German Schools

(664 Posts)
finknottle Fri 15-Feb-08 10:09:03

Get it off your chest wink

There are, as anywhere, good and bad aspects to the school system.

So if you want advice, help or an embittered rant - feel free.

On a postive note - anyone see the thread on Primary about security? I've just taken dd to kg and on the way back wanted to drop off a school library book ds2 has had since before Christmas and forgot again.
All I did is walk in, went to his classroom and left it on his PE kit so he'll see it at break.

No one worries unduly about security here. The caretaker has an office (all glass) outside the main building but he's rarely in it.

Is it only village schools? Looks so odd to me to have a school "locked down".

Anna8888 Wed 20-Feb-08 10:58:10

How many hours a week and weeks a year are primary children at school for in Germany?

admylin Wed 20-Feb-08 11:02:49

The school system is very much set out to instruct and not to educate. I've never seen so little respect and so much cheek given to teachers as I have in Germany. Why don't they demand respect? Because they think it isn't their job to educate children, it's the parents job. So they put up with it and at some point, say in year 5 or 6 when the dc are getting to be nearly as big as the teachers, they say we can't teach these lot and then they go off sick with stress as the reason.

Finknottle it's better to go over the whole days work with them if you can, and we can because we're lucky enough to be at home and have time. What makes me angry is the amount of dc who don't manage at school because mum and dad didn't have time due to work or lack of German etc. One mum dared to stand up at the lastparents evening (a German mum) and said she couldn't understand why the teacher wasn't teaching enough German and that she as a working mother had to spend her only day off with nach arbeiten und defizite zu verbessern (spelling I know) but she didn't get a response, the teacher didn't know what to say as if the mother had been speaking a different langauge. It doesn't help to complain here, we've all been to the headmisstress last year to complain about our teacher but she still left her as Klassenlehrerin this year.

finknottle Wed 20-Feb-08 11:05:28

I have started wink And at the Gesamtschule we looked at for ds1 (too far away) the man more or less told me that they'd take him because of the bilingualism, actually looked disappointed when he found out we lived outside the catchment area.
But who knows what this new one will think? They're all coming in from outside the existing school.
Tried to get dh more involved with ds1's school work but it was hopeless. He tried but he's so impatient, plus he's out of the house 12hrs a day so he's exhausted. It's too late after supper really.
Last test he was helping ds2 learn for, he missed out one whole topic hmm so I fired him.
Think ds2 needs more confidence so will try and focus on that as well as schoolwork. Tips?

finknottle Wed 20-Feb-08 11:06:49

8-12 Y1 & Y2 aged 6-8
8-1pm Y3& Y4 aged 8-10

berolina Wed 20-Feb-08 11:07:09

ooh - confidence-boosting - kiga pick-up approaches now so shall have a think and post again later.

finknottle Wed 20-Feb-08 11:15:31

Admylin - we were told that it's our job to:

check German & maths files every day, ensure all class work is finished, date, page refs, name etc.
check science, ethics/religion, music files every few days for same
correct homework as teachers know what ability pupils have and can test in, er, tests, but teachers need to know that reinforcement work is being done at home.
Extra learning for tests, on average 1 every 10 days.
Reading daily

I don't know how working mums manage. Pupils in the Ganztagsschule go home at 4. After y1 there is homework supervision, i.e. the teacher checks it's done but does not correct it so the parents have to.

I don't want ds2's life to revolve around school but it's a battle. Have been trying to not overdo it but obv will have to re-think and make our time more productive.
Thankfully ds1 and dd aren't home till 4 this year.

admylin Wed 20-Feb-08 11:15:43

I'd better go shopping too or the dc wil moan if I have to do it with them later!
Confidence boosting is a hard one, ds has ups and downs. At the moment he's down so I could do with some tips too. It could be lack of free time and plain good old running about in the fresh air and friends - we have no children in our building any more and others from school live too far away. I think your ds has plenty ofthat though - does he have English at school? Is that not good for him to see that he is atleast top of the class in English?

Better go, viel spass with the homework this afternoon. We'll be doing maths and English (dd can't spell at all, sigh) and I think I'm going to try and give them that omega3 stuff - it's meant to help!

finknottle Wed 20-Feb-08 11:22:03

Must get on too, & make lunch.
Ds2 does need time to himself and is v (too) easily affected by others. Have just changed his Laufpartner for school as he was always being nagged at by the boy or his mum hmm
He's happier now walking by himself and sometimes with a new friend in his class.
I think if he perks up in himself, it'll help all round.
Thanks for sympathetic Ohren wink

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 08:40:18

Oh boy finks this doesn't sound good, after all the worry with ds1. I have a lot of thoughts buzzing around in my head about the school system generally and all of our different circumstances as well but can't put them in coherent form yet.

