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Neue Stifte, neues Maeppchen: new German school thread

(750 Posts)
finknottle Thu 18-Sep-08 11:47:41

Am starting in positive manner as we're 7 weeks into the new school year and all 3 of mine are settled and happy.
Well, d won't be if she does have head lice and has to stay off because she loves school so much.
S1 is in the second year of secondary & still thriving. Is class prefect for the first time which was a great ego boost.
S2 is in Y4 & has been doing better in class but his test results are still lousy (unfortunate choice of phrase if we are lice-ridden) and his teacher is convinced it's the language issue. He's trying harder which is a good sign. He lost the prefect election by 1 vote to his best friend and was chuffed to bits to be his "deputy" and that so many voted for him.

Had forgotten how wonderful the "erste Klasse" is.

admylin Thu 18-Sep-08 19:04:14

Good idea to start a new thread!

Bad news in the admylin household today though. Dd came home with her first ever 5 sad in maths test. She never had one that bad in the old school and I worried there enough about maths. Her worst test grade there was a 4 once, then a couple of 2's and 3's and a 1. What sould I do? Should I ask to speak to the teacher about it or just wait and see? She's been trying so hard and she can do big sums in her head now and seemed to be enjoying maths.

She got a 2 on her end of year report so maybe she has Prüfungsangst? On top of it all they both seem to be getting so much homework - and they do mess about abit so it takes them ages to finish, we hardly have time for anything after school. I wante dto take them to the local library this afternoon to join but from 2pm to 6pm they were working (not non stop but still) sad when am I going to get time to do extra maths with dd?

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 07:20:59

I'd let her settle in. Might have been worry or they may well have a different style, book format etc. When s2 comes with 4s or 5s I go through it to see what exactly he got wrong. Sometimes just an unlucky mix of carelessness, misunderstanding questions and once, he missed a whole side of the test hmm
Do they tell you the average? S2 got a 4+ last week in Sachunterricht which shocked me as they'd done a practice one (first time ever but last year the tests were v hit & miss) and s2 was so proud that the teacher told the class he was the only one to get full marks. First time ever for him in any subject. The average was 3,6 so his wasn't such a disaster.
What I found useful was that s1's primary teacher would write how many marks were a 1 or 2 etc. so you could see how near a 2 the 3 was & it encouraged s1 to see 1 more mark & he'd have had a 2 iyswim.
Still think it's shite tho. Worked out last year that in general, 80% is a 3, and anecdotally from UK & US friends, 80% would be no lower than a B on the whole. Also (not that I'm obsessed wink ) to get a 1, you need 95 - 100%. 2s were 85-95%.

Really cheering myself up here grin

admylin Fri 19-Sep-08 08:26:32

Yes, I've been thinking about it and I think it was really bad luck to have a test so soon into the new term I know some of the things she had to answer she has never been taught at the old school and since this term started they've had so many Ausglüge, a week long Klassenfahrt and not very much actual maths instruction. Why did the teacher do a Klassenarbeit? That's what I'd like to know but I told d to go up to the desk and quietly say that she has never been taught these sums and that her mum and dad are confusing her with different methods so would the teacher maybe explain it. Do you think she should do that?

It bugs me that I'm meant to teach my child maths at home. My sister in UK never had to teach anything, it was all dealt with in school. I somehow think the teachers here just go through the work they have to get through and ignore the fact that some kids might not have got it.

Got a call from ds's school this morning (heart stopped for a second) but they put him on and he said mum I need my trumpet so I had to dash back out lugging his great big trumpet case. He is still abit of a day dreamer sometimes. How come he didn't know and everyone else did? Sigh, I used to have my spy in Berlin! A friend's dd who I could phone and she knew absoloutly everything that had gone on in school. All I got from ds was 'dunno!'

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 08:32:35

Boys are genetically designed in "dunno' mode.

Tbh I wouldn't have her say about mum & dad confusing her, but that maths was different in her old school and could she have extra worksheets to practise a bit more. Don't know why you have to help her so much, if she got a 2 on her report she's pretty good mathematically speaking. Is it just a new method? I'd have her tell the teacher she got a 2 as well.
Agree about Klassenarbeit so early.
Great, innit, school here? wink

admylin Fri 19-Sep-08 08:39:54

Well, last year she had a hard time in maths and we had to practise on a daily basis, so weekends too but it helped and she managed to get through. To be honest I wasn't expecting her to get a 2 so was quite surprised. I'd say she just got through on a border line 2. That was Berlin though, and the standard wa sa lot lower than here but how can you say that to them, they won't believe it especially as they had the same book.

