Schule in Deutschland verstehen (englische Sprachfassung)

kwbev

Im Buch »Schule in Deutschland verstehen. Grundwissen für Eltern« geht es um zwei Themen, die alle Familien mit Kindern früher oder später betreffen: Schule und Berufswahl. Diese Fragen kommen den meisten Eltern sicherlich bekannt vor: Wie kann ich mein Kind vor Beginn der Schule und während der Schulzeit unterstützen? Welche Rolle spielen wir als Eltern bei der Berufswahl unseres Kindes? Welche Rechte und Pflichten haben wir als Eltern? Was passiert nach der Schule? 100 kurze und verständliche Texte enthalten Antworten auf diese und weitere Fragen. Dieses Buch zeigt die vielen Möglichkeiten auf, wie Eltern mit der Schule zusammenarbeiten können. Es ist einfach zu lesen und enthält 20 kurze Kapitel. Jedes Kapitel enthält 5 wichtige Informationen zu einem Thema. Außerdem gibt es konkrete Tipps und zusätzliche Informationsquellen. Das Buch kann bei Elternveranstaltungen, Elternabenden an Schulen sowie in der außerschulischen Elternbildung eingesetzt werden. »Schule in Deutschland verstehen« gibt es mittlerweile in insgesamt sechs Sprachfassungen: Arabisch, Deutsch, Englisch, Persisch, Russisch und Türkisch.

Beratung Qualifizierung Migration

Understanding School

in Germany

The Basics for Parents

Dr. Alexei Medvedev assisted by Elisabeth Wazinski

The projects are funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.


… 2 …


Foreword

Dear Parents,

This book addresses two subjects that affect all families with children:

School and career choices.

These questions are probably familiar to you:

How can I help my child before school begins and how can I help

my child during his or her time at school?

As parents, what are our roles in our child’s career choices?

As parents, what are our rights and obligations with respect to issues

that concern school?

What comes next after secondary school?

You will find answers to these questions and others in this book.

Frequently, it is the simple things that help your child be successful at

school and help him or her make good career choices, for example:

Regularly checking homework,

Attending parents’ evenings, or

Arranging for after-school tutoring.

This book will show you various alternatives on how you as parents

can work together with the school.

This book is easy-to-read. There are 20 short chapters and each

chapter addresses one subject which is subdivided into five important

topics. Moreover, this book gives you tangible tips and provides you

with additional sources of information at the end of each chapter.

We hope this information will be beneficial to you!

Dr. Alexei Medvedev and Elisabeth Wazinski

Hamburg, March 2015

… 3 …


About the authors

Dr. Alexei Medvedev

Dr. Alexei Medvedev has been working as programme director for

KWB e. V. since 2007. His area of concentration is intercultural work with

parents at school-to-work transition. The last project he spearheaded

was ”Eltern vor Ort” (Parents on the Spot) for intercultural cooperation

with parents and school development. He is the author of various publications

and has held lectures at numerous national and international

conferences on the topics of integration, education, and family. Dr. Alexei

Medvedev studied German philology, tourism, and education management

in Perm, Münster, and Zagreb. He received his doctorate in Nizhny

Novgorod (Russia) with his dissertation in literary studies.

Elisabeth Wazinski

Elisabeth Wazinski has been working as a senior project manager for

KWB e. V. since 2008. Her areas of concentration include intercultural

recruitment processes, intercultural work with parents, intercultural training,

and educational placement for young immigrants. Moreover, she has

been working as a therapist and coach since 2007 which is an expertise

that not only works well with counselling youths, but also in supervising

and advising those involved with education. Elisabeth Wazinski has a

Master of Arts in Ethnology (M. A.).

… 4 …


Table of contents

Foreword .................................................................3

About the authors .........................................................4

1 Compulsory school attendance means:

ALL children must attend school in Germany. .............................6

2 ALL parents can help their children before they start school and

while they are going to school. ..........................................10

3 It is simply not enough to find a good school.

It is also the responsibility of parents to educate their children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

4 Even experts have a hard time making our school system easy to understand. .18

5 Both disabled and non-disabled children can learn together. ................22

6 Any language your child speaks is a jewel! ................................26

7 There is a middle ground between silence and grumbling:

Talk to your child’s teacher. .............................................30

8 Parents can do more than just sell cakes! .................................34

9 Parents have many rights. ..............................................38

10 Parents also have obligations. ...........................................42

11 Report cards and marks/grades are like traffic lights:

You must take their signals seriously. ....................................46

12 It is not only about marks/grades. .......................................50

13 Career and vocational education and training, university, or a work-study

degree programme (duales Studium)? They are all equally good!

Let your child decide. ..................................................54

14 Made in Germany: The whole world envies us because of our integrated

system of career and vocational education and training (duale Ausbildung). ...58

15 My child will go to university. ...........................................62

16 There are more options after secondary school than some parents think. ...66

17 Every child has strengths and weaknesses. ...............................70

18 In this world, parents are simply irreplaceable, especially when it comes

to choosing a profession. ...............................................74

19 ALL parents can help their child with applications. .........................78

20 Today the application process is almost like an audition! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

Imprint ...................................................................86

… 5 …


Compulsory school attendance means: ALL

children must attend school in Germany.

1.1

In Germany, school attendance is compulsory.

In other countries, education is compulsory.

Many countries have laws which require that children be given an education

(also known as the compulsory requirement of a basic education

(Bildungspflicht)). This means that all children must receive an education

(instruction). It is up to the family to decide whether this occurs at school

or at home. This is the case for example in Austria. Nevertheless,

most families choose to send their children to school.

In Germany, children must attend school! Compulsory

school attendance can last for 12 or 13 years depending

on individual German federal state law.

However, many children finish their general secondary

education after the 9th or 10th year. These children are

nevertheless still required to attend school and attend

a vocational school in order to receive career and vocational

education and training. The other children continue

on in school in order to obtain their Abitur (general

certificate of education – advanced level) or

Fachabitur (applied general certificate of education).

In Germany, homeschooling (Hausunterricht) is only

permitted in certain circumstances, for example when

children must stay home because of a disability or illness

(illness-related instruction).

… 6 …


1.2

In Germany, all children are examined before attending school.

Before starting to school, two important meetings will be held with you and

your child: The language assessment meeting (Sprachstandserhebung) and

the school physical examination (Schuleingangsuntersuchung) also known

as the physical examination for enrolment (Einschulungsuntersuchung).

You will receive an invitation to attend these important meetings via post.

Language assessment (Sprachstandserhebung)

Your child’s success at school is contingent on how well he or she can speak

German. This is why this will be assessed. This is called a language assessment.

This takes place in almost all German federal states (Bundesländer) about

1 to 2 years before your child is enrolled in school. If your child needs help with

German, he or she will receive extra language tutoring (Sprachfördermaßnahmen)

– either at child day-care (Kindertagestätte – KITA) or at preschool.

School physical examination/physical examination for enrolment

(Schuleingangsuntersuchung/Einschulungsuntersuchung)

A paediatrician will examine your child shortly before school begins.

Depending on the particular German federal state (Bundesland) either

the Department of Health, the school, or the child day-care facility will

be responsible for organising this.

The examination will determine whether or not your child has developed

normally for his or her age and whether he or she will be able to handle

school. You should attend this examination so that the physician can ask you

questions and immediately discuss the results of the examination with you.

If your child needs help in any particular area, the physician will direct you

to the appropriate agencies where you can get specialised support (Fördermöglichkeiten).

1.3

Generally your child begins school at the age of six.

Compulsory school attendance applies to all children in Germany

regardless of the passport they hold and their residency status.

As a guide, keep this rule of thumb in mind: If my child will turn

6 years old before the school year begins, then he or she must

enrol in school.

There are borderline cases, however, where the family can decide

whether or not their child will begin school a year earlier (at age 5) or a

year later (at age 7). These cases usually concern the child’s birth date and

development.

… 7 …


1.4

There is always a primary school in your neighbourhood

that will enrol your child.

No child in Germany may be denied attendance at school. This is why

school enrolment is organised so that all families with school-aged children

will be contacted. There is a primary school (Grundschule) in your neighbourhood

that is responsible for the street that you live in and this will be

the school that your child attends.

There may be a case, however, that for some reason you do

not wish your child to attend this particular school. You have

the option of selecting another school for your child to

attend. This can sometimes be complicated. Another school

will only accept your child if there is space available.

1.5

School is free in Germany!

However, there are exceptions!

There are public (state operated) schools and independently operated

schools, for example Waldorf Schools (also called Rudolf Steiner Schools),

Montessori Schools, church operated schools, and private schools.

Public schools are free of charge. Generally, the school provides materials

for instruction, for example schoolbooks. There are, however, items that

you must purchase for your child (for example exercise books, folders,

crayons and pencils, particular books, pens, rulers, erasers, setsquare,

calculator, sportswear, and trainers/sneakers).

Independently operated schools charge school fees (Schulgeld)

and are solely responsible for fixing the amount of the

fees. A family should carefully consider whether or not it can

afford paying school fees over a longer period of time.

… 8 …


What can you do?

1. Heed the results of and the recommendations from the language assessment

and school physical examination. If your child needs help before

school begins, take advantage of the offers of support that are available.

2. Find out well in advance which school your child will attend and register

him or her. The school will inform you when you need to do this and

which supporting documents you need to bring with you. Generally for

registration, you’ll need an identity card or passport for yourself and

your child as well as your child’s birth certificate.

3. If you do not wish your child to attend the school zoned for your street,

please consider the answers to the following questions: What are the

pros and cons? Which other school will be better suited to my child and

why? How will my child get back and forth from this school each day? Is

the way to school safe?

4. Visit various schools on their ”open house” days in order to familiarise

yourself with the different schools. Get active early on and ask about

available space for your child. Schools often advertise open house dates

in local newspapers.

If you would like to learn more …

… about school and education:

Arbeitskreis Neue Erziehung e. V. (ANE)

has much material for parents in several

languages.

You can order materials at www.ane.de

Navigation: Elternmedien > Elternbriefe

… 9 …


ALL parents can help their children

before they start school and while

they are going to school.

2.1

Your child’s first years after birth are the most important

for his or her development.

Scientific studies have shown that children learn most intensively during the

first few years after their birth which has an impact on the rest of their

lives. The better your child develops before attending school, the easier it

will be for your child to learn at school. Before attending school, most children

can recount events or stories, play with forms, count, draw, tinker,

play, run, climb, jump, and much more. This helps your child learn a number

of important things.

2.2

Day-care facilities (Kindertagesstätte – KITA) can help

with your child’s development.

Your child is not obligated to attend day-care. It is up to you whether or not

you send your child to day-care. As of August 2013, all parents in Germany

have a right to send their children to day-care and a place in the nursery

must be given to a child that has attained 1 year of age if requested.

Attending day-care is very beneficial to the social development of your

child. If your child does not speak German at home, going to day-care is

especially important. At day-care your child will learn German quickly and

will have fewer problems with the German language by the time he or she

enrols in school.

… 10 …


2.3

Parents have a major influence on the

success of their children at school.

A scientific study conducted by the Programme for

International Student Assessment (PISA) found that

parents contribute more than 50 per cent to their children’s

success at school. A parent has more influence

on the development of a child’s learning than do teachers

or class instruction. However, the influence can

be positive or negative.

If you take school seriously and support your child, your

child will be able to learn more effectively. If you find

school unimportant and do not support your child, your

child will most likely be less successful at school. This

means that the success of your child is more dependent

on you than on the school or teachers.

2.4

A year before your child will attend school,

you need to decide whether your child will remain

in day-care or attend preschool.

In the year prior to your child starting school, you have the option

of sending your 5-year old child to preschool (Vorschule). Each

preschool is organised differently. Many preschools are integrated

into day-care facilities. There are also preschools that are integrated

into primary schools. Attendance at preschool is voluntary.

