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Understanding School in Germany

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.

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.

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Beratung Qualifizierung Migration<br />

<strong>Understand<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>School</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong><br />

The Basics for Parents<br />

2nd revised edition<br />

Also available as<br />

electronic paper!<br />

Dr. Alexei Medvedev assisted by Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski<br />

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


… 2 …


Foreword<br />

Dear Parents,<br />

The KWB Koord<strong>in</strong>ierungsstelle Weiterbildung und Beschäftigung e. V. (KWB Office for Coord<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g Education and Employment – <strong>in</strong>corporated assocation) has been advis<strong>in</strong>g parents about<br />

various topics and questions regard<strong>in</strong>g school, especially those who have migrated to <strong>Germany</strong>. This<br />

was first accomplished as part of the Hamburg ESF project „Eltern vor Ort“ (Parents on the Spot) and<br />

„BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration“. Our experience from these projects gave us the idea to<br />

publish an easy to understand book about the very complicated German school system.<br />

This idea has also found dedicated supporters outside Hamburg. „Eltern vor Ort“ was the w<strong>in</strong>ner of the<br />

special award „Sprachförderung“ (learn<strong>in</strong>g and improv<strong>in</strong>g language skills) from the Kutscheit Foundation<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the context of the Hidden Movers Award sponsored by the Deloitte Foundation and with the<br />

prize money we were able to publish the first edition of „<strong>Understand<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>School</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>“. Moreover,<br />

<strong>in</strong> the project „Schulmentoren – Hand <strong>in</strong> Hand für starke Schulen“ (<strong>School</strong> Mentors – Hand and Hand<br />

for Strong <strong>School</strong>s) (Project start date: 1st April 2014) KWB published editions <strong>in</strong> Arabic, Farsi, Russian<br />

and Turkish together with the Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung (The Authority for <strong>School</strong> and<br />

Vocational Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g). All editions are available for free as electronic paper at www.kwb.de.<br />

This is the revised second English edition.<br />

What does this book address?<br />

These questions are probably familiar to you:<br />

How can I help my child before school beg<strong>in</strong>s and how can I help my child dur<strong>in</strong>g his or her<br />

time at school?<br />

As parents, what are our roles <strong>in</strong> our child’s career choices?<br />

As parents, what are our rights and obligations with respect to issues that concern school?<br />

What comes next after secondary school?<br />

Frequently, it is the simple th<strong>in</strong>gs that help your child be successful at school and help him or her make<br />

good career choices, for example: Regularly check<strong>in</strong>g homework, attend<strong>in</strong>g parents’ even<strong>in</strong>gs, or arrang<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for after-school tutor<strong>in</strong>g. This book will show you various alternatives on how you as parents can work<br />

together with the school.<br />

This book is easy-to-read. There are 20 short chapters and each chapter addresses one subject which is<br />

subdivided <strong>in</strong>to five important topics. Moreover, this book gives you tangible tips and provides you with<br />

additional sources of <strong>in</strong>formation at the end of each chapter.<br />

We hope this <strong>in</strong>formation will be beneficial to you!<br />

Dr. Alexei Medvedev and Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski<br />

Hamburg, March 2018<br />

… 3 …


About the authors<br />

Dr. Alexei Medvedev<br />

Dr. Alexei Medvedev has been work<strong>in</strong>g as programme director for<br />

KWB e. V. s<strong>in</strong>ce 2007. His area of concentration is <strong>in</strong>tercultural work with<br />

parents at school-to-work transition. He spearheads projects for <strong>in</strong>tercultural<br />

cooperation with parents and school development. He is the author<br />

of various publications and has held lectures at numerous national and<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternational conferences on the topics of <strong>in</strong>tegration, education, and<br />

family. Dr. Alexei Medvedev studied German philology, tourism, and<br />

education management <strong>in</strong> Perm, Münster, and Zagreb. He received his<br />

doctorate <strong>in</strong> Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) with his dissertation <strong>in</strong> literary<br />

studies.<br />

Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski<br />

Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski has been work<strong>in</strong>g as a senior project manager for<br />

KWB e. V. s<strong>in</strong>ce 2008. Her areas of concentration <strong>in</strong>clude <strong>in</strong>tercultural<br />

recruitment processes, <strong>in</strong>tercultural work with parents, <strong>in</strong>tercultural tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and educational placement for young immigrants. Moreover, she has<br />

been work<strong>in</strong>g as a therapist and coach s<strong>in</strong>ce 2007 which is an expertise<br />

that not only works well with counsell<strong>in</strong>g youths, but also <strong>in</strong> supervis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and advis<strong>in</strong>g those <strong>in</strong>volved with education. Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski has a<br />

Master of Arts <strong>in</strong> Ethnology (M. A.).<br />

… 4 …


Table of contents<br />

Foreword .................................................................3<br />

About the authors .........................................................4<br />

1 Compulsory school attendance means:<br />

ALL children must attend school <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>. .............................6<br />

2 ALL parents can help their children before they start school and<br />

while they are go<strong>in</strong>g to school. ..........................................10<br />

3 It is simply not enough to f<strong>in</strong>d a good school.<br />

It is also the responsibility of parents to educate their children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14<br />

4 Even experts have a hard time mak<strong>in</strong>g our school system easy to understand. ..18<br />

5 Both disabled and non-disabled children can learn together. ................22<br />

6 Any language your child speaks is a jewel! ................................26<br />

7 There is a middle ground between silence and grumbl<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

Talk to your child’s teacher. .............................................30<br />

8 Parents can do more than just sell cakes! .................................34<br />

9 Parents have many rights. ..............................................38<br />

10 Parents also have obligations. ...........................................42<br />

11 Report cards and marks are like traffic lights:<br />

You must take their signals seriously. ....................................46<br />

12 It is not only about marks ..............................................50<br />

13 Integrated career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung),<br />

university, or a work-study degree programme (duales Studium)?<br />

They are all equally good! Let your child decide. ..........................54<br />

14 Made <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>: The whole world envies us because of our <strong>in</strong>tegrated<br />

system of career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung). ...58<br />

15 My child will go to university. ...........................................62<br />

16 There are more options after secondary school than some parents th<strong>in</strong>k. ...66<br />

17 Every child has strengths and weaknesses. ...............................70<br />

18 In this world, parents are simply irreplaceable, especially when it comes<br />

to choos<strong>in</strong>g a profession. ...............................................74<br />

19 ALL parents can help their child with applications. .........................78<br />

20 Today the application process is almost like an audition! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82<br />

Thanks ........................................................................86<br />

Impr<strong>in</strong>t ...................................................................87<br />