This year is going to be so stressfull because the half year report is the one that decides about Gymnasium or Realschule. DD wants to go to the same school as her brother and I think she would cope as she enjoys sitting working, writing and stuff unlike her brother who is a lazy bones but a natural so very lucky with the brains he got. He can do maths and he can spell - he only has to see a word once then he knows how to spell it. Dd can't spell at all so she has to practise alot but she does, willingly.

taipo Fri 19-Sep-08 08:50:25

I think if your dd is brave enough to go up do the teacher she should, admylin. Agree with finknottle though that she shouldn't say you've been confusing her. I wouldn't worry too much by one bad mark, especially in maths which is one of those subjects you can get a really bad mark in just because of one small misunderstanding. I still remember getting 12% once on a test at school and I was generally quite good at maths. Totally agree it's annoying to have to go over work they should have covered in class.

Homework is taking forever here too. Towards the end of last year I really thought we'd cracked it but now she is back to taking 3 or 4 hours for HW that could be completed easily in an hour. I think everyone else seems to be having the same problem so it's not just dd but she is a terrible dreamer. She had her first test yesterday - a dictation. They had the talk at the beginning of the year about how they need to get an average of 2.4 for the Gymnasialempfehlung.

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 08:55:29

Oh wail and gnashing of teeth at Yr4 & the sodding Empfehlung angry
We can have an online support group wink

Am aiming for Gesamtschule for s2, s1 is thriving in same system school and I really like the way they teach. As I may have mentioned once or twice. Massively over-subscribed though sad

taipo Fri 19-Sep-08 08:56:40

Think ds is set in 'dunno' mode as well. He's been in the 1. Klasse now for a week and for the first 3 days when I asked him what his homework was he replied, 'dunno'. He'd also left all his books at school and come home with a virtually empty Ranzen. I had to keep going round to a neighbour to find out what they were supposed to do. Yesterday the roles were reversed, ds brought home everything (plus a load of stuff he didn't need) and neighbour's son forgot his books grin

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 08:57:10

Didn't take us long to lose the positive sheen on this thread, did it?

Admylin, any news of SSSandy2? Wonder what she's doing school-wise this year. Are the Berliners back?

admylin Fri 19-Sep-08 08:59:17

Ds has been enjoying Gymnasium up to now. He has 6 hours of English a week which is OK for him as he gets to read his book (Harry Potter) but I feel sorry for the German kids, they get pages of vocab and they have to learn it so it must take ages. The other day there was a vocab test and even ds got 4 mistakes because he wasn't carefull. One mistake was he wrote too instead of also hmm and we've already found 2 mistakes in the text book and the teacher says some things that don't quite sound right but I tell him he just has to go along with it!

taipo Fri 19-Sep-08 09:05:39

I was wondering about English lessons. Do they make him sit in on all the classes and do all the tests? Dc do French at Grundschule here because we are so near the French border and start English in Y5 which most parents are annoyed about. Suits us though.

Have been thinking about SSSandy, too. Hope she's OK.

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 09:14:13

Some teachers are like that, know a family here who spent 5 yrs in the US & the children are fluent. Get marked wrong for "that's not what it says in the book" stuff when what they did write is 100% correct.

Last year s1 had the head for English and he was great, s was like his assistant, and had to work hard at the writing as I hadn't done much - he had problems enough with German Rechtschreibung. Now he has a new teacher and she told him to bring a book too. He's on The Hobbit and wants to go onto The Lord Of The Rings.
Daft here that English is valued as much as German & Maths as a Hauptfach but the children only start in Y5. In Primary it's one hr a week and all play stuff really, singing songs etc.

finknottle Fri 19-Sep-08 09:24:24

X-post Taipo.
Yes, he does the work then reads his book. Got full marks on the first test which I was pleased with as I don't want him to get complacent & he has this v mild SEN which affects his writing so easy to make silly spelling mistakes.