How do working mums manage? They don't. It's a well-known fact that their dc are over-represented in Haupt- and Realschulen, underrepresented in Gymnasia. Media are always bemoaning the fact that for the most part the dc of well-educated SAHMs are the highest achievers in the German school system. If the mum isn't compensating for school deficits at home, you can forget it.

And I agree, IME raising concerns/making complaints to the school achieves nothing. Save your breath. If anything, I'd go straight to the Schulamt these days and I've only ever heard failure stories about that path too.

Finks, I'm a bit confused about ds2's sitution. You say he has problems with the language barrier but I'm wonderign why this is so as a half-German boy who grew up in a small German village, I should have thought his German would be equivalent to that of his classmates.

What came to my mind was getting an older boy to tutor him, like a kind of big brother. Would there be a nice lad from sailing club or families who is doing well at school himself that you could imagine roping in for that?

About the Gesamtschulen, I thought they had to give applying siblings preference. Isn't that so? I would cover my bets and apply to the Gesamtschule further away and fight to get him in there despite the zoning if the other one doesn't work out. As you said the head was keen. Could dh write to the Schulamt, playing the language card and see if an exception could be made?

What kind of test was he doing in German? Explain in other words what "Gelehrte" means or write a sentence using the word or what? Am trying to imagine the situation really so we can see if we can find a good solution for tackling future tests of that type.

Confidence: how about getting him to help/teach other dc in some role? He's only young himelf I know but if he can have some responsibility for guiding/instructing younger dc taht would give his confidence an enormous boost. I'm thinking cubs/sailing/English - can you see anything? Drama is always supposed to be good, if it is on offer and you can imagine him doing it in any way?

How about teaching him Latin? I bought the Minimus Latin series which finally arrived yesterday. Looks very good, comics, history, myths, grammar nicely presented. Learn all about grammar and translation which is a great tool for dealing with other languages and I see they have Roman days at the British museum in London and weekend sleep-overs and all sorts of great ideas for which dd is still too young (from 9 I think) but can make a real hobby of it and keep the will to learn alive and them all fired up about something. They say a minimum of half an hour a week would do.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 08:53:36

Ouch! SO many tipos! Sorry about that blush

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 09:34:26

Don't apologize! You're always bursting with ideas -it's great smile

German - that's our dilemma with esp ds2 and dd. Their English is so much better. Ds2 feels more comfortable with it and we've been working on that and the confidence thing for years really. Friends, sports etc and he has been coming out of his shell but not at school. In Y1 and Y2 his class had 6 teachers - one good one would have helped him enormously but it was chaotic and the quiet ones slip under the radar. Plus all they cared about was keeping up with the work.
Now they have one permanent teacher for maths and German & it's so loud in his class and the teacher though nice is so inexperienced which is now crucial with all the Y3 stuff. She's overwhelmed atm. He sits there and struggles and depending on the teacher, gets shouted at.
At break there are constant fights and he used to then get niggled at and picked on by his Laufpartner so I'm glad I've stopped that. We've worked at dealing with loudmouths, bullies etc but it was like a drip of negativity. Seemed like he had stress from 7.30 am to 1.30 pm every day non-stop. No wonder he switches off from the German.
Language wise he may be at an equivalent level with some children but not at his level iykwim. He gets thrown by the unexpected and won't ask, "Was heisst das?"

The Gesamtschule is new so no siblings. The other one is catchment first and even for that there's a lottery. We're not legally allowed to object.
And frankly the school here don't give a stuff if he's bilingual or not. Either he can or he can't. Ditto they don't give a stuff if a child has SN or SEN, no allowance can be made - apart from no Noten for Rechtschreibung if you have an Attest for dyslexia.

Like you say, the contact with older boys is great for him and he goes to sports & youth club now with ds1 (who's lovely with him - am v proud of that) but it's the school that's bugging us.
I don't care if he gets into a Gymnasium, that's not why I worry about his marks. I think he'd hate it and will thrive at a Gesamtschule. It really is the only option for him and this first year was so heavily over-subscribed that there will be a lottery next year. So we have a year to work at it.
And his best friends at school, with whom he has been sitting are the 2 other English-speaking boys. I asked the teacher to separate them in September and she said sorry, she knew I asked for it but it was "harmonischer" for him and the class hmm i.e. easier for her to have a quiet trio while she tries to cope with the other 12 boys.

berolina Thu 21-Feb-08 09:43:06

Oh fk it, I'm starting a school a decent one which focuses on love of learning, pastoral care, small classes <dreams> <looks around for funding hmm>

It's interesting that the Gesamtschulen are oversubscribed - parents are obviously unhappy with the status quo - maybe it signifies an eventual change in the system - but possibly too late for our children

An activity involving a lot of language - such as drama, as Sandy said - is an excellent idea. How about a Lerntandem English-German with a slightly older child? It should boost his confidence to be able to teach an older child something. Can he have some kind of role in the class's English lessons (or would he hate that?)