… 5 …


Compulsory school attendance means: ALL<br />

children must attend school <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>.<br />

1.1<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, school attendance is compulsory.<br />

In other countries, education is compulsory.<br />

Many countries have laws which require that children be given an education<br />

(also known as the compulsory requirement of a basic education<br />

(Bildungspflicht)). This means that all children must receive an education<br />

(<strong>in</strong>struction). It is up to the family to decide whether this occurs at school<br />

or at home. This is the case for example <strong>in</strong> Austria. Nevertheless,<br />

most families choose to send their children to school.<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, children must attend school! Compulsory<br />

school attendance can last for 12 or 13 years depend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

on <strong>in</strong>dividual German federal state law.<br />

However, many children f<strong>in</strong>ish their general secondary<br />

education after the 9th or 10th year. These children are<br />

nevertheless still required to attend school and attend<br />

a vocational school <strong>in</strong> order to receive career and vocational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. The other children cont<strong>in</strong>ue<br />

on <strong>in</strong> school <strong>in</strong> order to obta<strong>in</strong> their Abitur (general<br />

certificate of education – advanced level) or<br />

Fachabitur (applied general certificate of education).<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, homeschool<strong>in</strong>g (Hausunterricht) is only<br />

permitted <strong>in</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> circumstances, for example when<br />

children must stay home because of a disability or illness<br />

(illness-related <strong>in</strong>struction).<br />

… 6 …


1.2<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, all children are exam<strong>in</strong>ed before attend<strong>in</strong>g school.<br />

Before start<strong>in</strong>g to school, two important meet<strong>in</strong>gs will be held with you and<br />

your child: The language assessment meet<strong>in</strong>g (Sprachstandserhebung) and<br />

the school physical exam<strong>in</strong>ation (Schule<strong>in</strong>gangsuntersuchung) also known<br />

as the physical exam<strong>in</strong>ation for enrolment (E<strong>in</strong>schulungsuntersuchung).<br />

You will receive an <strong>in</strong>vitation to attend these important meet<strong>in</strong>gs via post.<br />

Language assessment (Sprachstandserhebung)<br />

Your child’s success at school is cont<strong>in</strong>gent on how well he or she can speak<br />

German. This is why this will be assessed. This is called a language assessment.<br />

This takes place <strong>in</strong> almost all German federal states (Bundesländer) about<br />

1 to 2 years before your child is enrolled <strong>in</strong> school. If your child needs help with<br />

German, he or she will receive extra language tutor<strong>in</strong>g (Sprachfördermaßnahmen)<br />

– either at child day-care (K<strong>in</strong>dertagestätte – KITA) or at preschool.<br />

<strong>School</strong> physical exam<strong>in</strong>ation/physical exam<strong>in</strong>ation for enrolment<br />

(Schule<strong>in</strong>gangsuntersuchung/E<strong>in</strong>schulungsuntersuchung)<br />

A paediatrician will exam<strong>in</strong>e your child shortly before school beg<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

Depend<strong>in</strong>g on the particular German federal state (Bundesland) either<br />

the Department of Health, the school, or the child day-care facility will<br />

be responsible for organis<strong>in</strong>g this.<br />

The exam<strong>in</strong>ation will determ<strong>in</strong>e whether or not your child has developed<br />

normally for his or her age and whether he or she will be able to handle<br />

school. You should attend this exam<strong>in</strong>ation so that the physician can ask you<br />

questions and immediately discuss the results of the exam<strong>in</strong>ation with you.<br />

If your child needs help <strong>in</strong> any particular area, the physician will direct you<br />

to the appropriate agencies where you can get specialised support (Fördermöglichkeiten).<br />

1.3<br />

Generally your child beg<strong>in</strong>s school at the age of six.<br />

Compulsory school attendance applies to all children <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong><br />

regardless of the passport they hold and their residency status.<br />

As a guide, keep this rule of thumb <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d: If my child will turn<br />

6 years old before the school year beg<strong>in</strong>s, then he or she must<br />

enrol <strong>in</strong> school.<br />

There are borderl<strong>in</strong>e cases, however, where the family can decide<br />

whether or not their child will beg<strong>in</strong> school a year earlier (at age 5) or a<br />

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

development.<br />

… 7 …


1.4<br />

There is always a primary school <strong>in</strong> your neighbourhood<br />

that will enrol your child.<br />

No child <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> may be denied attendance at school. This is why<br />

school enrolment is organised so that all families with school-aged children<br />

will be contacted. There is a primary school (Grundschule) <strong>in</strong> your neighbourhood<br />

that is responsible for the street that you live <strong>in</strong> and this will be<br />

the school that your child attends.<br />

There may be a case, however, that for some reason you do<br />

not wish your child to attend this particular school. You have<br />

the option of select<strong>in</strong>g another school for your child to<br />

attend. This can sometimes be complicated. Another school<br />

will only accept your child if there is space available.<br />

1.5<br />

<strong>School</strong> is free <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>!<br />

However, there are exceptions!<br />

There are public (state operated) schools and <strong>in</strong>dependently operated<br />

schools, for example Waldorf <strong>School</strong>s (also called Rudolf Ste<strong>in</strong>er <strong>School</strong>s),<br />

Montessori <strong>School</strong>s, church operated schools, and private schools.<br />

Public schools are free of charge. Generally, the school provides materials<br />

for <strong>in</strong>struction, for example schoolbooks. There are, however, items that<br />

you must purchase for your child (for example exercise books, folders,<br />

crayons and pencils, particular books, pens, rulers, erasers, setsquare,<br />

calculator, sportswear, and tra<strong>in</strong>ers/sneakers).<br />

Independently operated schools charge school fees (Schulgeld)<br />

and are solely responsible for fix<strong>in</strong>g the amount of the<br />

fees. A family should carefully consider whether or not it can<br />

afford pay<strong>in</strong>g school fees over a longer period of time.<br />

… 8 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Heed the results of and the recommendations from the language assessment<br />

and school physical exam<strong>in</strong>ation. If your child needs help before<br />

school beg<strong>in</strong>s, take advantage of the offers of support that are available.<br />

2. F<strong>in</strong>d out well <strong>in</strong> advance which school your child will attend and register<br />

him or her. The school will <strong>in</strong>form you when you need to do this and<br />

which support<strong>in</strong>g documents you need to br<strong>in</strong>g with you. Generally for<br />

registration, you’ll need an identity card or passport for yourself and<br />

your child as well as your child’s birth certificate.<br />

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

please consider the answers to the follow<strong>in</strong>g questions: What are the<br />

pros and cons? Which other school will be better suited to my child and<br />

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

the way to school safe?<br />

4. Visit various schools on their ”open house” days <strong>in</strong> order to familiarise<br />

yourself with the different schools. Get active early on and ask about<br />

available space for your child. <strong>School</strong>s often advertise open house dates<br />