He has always had 1s, it was a great boost to his confidence. Wish they'd had it in Primary as he often asked, "What am I good at, Mum?" and that would have been one subject.
He is now top of his class in most subjects, had a brilliant report in the summer & his teacher told me that if he went on like that, and she saw no reason why he shouldn't, he could change to Gymnasium after Y6 - Y5 & Y6 are the Orientierungsstufe).
I was thrilled for him, but said we wouldn't move him because it's their style of teaching which suits him. Good for him to know that as all bar 1 of his friends are at Gymnasium, Empfehlung or not, and it was a blow to his confidence in Y4.
Am still v v v relieved he's so happy at school.

admylin Mon 22-Sep-08 08:39:33

That all sounds really positive finknottle. I have mixed feelings about Gymnasium and Realschule. Really I'd prefer both my dc to go to Realschule or a Gesamtschule because the Gymnasium system is really tough and abit 'dry' IYSWIM. A good friend of ours at university had 2 boys and they got the Empfehlung for Gymnasium but he sent them to Realschule and is planning on them doing a normal Ausbildung before going to university so they have some sort of practical background. I can see his point because I know so many people with degrees, PhD etc who are useless at real life stuff (thinking of h as one example of a Fachidiot). Anyway, we've got ds in Gymnasium now so we'll see how it goes - he's enjoying it now. If dd didn't make it to Gymnasium it wouldn't bother me. I mean if you get to the end of Realschule with good grades you can go to another school for 2 years (or maybe 3) to do Abi anyway so what's the difference?

Just sent ds off on his Klassenfahrt, he was trying to be brave but he also tried to chicken out at breakfast. Had to convince him to go. It's his very first trip away from us so talk about being thrown in at the deep end! I hope he enjoys it - it's too long though. A whole week. One thing I don't like is when the parents around the dc shout Oh we're going to have such a nice week without you, the peace will be great etc. Poor dc, I didn't hear anyone saying I'll miss you, have a nice time. Strange way of showing your feelings towards your dc.

admylin Wed 24-Sep-08 13:55:42

I was wondering - do you have to pay alot for extras for primary school? In Berlin it wasn't too bad, maybe 4 times a year a couple of euro and 8 euro for a class ticket for bus und bahn. Since we've been in Hannover we've had constant notes asking for money for things. 8 euro Klassenkasse the first week then 7 for the class ticket and then every other day 2 or 3 euro for trips here and there. They've also been on a Klassenfahrt that cost over 100 euro. This week the circus is at school on the sports field and the dc get one morning in th etent learning tricks - cost 10 euro. That evening they have to go back to school to appear in the show and the parents get to watch for 6 euro entry fee hmm

Anyway they've only been back at school for under 4 weeks so I'm wondering if it's going to go on like this all year.

admylin Wed 01-Oct-08 09:10:48

Taipo, read what you wrote about year 4. That's my trouble too. It's been bad news after bad news on the grade side of things for dd. She had a maths test 'Klassenarbeit' which is meant to be an important one but she got her lowest ever grade in her up to now short school career! Then the first dictation came with 13 mistakes which is a 4 or 5 I think although it wasn't a Klassentest so no grade to worry about but the stress is there. SO much homework, no time or energy on her part to sit and do 'extra' spelling practise or maths.

Even worse news, ds is at Gymnasium in year 5 and his first dictation came back with a grade 5 - he has never had a 5 infact he's a 1 or 2 grade average. He also gets so much homework that he hardly has time to do extras - but why should they have to? In UK my nieces don't get homework yet or if they do it's half an hour or a bit of vocab for French or German. Thank goodness ds is English as they get 2 whole pages of vocab in English every lesson (3 times a week) - no idea how the German pupils manage it. When he has to write something in German I can't help if he asks is it den or dem as I can't do that sort of German. Despairing here rapidly.


taipo Wed 01-Oct-08 09:11:15

aaaaargh, posted on old thread blush Trying again....

Dd now in 4. Klasse and under horrible pressure because of the Schulempfehlung half way through the year. Homework still a complete nightmare but gradually getting better.

Ds now in 1. Klasse which is fine so far but he is getting sick of all that colouring in grin

Did anyone see that TV report last night on schools and how much pressure children are under because of having to do the Abitur in 8 years instead of 9? There were kids on the programme saying how they thought about school every minute of the day, had hardly any free time and suffered headaches and stomach aches. It really made me wonder what it's all for. I mean what's the point of getting the abitur and going onto university if your health and sanity suffer as a result. Really made me wish dc could find their own way in life without having to go through the system as it is. Maybe not getting into the gymnasium would be a blessing in disguise.

admylin Wed 01-Oct-08 09:13:51

How long do you sit doing homework? We do average 2 hours - sometimes more then a break and then they should really go and do some extra stuff after that but they don't really want to.

taipo Wed 01-Oct-08 09:22:41

It's stupid isn't it? I mean everyone says how awful it is that pupils are under so much stress but nothing is done to change the system.