Things that favour your child’s attendance at preschool:

Your child is not quite ready for school and needs some additional

help; your child is very advanced and needs more of a challenge and

would like to learn more at a faster pace; or your child needs to ease into

the transition from day-care to school.

Things that do not favour your child’s attendance at preschool:

It is sometimes good for some children to spend a year longer at play and

to develop outside of a ridged school structure.

In any event, this is a personal decision which is best resolved in consultation

with day-care and preschool staff.

… 11 …


2.5

In cases of financial need, support is available.

The education package (Bildungspaket) and other assistance.

Families that are receiving government assistance benefits (class II unemployment

benefits (Arbeitslosengeld II), social security income allowance

(Sozialgeld), social welfare benefits (Sozialhilfe), a child benefit allowance

(Kinderzuschlag), or housing benefits (Wohngeld)) may apply for education

package (Bildungspaket) benefits.

Education package benefits provide you with extra money so that your child

can participate in cultural activities and sports, receive learning assistance,

and take part in school trips and excursions. You can even receive financial

support from the education package for lunch at day-care centres

and school, school materials, and for the transportation

expenses associated with travelling by bus or rail.

Some costs can be paid by the local school society (Schulverein),

for example partial financial aid for class excursions. You

can receive more information about this from the school; contact

your child’s class teacher.

What can you do?

Before school begins:

1. Be sure that your child has enough contact with other children before

school begins and learns German. This is best done at day-care.

2. Be sure to purchase all necessary school supplies before school begins.

The school will provide you with information about what your child will

need to begin school. Apply for education package benefits if you qualify

for assistance.

3. Walk the path to school with your child and teach him or her how to

act accordingly at all critical spots (driveways, intersections, traffic lights,

bicycle paths, and crosswalks).

For school:

1. Make sure that your child arrives at school on time each day, has

something to eat during breaks, and is well rested. It is preferable that

you accompany your child to and from school in the beginning if this is

possible. This naturally depends on how far away the school is from

where you live and how difficult the path is.

… 12 …


2. You should keep the school’s telephone number (school office) with you

at all times and call the school as soon as possible if your child is unable

to come to school for some important reason, for example because of

illness.

3. You should regularly talk with your child about his or her achievements

and difficulties at school.

4. Ask your child about homework and make sure that your child actually

does his or her homework. You should organise after school tutoring if

your child continues to have difficulties with homework.

5. You should encourage your child if he or she is having a difficult time

completing a task and praise your child if he or she has overcome these

difficulties.

If you would like to learn more …

… about learning together:

You can find free information for parents at

www.eltern-bildung.net in the rubric ”Lernzeit

gemeinsam gestalten” on how you can help your

child learn better starting in day-care. You will

find exercises and tips designed to help you and

your child learn together.

… about safely getting to school:

The Lower Saxony Department for

Cultural Affairs provides information on

its website www.mk.niedersachsen.de

in Arabic, German, Polish, Russian, and

Turkish.

Navigation: Schule > Schüle rin nen und

Schüler/Eltern > Mobilität > Schulanfangs aktion

… about the education package (Bildungspaket):

You can find comprehensive information about

education package benefits and how to apply in

Arabic, English, Russian, and Turkish at

www.bildungspaket.bmas.de.

… 13 …


It is simply not enough to find a good

school. It is also the responsibility of parents

to educate their children.

3.1

According to various studies, many parents do not

spend enough time with their children.

Parents are especially important for the development of a child, particularly

in the first few years after birth. Nevertheless, studies show that on average

parents do not spend enough time with their children. Spending meaningful

time with children does not mean sitting in front of the television and

eating meals together, but rather playing games together and conversing

with each other.

A 2007 UNICEF survey revealed that one in three young people wished to

spend more time with their parents. Mothers of 12 to 16 year-olds help

their children with learning about 4 minutes each day and fathers spend

only about 2 minutes each day helping their children learn. 1)

3.2

Your child must do his or her homework, not you!

You do not have to speak perfect German or be good at mathematics,

however, you must see to it that your child does his or her homework.

It is important that you ask your child about his or her homework or

monitor them while they do their homework. If your child continues to

have difficulties with homework, you should organise after-school tutoring

for him or her.

3.3

In some countries, it is only the schools which are

responsible for educating children. In Germany, children,

parents, and teachers all sit in the same boat.

In some countries, parents entrust the education of their children solely

to the school. In many Asian countries, for example in India or China,

teachers are highly esteemed and revered. They are role models and

persons who command respect and in school matters their

decision is final.

In Germany, the responsibility for a formal education lies with all three:

teachers, pupils, and parents!

1)

Cite from: Adolf Timm: Die Gesetze des Schulerfolgs. Das Fortbildungsbuch für Eltern. Seelze-Velber, 2009. cf. p. 21.

… 14 …


3.4

Maintaining regular contact with your child’s school is

very important!

The school will expect that you keep in contact. As parents you are ex -

pected to support teachers with the formal education of your child. If you

take an interest in your child’s school affairs, he or she will have a much

easier time at school. Even if you only speak a little German, you can still

communicate with teachers.

Parents’ evenings (Elternabende) are particularly important. Studies show

that when parents regularly attend parents’ evenings and find out about their

child’s performance at school, children usually earn better marks/grades.

Important note: If your family has just arrived in Germany, children tend to

learn new languages faster than adults. This is often the reason why parents

sometimes use their children as interpreters when they have appointments

with the school or government agencies. There are many reasons why

parents should not do this. Interpreter work is very strenuous and will

prema turely transform your child into an adult. Frequently, children must

interpret adult or personal matters for their parents. This is particularly

problematic at school, when the subject matter being discussed is the child’s

own performance. The relationship with parents can suffer as a result.

3.5

Out of ideas on what to do? Help with

homework, mentoring, etc.!

Sometimes parents feel as if they are unable to help

their children with school subjects, especially if they

speak little or no German, for example with homework

or studying for exams. It could also be that parents are

unsure how to deal with subjects like puberty, sex

education, drugs, alcohol, or violence.

At first, it may seem difficult, but it can often be very

beneficial to seek professional help. There are numerous

ways in which you can help your child. There are

appropriate information and consultation centres

(Beratungsstellen) in almost every region in Germany.

There is a troubleshooting table on page 17 which gives

you some suggestions.

… 15 …


What can you do?

1. Get acquainted with your child’s class teacher. Important: Make an

appointment if you would like to speak at length with the teacher.

2. Do not be afraid of the school if you speak little or no German. Talk to

the school about organising an interpreter for you. This is possible in some

German federal states, for example in Hamburg. If this is not possible, ask

if there are any teachers at the school that speak your language. Otherwise

talk to your friends or family members who are proficient in German.

3. Don’t just visit the school only when there are problems. There are

many positive occasions in which to visit the school, for example school

events, performances, and information nights. Regularly attend parents’

evenings, parent conference days, and other events at your child’s school.

Important note: You need to consider that certain offers of assistance are

not free of charge (e. g. tutoring). This can depend on whether your child

is receiving individualised assistance or assistance as part of a group. This

can also depend on whether assistance occurs at home or at another in stitution.

There are programmes, however, which are free of charge.

If you would like to learn more …

… about primary school:

At www.bildung.koeln.de the Cologne Education

Portal (Kölner Bildungsportal) provides information

in almost 20 languages.

Navigation: Schule > Weitere Infos > Elterninformationen

zum deutschen Schulsystem

… about solving your child’s difficulties with

reading, writing, and arithmetic:

www.legakids.net

… about examination anxieties:

www.pruefungsangst.de

… 16 …


Your child … What can help? What is this exactly?

… is unable to

complete homework

independently.

… has poor marks/

grades, for example

in mathematics or

biology.

… has difficulties

with foreign

languages, for

example English.

… has difficulties

learning in general.

… must be motivated

in order to learn.

Help with

homework

(Hausaufgabenhilfe)

Tutoring

(Nachhilfeunterricht)

Language exchange

(Tandem)

Educational

therapist

(Lernthera peutin

oder

Lerntherapeut)

Mentors

(Mentorin oder

Mentor)

Adults help children with their homework. There

are a number of locations where children can

receive assistance: school, clubs and neighbourhood

centres.

Tutoring can help if your child has ”missed” receiving

and understanding important information in one or

more subjects (e. g. due to illness, laziness, or changing

the class or school) and as a result is unable to

comprehend new material. Tutoring will focus on

your child’s gaps in information and understanding.

A language exchange can help children learn new

languages. Two people with different native languages

can help each other learn the other’s language in

tandem. For example, a child who is a native English

speaker helps your child learn English and your child

will help this child learn your child’s native language.

Foreign language learning takes place in an atmosphere

of relaxed conversation.

An educational therapist can help if your child has

fundamental difficulties learning. A therapist can help

children that have a developmental reading disorder

(dyslexia), difficulty in learning or comprehending

numbers (dyscalculia), a sensory disorder, an attention

deficit disorder, anxiety about school or exams,

or other problems.

Mentoring is a process where a more experienced

person (mentor) imparts his or her experience and

knowledge to a person with less experience (mentee).

A mentor can be an adult or simply someone

who is a bit older than your child. The idea behind

mentoring is that the two meet over an extended

period of time either at school or your home. The

mentor will advise your child and assist in his or her

personal development.

… 17 …


Even experts have a hard time making

our school system easy to understand.

4.1

Every country has its own school system.

In many countries, the school system is the same all throughout the country.

There is only one type of school for all children. This is the case, for

example, in Afghanistan, Brazil, Finland, Ghana, and Russia.

In other countries, there may be different types of schools, but they are all

the same throughout the country and families do not have to decide as

early as in Germany which type of secondary school their child will attend

after primary school. This is the case, for example, in Turkey, Belgium, and

Mexico.

Germany and Austria are the only countries in the world where school

children attend various kinds of secondary schools (weiterführende

Schulen) after year 4.

… 18 …


4.2

Germany:

1 country – 16 federal states – 16 school systems!

School is structured differently in Germany than say Finland or France. Each

German federal state (Bundesland) is separately responsible for school and

education policy within its own territorial boundaries. Each of the 16 German

federal states has its own school system. According to Germany’s

constitution, education in Germany is matter to be handled by the

states. Your child must attend school within the state where you

reside. This federal state is therefore responsible for the education

policies affecting your child. Nevertheless, the federal states

do work together. Ministers from each state regularly meet at

the standing conference of ministers for education and cultur

al affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz). At this conference all 16

state ministers responsible for school and education matters

meet to discuss the topic of school.

4.3

The school system in Germany is one of the most

complicated in the world.

Even the length of primary school varies within Germany. In some German

federal states primary school lasts 4 years and in others 6 years. What

happens after primary school also varies from state to state. Some German

federal states have two kinds of secondary schools after primary school

and others have three kinds. Certificates of education and grading

also vary depending on the state. School holidays are also not

uniform. This makes school a labyrinth in Germany, and without

assistance you can quickly get lost.

… 19 …


4.4

Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium … but wait!

That is not all!

Twenty years ago there was a secondary modern school (Hauptschule)

until year 9, a junior grammar school (Realschule) until year 10, and a grammar

school (Gymnasium) until year 13 almost everywhere in Germany.

When all three schools in the tripartite education system were located

under one roof, this was called a comprehensive school (Gesamtschule).

Over time, however, most German federal states have changed their school

systems.

The multifarious school forms have received new names. There are

various names for a variety of secondary schools in the different

German federal states in addition to Hauptschule, Realschule,

Gymnasium, and Gesamtschule – for example: junior secondary

school (Mittelschule), secondary technical school (Werkrealschule),

secondary school (Oberschule, Sekundarschule, or

Regelschule), neighbourhood comprehensive school (Stadtteilschule),

regional school, (Regionalschule), non-denominational

secondary school (Gemeinschaftsschule), and many more.

4.5

Relocating, secondary schools, and other questions

about school: Ask the experts!

If this seems overwhelming, you are not alone. This can be particularly difficult

for foreign families relocating to Germany. This also affects families

within Germany which move from one German federal state to another.