<strong>in</strong> local newspapers.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about school and education:<br />

Arbeitskreis Neue Erziehung e. V. (ANE)<br />

has much material for parents <strong>in</strong> several<br />

languages.<br />

You can order materials at www.ane.de<br />

Navigation: Elternmedien > Elternbriefe<br />

… 9 …


ALL parents can help their children<br />

before they start school and while<br />

they are go<strong>in</strong>g to school.<br />

2.1<br />

Your child’s first years after birth are the most important<br />

for his or her development.<br />

Scientific studies have shown that children learn most <strong>in</strong>tensively dur<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

first few years after their birth which has an impact on the rest of their<br />

lives. The better your child develops before attend<strong>in</strong>g school, the easier it<br />

will be for your child to learn at school. Before attend<strong>in</strong>g school, most children<br />

can recount events or stories, play with forms, count, draw, t<strong>in</strong>ker,<br />

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

of important th<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

2.2<br />

Day-care facility (K<strong>in</strong>dertagesstätte – KITA) can help<br />

with your child’s development.<br />

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

you send your child to day-care. As of August 2013, all parents <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong><br />

have a right to send their children to day-care and a place <strong>in</strong> the nursery<br />

must be given to a child that has atta<strong>in</strong>ed 1 year of age if requested.<br />

Attend<strong>in</strong>g day-care is very beneficial to the social development of your<br />

child. If your child does not speak German at home, go<strong>in</strong>g to day-care is<br />

especially important. At day-care your child will learn German quickly and<br />

will have fewer problems with the German language by the time he or she<br />

enrols <strong>in</strong> school.<br />

… 10 …


2.3<br />

Parents have a major <strong>in</strong>fluence on the<br />

success of their children at school.<br />

A scientific study conducted by the Programme for<br />

International Student Assessment (PISA) found that<br />

parents contribute more than 50 per cent to their children’s<br />

success at school. A parent has more <strong>in</strong>fluence<br />

on the development of a child’s learn<strong>in</strong>g than do teachers<br />

or class <strong>in</strong>struction. However, the <strong>in</strong>fluence can<br />

be positive or negative.<br />

If you take school seriously and support your child, your<br />

child will be able to learn more effectively. If you f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

school unimportant and do not support your child, your<br />

child will most likely be less successful at school. This<br />

means that the success of your child is more dependent<br />

on you than on the school or teachers.<br />

2.4<br />

A year before your child will attend school,<br />

you need to decide whether your child will rema<strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong> day-care or attend preschool.<br />

In the year prior to your child start<strong>in</strong>g school, you have the option<br />

of send<strong>in</strong>g your 5-year old child to preschool (Vorschule). Each<br />

preschool is organised differently. Many preschools are <strong>in</strong>tegrated<br />

<strong>in</strong>to day-care facilities. There are also preschools that are <strong>in</strong>tegrated<br />

<strong>in</strong>to primary schools. Attendance at preschool is voluntary.<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>gs that favour your child’s attendance at preschool:<br />

Your child is not quite ready for school and needs some additional<br />

help; your child is very advanced and needs more of a challenge and<br />

would like to learn more at a faster pace; or your child needs to ease <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the transition from day-care to school.<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>gs that do not favour your child’s attendance at preschool:<br />

It is sometimes good for some children to spend a year longer at play and<br />

to develop outside of a ridged school structure.<br />

In any event, this is a personal decision which is best resolved <strong>in</strong> consultation<br />

with day-care and preschool staff.<br />

… 11 …


2.5<br />

In cases of f<strong>in</strong>ancial need, support is available.<br />

The education package (Bildungspaket) and other assistance.<br />

Families that are receiv<strong>in</strong>g government assistance benefits (class II unemployment<br />

benefits (Arbeitslosengeld II), social security <strong>in</strong>come allowance<br />

(Sozialgeld), social welfare benefits (Sozialhilfe), a child benefit allowance<br />

(K<strong>in</strong>derzuschlag), or hous<strong>in</strong>g benefits (Wohngeld)) may apply for education<br />

package (Bildungspaket) benefits.<br />

Education package benefits provide you with extra money so that your child<br />

can participate <strong>in</strong> cultural activities and sports, receive learn<strong>in</strong>g assistance,<br />

and take part <strong>in</strong> school trips and excursions. You can even receive f<strong>in</strong>ancial<br />

support from the education package for lunch at day-care centres<br />

and school, school materials, and for the transportation<br />

expenses associated with travell<strong>in</strong>g by bus or rail.<br />

Some costs can be paid by the local school society (Schulvere<strong>in</strong>),<br />

for example partial f<strong>in</strong>ancial aid for class excursions. You<br />

can receive more <strong>in</strong>formation about this from the school; contact<br />

your child’s class teacher.<br />

What can you do?<br />

Before school beg<strong>in</strong>s:<br />

1. Be sure that your child has enough contact with other children before<br />

school beg<strong>in</strong>s and learns German. This is best done at day-care.<br />

2. Be sure to purchase all necessary school supplies before school beg<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

The school will provide you with <strong>in</strong>formation about what your child will<br />

need to beg<strong>in</strong> school. Apply for education package benefits if you qualify<br />

for assistance.<br />

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

act accord<strong>in</strong>gly at all critical spots (driveways, <strong>in</strong>tersections, traffic lights,<br />

bicycle paths, and crosswalks).<br />

For school:<br />

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

someth<strong>in</strong>g to eat dur<strong>in</strong>g breaks, and is well rested. It is preferable that<br />

you accompany your child to and from school <strong>in</strong> the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g if this is<br />

possible. This naturally depends on how far away the school is from<br />

where you live and how difficult the path is.<br />

… 12 …


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

at all times and call the school as soon as possible if your child is unable<br />

to come to school for some important reason, for example because of<br />

illness.<br />

3. You should regularly talk with your child about his or her achievements<br />

and difficulties at school.<br />

4. Ask your child about homework and make sure that your child actually<br />

does his or her homework. You should organise after school tutor<strong>in</strong>g if<br />

your child cont<strong>in</strong>ues to have difficulties with homework.<br />

5. You should encourage your child if he or she is hav<strong>in</strong>g a difficult time<br />

complet<strong>in</strong>g a task and praise your child if he or she has overcome these<br />

difficulties.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about learn<strong>in</strong>g together:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d free <strong>in</strong>formation for parents at<br />

www.eltern-bildung.net on how you can help your<br />

child learn better start<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> day-care. You will f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

exercises and tips designed to help you and your<br />

child learn together.<br />

… about safely gett<strong>in</strong>g to school:<br />

The Lower Saxony Department for<br />

Cultural Affairs provides <strong>in</strong>formation on<br />

its website www.mk.niedersachsen.de<br />

<strong>in</strong> Arabic, German, Polish, Russian, and<br />

Turkish.<br />

Navigation: Schule > Schüle r<strong>in</strong> nen und<br />

Schüler/Eltern > Mobilität > Schulanfangs aktion<br />

… about the education package (Bildungspaket):<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d comprehensive <strong>in</strong>formation about<br />

education package benefits and how to apply at<br />

www.bildungspaket.bmas.de.<br />

… 13 …


It is simply not enough to f<strong>in</strong>d a good<br />

school. It is also the responsibility of parents<br />

to educate their children.<br />

3.1<br />

Accord<strong>in</strong>g to various studies, many parents do not<br />

spend enough time with their children.<br />

Parents are especially important for the development of a child, particularly<br />

