How Our Americans Kids Survived their First Full Year of German School
Well, we made it through the first full year of German school. Whew! Our four kids all attended Bavarian public schools, from Kindergarten through Gymnasium, which are known to be the toughest schools in all of Germany! Here you’ll find out how they did and if we even survived!
German School – Grades, Friends, Classes & More!
Our kids’ first year of public school here as Americans in Germany just finished. Whew! They finished a whole year! So how is their German? How are their grades, German friends, classes, and more? In this video, we share all of the details!
How Our American Kids Did in the First Year of German School
We have talked extensively about our experiences in the German public school system as American immigrants. It’s been the hardest cultural change and adjustment for our family! To see more about how we’ve handled the many challenges we’ve faced with our four children, see these posts here. Here are some of the highlights from the video. If you want more details than what’s provided here, make sure to watch the video.
1 – How COVID Affected Our School Experience
We arrived to Germany in February of 2021, right in the middle of a COVID lockdown! So the kids only attended school every other day. This slowed their German language learning, but it did make it a little easier to transition into new schools. It was also difficult for us to talk with the teachers, but that was the same everywhere.
2 – Are they Able to Speak German Now?
They say that kids learn foreign languages really fast, and for the most part, that’s true. For us, due to COVID, the language learning was quite a bit slower. The first 6-8 months were a big struggle for the kids. They really didn’t understand what their teachers were saying. Amazingly, though, they were able to make friends! Kids are awesome that way.
Once the second school season started in September of 2021, it was a lot smoother for the kids. They were in school every day, no longer dealing with COVID lockdowns from school. Their German picked up very quickly. By the end of that school year, in July of 2022, they were about at a B1 level.
3 – Excursions and Field Trips
We’ve been very happy with the fun field trips and even overnight trips the kids have been able to take through their schools! Our oldest boys, who are in Gymnasium, were both able to go on ski trips. Griffin, who’s in Grundschule (elementary school), has been able to go to visit farms, go ice skating, sledding, hiking and more.
4 – Some of Our Boys’ Favorite Classes in Gymnasium
Grayson was able to take a carpentry class and he loved it! He also loves his sport and music classes. Gabriel loves math and really likes how mathematics are taught in Germany (more on that here).
5 – Navigating Public Transportation On their Own!
Our oldest boys, who are both in Gymnasium, which is like an honors school for Americans, have mastered taking public transportation on their own. They take the public city bus to and from school each day. Griffin walks with friends to and from school each day. Coming from an area in the USA where the only public option was a school bus, this was a huge lifestyle change for us. We were nervous about it at the beginning, and our boys did have some bumps at the beginning of the school year. But now they are confident taking trains and buses and even help us on family vacations to navigate public transport!
6 – Their Grades
The first half of the school year the boys were all “Gastschüler,” or guest students. It meant their grades did not matter and they could just focus on learning German. This was a HUGE help and really took the pressure off of us. Once their grades began to matter halfway through the year, they did very well!
7 – Have they been able to make friends?
Long story short – yes! In fact, they were able to make friends right from the beginning, even while speaking very little German. It helps that some of their friends are English-speaking, but the majority of their friends are German.
8 – Kindergarten for Ella – How did it turn out?
We love Germany’s Kindergarten philosophy and methodology and are very happy that at least one of our children gets to experience it. However, that doesn’t mean it was easy at first. This is going to depend on each child, but for Ella, she was very overwhelmed with the huge move and then change to a school where she couldn’t understand anything at first. We had to slowly ease her in. By the fourth or fifth month, she made one very good friend in her group and that made ALL the difference. The second school year she really began thriving.
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