Even families that remain in the same state have questions because there

can be many changes.

There are regional information and consultation centres in Germany that

can answer your questions about school. Most of the time, this information

is free of charge.

… 20 …


What can you do?

Request information about the school system in your

state, for example at your state’s Department of Cultural

Affairs (Kultusministerium) or from your local education

authority (Schulbehörde)!

If you would like to learn more …

… about the school system in Germany:

At www.bildung.koeln.de the Cologne Education

Portal (Kölner Bildungsportal) provides information

in almost 20 languages.

Navigation: Schule > Weitere Infos >

Elterninformationen zum deutschen Schulsystem

On the website of the Standing Conference of the

Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the

Länder (states) in the Federal Republic of Germany

(KMK), www.kmk.org, you will find additional information

about the German school system.

… 21 …


Both disabled and non-disabled

children can learn together.

5.1

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities defines the rights of people with disabilities.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention

on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. A convention

is an agreement that should be followed by all countries and people.

The purpose of the Convention is to ensure that persons with

disabilities are no longer marginalised and that they are accepted

as full and equal members of society.

5.2

Germany has ratified the Convention.

Most countries have signed this Convention which obligates

them to implement its provisions. Germany signed

the Convention in 2009.

… 22 …


5.3

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

requires inclusion. What does inclusion mean?

The word inclusion (Inklusion) originates from Latin and means in volvement.

Inclusion is therefore every person’s right of equal enjoyment in

society. Inclusion is a human right.

5.4

Inclusion means that barriers in daily life be eliminated.

This means that cities, buildings, and public transportation must be

barrier-free for those confined to a wheelchair. This also means that the

internet and language must be barrier-free for those who are visually

or hearing impaired as well as for individuals who suffer from physical

or mental disabilities.

Persons with disabilities have the right to decide for themselves

wheth er or not they wish to live in special accommodations or with

persons that do not have disabilities. No one may be discriminated

against in education, his or her profession, or during leisure time on

account of a disability.

… 23 …


5.5

Inclusion is also practiced in schools.

It used to be that a disabled child was enrolled in a special nursery school/

kindergarten (Sonderkindergarten) or a special-needs school (Sonderschule

or Förderschule) in order to receive an education.

Today disabled and non-disabled children can attend the same school.

Families that have disabled children can decide for themselves whether

their child will attend a specialised school (special-needs school) or a gener

al education school.

At every school there must be specialised educationalists which can offer

disabled children professional care and support.

… 24 …


What can you do?

1. If you are unsure whether your child is disabled, have your child ex -

amined by a paediatrician or psychologist. They will be able to determine

whether or not your child is actually disabled and requires special

assistance. The technical word for this is ”special educational needs”

(sonderpädagogischer Förderbedarf). In particularly difficult cases you

should also seek a second or even a third opinion and not just rely on

an information and consultation centre or on one physician’s opinion.

2. If the diagnosis is that your child has a disability and needs special

assistance, you should find out where in your region your child can

receive the requisite special educational support: At a general education

school or at a special-needs school.

3. Contact the schools in your region and visit them together with your

child. Talk to teachers and then make your decision.

If you would like to learn more …

… about inclusion:

www.aktion-mensch.de

A filmlet explains inclusion in 80 seconds:

www.aktion-mensch.de/inklusion/

un-konvention-leicht-erklaert.php

… 25 …


Any language your child speaks

is a jewel!

6.1

Your child begins learning language at birth.

Your child’s first language (Erstsprache), also called the language at home

(Familiensprache), original language (Herkunftssprache), or native language

(Muttersprache), is very important for your child and his or

her development. This has been proven in scientific studies.

It is very beneficial for your child when you begin right away

speaking with him or her in your own language. It is more harmful

to your child when you speak improper German.

6.2

Learning different languages at once will not overburden

your child, however, the rules of the game must be

made clear.

Children in multicultural settings can learn 2 or 3 languages

simultaneously.

Many families living in Germany speak one or two languages other

than German at home. Later at day-care or at school children will

speak German.

Multilingualism (Mehrsprachigkeit) is quite normal and you will not be overburdening

your child (this is something that many people believe). However,

you must observe some very simple rules (pages 28 and 29).

… 26 …


6.3

Children mix languages. Don’t panic!

Children mix languages when they are raised learning two or three

languages. This is completely normal.

For example: A two-year old child growing up learning German and

English may sometimes say, ”That is a großes house”, or a child growing

up learning German and Turkish may say, ”Das ist ein büyük Haus”.

Don’t panic your child will eventually learn to separate the two languages.

6.4

No person in the world speaks a language perfectly.

Making mistakes is absolutely normal. Don’t rob your child of the chance to

grow-up multilingually. This would be unfortunate.

Even native speakers of ”only” one language occasionally

make mistakes.

6.5

German and English are a must!

An additional language is a plus!

It can be beneficial to your child in future if, in addition to German

and English, he or she can read, write, and speak in his or her first

language. Later on in your child’s career, he or she may very well be

able to use these language skills.

Your child will have a significant advantage if he or she can speak, for

example, Polish, Portuguese, or Vietnamese in addition to German and

English learned at school. Whether or not your child can take advantage of

this opportunity depends on you.

… 27 …


What can you do?

1. First answer this question: Which language do you feel the most comfortable

speaking? This is the language you should speak with your child.

2. Don’t mix languages, even if this is difficult.

3. As soon as possible after birth, let your child play with other children as

often as possible. This will help your child learn German faster.

What is particularly good?

Begin talking to your child immediately after birth only in the language

that you feel most comfortable with and that you speak proficiently.

If this is not German, your child will learn to speak German at day-care.

Enrol your child in day-care and regularly undertake activities with your

child at home and outdoors: playing, visiting others, or going to the

theatre or a museum.

Each family member should speak only one language with the child.

For example: Mum only speaks German with the child and dad only

Russian, or the parents only speak German and the grandparents only

Turkish, or if both parents let’s say come from Spain, everyone speaks

German away from home (e. g. at day-care, school, or on the playground)

and only Spanish at home.

Finish every sentence in the language in which the sentence was started.

Talk about different things, tell stories, sing songs, read rimes and fairy

tales, and look at picture books together.

Correct your child using open questions. For example: Your child says,

”I swimming yesterday.” You should ask, ”Where did you go swimming

yesterday?” This way your child hears the correct sentence structure.

… 28 …


What is not as good?

Speaking German with your child if your German is riddled with

mistakes.

Not speaking to your child very much or only speaking in a baby

language.

Starting a sentence in one language and ending it in another.

Speaking to your child sometimes in one language and then at other

times in another language.

Directly correcting your child.

For example: Your child says, ”I swimming yesterday.” And you respond,

”it’s, I went swimming yesterday.” Or requiring your child to repeat after

you: ”Say – I went swimming yesterday!”

Letting your child watch television for hours hoping that he or she will

learn the language. A child will not learn a language sitting in front of the

television. This is something completely different when you watch a children’s

programme together with your child and talk about it afterwards

with him or her.

If you would like to learn more …

… about the subject of children and languages:

The State Institute for Early Childhood Education

(Staatsinstitut für Frühpädagogik) in Munich

has letters to parents posted on its website

www.ifp.bayern.de which contain good tips in

almost 20 different languages.

Navigation: Materialien > Elternbriefe

At www.hamburg.de parents can

find good tips in the brochure

”Sprachförderung für Vorschulkinder.

Ein Ratgeber für Eltern”

(Linguistic Education for Preschool

Children. A Guide for Parents)

published by the Free and Hanseatic

City of Hamburg.

Navigation: Politik und Verwaltung > Service >

Formulare und Broschüren

… 29 …


There is a middle ground between

silence and grumbling:

Talk to your child’s teacher.

7.1

What child doesn’t have at least one problem at school?

Sometimes things don’t run as smoothly at school as you would like for

your child. Maybe teachers at school experience your child differently than

you do at home, or maybe your child does not tell you everything. In any

case, life at school is not always the most pleasurable. Conflicts, difficult

school situations, and other problems are part of school life.

If difficulties arise at school, teachers, pupils, and parents should work

together in order to find a solution. Conflicts are normal. However,

it is important to follow certain rules when dealing with conflicts

– much like in athletic matches or before a court of law.

Aggressiveness and insults will not solve problems!

… 30 …


7.2

Avoiding the school is not a good way to handle a

situation – especially with conflicts.

Families are mistaken if they believe that teachers alone will make children

learn and behave properly. It is not good for your child, if you want

as little as possible to do with the school.

There can be negative outcomes if you are not seasonably part

of the solution with respect to problems with other pupils,

teachers, or poor performance at school.

On the other hand, there are parents who are over-involved

and try to get their way with respect to all issues surrounding school. These

kinds of parents hover like a helicopter. This kind of behaviour by parents

does not do their children any good.

7.3

Remain objective even if emotions run high!

Problems and misunderstandings need to be addressed and

re solved. The key is, of course, whether this is done in a respectful

or offensive manner. The earlier a problem is addressed, the sooner and

more effectively it can be resolved. It may very well be that the opinions

of the school and parents remain at odds with each other. If such a

situation arises, the best solution is to try and reach a compromise.

… 31 …


7.4

You are not alone with the issues and concerns

that you have.

Many parents don’t want to talk about particularly difficult topics. These

topics could be, for example, violence, mobbing, discrimination, gambling

addiction, drug abuse, religious or political extremism, debts, or teenage

pregnancy. They are afraid that others could find out about it. This is understandable!

A feeling will emerge in which the family believes that it is the

only one faced with this problem. This is not true, however. There are

other families near you that are most likely facing the same problem.

7.5

Teachers have a minimal amount of time.

Therefore, always schedule an appointment!

Every discussion takes time, especially discussions about problems. It is not

beneficial to show up at the classroom five minutes before class begins or

right after class has ended. Such discussions are seldom well received. It is

best to schedule an appointment in person or over the telephone and this

way the teacher can devote enough time to you.

… 32 …


What can you do?

1. Show your child that you take his or her problems at school seriously.

Ask your child periodically whether he or she needs your help. It is

important to find out as early as possible if your child has a problem at

school. If you identify problems timely, you can do something about

them.

2. Remain objective and calm when a problem arises. Don’t get personal

or aggressive and don’t shout.

3. Talk to your child’s teacher if you believe that your child has a problem

at school. Don’t wait too long! It is better to talk to the teacher one time

too many, than be sorry that you didn’t do so soon enough.

4. Talk to a person at school if your child has a problem with his or her

teacher. This could be someone from the parents’ council (Elternrat), a

school guidance counsellor (Beratungslehrerin/Beratungslehrer), a

school social education worker (Schulsozialpädagogin/Schulsozialpädagoge),

or a school psychologist (Schulpsychologin/Schulpsychologe).

5. Prepare yourself for meetings at school. Write down important points

and questions that you have in advance. This way you won’t forget

anything important if you get nervous during the meeting.

If you would like to learn more …

… about meetings at school:

www.elternwissen.com has some tips for

parents on how they can best prepare for

meetings with teachers.

Navigation: Schule und Eltern > Elternabend

und Lehrergespräch

… 33 …


Parents can do more than just sell cakes!

8.1

The school must include parents. It’s the law!

Some parents spend a lot of time at their child’s school. Other parents

only make an appearance at the school if their child is having some sort of

difficulties. The same is true of teachers. Some teachers visit the homes of

their pupils and get personally acquainted with the parents, and others

say, ”without parents things would be better

off at school.” In any event, every school

must work closely with parents according

to the law.

8.2

It is unusual if you do not receive post from the school.

Every year every school plans certain dates for all parents. For example:

dates of registration (Anmeldetermine), parents’ evenings (Elternabende),

parent conference days (Elternsprechtage), school events (Schulfeste), or

information about excursions. Usually these invitations arrive via ”satchel

post” (Ranzenpost) – meaning that they are placed in your child’s school

bag. Each invitation from the school must overcome several hurdles to

reach you at home.