<strong>in</strong> the first few years after birth. Nevertheless, studies show that on average<br />

parents do not spend enough time with their children. Spend<strong>in</strong>g mean<strong>in</strong>gful<br />

time with children does not mean sitt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> front of the television and<br />

eat<strong>in</strong>g meals together, but rather play<strong>in</strong>g games together and convers<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with each other.<br />

A UNICEF survey revealed that one <strong>in</strong> three young people wished to spend<br />

more time with their parents. Mothers of 12 to 16 year-olds help their<br />

children with learn<strong>in</strong>g about 4 m<strong>in</strong>utes each day and fathers spend only<br />

about 2 m<strong>in</strong>utes each day help<strong>in</strong>g their children learn. 1)<br />

3.2<br />

Your child must do his or her homework, not you!<br />

You do not have to speak perfect German or be good at mathematics,<br />

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

It is important that you ask your child about his or her homework or monitor<br />

them while they do their homework. If your child cont<strong>in</strong>ues to have<br />

difficulties with homework, you should organise after-school tutor<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

him or her.<br />

3.3<br />

In some countries, it is only the schools which are<br />

responsible for educat<strong>in</strong>g children. In <strong>Germany</strong>, children,<br />

parents, and teachers all sit <strong>in</strong> the same boat.<br />

In some countries, parents entrust the education of their children solely<br />

to the school. In many Asian countries, for example <strong>in</strong> India or Ch<strong>in</strong>a,<br />

teachers are highly esteemed and revered. They are role models and<br />

persons who command respect and <strong>in</strong> school matters their<br />

decision is f<strong>in</strong>al.<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, the responsibility for a formal education lies with all three:<br />

teachers, pupils, and parents!<br />

1)<br />

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

… 14 …


3.4<br />

Ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g regular contact with your child’s school is<br />

very important!<br />

The school will expect that you keep <strong>in</strong> contact. As parents you are ex -<br />

pected to support teachers with the formal education of your child. If you<br />

take an <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> your child’s school affairs, he or she will have a much<br />

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

communicate with teachers.<br />

Parents’ even<strong>in</strong>gs (Elternabende) are particularly important. Studies show<br />

that when parents regularly attend parents’ even<strong>in</strong>gs and f<strong>in</strong>d out about their<br />

child’s performance at school, children usually earn better marks.<br />

Important note: If your family has just arrived <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>, children tend to<br />

learn new languages faster than adults. This is often the reason why parents<br />

sometimes use their children as <strong>in</strong>terpreters when they have appo<strong>in</strong>tments<br />

with the school or government agencies. There are many reasons why<br />

parents should not do this. Interpreter work is very strenuous and will<br />

prema turely transform your child <strong>in</strong>to an adult. Frequently, children must<br />

<strong>in</strong>terpret adult or personal matters for their parents. This is particularly<br />

problematic at school, when the subject matter be<strong>in</strong>g discussed is the child’s<br />

own performance. The relationship with parents can suffer as a result.<br />

3.5<br />

Out of ideas on what to do? Help with<br />

homework, mentor<strong>in</strong>g, etc.!<br />

Sometimes parents feel as if they are unable to help<br />

their children with school subjects, especially if they<br />

speak little or no German, for example with homework<br />

or study<strong>in</strong>g for exams. It could also be that parents are<br />

unsure how to deal with subjects like puberty, sex education,<br />

drugs, alcohol, or violence.<br />

At first, it may seem difficult, but it can often be very<br />

beneficial to seek professional help. There are numerous<br />

ways <strong>in</strong> which you can help your child. There are<br />

appropriate <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centres<br />

(Beratungsstellen) <strong>in</strong> almost every region <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>.<br />

There is a troubleshoot<strong>in</strong>g table on page 17 which gives<br />

you some suggestions.<br />

… 15 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Get acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with your child’s class teacher. Important: Make an<br />

appo<strong>in</strong>tment if you would like to speak at length with the teacher.<br />

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

the school about organis<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>terpreter for you. This is possible <strong>in</strong> some<br />

German federal states, for example <strong>in</strong> Hamburg. If this is not possible, ask<br />

if there are any teachers at the school that speak your language. Otherwise<br />

talk to your friends or family members who are proficient <strong>in</strong> German.<br />

3. Don’t just visit the school only when there are problems. There are<br />

many positive occasions <strong>in</strong> which to visit the school, for example school<br />

events, performances, and <strong>in</strong>formation nights. Regularly attend parents’<br />

even<strong>in</strong>gs, parent conference days, and other events at your child’s school.<br />

Important note: You need to consider that certa<strong>in</strong> offers of assistance are<br />

not free of charge (e. g. tutor<strong>in</strong>g). This can depend on whether your child<br />

is receiv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividualised assistance or assistance as part of a group. This<br />

can also depend on whether assistance occurs at home or at another <strong>in</strong> stitution.<br />

There are programmes, however, which are free of charge.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about primary school:<br />

At www.ki-koeln.de/downloads/sprachen the<br />

Cologne Education Portal (Kölner Bildungsportal)<br />

provides <strong>in</strong>formation <strong>in</strong> almost 20 languages.<br />

