, they have a two-week vacation around the holidays in December and January. There is another two-week vacation at Easter and one week in the fall. In addition, children have the day off on many religious and national holidays.

Are German children good students?
Just as in the United States, there are good, average, and poor students in Germany. Instead of using the A - F letter grading scale, German students receive numerical grades of 1 - 6, with 1 being the highest, or best, score.