Hurdle number 1: Your child makes the invitation disappear. (”My parents

will never find out about the parents’ evening!”)

Hurdle number 2: Some parents don’t read the letters. (”Another letter

from the state, throw it away!”)

Hurdle number 3: The letter is boring or difficult to understand. (”What

do they want from me? I don’t understand anything!”)

Therefore, if you haven’t received any letters

from the school or do not understand those letters

that you have received, you should inquire

with your child’s teacher.

… 34 …


8.3

There are two ways in which you can

participate at school.

The first way: There are official channels of cooperation

which are the same for all schools and classes

with in your federal state according to law. Not all

parents can or want to use these official channels.

That is why there is the second way: Informal channels

of cooperation which can vary from school to school

or class to class.

8.4

The first way:

Official channels of cooperation.

For every class, parents’ representatives (Elternvertreterinnen/Elternvertreter)

will be elected, and together with the class teacher they will inform

the other parents about current events affecting life at school. They participate

in grading and school conferences (Zeugnis- und Schulkonferenzen)

and sometimes mediate in cases of conflict. Moreover, the parents’

representatives elect eligible parents to sit on the parents’ council (Elternrat)

which participates in the decision-making process with respect to all

important issues affecting the school.

These kinds of parental committees (Elterngremien) exist at every school,

in every district, at the German state and federal government levels, and

even at the EU level. They have various names such as parents’ committee

(Elternausschuss), parents’ advisory council (Elternbeirat), parents’ board

(Elternkammer), parents’ conference (Elternkonferenz), parents’ association

(Elternverband), or delegation of parents (Elternvertretung).

The idea is all the same: You represent the interest of the parents, just as a

member in parliament, and therefore your own interests. As a parent, you

are eligible to participate at every level. You can run for election or attend

meetings as a guest.

… 35 …


In Europe

European Parents’ Association

In Germany

Federal Parents’ Council (Bundeselternrat)

In Your German Federal State

For example: State parents’ committee (Landeseltern ausschuss),

state parents’ advisory council (Landeselternbeirat), parents’

board (Elternkammer), state parents’ council (Landes elternrat),

or state parents’ assembly (Landeselternvereinigung)

In Your City or District

For example: District parents’ advisory council (Kreiselternbeirat), district parents’

council (Kreiselternrat), district delegation of parents (Kreiselternvertretung), city

parents’ advisory council (Stadtelternbeirat), city parents’ council (Stadtelternrat),

or city delegation of parents (Stadtelternvertretung)

At Your Child’s School

Parents’ council (Elternrat)

In Your Child’s Class

Parents’ representative

(Elternvertretung)

8.5

The second way:

Informal channels of cooperation.

Parents can help organise many things together with the school. Here are

just a few ideas: Tutoring, offering a course, accompanying school groups to

swimming lessons, helping out at the school library, reading stories to kids,

accompanying school groups on excursions, refereeing football matches,

setting up a café for parents at the school and/or providing assistance at the

café, organising school events, or explaining certain topics to other parents

over a cup of coffee or tea at the school.

… 36 …


What can you do?

1. Ask your child periodically: What is new at school? Do you have post

from the school?

2. Get to know other parents from your child’s class and exchange information

with them.

3. Attend parents’ evenings, parent conference days, and other school

events.

4. If an opportunity presents itself participate in an event at the school or

even consider organising an event yourself.

5. Run for election as a parents’ representative for your child’s class or

participate in the parents’ council.

If you would like to learn more …

… about the official channels of cooperation:

On the federal parents’ council’s website,

www.bundeselternrat.de, you will find more

detailed information and contact information for

the parental committees in your federal state.

… about the informal

channels of cooperation:

In the brochure ”Eltern in die Schule. Väter und

Mütter mit Zuwanderungsgeschichte berichten”

(Parents at School. Immigrant fathers and mothers

report) seventeen families give their accounts of

their experience with their schools in seventeen

languages. You can download the brochure at

www.bqm-hamburg.de.

… 37 …


Parents have many rights.

9.1

Parents’ rights are found in the education act.

School systems in every federal state are governed by the respective state

education act (Schulgesetz). The act also covers how schools should

cooper ate with parents in the education of pupils. The act sets forth

parental rights. The language of these acts is difficult to understand.

For example, parents are allowed to …

inspect their child’s school record (Schülerakte), for instance the file

from the school’s guidance counsellor (Schulberatungsdienst) or school

physician or nurse (schulärztlicher Dienst). Parents may only inspect

school files at the school upon making an appointment with the teacher.

sit in on classes for a time and observe class instruction.

exempt their child from attending religion class.

request that teachers present and explain your child’s class work and

tests, marks/grades, and report card.

inquire about lessons, the class, or the school, for instance what methods

and materials are used to teach your child.

express desires or complaints to the teacher with respect to lessons at

parent meetings.

9.2

Parents are not allowed an absolute free

hand and that is probably a good thing.

For example, parents may not …

select a particular teacher or class for their child.

define what and how teachers should teach.

decide whether their child should be assigned homework

or not.

take their child out of school early for holidays, or delay

their child’s return to school beyond scheduled holidays.

… 38 …


exempt their child from physical education or sex education classes.

schedule their child’s lessons or have marks/grades changed.

If for personal, religious, or ideological reasons you are uncomfortable with

particular school topics and activities, you should contact the school. The

school is required to demonstrate openness for different values in society.

Parents can demand neutrality and tolerance from the school.

9.3

After primary school:

Academic track recommendation and parental right of choice.

The academic track recommendation (Schullaufbahnempfehlung) is the

primary school’s recommendation with respect to secondary school. Your

child’s primary school will inform you about your child’s performance and

the requirements and expectations at different secondary schools during

your child’s final year at primary school (depending on the federal state this

will be in year 4 or year 6).

In order to receive a recommendation for grammar school (Gymnasialempfehlung),

your child must have good or very good marks/grades in

German, mathematics, and science (this subject has a different name in

every federal state).

If primary school lasts six years, then your child must also show good performance

in a foreign language. Nevertheless, in some German federal

states parents may send their child to the school type of their choice despite

the academic track recommendation. This is called the parental right

of choice (Elternwahlrecht). In other federal states, the

academic track recommendation has precedence over the

parental right of choice.

However, if you do not agree with the academic track

recommendation, there is almost always a possibility to

have the recommendation reviewed. Consult your

parents’ council.

… 39 …


9.4

Not only do parents have rights, but children do as well.

When a conflict arises between adults, often one forgets that children have

rights too. These rights are set forth in the United Nations Convention on

the Rights of the Child which most countries (among them Germany) have

implemented.

Some of the most important rights include the inherent

right to life, education, and protection from violence.

There are many more rights including equal treatment for

boys and girls, the right to privacy, language, religion, and

much more.

9.5

Sometimes you must fight for your rights.

It can happen that you as a parent are of the opinion: ”My child is not being

assessed objectively by teachers.” Or: ”My child’s teachers are

violating the school rules.”

If you are in disagreement with a decision, because you doubt its

validity, you may request a review. There are several ways in which

to do this. You can lodge a substantive complaint (Sachbeschwerde),

a disciplinary complaint (Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde), or a request for

reconsideration (Widerspruch). The parents’ council can provide you with

more information.

What can you do?

1. If you have questions about your rights, consult the parents’ council.

2. Suggest to the parents’ council that the school organise an information

evening for parents at the school with respect to parental rights.

3. Obtain brochures or guidebooks for parents specific for the federal

state where you reside. Schools generally have these kinds of brochures

on hand, as does the local education authority (Schulbehörde), district

supervisory school authority (Schulamt), or the state parents’ council.

4. When your child is in year 3, have the academic track recommendation

in mind. Before the academic track recommendation is made, you should

discuss with your child and his or her teachers: How does it stand for

your child right now? Where does your child want to go? And what

must be done to make this a reality?

… 40 …


If you would like to learn more …

… about parental rights:

You can find easy-to-read information about

parental rights in German, Farsi, Polish, Russian,

and Turkish in the ”Handbuch für interkulturelle

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural

Work with Parents) (yellow module, pp. 3-5)

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de.

… about the rights of children:

The book entitled ”Die Rechte der Kinder von

Logo einfach erklärt” (The Rights of Children

Easily Explained by Logo) is written for children.

Parents, however, can learn much from this book.

You can order the book free of charge from the

website of the German Federal Ministry for

Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium

für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und

Jugend – BMFSFJ) at www.bmfsfj.de.

Navigation: Kinder und Jugend > Service >

Publikationen

… about academic track recommendation

and parental right of choice:

On the website of the Standing Conference of

the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs

of the Länder (states) in the Federal Republic

of Germany (KMK), www.kmk.org, you can

find information about how academic track

recommendation and parental right of choice

is handled in your state.

… 41 …


Parents also have obligations.

10.1

Parents must be the alarm clocks and the sandwich-makers.

Parents must send their children well rested and on time to school. They

must make sure that their children have enough healthy food and drink to

take to school.

10.2

Parents must be outfitters.

Parents must supply their children with all of the important things they will

need for school, for example:

a schoolbag

a pencil-case

exercise books

trainers/sneakers and

sportswear

10.3

Parents must be informants.

Parents must inform the school if their child is unable to

come to school, because he or she is sick or will be absent

for some other reason.

… 42 …


10.4

Parents must be holiday planners.

If the family must travel for an important reason during the school term

and your child must be absent, parents must timely request a leave of

absence in writing for your child from the school.

10.5

Parents must report illnesses and be nurses.

Parents must keep their children at home if they catch a contagious disease

(whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, scarlet fever,

head lice, or any other contagious disease). After catching a contagious

disease, parents will need a certificate of health

(Gesund meldung) issued from a doctor when their child is

healthy enough to attend school again.

Very important:

If your child does not have an excuse note for his or

her absence from school, this results in unexcused

absences. This will be reported in his or her report

card and can have negative impacts in future, for

example when applying for a trainee position. You

must make sure that your child always has a written

excuse if he or she is going to be absent from school.

… 43 …


What can you do?

1. Make sure that your child has all the school supplies that he or she needs

before starting to school. Apply for education package benefits (Bildungspaket)

if you qualify for assistance.

2. Make sure that your child arrives at school on time each day, has

something to eat during breaks, and is well rested.

3. You should keep the school’s telephone number with you at all times

(school office) and call the school as soon as possible if your child is

unable to come to school for some important reason, for example

because of illness. Be sure to turn in a written excuse to the school

which can look something like the example provided below:

*Excuse note for [name of your child]

Dear Mrs/Dear Mr [teacher’s name],

I am terribly sorry to inform you that my daughter/son was unable to attend class from

[supply the dates of absence] because of [provide the reason for the absence, for example

illness (Krankheit)].

Kind regards,

[Parent’s first name, surname, address, and telephone number]

… 44 …


4. Get acquainted with your child’s class teacher. Don’t just visit the school

only when there are problems. Attend as regularly as possible parents’

evenings, parent conference days, and other events at your child’s school.

5. Do not be afraid of showing up at the school if you speak little or no

German. Talk to the school about organising an interpreter for you (this

is possible in some German federal states). If this is not possible, ask if

there are any teachers at the school who speak your language. Otherwise,

talk to your friends or family members who are proficient in German

and ask them to help.

Important note: Make an appointment if you would like to speak at

length with the teacher.

If you would like to learn more …

… about parental obligations:

You can find easy-to-read information about

parental obligations at school in German, Farsi,

Polish, Russian, and Turkish in the ”Handbuch für

interkulturelle Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural

Work with Parents) (yellow module, pp. 3-5)

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 45 …


Report cards and marks/grades are like traffic

lights: You must take their signals seriously.

11.1

The marks/grades for German, mathematics, and

English are particularly important.

These are called core subjects (Kernfächer) or primary subjects (Hauptfächer).