… about solv<strong>in</strong>g your child’s difficulties with<br />

read<strong>in</strong>g, writ<strong>in</strong>g, and arithmetic:<br />

www.legakids.net<br />

… about exam<strong>in</strong>ation anxieties:<br />

www.pruefungsangst.de<br />

… 16 …


Your child … What can help? What is this exactly?<br />

… is unable to<br />

complete homework<br />

<strong>in</strong>dependently.<br />

… has poor marks,<br />

for example <strong>in</strong><br />

mathematics or<br />

biology.<br />

… has difficulties<br />

with foreign<br />

languages, for<br />

example English.<br />

… has difficulties<br />

learn<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> general.<br />

… must be motivated<br />

<strong>in</strong> order to learn.<br />

Help with<br />

homework<br />

(Hausaufgabenhilfe)<br />

Tutor<strong>in</strong>g<br />

(Nachhilfeunterricht)<br />

Language exchange<br />

(Tandem)<br />

Educational<br />

therapist<br />

(Lernthera peut<strong>in</strong><br />

oder<br />

Lerntherapeut)<br />

Mentors<br />

(Mentor<strong>in</strong> oder<br />

Mentor)<br />

Adults help children with their homework. There<br />

are a number of locations where children can<br />

receive assistance: school, clubs and neighbourhood<br />

centres.<br />

Tutor<strong>in</strong>g can help if your child has ”missed” receiv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and understand<strong>in</strong>g important <strong>in</strong>formation <strong>in</strong> one or<br />

more subjects (e. g. due to illness, laz<strong>in</strong>ess, or chang<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the class or school) and as a result is unable to<br />

comprehend new material. Tutor<strong>in</strong>g will focus on<br />

your child’s gaps <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation and understand<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

A language exchange can help children learn new<br />

languages. Two people with different native languages<br />

can help each other learn the other’s language <strong>in</strong><br />

tandem. For example, a child who is a native English<br />

speaker helps your child learn English and your child<br />

will help this child learn your child’s native language.<br />

Foreign language learn<strong>in</strong>g takes place <strong>in</strong> an atmosphere<br />

of relaxed conversation.<br />

An educational therapist can help if your child has<br />

fundamental difficulties learn<strong>in</strong>g. A therapist can help<br />

children that have a developmental read<strong>in</strong>g disorder<br />

(dyslexia), difficulty <strong>in</strong> learn<strong>in</strong>g or comprehend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

numbers (dyscalculia), a sensory disorder, an attention<br />

deficit disorder, anxiety about school or exams,<br />

or other problems.<br />

Mentor<strong>in</strong>g is a process where a more experienced<br />

person (mentor) imparts his or her experience and<br />

knowledge to a person with less experience (mentee).<br />

A mentor can be an adult or simply someone<br />

who is a bit older than your child. The idea beh<strong>in</strong>d<br />

mentor<strong>in</strong>g is that the two meet over an extended<br />

period of time either at school or your home. The<br />

mentor will advise your child and assist <strong>in</strong> his or her<br />

personal development.<br />

… 17 …


Even experts have a hard time mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our school system easy to understand.<br />

4.1<br />

Every country has its own school system.<br />

In many countries, the school system is the same all throughout the country.<br />

There is only one type of school for all children. This is the case, for<br />

example, <strong>in</strong> Afghanistan, Brazil, F<strong>in</strong>land, Ghana, and Russia.<br />

In other countries, there may be different types of schools, but they are all<br />

the same throughout the country and families do not have to decide as<br />

early as <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> which type of secondary school their child will attend<br />

after primary school. This is the case, for example, <strong>in</strong> Turkey, Belgium, and<br />

Mexico.<br />

<strong>Germany</strong> and Austria are the only countries <strong>in</strong> the world where school<br />

children attend various k<strong>in</strong>ds of secondary schools (weiterführende<br />

Schulen) after year 4.<br />

… 18 …


4.2<br />

<strong>Germany</strong>:<br />

1 country – 16 federal states – 16 school systems!<br />

<strong>School</strong> is structured differently <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> than say F<strong>in</strong>land or France. Each<br />

German federal state (Bundesland) is separately responsible for school and<br />

education policy with<strong>in</strong> its own territorial boundaries. Each of the 16 German<br />

federal states has its own school system. Accord<strong>in</strong>g to <strong>Germany</strong>’s<br />

constitution, education <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> is matter to be handled by the<br />

states. Your child must attend school with<strong>in</strong> the state where you<br />

reside. This federal state is therefore responsible for the education<br />

policies affect<strong>in</strong>g your child. Nevertheless, the federal states<br />

do work together. M<strong>in</strong>isters from each state regularly meet at<br />

the stand<strong>in</strong>g conference of m<strong>in</strong>isters for education and cultur<br />

al affairs (Kultusm<strong>in</strong>isterkonferenz). At this conference all 16<br />

state m<strong>in</strong>isters responsible for school and education matters<br />

meet to discuss the topic of school.<br />

4.3<br />

The school system <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> is one of the most<br />

complicated <strong>in</strong> the world.<br />

Even the length of primary school varies with<strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>. In some German<br />

federal states primary school lasts 4 years and <strong>in</strong> others 6 years. What<br />

happens after primary school also varies from state to state. Some German<br />

federal states have two k<strong>in</strong>ds of secondary schools after primary school<br />

and others have three k<strong>in</strong>ds. Certificates of education and grad<strong>in</strong>g<br />

also vary depend<strong>in</strong>g on the state. <strong>School</strong> holidays are also not<br />

uniform. This makes school a labyr<strong>in</strong>th <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>, and without<br />

assistance you can quickly get lost.<br />

… 19 …


4.4<br />

Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium … but wait!<br />

That is not all!<br />

Twenty years ago there was a secondary modern school (Hauptschule)<br />

until year 9, a junior grammar school (Realschule) until year 10, and a grammar<br />

school (Gymnasium) until year 13 almost everywhere <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>.<br />

When all three schools <strong>in</strong> the tripartite education system were located<br />

under one roof, this was called a comprehensive school (Gesamtschule).<br />

Over time, however, most German federal states have changed their school<br />

systems.<br />

The multifarious school forms have received new names. There are<br />

various names for a variety of secondary schools <strong>in</strong> the different<br />

German federal states <strong>in</strong> addition to Hauptschule, Realschule,<br />

Gymnasium, and Gesamtschule – for example: junior secondary<br />

school (Mittelschule), secondary technical school (Werkrealschule),<br />

secondary school (Oberschule, Sekundarschule, or<br />

Regelschule), neighbourhood comprehensive school (Stadtteilschule),<br />

regional school (Regionalschule), non-denom<strong>in</strong>ational<br />

secondary school (Geme<strong>in</strong>schaftsschule), and many more.<br />

4.5<br />

Relocat<strong>in</strong>g, secondary schools, and other questions<br />

about school: Ask the experts!<br />

If this seems overwhelm<strong>in</strong>g, you are not alone. This can be particularly difficult<br />

for foreign families relocat<strong>in</strong>g to <strong>Germany</strong>. This also affects families<br />

with<strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> which move from one German federal state to another.<br />