Does he like reading?

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 09:54:19

He loves reading - and despite having 50/50 Eng/Ger will always choose English.
On the home front we've got enough for him activity wise, he also needs loads of him-time - I just need him to pipe up in class when he doesn't understand something. A webcam? wink
The Gesamtschulen are also v popular with parents who don't want to admit their child didn't get into Gymnasium or Realschule wink
Most parents don't see the need for them or actively disapprove acc to some survey I read lately.
It is great for us that the Gesamtschule is starting - s'pose that's positive. But the least subscribed stream is the Gymnasium one that's why the Noten count. Much less chance of a place if he's in the 3-er Realschulempfehlung bit.
And I'd just like him to go to school, do his homework, go out and climb trees.

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 10:01:10

English lessons are a joke.
Ds1 had a phase of bringing in comics/books/worksheets till hi steacher said he could use the time to do German which was fine by me. All they did in English was 'what's in my satchel', seasons and learn nursery rhymes. Not a Fach, no tests, no Noten. But she'd call on him and was positive.
Ds2 (sigh) was told he may not bring in anything, he has to work with the others adn none of the 3 Eng-speaking boys are ever called on. He sits there and learns "what's in my satchel" and the seasons...

Ds1 otoh, is the head's (his Eng teacher) right hand man. It's a proper Fach (Y5), ds1 gets 1s, is learning to write properly (rotten speller!) and the head told me, "I get ds1 to read in class as he's better than me" - refreshingly honest! I mentioned ds1 was getting a bit bored and he immediately sorted extra work which is part of the course but more demanding.

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 10:48:12

Was just on the phone to someone here & she was talking about English at Gymnasium (same old, "Oh it's all right for your children, they've no worries" hmm ) and I mentioned the Lerntandem idea. She laughed and said, "Finknottle, no one here would want to do it because they wouldn't want you to find out how bad/good/ooh a 2-/ohh, a 3+/ their children are at English " hmm
Barking or what?

Am sure part of why he retreats is that he witnessed all the commotion last year when we had to do the Ed Pysch stuff with ds1 and he (ds1) was so miserable. Maybe ds2, despite my best intentions and efforts, is awaiting something awful. Apart from ds1's tears and misery, I was alternating raging about the system & being downhearted about it. No wonder the poor lad hates school.

Dh is chipping in much more which helps. I resisted the temptation to point out if he'd put more effort in earlier, the children might speak better German...

berolina Thu 21-Feb-08 11:08:39

Barking indeed. hmm Good grief. Is all this awaiting dses and me?

Lots of (Ger)man-to-(Ger)man time with dh sounds just the ticket. Could they go on some weekend workshop together or something?

dh is a psychologist, though not an ed one. Shall I have a chat to him, see what he suggests?

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 11:35:11

Is there any other school in a half-way reasonable radius of where you live where ds might be more likely to thrive? Possibly a school served by a school bus or near where dh works? This sounds entirely unsatisfactory; however ds1's Gesamtschule sounds ok so far which is something at least.

I think too with 4 English speaking boys in one class (which is surely an unusual situation), there must be the possibility of them leaving the classroom during the English lessons to do worksheets or work through a workbook (get something based on an English speaking curriculum sent over) in the library. Could you and/or the other mums in turn monitor them whilst that was happening? It sounds like such a joy-killer to me sitting through those classes. Just an utterly pointless waste of time.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 11:47:23

Or perhaps (if they have English 3 x week) have 1 x where they work through the English workbook (there are some great ones) and 2 x where you and the other English speaking mums arrange for someone (a nice mum or granny maybe) to go in and do extra German with them so it wouldn't impinge on their free time? If you all got the books and people sorted, all the school has to do is provide a room and for 4 boys it needn't be huge.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 11:58:47

"I'd just like him to go to school, do his homework, go out and climb trees."