They are more important than other subjects. Core subjects carry

more weight in the report card (Zeugnis) and more hours are devoted to their

instruction. The marks/grades (Schulnoten) received for core subjects are

mainly determinative of whether or not a child will pass on to the next year or

which type of secondary school he or she will attend. Therefore, you should

pay particular attention to your child’s marks/grades in these core subjects.

11.2

The mark/grade received in the subject associated with

your child’s career choice is important.

The core subjects are important for all professions and then there are

particular subjects that are important for particular careers.

Example 1: Your daughter would like to become a police officer. She will need

good marks/grades in German, mathematics, English, and physical education.

Example 2: Your son’s dream job is to be a chemist or pharmacist. He will

need good marks/grades in German, mathematics, English, and chemistry.

11.3

A ”3” in your child’s report card can be a sign of success.

Example I: Businesses (enterprises or companies) not only look at the most

current report card, but also earlier report cards from prior years. Why?

If a business sees that an applicant had a ”5” in mathematics two years ago,

a ”4” a year ago, and now has a ”3”, this is an indication that the pupil is

making an effort. Thus, a ”3” can be a good grade. In this case, this indicates

that the child is capable of learning.

Example II: An applicant has the marks/grades ”3” and ”4” in his or her

report card. However, he or she is very outgoing and does volunteer work,

for example he or she mediates disputes, tutors others in the community,

or is a coach at a local sports club. Some companies find such activities just

as important as marks/grades. They prefer to hire applicants that are active

in the community. At these companies, this can mean that the chances for

getting a job may not be so good for the best pupil in the class who has

done nothing else, but learn for school.

… 46 …


11.4

There is more in a report card than just marks/grades.

Typically your child’s social behaviour (Sozialverhalten) and work habits

(Arbeitsverhalten) are assessed and reported in the report card along with

other marks/grades. These are sometimes called general conduct marks/

grades (Kopfnoten). They assess how well a pupil applies him or herself

(work habits) and conducts him or herself socially (social behaviour).

These marks/grades are called ”Kopfnoten” in German (literally translated

as head notes), because they used to be reported at the top of the report

card. General conduct marks/grades are important when pupils apply for

training positions or for a place at higher education institutions.

Many companies find general conduct marks/grades informative because

they reveal information about a person’s character. Social behaviour and

work habit assessments are not the same for each federal state. In some

states, general conduct is assessed as a grade and in others it is expressed

in a written statement, and sometimes both can be found. What are some

examples of what is being assessed?

Work habits (Arbeitsverhalten)

Paying attention during lessons

Participating in class

Completing homework

Turning in assignments

Organisation and attention to detail

Reliability

Social behaviour (Sozialverhalten)

Behaviour in the face of a conflict

Acceptance of responsibility

Willingness to help

Ability to reach an agreement and follow rules

Participating in the organisation of matters

within the class

11.5

Caution! Report cards have their own language.

There are pitfalls associated with the language contained in report cards.

It is easy to be misled if German is not your native language. At initial

glance, there are some sentences that sound positive, but in reality they

reveal problems.

Example I: ”Your child is very quiet in class.” This means that your child

seldom participates in class.

Example II: ”Work habits meet expectations”. This sentence means that

your child’s work habits are assessed with a ”3”. This means that your child

needs to put in more effort.

… 47 …


How do I make sense of the assessments?

Behaviour …

Mark/Grade

as a Number

Mark/Grade

as a Term

… has earned special recognition. 1 Very good

… has fully met expectations. 2 Good

… meets expectations. 3 Satisfactory

… meets expectations with some reservations. 4 Sufficient

… does not meet expectations. 5 or 6

Unsatisfactory

and inadequate

What can you do?

1. Note how your child’s marks/grades develop in his or her report cards.

Compare each mark/grade reported with the marks/grades reported in

the last report card. If a mark/grade has improved in a subject, be sure

to praise your child. If a mark/grade in a subject has deteriorated, investigate

potential reasons for this and consider getting your child a tutor.

2. If your child needs tutoring, be sure to do this as early as possible. If your

child has a ”4” in a subject, tutoring can be more effective at improving

his or her marks/grades, but if you wait until your child has a ”5” or ”6”

in a subject, your child will have a more difficult time turning his or her

marks/grades around, even with the help of a tutor.

3. If your child’s general conduct marks/grades are not good (worse than

”3”), talk to your child’s teacher and inquire about how improvements

might be made.

4. If there is something about your child’s report card that you don’t

understand, ask your child’s teacher. He or she will be able to explain

the report card to you.

… 48 …


Mark/

Grade Points Term Meaning

1+

1

1-

2+

2

2-

3+

3

3-

4+

4

4-

5+

5

5-

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

6 0

Very good

Good

Satisfactory

Sufficient

Unsatisfactory

Inadequate

Performance exceeds targets.

Performance fully meets requirements.

Performance generally meets requirements.

There are some deficiencies in performance,

however overall requirements are being met.

Performance does not meet targets, but does

indicate that requisite fundamental knowledge is

present and that deficiencies can be rectified in

the foreseeable future.

Performance does not meet targets. There are

major gaps in fundamental knowledge, so much

so that deficiencies cannot be expected to be

rectified in the foreseeable future.

If you would like to learn more …

…. about the topic of marks/grades:

You can find easy-to-read information about the

topic of marks/grades in German, Farsi, Polish,

Russian, and Turkish (yellow module, p. 1) in the

”Handbuch für interkulturelle Elternarbeit”

(Manual for Intercultural Work with Parents)

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 49 …


It is not only about

marks/grades.

12.1

Poor marks/grades do not mean that a child is ignorant.

It goes without saying that marks/grades are important. Your child may

know much, but nevertheless have poor marks/grades. Poor marks/grades

in a report card are not an automatic indication of how much your child

knows or of how clever he or she is. History has taught us that there have

been a number of very clever individuals who had poor marks/grades in

school.

12.2

Poor marks/grades can have different causes.

A child may have test anxieties, dislike his or her teacher, is

picked on or bullied at school, have dyslexia (Lese-Rechtschreib-Schwäche)

or dyscalculia (Rechenschwäche), has hit

puberty and is listless, does not have any role models, is

generally tired of school, is highly gifted and is bored in his or

her class, can’t get organised and requires clearly defined

rules, or has emotional problems.

12.3

Improving marks/grades?

It is possible, but every child is different.

Once you and your child have discovered why marks/grades are poor, you

absolutely should attempt to change the situation. This will vary depending

on the reason for poor marks/grades: Help with homework, private tutoring,

or mentoring.

Some children need their parents to show more attention and more

interest in learning; some need more supervision, discipline, and clearly

defined rules; and yet others may need more motivation. Something that

works well with one child, may not be very effective

for another.

It is particularly important that your

child understands that you are serious,

are going to stay on the ball,

and that he or she will benefit.

… 50 …


12.4

Poor marks/grades are not the end of the world.

It can happen that after you and your child have tried several times that

there is nothing more you can do to improve marks/grades. They simply

remain worse than desired. It won’t help to blame your child. Consider

what can be done together with your child and his or her class teacher.

Example I: Your child has qualified for a general certificate of education –

ordinary level after year 9. With career and vocational education and training,

your child can qualify for a general certificate of education – advanced

subsidiary level (mittlerer Schulabschluss).

Example II: Your child’s grade point average (Notendurchschnitt) is not

sufficient to qualify for an Abitur (general certificate of education – ad -

vanced level) or a Fachabitur (applied general certificate of education). Your

child can first complete career and vocational education and training and

then attempt to complete the coursework for an Abitur or Fachabitur at a

later date.

12.5

Marks/grades are not everything.

Personal skills are also in demand.

From conversations with companies that offer career and vocational education

and training, we know that report card marks/grades are not always

the most important thing being looked at when applicants are evaluated.

This is of course dependent on the specific company.

Internships (Praktika)

In order for your child to familiarise him or herself with an occupation, it

can be beneficial for him or her to do an internship at a company so that

he or she can say afterwards that this is something he or she would like to

do or this is something that he or she is not interested in. It is important for

many companies to know that applicants have already familiarised themselves

with the profession. Therefore, internships can be very beneficial.

Volunteer work

Your child does volunteer work, for example at a youth organisation, a club,

in your community, tutors others, or helps in the organisation of neighbourhood

celebrations. This demonstrates a sense of responsibility on the part

of your child.

… 51 …


Jobbing in spare time

Your child has held a job during the holidays or has an after-school job, for

example distributing leaflets, working as a sales assistant, or in a restaurant.

It is good if your child can demonstrate work experience with employer

references from spare time jobs. Companies find it beneficial when applicants

already have workplace experience.

Work in the family

It could be that your child has certain responsibilities within the family, for

example looking after younger brothers and sisters, working in the family

business, or helping refurbishing the house. This shows that your child can

take on responsibility.

Hobbies and interests

Your child may have interests which could be important for his or her

occupation later in life. Even your child’s favourite pastime can be helpful.

This depends on what your child does during his or her free time. Playing

computer games as a hobby is less likely to impress an IT company. On the

other hand, developing computer games, i. e. programming, in your child’s

free time sounds much better.

Driving licence

For some businesses and some occupations it is important that applicants

have a driving licence.

If you would like to learn more …

… about internships:

You will find a checklist for parents at

www.schulewirtschaft.de in the brochure ”Checklisten

Schülerbetriebspraktikum” (An Internship

Checklist for Pupils) from the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft

SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT.

Navigation: Inhalte > Publikationen > Berufsorientierung

… 52 …


What can you do?

1. Specifically ask your child’s teacher semi-annually how your child is

doing at school.

For example, you might ask the following questions:

How is my child performing at school?

Does my child need extra tutoring?

How is my child’s social behaviour?

Does my child like being in his or her class?

Does my child have any friends at school?

Does my child need some sort of support and assistance?

Will my child pass to the next year?

Will my child get his or her school-leaving certificate?

How can I help my child?

2. For information about improving marks/grades: You will find concrete

suggestions on page 17.

3. Compile all the information about what your child has done and is doing

outside of school together with your child (pages 51 and 52). If there is

something applicable to a particular field of work, include this in your

child’s cover letter and curriculum vitae. Together with your child, gather

references: internship certificates, employer references, references for

volunteer work, any certificates of attendance, diplomas, media reports

(e. g. clippings from a school newspaper), or the telephone number of

someone who will give your child a positive personal reference.

4. If none of this applies, then consider with your child what he or she may

be able to do in the near future. There may be some things that your

child can catch up on after school.

… 53 …


Career and vocational education and

training, university, or a work-study

degree programme (duales Studium)?

They are all equally good!

Let your child decide.

13.1

Career and vocational education and training and/or

university studies: This is how you get the training and

education you need in Germany for an occupation.

In Germany, there are two motorways so to speak that are available after

finishing school. The one takes you down the road towards career and

vocational education and training and the other to studying at university.

Young people either start with career and vocational training or studying at

a university or a higher education institution.

13.2

In Germany there are different variations of career and

vocational education and training and/or university studies.

The two motorways have many lanes. The five most important are:

Career and vocational school training (schulische Ausbildung):

Your child learns an occupation at a vocational school.

Integrated career and vocational education and training (duale Ausbildung):

Your child learns an occupation through on the job training and attending

a vocational school.

Work-study degree programme (duales Studium):

Your child learns a profession through on the job training and attending

an institution of higher education/university.

University of applied sciences (Fachhochschulstudium):

Your child studies to learn a profession at a university of

applied sciences.

University education (Universitätsstudium):

Your child studies at a university in a specified field of

study.

… 54 …


13.3

Each path can lead to success or may be a wrong decision.

Each child is different. Each path can be the right start to a child’s profession

al career, or a wrong decision. You need to keep in mind that nowadays

there are hardly any straight career paths anymore.

13.4

It is not a matter of either-or.

When compared to other countries, Germany has a very flexible educa -

tion al system. For example, a person can first take up career and vocational

education and training and then go on to study, or alternatively study first

and then undertake vocational training. Lateral crossovers are possible.

13.5

The occupation must suit your child.