Even families that rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> the same state have questions because there<br />

can be many changes.<br />

There are regional <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centres <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> that<br />

can answer your questions about school. Most of the time, this <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

is free of charge.<br />

… 20 …


What can you do?<br />

Request <strong>in</strong>formation about the school system <strong>in</strong> your<br />

state, for example at your state’s Department of Cultural<br />

Affairs (Kultusm<strong>in</strong>isterium) or from your local education<br />

authority (Schulbehörde)!<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the school system <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>:<br />

At www.ki-koeln.de/downloads/sprachen the<br />

Cologne Education Portal (Kölner Bildungsportal)<br />

provides <strong>in</strong>formation <strong>in</strong> almost 20 languages.<br />

On the website of the Stand<strong>in</strong>g Conference of the<br />

M<strong>in</strong>isters of Education and Cultural Affairs of the<br />

Länder (states) <strong>in</strong> the Federal Republic of <strong>Germany</strong><br />

(KMK), www.kmk.org, you will f<strong>in</strong>d additional <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

about the German school system.<br />

… 21 …


Both disabled and non-disabled<br />

children can learn together.<br />

5.1<br />

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with<br />

Disabilities def<strong>in</strong>es the rights of people with disabilities.<br />

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention<br />

on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities <strong>in</strong> 2006. A convention<br />

is an agreement that should be followed by all countries and people.<br />

The purpose of the Convention is to ensure that persons with<br />

disabilities are no longer marg<strong>in</strong>alised and that they are accepted<br />

as full and equal members of society.<br />

5.2<br />

<strong>Germany</strong> has ratified the Convention.<br />

Most countries have signed this Convention which obligates<br />

them to implement its provisions. <strong>Germany</strong> signed<br />

the Convention <strong>in</strong> 2009.<br />

… 22 …


5.3<br />

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities<br />

requires <strong>in</strong>clusion. What does <strong>in</strong>clusion mean?<br />

The word <strong>in</strong>clusion (Inklusion) orig<strong>in</strong>ates from Lat<strong>in</strong> and means <strong>in</strong> volvement.<br />

Inclusion is therefore every person’s right of equal enjoyment <strong>in</strong><br />

society. Inclusion is a human right.<br />

5.4<br />

Inclusion means that barriers <strong>in</strong> daily life be elim<strong>in</strong>ated.<br />

This means that cities, build<strong>in</strong>gs, and public transportation must be<br />

barrier-free for those conf<strong>in</strong>ed to a wheelchair. This also means that the<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternet and language must be barrier-free for those who are visually or<br />

hear<strong>in</strong>g impaired as well as for <strong>in</strong>dividuals who suffer from physical or<br />

mental disabilities.<br />

Persons with disabilities have the right to decide for themselves wheth er<br />

or not they wish to live <strong>in</strong> special accommodations or with persons that<br />

do not have disabilities. No one may be discrim<strong>in</strong>ated aga<strong>in</strong>st <strong>in</strong> education,<br />

his or her profession, or dur<strong>in</strong>g leisure time on account of a disability.<br />

… 23 …


5.5<br />

Inclusion is also practiced <strong>in</strong> schools.<br />

It used to be that a disabled child was enrolled <strong>in</strong> a special nursery school/<br />

k<strong>in</strong>dergarten (Sonderk<strong>in</strong>dergarten) or a special-needs school (Sonderschule<br />

or Förderschule) <strong>in</strong> order to receive an education.<br />

Today disabled and non-disabled children can attend the same school.<br />

Families that have disabled children can decide for themselves whether<br />

their child will attend a specialised school (special-needs school) or a gener<br />

al education school.<br />

At every school there must be specialised educationalists which can offer<br />

disabled children professional care and support.<br />

… 24 …


What can you do?<br />

1. If you are unsure whether your child is disabled, have your child ex -<br />

am<strong>in</strong>ed by a paediatrician or psychologist. They will be able to determ<strong>in</strong>e<br />

whether or not your child is actually disabled and requires special<br />

assistance. The technical word for this is ”special educational needs”<br />

(sonderpädagogischer Förderbedarf). In particularly difficult cases you<br />

should also seek a second or even a third op<strong>in</strong>ion and not just rely on<br />

an <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centre or on one physician’s op<strong>in</strong>ion.<br />

2. If the diagnosis is that your child has a disability and needs special<br />

assistance, you should f<strong>in</strong>d out where <strong>in</strong> your region your child can<br />

receive the requisite special educational support: At a general education<br />

school or at a special-needs school.<br />

3. Contact the schools <strong>in</strong> your region and visit them together with your<br />

child. Talk to teachers and then make your decision.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about <strong>in</strong>clusion:<br />

www.aktion-mensch.de<br />

A filmlet expla<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong>clusion <strong>in</strong> 80 seconds:<br />

www.aktion-mensch.de/<strong>in</strong>klusion/<br />

un-konvention-leicht-erklaert.php<br />

… 25 …


Any language your child speaks<br />

is a jewel!<br />

6.1<br />

Your child beg<strong>in</strong>s learn<strong>in</strong>g language at birth.<br />

Your child’s first language (Erstsprache), also called the language at home<br />

(Familiensprache), orig<strong>in</strong>al language (Herkunftssprache), or native language<br />

(Muttersprache), is very important for your child and his or<br />

her development. This has been proven <strong>in</strong> scientific studies.<br />

It is very beneficial for your child when you beg<strong>in</strong> right away<br />

speak<strong>in</strong>g with him or her <strong>in</strong> your own language. It is more harmful<br />

to your child when you speak improper German.<br />

6.2<br />

Learn<strong>in</strong>g different languages at once will not overburden<br />

your child, however, the rules of the game must be<br />

made clear.<br />

Children <strong>in</strong> multicultural sett<strong>in</strong>gs can learn 2 or 3 languages<br />

simultaneously.<br />

Many families liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> speak one or two languages other<br />

than German at home. Later at day-care or at school children will<br />

speak German.<br />

Multil<strong>in</strong>gualism (Mehrsprachigkeit) is quite normal and you will not be overburden<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your child (this is someth<strong>in</strong>g that many people believe). However,<br />

you must observe some very simple rules (pages 28 and 29).<br />

… 26 …


6.3<br />

Children mix languages. Don’t panic!<br />

Children mix languages when they are raised learn<strong>in</strong>g two or three<br />

languages. This is completely normal.<br />

For example: A two-year old child grow<strong>in</strong>g up learn<strong>in</strong>g German and<br />

English may sometimes say, ”That is a großes house”, or a child grow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

up learn<strong>in</strong>g German and Turkish may say, ”Das ist e<strong>in</strong> büyük Haus”.<br />