Dd made 4 mistakes in her first dictation, a week after they came back). I thought she did OK, considering the long break and the mistakes were really minor ones but she got a 3 so not a terrible mark but not good enough iyswim.

She's done two tests this week, Aufsatz and maths.

Homework can take anything from half an hour to 4 hours depending on her mood. It always takes her ages to get back into it after the long summer holidays so atm we're still averaging 2/3 hours for work which could be done in an hour. I don't have the heart to make her do extra work on top of it but then wonder if I should be.

taipo Wed 01-Oct-08 09:34:27

Your dc must be under a lot of pressure, admylin, what with moving and starting a new school. I would hope the school would take that into account, especially for your dd.

I've heard from others parents about their dc getting bad marks in the 5. Klasse. Do you think they deliberately make them do really difficult tests at the start of the 5. Klasse just to show them that they can't always expect 1s and 2s anymore?

admylin Wed 01-Oct-08 09:40:52

Yes I think you could be right about the Gymnasium doing it on purpose to make them work harder.

At the Einschulung the head made a speech and she said all of the new pupils sitting here are use dto getting 1's and 2's, you're all the best of your Grundschule but now you'll almost all go down a few grades and start getting 3's and 4's but don't wory it's normal.

Still, you'd think they would encourage them more - but their method seems to be let's scare them into following our rules with threats of - you'll get moved down to Realschule, you'll have to go to Förder lessons etc. The head even said in one of her 'jokes' " Many people say the start at Gymnasium means the end of childhood, well....they're right" Everyone found this very funny and they all laughed - I was shocked.

admylin Wed 01-Oct-08 09:43:17

Oh and in Germany they DO NOT take into account anything like family problems, moving house or being under stress - tough, no one is interseted. A friend's dd ended up in Hauptschule because the teacher wouldn't give her a second chance when she was going through real family troubles and illness on top of that. Here it's just tough, get on with it.

finknottle Wed 01-Oct-08 10:05:37

Update from the Finknottle household:

S2 in Y4 - oh dear. No idea how he's doing really, things a bit odd there. I suggested to his teacher that he sits alone (he agreed) as it helps him concentrate & he doesn't hide behind his classmates, it's boosted his confidence too.
We had a mad parents eve a while back, shouting and accusations & since then I think the teacher's cracking up under the strain.
She's v nice but rather highly-strung and new and panicky. Fed up of homework complaints from parents, she devised this weekly plan of work the children need to finish, with checks & controls, v impressive and good for them. They do much more project/group work and theoretically it should all be on the up.
Now s2 hardly has any homework hmm as he says he does more in school and I don't know if her new system is masking the fact that some of them aren't getting that much done. Marks still rubbish and disheartening.
Then yesterday she blew up at some girls, shouting so loudly it brought 4 teachers out of their classrooms to see what was going on, plus the head like an avenging angel, the girls fled to the loos in tears and lordy, am I glad half-term starts in 25 hrs... Maybe she won't even be back after half-term. The phone lines in the village were red hot & we've a meeting tonight which I can't go to thankfully as it'll be a hanging committee no doubt.

S1 in Ganztagsklasse so no homework, the only stuff they do at home is learn English vocab... <relief>
D in Y1 is using some new method and we are not supposed to check or correct homework or practise reading <weeps with relief>
So afternoons here are completely odd and practically homework-free. If it weren't for the oddness of s2's teacher/class atm, I'd be laughing.

<sticks fingers in ears at thoughts of weiterfuehrenden Schulen>

finknottle Wed 01-Oct-08 10:17:04

Friends report the same in Y5 Gymnasium here too.
Admylin, your comment about they can do Abi later so why bother... sigh, yep.
Here it's:

Gymnasium = success for child/parents
Realschule = failure for child/parents
Hauptschule = equivalent of admitting your child is going to Youth Offenders Institute.

I lost count of the people who could not believe (literally open-mouthed with surprise) that we weren't going to send s1 to Gymnasium. Even after I said it would be a Quaelerei for him, explained about his mild SEN, all I got was, "Send him anyway, get him Nachhilfe" hmm Better to have him stressed and unhappy than send him to Realschule or Gesamtschule hmm
Crazy mad

<sticks fingers back in ears>

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