It can happen that even after finishing school your child does not know what

he or she would like to do professionally. There are various possibilities

available to utilise this time effectively.

There are no statutory age limits. Everyone can begin training or commence

studying at any age. However, the older one gets, the more difficult

it can be to find a trainee position.

It is not dramatic if your child makes a wrong decision. It is

not dramatic if your child tries out different things and then

decides.

… 55 …


What can you do?

1. This table can help you and your child compare the advantages

and disadvantages of career and vocational training,

university studies, and a work-study degree programme

(duales Studium).

Advantages

Integrated Career and

Vocational Education and

Training (duale Ausbildung)

1. Apprenticeship pay, earlier

financial independence

2. Practical experience right from

day one

3. Good chances to get a position

in the company where job

training was conducted

4. Clear learning objectives

provided by instructors

5. Relatively brief training period

(2 to 3 years)

University Studies

1. Unemployment risk is lower in

comparison to persons who

have not studied (this depends

on the profession)

2. Higher average income (this

depends on the profession)

3. Possibility of an academic/

scientific career

4. Possibility of being able to work

in more than one profession

Work-Study Degree

Programme

(duales Studium)

1. Higher trainee allowance than

with integrated career and vocational

education and training

2. Bachelor’s degree and a vocational

training certificate are

awarded: Two diplomas at once

3. Practical experience right from

the start and much theoretical

knowledge

4. Good chances to get a position

in the company where job

training was conducted

Prerequisites and possible disadvantages

Integrated Career and

Vocational Education and

Training (duale Ausbildung)

1. Lower average salary than

persons with a university

degree (this naturally depends

on the profession)

2. Job options are limited to the

vocational occupation

University Studies

1. Abitur or Fachabitur is

required

2. Studying is financially expensive

3. Less practical experience

4. Responsible for finding your

own employment after getting

your degree

5. You must be organised and be

able to work independently

Work-Study Degree

Programme

(duales Studium)

1. Abitur or Fachabitur is

required

2. Much time and effort is

required

3. You must be organised and be

able to work independently

4. No semester break, but rather

24 to 30 days of holiday a year

5. Challenging application process

… 56 …


2. If your child has set his or her sights on one particular profession or

university, consider some alternatives together with your child, for

example similar types of occupations. This way, your child would have

some other options in case it does not work out with a trainee position

or university.

3. Procure the address for the career or student-counselling centre at the

German employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or for another suitable

information and consultation centre. (Keep in mind that it does not

look good for you to call and make an appointment on behalf of your

child. Your child should call and make the appointment.)

4. Accompany your child: You can accompany your child as a curious

spectator when he or she visits an education and job fair or something

similar. This way you both can gather information and discuss these

topics together.

If you would like to learn more …

… about career and vocational education and

training or university:

www.bachelor-studium.net/ausbildung-oder -

studium.php

… 57 …


Made in Germany:

The whole world envies us because

of our integrated system of career

and vocational education and training

(duale Ausbildung).

14.1

The world is diverse, and in every country occupational

education and training is different.

Example I: In some countries, occupations are learned within the family, for

instance from older relatives. Advantage: You don’t have to apply. You only

need to take advantage of family ties. School-leaving qualifications are not

so important. Disadvantage: Young people do not have any kind of certificate

evincing that they have actually learned a particular trade.

Example 2: In some countries, occupations are learned over

many years only at some sort of school. Advantage: A lot of

theoretical knowledge is learned and students get a diploma

or certificate. Disadvantage: Little or no practical experience.

Often working at a company is unfamiliar and difficult.

Example 3: In some countries, young people learn their

occupation through on the job training or apprenticeships.

Advantage: A lot of practical skill and a certificate. Disadvantage:

Less theoretical knowledge about the occupation.

14.2

Germany has a unique recipe: The integrated system of career

and vocational education and training (duale Ausbildung).

Germany has developed an education system which is unique in the world:

the integrated system of career and vocational education and training

(duale Ausbildung).

Integrated education and training takes place parallel at vocational school

and at a company. This facilitates learning theoretical knowledge and practical

skills at the same time. Advantage: Much practical skill, theoretical

knowledge, and a diploma or certificate. Disadvantage: You must apply,

otherwise there is no disadvantage.

… 58 …


14.3

In Germany, many professions are not studied at

university, but learned through an integrated career and

vocational education and training programme at

a company (duale Ausbildung).

In many countries, learning an occupation means studying at a university

after secondary school. In Germany, many occupations can be learned at a

company and a vocational school, for example to

become an import-export merchant, a banker, a civil

servant for certain occupations, an IT specialist, and

many more occupations.

14.4

In Germany, there are more than 350 occupations within

the integrated system of career and vocational education

and training that provide good job opportunities.

It makes no difference where in Germany young people receive their

career and vocational education and training. The standards and qualifications

are the same. Integrated career and vocational education and training

from Germany is of high calibre and allows for good job and continuing

education opportunities.

Many parents think that integrated career and vocational education and

training may only be received in the skilled crafts and trades, but that is not

correct. Qualified personnel are needed as office staff as well as in the

fields of IT, logistics, trade, industry, freight forwarding, public

administration, and many more.

… 59 …


14.5

Career and vocational education and training:

Your child learns an occupation and gets paid for doing it!

Training is not only free, but trainees also earn money. The money is called

vocational training pay, trainee allowance, or apprenticeship pay (Ausbildungsvergütung)

and amounts to between EUR 300 to EUR 1,000 each

month depending upon the profession, region, and training year. After

completing training, young persons can directly begin working (often at the

same company where training was completed) or commence

studies for a degree programme upon certain conditions.

Something very distinctive is the work-study degree programme (duales

Studium). A student will receive vocational training at a company whilst

studying at a university or higher education institution. Upon completion,

students have both at once: a vocational training diploma and a higher

education degree.

If you would like to learn more …

… about (integrated) career and vocational

education and training ((duale) Ausbildung)

and vocational occupations:

www.berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de

… about work-study degree programmes

(duales Studium):

www.duales-studium.de

www.wegweiser-duales-studium.de

… 60 …


What can you do?

1. Don’t transpose your experience with education and training onto your

child. What was true in Germany or some other country 20 or 30 years

ago, is different today.

2. Don’t say to your child: ”By all means, you must get your Abitur and

then go to university!” Rather ask your child the following questions and

discuss with him or her their answers:

What would you like to do?

What do you do particularly well?

Do you have a dream job?

Where and how can you learn the skills for this job?

3. Find out more about integrated career and vocational education and

training (duale Ausbildung) and work-study degree programmes (duales

Studium). Go to an information and consultation centre or career information

centre (Berufsinformationszentrum – BIZ) in your area.

4. Go with your child to an education and job fair in your area, and get

acquainted with businesses and professions.

5. Visit a company and ask questions.

… 61 …


My child will go to university.

15.1

Every university is different.

There are innumerable courses of studies.

When it comes to integrated career and vocational education and training

(duale Ausbildung), it does not matter in which German federal state young

people get their education. For example, training for office administrators

has the same curriculum in Aachen, Berlin, or Zwickau.

However, with universities this is different. Each German federal state

is responsible for its universities. There are thousands of courses of studies

(Studiengänge). Exactly how many there are is anyone’s guess because much

happens each year with respect to courses. Even in the same or similar area

of studies there are differences which can be important.

Example: European studies are taught at many universities, however, the

curricula can have different areas of focus: European history, education,

culture, business, law, politics, or work in European Union institutions.

15.2

There are three types of academic degrees:

Bachelor of Arts or Science, Master of Arts or Science

and the Doctorate/(PhD).

Germany used to have its own kind of academic degrees (akademische

Abschlüsse). They were entitled Diplom, Magister, and Staatsexamen. However,

some years ago Germany adopted the three internationally recognised

academic degrees. These are:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc)

This is the first level of study. To be awarded this undergraduate degree,

a person must study for a minimum period of three years.

Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc)

This is the second level of study. To be awarded this graduate degree,

a person must study for an additional two-year minimum period.

Doctoral Degree/Doctorate (Dr)/(PhD)

This is the third level. To be awarded this graduate degree, a person must

study for yet another three-year minimum period and publish a dissertation

(a scientific or academic paper). This course of studies usually takes longer

than three years to complete.

For law, medical, and teaching degrees, Germany still uses the Staatsexamen

(this is similar to a bar or licensing exam).

… 62 …


15.3

Trust is good, but verify! Not every higher education

institution is accredited by the state.

With more than 10,000 courses of study, there are a few schools that are

not accredited by the state. If a tertiary education institution is not accre d-

ited by the state, it can be difficult upon getting a degree to find a job, as

many employers will not recognise it.

Some education providers call themselves an Akademie

(academy). This is not a legally protected term,

unlike the terms Universität (university) or Hochschule

(higher education institution). There are highly

prestigious academies in Germany with accredited

degree programmes, however, there are also academies

that are not accredited by the state. Therefore,

it is worth double-checking!

15.4

The Abitur secures the right to a place at university;

however, there is the numerus clausus.

Generally, in Germany every Gymnasium graduate has the right to study at

a university/higher education institution. However, some courses of study

are very popular. Many applicants vie for limited space in degree programmes

and universities can’t accept all of them.

Therefore, universities rank applicants according to their grade point

average. This process is called numerus clausus or NC. This is a Latin term

and means closing number.

For example: A university has 600 spaces available for biology students.

The 600 applicants with the best marks/grades reported in their Abitur will

be accepted into the programme. Now for our example let us say that the

grade point average of the 600 applicants that were accepted into the programme

was 1.8. This means that the numerus clausus is 1.8 this year for

this subject. In other words, this means that anyone who has a grade point

average beyond this mark would not be accepted into this programme at

this university in this year. Thus, the numerus clausus may differ each year.

… 63 …


Important note: It is possible to be accepted at a university or higher

education institution in Germany without an Abitur (general certificate of

education – advanced level) if an applicant has completed integrated career

and vocational education and training (duale Ausbildung) and can demonstrate

three years of relevant employment experience. However, applicants

must take and pass an entrance examination.

15.5

Studying costs money.

In comparison to integrated career and vocational education and training

(duale Ausbildung) where trainees receive money every month, studying at

university or a higher education institution always costs money. This also

means expenses for rent if a young person no longer lives at home or must

move to another city in order to study. There are also costs for semester

contributions (Semesterbeiträge), books, technical equipment (laptops,

telephone), and possible tuition fees (Studiengebühren). Students often

finance their education from various sources. It is well worth it to apply for

scholarships (Stipendium). Scholarships do not have to be paid back

unlike government financial aid (BAföG). You should consider

the pros and cons before you take out a student loan/loan

(( Studien-)Kredit) with a private lending institution.

How is studying financed?

Source of Money Students as a % Average in Euros

Parents 87 % € 445

Working whilst studying 65 % € 323

Government financial aid 29 % € 430

Savings 20 % € 122

Scholarships 3 % € 305

Student loans 3 % € 411

Federal student loans 1 % € 257

Source: Deutsches Studentenwerk, 19. Sozialerhebung 2009, www.sozialerhebung.de.

… 64 …


What can you do?

1. Don’t impose your desires onto your child. Let your child decide for him

or herself and then find out together where his or her interests truly lie

and what career aspirations your child has.

2. Investigate together with your child which courses of study match his or

her career aspirations.

3. Figure out how studying can be financed: Will your child study in the

city you live in or elsewhere? How expensive is studying there? Will

your family be able to pay for it on its own? If not, how can studying be

fi nanced? Are there more cost-effective options?

4. Find out whether the higher education institution is accredited by the state.

5. Investigate what the chances are of finding employment once a degree

programme has been completed.

If you would like to learn more …

… about the topic of university

studies in general:

www.hochschulkompass.de

www.studienwahl.de

… about work-study degree

programmes (duales Studium):

www.ausbildungplus.de

www.duales-studium.de

www.wegweiser-duales-studium.de

… if your child is the first in your

family who is about to study:

www.arbeiterkind.de

… about scholarships:

www.mystipendium.de

… about the topic of university studies

without an Abitur:

www.studieren-ohne-abitur.de

… 65 …


There are more options after

secondary school than some parents think.