Genau finks, motto for the whole thread! I'm always so depressed and upset about it, wondering why it can't be like that, all straightforward and stress-free. It just saps away all my energy and it is hard to hide your worry from the dc and not transfer it to them too. Since we come from a different school system, I think we use up a lot of energy resisting the German approach because to us it seems so wrong because it is so different and the dc seem so unhappy with it.

I do wonder what the German MNers think of the way their primary school days were. If they experienced this year 3 testing and the whole Haupt-Real-Gesamtschule/Gymnasium divide as a big stress factor or whether they took it all unquestioningly in their stride because it is just the way it was and whether for that reason they got through it all relatively unscathed?

I know I'm not being clear but I'm struggling to understand whether if it weren't for us and OUR problems with the system, our dc would accept it and manage it more easily? No, I don't think I have my thoughts clear in my head yet ... sorry rambling. Have to see the teachers this afternoon and the whole thing is jumbled in my mind today

admylin Thu 21-Feb-08 12:26:54

I agree SSSandy , the German dc cope because they don't know there is any alternative and their parents wentthrough it too so better just get on with it. That could be our problem, we know it could work better and we're used to functioning Ganztagsschulen but if they introduce them here it'll be a catastrophe.
Why don't they go and look at schools in other countries? They could get loads oftips and not have to go through the trial and error mess that alot of schools seem to be in especially since Pisa.

In our school they haven't got all day school but they thought they had found a great compromise and keep our dc without lunch 'til ten past two in the afternoon - even the 1st year class has to wait so long, it's crazy.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 12:38:58

I wish I knew the answer for each of us, I really do.

Now they are talking about wanting to re-introduce Saturday school too. I would hate my dd to have to go 6 x week. I would hate ME to have to get up that early 6 x week!

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 12:53:00

Jumbled indeed, me too, that's why it's so good to pour it all out on here.
We have no other option school-wise, and as I said, the Gesamtschule ethos is so different and I'll calm down a great deal when all dd gets through primary and starts there too - so approx 2011 grin
Grass is greener indeed too about the minority language. We ended up with the minority as the majority hmm
Dh does sailing with the ds's at the weekends, dd & I only go along in fine weather (!) and even then the boys run around with others and it's a lovely environment and a Good Thing all round. Only March to Oct so not lately.
You're right though, more Papa time is needed. Thanks, berolina, I think we need to give the recent new sports & youth club with ds1 a bit of time, and make sure ds2 gets lots more reassurance and support.
Told him we'll go quickly (!) though his school work test or no test to check he has understood, not just homework. And focus on loads of out of school activities that he enjoys - shall kick dh into playing more board games with the 3, without me as then the children stick to English apart from directing addressing dh - "Papa, du bist dran" which isn't very much really.
If that doesn't help, then I'll beg for you to ask your dh for advice.

Ds2's home and told me he did as primed, went to the teacher re the test, explained he was ill and that in future he'll ask for the classwork he missed. She was friendly enough, said OK, but the Note (5-) stands of course. Still, a step in the right direction, he stood at her desk and waited for her. And spoke.

As for German MNers, I don't know. Maybe we frighten them off...
<shriek, wail, gnash teeth>
Thanks for the cheering up smile

The English ideas are great, Sandy but the school told us that they will do nothing of the sort. Anything like that is for us to do at home. In the old days when ds1 started and the head would smile and acknowledge my existence, I offered to help with English, even now & again and was told, for projects, yes please, but no room for anything else.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 12:53:26

admylin, don't want to make you feel more glum than you already feel, so hope this doesn't have that effect.

I was reading about your secondary school back home and it sounds fantastic, the whole approach, the academic attainment, the beautiful scenery all around. I see they take boarders too and I have to say, I think your dc would be best off back there. Is there any way of you all going there until the new job situation is settled or even for the duration of dh's next contract? I think it would do all of you the world of good. I see even that the school is looking for someone to work temporarily in term time.

I can understand why you are so unhappy here coming from there. My dd like me really isn't a big city gal for all that she was born here. She would love to go to a little stone village school and I am sure that would suit her down to the ground.

SSSandy2 Thu 21-Feb-08 13:00:44

It's a nightmare, finks. I had a feeling you had no alternative to this school otherwise you'd have moved ds1!

At least your home, your garden with the orchard envy
and the whole area sounds lovely envy
and it sounds like the dc have a nice life outside of school envy
. What a shame the school-life is such a worry though. It drags you down so much, doesn't it?

What does dh think of the whole school issue then, having been through it himself?

finknottle Thu 21-Feb-08 13:09:14

As for the area, you're right, and see the other thread, admylin was asking about it.
Then she'd have her pick of local schools wink

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