Don’t panic your child will eventually learn to separate the two languages.<br />

6.4<br />

No person <strong>in</strong> the world speaks a language perfectly.<br />

Mak<strong>in</strong>g mistakes is absolutely normal. Don’t rob your child of the chance to<br />

grow-up multil<strong>in</strong>gually. This would be unfortunate.<br />

Even native speakers of ”only” one language occasionally<br />

make mistakes.<br />

6.5<br />

German and English are a must!<br />

An additional language is a plus!<br />

It can be beneficial to your child <strong>in</strong> future if, <strong>in</strong> addition to German<br />

and English, he or she can read, write, and speak <strong>in</strong> his or her first<br />

language. Later on <strong>in</strong> your child’s career, he or she may very well be<br />

able to use these language skills.<br />

Your child will have a significant advantage if he or she can speak, for<br />

example, Polish, Portuguese, or Vietnamese <strong>in</strong> addition to German and<br />

English learned at school. Whether or not your child can take advantage of<br />

this opportunity depends on you.<br />

… 27 …


What can you do?<br />

1. First answer this question: Which language do you feel the most comfortable<br />

speak<strong>in</strong>g? This is the language you should speak with your child.<br />

2. Don’t mix languages, even if this is difficult.<br />

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

often as possible. This will help your child learn German faster.<br />

What is particularly good?<br />

Beg<strong>in</strong> talk<strong>in</strong>g to your child immediately after birth only <strong>in</strong> the language<br />

that you feel most comfortable with and that you speak proficiently.<br />

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

Enrol your child <strong>in</strong> day-care and regularly undertake activities with your<br />

child at home and outdoors: play<strong>in</strong>g, visit<strong>in</strong>g others, or go<strong>in</strong>g to the<br />

theatre or a museum.<br />

Each family member should speak only one language with the child.<br />

For example: Mum only speaks German with the child and dad only<br />

Russian, or the parents only speak German and the grandparents only<br />

Turkish, or if both parents let’s say come from Spa<strong>in</strong>, everyone speaks<br />

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

and only Spanish at home.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ish every sentence <strong>in</strong> the language <strong>in</strong> which the sentence was started.<br />

Talk about different th<strong>in</strong>gs, tell stories, s<strong>in</strong>g songs, read rimes and fairy<br />

tales, and look at picture books together.<br />

Correct your child us<strong>in</strong>g open questions. For example: Your child says,<br />

”I swimm<strong>in</strong>g yesterday.” You should ask, ”Where did you go swimm<strong>in</strong>g<br />

yesterday?” This way your child hears the correct sentence structure.<br />

… 28 …


What is not as good?<br />

Speak<strong>in</strong>g German with your child if your German is riddled with<br />

mistakes.<br />

Not speak<strong>in</strong>g to your child very much or only speak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> a baby<br />

language.<br />

Start<strong>in</strong>g a sentence <strong>in</strong> one language and end<strong>in</strong>g it <strong>in</strong> another.<br />

Speak<strong>in</strong>g to your child sometimes <strong>in</strong> one language and then at other<br />

times <strong>in</strong> another language.<br />

Directly correct<strong>in</strong>g your child.<br />

For example: Your child says, ”I swimm<strong>in</strong>g yesterday.” And you respond,<br />

”it’s, I went swimm<strong>in</strong>g yesterday.” Or requir<strong>in</strong>g your child to repeat after<br />

you: ”Say – I went swimm<strong>in</strong>g yesterday!”<br />

Lett<strong>in</strong>g your child watch television for hours hop<strong>in</strong>g that he or she will<br />

learn the language. A child will not learn a language sitt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> front of the<br />

television. This is someth<strong>in</strong>g completely different when you watch a children’s<br />

programme together with your child and talk about it afterwards<br />

with him or her.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the subject of children and languages:<br />

The State Institute for Early Childhood Education<br />

(Staats<strong>in</strong>stitut für Frühpädagogik) <strong>in</strong> Munich<br />

has letters to parents posted on its website<br />

www.ifp.bayern.de which conta<strong>in</strong> good tips <strong>in</strong><br />

more than 20 different languages.<br />

Navigation: Veröffentlichungen > Elternbriefe<br />

At www.hamburg.de/vorschule<br />

parents can f<strong>in</strong>d good tips <strong>in</strong> the<br />

brochure ”Sprachförderung für<br />

Vorschul k<strong>in</strong>der. E<strong>in</strong> Ratgeber für<br />

Eltern” (L<strong>in</strong>guistic Education for<br />

Preschool Children. A Guide for<br />

Parents) published by the Free<br />

and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.<br />

Navigation: Sprachförderung <strong>in</strong> der Vorschule<br />

… 29 …


There is a middle ground between<br />

silence and grumbl<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

Talk to your child’s teacher.<br />

7.1<br />

What child doesn’t have at least one problem at school?<br />

Sometimes th<strong>in</strong>gs don’t run as smoothly at school as you would like for<br />

your child. Maybe teachers at school experience your child differently than<br />

you do at home, or maybe your child does not tell you everyth<strong>in</strong>g. In any<br />

case, life at school is not always the most pleasurable. Conflicts, difficult<br />

school situations, and other problems are part of school life.<br />

If difficulties arise at school, teachers, pupils, and parents should work<br />

together <strong>in</strong> order to f<strong>in</strong>d a solution. Conflicts are normal. However,<br />

it is important to follow certa<strong>in</strong> rules when deal<strong>in</strong>g with conflicts<br />

– much like <strong>in</strong> athletic matches or before a court of law.<br />

Aggressiveness and <strong>in</strong>sults will not solve problems!<br />

… 30 …


7.2<br />

Avoid<strong>in</strong>g the school is not a good way to handle a<br />

situation – especially with conflicts.<br />

Families are mistaken if they believe that teachers alone will make children<br />

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

as little as possible to do with the school.<br />

There can be negative outcomes if you are not seasonably part<br />

of the solution with respect to problems with other pupils,<br />

teachers, or poor performance at school.<br />

On the other hand, there are parents who are over-<strong>in</strong>volved<br />

and try to get their way with respect to all issues surround<strong>in</strong>g school. These<br />

k<strong>in</strong>ds of parents hover like a helicopter. This k<strong>in</strong>d of behaviour by parents<br />

does not do their children any good.<br />

7.3<br />

Rema<strong>in</strong> objective even if emotions run high!<br />

Problems and misunderstand<strong>in</strong>gs need to be addressed and<br />

re solved. The key is, of course, whether this is done <strong>in</strong> a respectful<br />

or offensive manner. The earlier a problem is addressed, the sooner and<br />

more effectively it can be resolved. It may very well be that the op<strong>in</strong>ions<br />

of the school and parents rema<strong>in</strong> at odds with each other. If such a<br />

situation arises, the best solution is to try and reach a compromise.<br />

… 31 …


7.4<br />

You are not alone with the issues and concerns<br />

that you have.<br />

Many parents don’t want to talk about particularly difficult topics. These<br />

topics could be, for example, violence, mobb<strong>in</strong>g, discrim<strong>in</strong>ation, gambl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

addiction, drug abuse, religious or political extremism, debts, or teenage<br />

pregnancy. They are afraid that others could f<strong>in</strong>d out about it. This is understandable!<br />