16.1

Career and vocational education and training or

university – age is not an issue!

If your child knows what he or she wants to do, then, of course, he or she

can immediately start career and vocational training or university after

finishing school. However, this is not mandatory. There are no laws in Germany

that set age limits as to when someone must commence studies or

start training. Sometimes it may be very reasonable to do something else

between secondary school and getting a tertiary education.

16.2

I have no idea what I want to do.

Something that many young people say.

Many children don’t know what they want to do after they finish school.

This is normal. Did you know what you wanted to do when you were

16 or 19 years old? It is better if your child takes a bit of time to find

out what he or she would like to do, rather than simply doing

something just for the sake of doing something.

… 66 …


16.3

It is better to take some time and gather some

different experience after finishing school, rather

than to rashly make a wrong decision which can

affect you for the rest of your life.

After the stress and effort of school, your child may just need a

break before he or she starts learning again. Let your child have

this break. This, of course, must be within reason and shouldn’t

last for years on end.

16.4

If the application process is not immediately successful,

use the time effectively.

There are many ways in which one can effectively utilise the time between

school and continuing with further education and training. During this time,

your child can learn a number of important things. He or she can gain new

experience and independently solve new problems. He or she can improve

or learn a foreign language, or strengthen his or her social and personal skills.

And most importantly: Your child can gather work experience and find out

about different occupations. German federal volunteer service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst),

taking a year off to do voluntary social service (Freiwilliges

Soziales Jahr), or working are all things that are regarded positively

when applications are evaluated.

… 67 …


16.5

There are many options for secondary school

graduates both in Germany and abroad.

Here are some ideas:

German federal volunteer service

(Bundesfreiwilligendienst)

A year of voluntary social service

(Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr – FSJ)

A year of voluntary environmental protection service

(Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr – FÖJ)

These voluntary services allow young people to become active in

the community. Volunteers work in a number of areas, for

example with children and adolescents, in health and geriatric

care, with disabled individuals, in environmental protection, nature

conservation, sports, culture, monument and heritage preservation,

politics and integration, or in schools. Volunteer work can

also be done abroad.

What can you do?

1. Two school years before your child graduates from school, consider

together with your child which path is most suited and realistic for him

or her. The more specific the plan is, the better. Together you should

also consider a plan B (and even better still, a plan C) if things don’t quite

work out with career and vocational training at the dream company or

acceptance at the first choice university.

2. Be familiar with the options available to your child after finishing

secondary school and talk to your child about them periodically.

3. Don’t make a fuss if your child is not accepted into a career and vocational

education and training programme or university directly after

finishing school. Instead consider with your child how to reasonably

bridge this year.

4. Make sure that this year does not appear as a gap in your child’s curriculum

vitae. What was accomplished in this year needs to be specified. Remember,

your child will have learned and experienced much in this year.

… 68 …


If you would like to learn more …

… about the German federal volunteer service

(BFD):

www.bundesfreiwilligendienst.de

… about volunteer service in a foreign country:

www.weltwaerts.de

www.ijgd.de

… about a year of voluntary social service (FSJ):

www.pro-fsj.de

If you would like to learn more …

… about a year of voluntary social service in

a cultural institution (FSJ):

www.fsjkultur.de

… about a year of voluntary environmental

protection service (FÖJ):

www.foej.de (Information is also available in English,

Russian, and Spanish.)

… about au pair programmes:

www.aupair.de

… 69 …


Every child has strengths

and weaknesses.

17.1

Children and teenagers don’t only learn at school.

Children and teenagers are hardly conscious of the fact that they

know and can do much more than what is indicated in their

report cards. Frequently, parents aren’t even aware of

this. A person learns and tries out new things not only at

school, but also with family and friends, and when doing

recreational activities and hobbies.

This is how social, intercultural, and personal skills (soziale,

interkulturelle und personale Kompetenzen) develop. For example: organisation

or technical skills, multilingualism, or reliability. All companies find

these and other skills very important and sometimes even more important

than school marks/grades. Therefore, your child should consciously develop

these skills and mention them in applications.

17.2

Your family is like a small enterprise. Every family

member has his or her own tasks to perform.

Many young people assume important tasks in the family. They help younger

brothers and sisters with homework, help with household chores, work

in the family business, or take care of older family members. Undertaking

such tasks, they learn and demonstrate very important character traits like

responsibility and independence.

… 70 …


17.3

Some children are already little professionals.

Many young people interpret for their parents or grandparents, who don’t

speak German, at government agency or doctor’s appointments, or act as

mediators of different cultures, such as between parents and the school.

Many are also very familiar with another country. Performing these activities,

they acquire intercultural skills like interpreting, flexibility, empathy, and

sociableness. They are not afraid of new things or being immersed in different

languages and cultures. They have experienced misunderstandings and

know how to cope with them.

17.4

Identifying strengths is not always easy for everyone, but

important for professional life.

There are children who have managed to struggle through from secondary

modern school (Hauptschule) on to junior grammar school (Realschule)

and from there get their Abitur (general certificate of education – ad -

vanced level). Even if their school marks/grades are not the best, these

young people have demonstrated perseverance, a willingness to learn, and

a sense of purpose which are important attributes for any profession.

Important note: Your child should be able talk about his

or her strengths and achievements in an interview (Bewerbungsgespräch).

In some cultures, it is not customary to

talk about one’s own accomplishments. This is viewed as

boasting. However, for applications it is very important

that accomplishments are specified.

… 71 …


17.5

Weaknesses are also a part of daily life.

For many parents, their child is the best in the world. However, if we are

honest, no one is perfect. It is essential that we convey a realistic picture to

our children. It is important that your child be able to assess him or herself

and handle criticism, especially in professional life:

I am good at this. I need to practise this a bit more.

I did this well. This was my mistake.

Important note: Your child will also have to discuss his or her weaknesses

in an interview. This is never easy, however, one must be prepared for it.

What can you do?

1. Together with your child, consider which strengths and abilities he or

she has developed to date. How do you see this as a parent? What is

your child particularly good at? And what positive characteristics does

he or she possess?

2. It is best to make a list: Write down examples that highlight your child’s

strengths and abilities.

3. Give your child constructive feedback.

4. Honest feedback is important: What is it that your child does not do so

well? Where are his or her weaknesses?

5. Remind your child of those things that he or she has done and achieved

outside of school and about anything that can be used to demonstrate

proof of this.

… 72 …


If you would like to learn more …

… about the topic of finding strengths:

In the brochure ”Schätze heben” from BQM

Beratung Qualifizierung Migration you will

find skill/competence sheets on pages 63-70.

Using these sheets, you and your child can

discover his or her skill sets so that they can

be listed in applications:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 73 …


In this world, parents are simply

irreplaceable, especially when it comes

to choosing a profession.

18.1

Parents are the most important people when it comes to

choosing a profession.

Even if perhaps many young people do not like to admit it: When it comes

to the choice of an occupation, teenagers take their parents’ advice seriously.

In surveys most young people (70 to 90 per cent) rank their parents

first when asked which people influence them the most when it comes to

choosing a profession, followed by the school or friends. Thus, parents have

the greatest influence on their children’s occupational choice.

18.2

Parental influence can be positive.

If a parent has many business contacts, he or she can provide his or her

child with many examples and even perhaps arrange useful contacts.

However, even if this is not the case, you can still support your child. It can be

a great help, if you take this subject seriously, talk with your child about it on

many occasions, and accompany him or her to important appointments.

18.3

Parental influence can also be negative.

Both statements are possible: ”My child shall carry on in my profession!” Or

alternatively: ”I want my child to have it better than I had it.” Many children

learn a certain profession only because this is what the parents want.

If a parent is only familiar with very few occupations, then he or she may

not be providing very good advice to his or her child. There are more than

350 occupations that require career and vocational education and training

as well as thousands of degree programmes. No one can know everything

about each one of them.

Fortunately, there are many career advisors who can assist young people in

their choice of an occupation and help them with their university or vocational

training applications.

… 74 …


18.4

Many people can play a role in your child’s

occupational choice.

There are others apart from parents that play an important role in your

child’s occupational choice. For example: grandparents, teachers, career

advisors, friends, and acquaintances. Trade unions, foundations, government

agencies, immigrant organisations, and neighbourhood organisations among

others concern themselves with the occupational choices of young people.

These organisations can supply you and your child with information and

advice. Information and consultation centres can establish beneficial contacts

or even arrange for an internship (Praktikum) or a trainee position.

District councils

Sports clubs

Local economic

development bodies

Charity organisations

Business and

professional associations

or guilds

Child and youth

services organisations

Higher education

institutions

Companies

(e. g. businesses offering

apprenticeships or immigrant

businesses)

Adult

education centres

District authorities

(e. g. school supervisory

authorities)

Employment agency,

Jobcentre

Institutions, NGOs

(incl. expatriate organisations

or clubs, projects)

Trade unions

Foundations

Local council and

other local government

bodies

Relay trainers or

coaches (full-time or

voluntary)

Parent and family

support institutions, social

welfare services institutions, and

institutions offering integration

courses

Integration centres

Religious groups

… 75 …


18.5

Networking is important, even for your child’s education

and career.

It used to be that people said ”making contacts”, but today people also say

”networking” (Netzwerke). Networking is very important. You may find

this good or bad, however, it is a fact that almost half of all apprenticeships

or training positions are filled through networking and recommendations

from friends or acquaintances. According to studies conducted in Germany,

this applies especially to small and medium size companies.

Networks can be very different. Take a look in your address book or take

10 minutes and write down all the names of acquaintances, friends, family

members, and neighbours that you know. Perhaps you will be astonished

about how many people you know.

What can you do?

1. Visit the career information centre (Berufsinformationszentrum – BIZ)

or another information and consultation centre in your area with your

child and collect information about various occupations.

2. Make sure that your child attends important appointments, for example

for career counselling. Perhaps you could accompany your child?

3. Talk with teachers and social education workers who are responsible for

providing education and career guidance at your child’s school.

4. Attend job and career events organised at the school.

5. Attend job and career events organised outside of the school together

with your child: education and job fairs, open houses, Girls’ and Boys’

Day, visits to companies, etc.

… 76 …


If you would like to learn more …

… about how parents can help their children

choose a career:

Parents can find much information about the topic

of career choice on the German Federal Employment

Agency’s website www.planet-beruf.de.

Navigation: Eltern > Mein Kind unterstützen

You can find some easy-to-read information

about choosing a career in German, Farsi, Polish,

Russian, and Turkish in the “Handbuch für interkulturelle

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural

Work with Parents) (red module, pp. 31-32)

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 77 …


ALL parents can help their child

with applications.

19.1

Meeting deadlines is what counts: Application deadlines!

(Integrated) career and vocational education and training ((duale) Ausbildung):

Applications must be submitted between 12 to 6 months before

training starts. This can be done before receiving the last report card.

Example: Your son is in year 9 and would like to start career and vocational

training after year 10. You can start submitting applications in the summer

before he begins year 10. The earlier, the better!

Work-study degree programmes (duales Studium):

Applications must also be submitted a year in advance!

University or higher education institutions:

In this case, wait for the final report card and then start applying.

Example: Your daughter is in year 12 and will be completing

her Abitur. She can submit her application for admission to

university in the summer after finishing her Abitur.

19.2

A person used to write applications only on paper.

However, today there are many options.

It used to be that there was only one way to submit an application: on paper.

However, today more and more businesses do not want applications on

paper, they want them electronically. Applications per email (also known as

online applications) are possible for most companies these days. This saves

applicants printing and post charges and businesses the paperwork. Another

type of application is an application using an online form. Generally, this

form is a mask on a company’s website and has to be filled in step by step.

Nevertheless, the classic application on paper requiring a

photo and an applicant’s signature does still exist. Your child

can personally drop these applications off or send them via

post.

… 78 …


19.3

Admission or acceptance right with the first application:

It could happen, but it’s unlikely!

In addition to your child’s dream job or dream company, he or she should

have a backup plan – plan B – and better yet a plan C. Nowadays, it is

customary to send applications to various enterprises. Therefore,

don’t just send off one application! Send off many!

19.4

You only get a brief chance with your application:

Every little thing counts!

Human resource managers in large companies receive hundreds of applications

every year and must decide in a few minutes whether or not an

application has made a good impression and if the person should be invited

to an interview. If an applicant is not invited to interview, it is frequently

because of mistakes found in the application which can very easily be

avoided.

Important note: Every business is different. That is why you should first

find out how the company likes to see applications. Most of the time, this is

specified in the advertisement. An incorrect way can lead to the application

being immediately sorted out.

Example: A company has expressed that it only wants online applications.

Applications that arrive in the post will be returned or land in the wastepaper

bin.

19.5

Parents can help their children before an application

is sent off via post.

Absolutely avoid the following mistakes: crinkled paper, paperclips, coffee,

tea or grease stains on any paper, missing signature, unsuitable photo,

spelling mistakes, wrong company address, or failure to attach supporting

documents.

… 79 …


What can you do?

1. You have most likely applied for a position at least once in your life.

Presumably this was some time ago or even in another country. You

should note, however, that the way in which applications are written has

changed over time, not to mention there are major differences in each

country and industry. Applying for a bank clerk training position is different

than applying for a mechatronics technician apprenticeship.

2. It is not good if you write your child’s application. The application may

appear too implausible or well prepared. This should be done by your

child.

3. However, you can help with its preparation or by reviewing it once it is

finished and before it is dispatched. You will find a checklist on page 81.

If you would like to learn more …

… about applications:

You can find information and practical recommendations

at www.planet-beruf.de.

Navigation: Eltern > Mein Kind unterstützen

You can find easy-to-read information in

German, Farsi, Polish, Russian, and Turkish in

the ”Handbuch für interkulturelle Elternarbeit”

(Manual for Intercultural Work with Parents)

(green module, pp. 1-13) from BQM Beratung

Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 80 …


Checklist

All documents are printed on clean, white or recycled paper (are not

crinkled and do not have any stains on them).

Your child’s name and current address are located in the letterhead.

The application photo was taken by a professional photographer (not

in a photo booth or during your most recent holiday). Your child is

dressed appropriately in the photo. He or she should not be wearing

colourful T-shirts, large earrings, or showing cleavage. Your child need

not be wearing an expensive suit or designer outfit. A proper blouse

or pressed shirt is sufficient.

The application photo is attached to the page (not with a paperclip).

Diplomas, certificates, report cards, and other important supporting

documentation are enclosed as copies. Never send originals!

The cover letter and the curriculum vitae bear the same date.

The cover letter is addressed to a specific person, if possible.

Good is: Dear Mrs Peters, (…)/Dear Mr Jackson, (…).

Bad is: To whom it may concern: (…).

Even worse is: Hello, (…).

The envelope has the proper amount of postage.

The curriculum vitae is no longer than one page.

The cover letter is no longer than one page.

Your child has signed both the cover letter and the curriculum vitae.

In the application folder/portfolio there should be

1. curriculum vitae (CV),

2. copies of diplomas, certificates, or report cards, and

3. references for internships (Praktika) or volunteer work.

The cover letter is placed loosely atop of the application folder/

portfolio (not in the folder).

Important note: Your child’s application must be written for a specific company and training

position. You cannot send the same application to many different companies. The application

documents should be slightly adapted for each company’s profile.

… 81 …


Today the application process is

almost like an audition!

20.1

The company is sitting in the jury when it comes to

internships (Praktika), (integrated) career and vocational

education and training ((duale) Ausbildung), or workstudy

degree programmes (duales Studium).

When it comes to a career, companies are your most important partners.

Companies that train young people are called Ausbildungsbetriebe (apprenticing

companies).

The company decides in its sole discretion who will be offered an internship

(Praktikum), a trainee position, or accepted into a work-study degree programme

(duales Studium). Each company naturally only wants to educate

and train the best and brightest. Some companies focus on school

performance and others want to educate and train youth

which are reliable, capable of learning, and show a passion

for their future occupation.

20.2

Searching for a company:

There are many roads leading to Rome.

Before your child sets off on his or her search, he or she should find out

which companies in your vicinity (community, town, city) offer training programmes

or internships (Praktika). Your child has many ways of finding a

company.

Here are some ideas: Do an internship (Praktikum), use internet search

engines, look in business directories or the telephone book, talk to contacts

(this also means friends and acquaintances), visit education and job fairs, visit

the state employment agency and other information and consultation centres,

read the classified advertising in newspapers, pay attention to outdoor

advertising, for example billboard ads in the street or

advertising posted on buses or in supermarkets. You can

call a company directly, get information from their website,

or even stop by for a visit.

… 82 …


20.3

Every company has its own recruitment procedure.

Every company has its own ways for finding what they consider to be the

best applicants. Here are some examples:

Interview (Bewerbungsgespräch): Your child will go to the company, introduce

him or herself, interview with two or more persons from the company,

answer various questions, and become acquainted with the company.

Telephone interview (Telefoninterview): Your child will interview with a

person from the business over the telephone, describe him or herself,

answer questions, and be able to ask questions.

Online test (Onlinetest): Your child will answer various questions on the

computer at home and will be asked to complete a series of exercises or

tasks.

Recruitment test (Einstellungstest): Your child will take an exam at the

company. Frequently, the subjects that are tested include mathematics,

German, and general knowledge.

Assessment centre (Assessment-Center): Your child will

spend an entire day at a company and will receive various

tasks to complete. For example: tests (mathematics, German,

general knowledge, and politics/civics), personal

introductions, group exercises (group discussions or role

playing), and presentations or speeches.

20.4

In an interview even little things can be decisive.

Preparation is the key.

Your child has already been successful simply by the fact that he or she was

invited to an interview. However, this is no guarantee that your child will be

offered a trainee position. Every business will interview several applicants

and then select one or more.

Now your child’s success is contingent on the interview. It is important that

your child is punctual, properly dressed, make-up modestly applied, if any,

only having applied a discreet amount of cologne or perfume, not chewing

gum, have his or her mobile phone turned off, etc.

… 83 …


20.5

Professional human resource managers notice everything

or almost everything.

It makes a good impression in an interview if you look your interview

partner in the eye, smile, be respectful, be able to talk offhand, speak loud

and clear, and sit without fidgeting.

It makes a good impression in group exercises if you have your own

ideas, make suggestions, let others express their thoughts, are able to listen,

include others, are able to debate issues, yet are able to be responsive to

the opinions of other participants, are convincing, yet not dominate, and are

conscious of time.

These are some typical issues and questions

for an interview:

Tell me a little about yourself and explain your curriculum vitae

in more detail.

How did you learn about this profession?

How did you go about choosing this type of career?

Why specifically did you choose this qualified job?

Why do you want to receive training to become (…)?

Why did you apply with us?

What do you know about our company?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

In your opinion, why did you do so poorly in (… whatever the school

subject is …)?

How do you account for your unexcused absences from school classes?

Why did your marks/grades decline in your last year?

Do you have any hobbies?

What do you like to do in your free time?

Do you have any questions for us?

What can you do?

1. Search the internet or telephone directories with your child to find out

which institutions near you address the topic of job and career. The

following search words may be helpful: Berufsberatung Köln, Ausbildung

Berlin, Ausbildungsagentur Hamburg, or Ausbildungsplatz NRW.

… 84 …


2. Visit companies near you that offer career and vocational training programmes.

Many companies are very interested in working with parents

and offer tours of their facilities.

3. Practise interviewing at home. Remind your child to prepare for a re -

cruitment test: He or she should practise basic mathematic operations

and refresh and improve general knowledge.

4. Before your child heads off to an interview, check how he or she is

dressed. Find out the best way to get to the company so that your child

can find it and arrive on time.

5. Make sure that your child arrives punctually to his or her appointment

or timely cancels if he or she is unable to make it to the interview, test,

or first day of training.

If you would like to learn more …

… about tests used in application procedures:

There are practise tests that you can do with your

child available at www.ruv.de.

Navigation: R & V Ratgeber > Beruf & Karriere >

Bewerbung > Interaktive Einstellungstests

… about interviews:

You can find easy-to-read information about

interviews in German, Farsi, Polish, Russian, and

Turkish in the ”Handbuch für interkulturelle

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural Work

with Parents) (green module, pp. 4-10) from

BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:

www.bqm-hamburg.de

… 85 …


Imprint

Publisher:

Executive Director:

Authors:

Content advice:

Editors:

Layout:

Illustrator:

KWB e. V. · House of Commerce

Kapstadtring 10 · 22297 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 334241-0 · Fax: +49 40 334241-299

info@kwb.de · www.kwb.de

Hansjörg Lüttke

Dr. Alexei Medvedev

assisted by Elisabeth Wazinski

Hülya Eralp, Tanja Grohmann

Monika Ehmke, Stella Regna, Christine Reinhold

Regina Neubohn

Photographs: KWB e. V.

Translation:

Contact:

Alke Mammen, a.mammen@web.de

Dr. Ralph A. Fellows

Monika Ehmke

ehmke@kwb.de · Phone: +49 40 334241-333

Acknowledgements

This book was made possible thanks to the efforts and support of our

colleagues, cooperation partners, and funding from the European Social

Fund (ESF) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. We would also

like to express a special thank you to the Deloitte and Kutscheit Foundations

for their special award ”Sprachförderung” (learning and improving

language skills) within the context of the Hidden Movers Awards 2012

which initiated this publication.

Furthermore, this book would be unconceivable without the tireless and

longstanding involvement of so many parent facilitators.

Thank you very much!

… 86 …


Other publications from KWB

For parents and families

Informationen zur Kinderbetreuung

Innovative Konzepte zur Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf

6th. revised edition. Hamburg 2014

Vereinbarkeit von Pflege und Beruf in Hamburg

3rd. revised edition. Hamburg 2013

Eltern in die Schule

Engagierte Väter und Mütter mit Zuwanderungsgeschichte berichten

2nd. revised edition. Hamburg 2012 (in cooperation with ASM e. V.)

Information for future parents working in Hamburg businesses

Hamburg 2012. Available in German, English, Turkish, and Russian

For businesses

For relay trainers or coaches (Multiplikatoren/-innen)

and educators

Handbuch Medien- und IT-Berufe

Ausbildung, Studium und Weiterbildung für die Metropolregion Hamburg

von A–Z. Hamburg 2014

Schätze heben

Leitfaden und Kompetenzbilanz für die Beratung von Jugendlichen am

Übergang Schule – Beruf. Hamburg 2013

Interkulturelle Elternkooperation als Gemeinwesenarbeit.

Hamburg 2012

Mehr Wert! von Anfang an

Das Arbeitsbuch für die Berufsberatung. Hamburg 2012

Handbuch Betriebliche Elternarbeit

5 gute Gründe und 15 Ideen für Elternarbeit in Unternehmen. Hamburg 2012

Azubi-Auswahl mit Zukunft

Intercultural recruitment processes for the following professional fields:

1. Gewerblich-technische Berufe. Hamburg 2005

2. Einzelhandel. Hamburg 2007

3. Bürokaufleute und Kaufleute für Bürokommunikation. Hamburg 2010

4. Groß- und Außenhandel/Spedition/Logistik. Hamburg 2011

5. IT-Berufe. Hamburg 2011

You can download our workbooks, documents, and manuals at www.kwb.de

or order them via email at info@kwb.de.


Beratung Qualifizierung Migration

www.kwb.de

• • • KWB e. V. · House of Commerce

Kapstadtring 10 · 22297 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 334241-0 · Fax: +49 40 334241-299

info@kwb.de · www.kwb.de

ISBN 978-3-944045-07-8

9 783944 045078 >

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