A feel<strong>in</strong>g will emerge <strong>in</strong> which the family believes that it is the<br />

only one faced with this problem. This is not true, however. There are<br />

other families near you that are most likely fac<strong>in</strong>g the same problem.<br />

7.5<br />

Teachers have a m<strong>in</strong>imal amount of time.<br />

Therefore, always schedule an appo<strong>in</strong>tment!<br />

Every discussion takes time, especially discussions about problems. It is not<br />

beneficial to show up at the classroom five m<strong>in</strong>utes before class beg<strong>in</strong>s or<br />

right after class has ended. Such discussions are seldom well received. It is<br />

best to schedule an appo<strong>in</strong>tment <strong>in</strong> person or over the telephone and this<br />

way the teacher can devote enough time to you.<br />

… 32 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Show your child that you take his or her problems at school seriously.<br />

Ask your child periodically whether he or she needs your help. It is<br />

important to f<strong>in</strong>d out as early as possible if your child has a problem at<br />

school. If you identify problems timely, you can do someth<strong>in</strong>g about<br />

them.<br />

2. Rema<strong>in</strong> objective and calm when a problem arises. Don’t get personal<br />

or aggressive and don’t shout.<br />

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

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

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

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

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

school guidance counsellor (Beratungslehrer<strong>in</strong>/Beratungslehrer), a<br />

school social education worker (Schulsozialpädagog<strong>in</strong>/Schulsozialpädagoge),<br />

or a school psychologist (Schulpsycholog<strong>in</strong>/Schulpsychologe).<br />

5. Prepare yourself for meet<strong>in</strong>gs at school. Write down important po<strong>in</strong>ts<br />

and questions that you have <strong>in</strong> advance. This way you won’t forget<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g important if you get nervous dur<strong>in</strong>g the meet<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about meet<strong>in</strong>gs at school:<br />

www.elternwissen.com has some tips for<br />

parents on how they can best prepare for<br />

meet<strong>in</strong>gs with teachers.<br />

Navigation: Schule und Eltern > Elternabend<br />

und Lehrergespräch<br />

… 33 …


Parents can do more than just sell cakes!<br />

8.1<br />

The school must <strong>in</strong>clude parents. It’s the law!<br />

Some parents spend a lot of time at their child’s school. Other parents<br />

only make an appearance at the school if their child is hav<strong>in</strong>g some sort of<br />

difficulties. The same is true of teachers. Some teachers visit the homes of<br />

their pupils and get personally acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with the parents, and others<br />

say, ”without parents th<strong>in</strong>gs would be better<br />

off at school.” In any event, every school<br />

must work closely with parents accord<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to the law.<br />

8.2<br />

It is unusual if you do not receive post from the school.<br />

Every year every school plans certa<strong>in</strong> dates for all parents. For example:<br />

dates of registration (Anmeldeterm<strong>in</strong>e), parents’ even<strong>in</strong>gs (Elternabende),<br />

parent conference days (Elternsprechtage), school events (Schulfeste), or<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation about excursions. Usually these <strong>in</strong>vitations arrive via ”satchel<br />

post” (Ranzenpost) – mean<strong>in</strong>g that they are placed <strong>in</strong> your child’s school<br />

bag. Each <strong>in</strong>vitation from the school must overcome several hurdles to<br />

reach you at home.<br />

Hurdle number 1: Your child makes the <strong>in</strong>vitation disappear. (”My parents<br />

will never f<strong>in</strong>d out about the parents’ even<strong>in</strong>g!”)<br />

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

from the state, throw it away!”)<br />

Hurdle number 3: The letter is bor<strong>in</strong>g or difficult to understand. (”What<br />

do they want from me? I don’t understand anyth<strong>in</strong>g!”)<br />

Therefore, if you haven’t received any letters<br />

from the school or do not understand those letters<br />

that you have received, you should <strong>in</strong>quire<br />

with your child’s teacher.<br />

… 34 …


8.3<br />

There are two ways <strong>in</strong> which you can<br />

participate at school.<br />

The first way: There are official channels of cooperation<br />

which are the same for all schools and classes<br />

with <strong>in</strong> your federal state accord<strong>in</strong>g to law. Not all<br />

parents can or want to use these official channels.<br />

That is why there is the second way: Informal channels<br />

of cooperation which can vary from school to school<br />

or class to class.<br />

8.4<br />

The first way:<br />

Official channels of cooperation.<br />

For every class, parents’ representatives (Elternvertreter<strong>in</strong>nen/Elternvertreter)<br />

will be elected, and together with the class teacher they will <strong>in</strong>form<br />

the other parents about current events affect<strong>in</strong>g life at school. They participate<br />

<strong>in</strong> grad<strong>in</strong>g and school conferences (Zeugnis- und Schulkonferenzen)<br />

and sometimes mediate <strong>in</strong> cases of conflict. Moreover, the parents’<br />

representatives elect eligible parents to sit on the parents’ council (Elternrat)<br />

which participates <strong>in</strong> the decision-mak<strong>in</strong>g process with respect to all<br />

important issues affect<strong>in</strong>g the school.<br />

These k<strong>in</strong>ds of parental committees (Elterngremien) exist at every school,<br />

<strong>in</strong> every district, at the German state and federal government levels, and<br />

even at the EU level. They have various names such as parents’ committee<br />

(Elternausschuss), parents’ advisory council (Elternbeirat), parents’ board<br />

(Elternkammer), parents’ conference (Elternkonferenz), parents’ association<br />

(Elternverband), or delegation of parents (Elternvertretung).<br />

The idea is all the same: You represent the <strong>in</strong>terest of the parents, just as a<br />

member <strong>in</strong> parliament, and therefore your own <strong>in</strong>terests. As a parent, you<br />

are eligible to participate at every level. You can run for election or attend<br />

meet<strong>in</strong>gs as a guest.<br />

… 35 …


In Europe<br />

European Parents’ Association<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong><br />

Federal Parents’ Council (Bundeselternrat)<br />

In Your German Federal State<br />

For example: State parents’ committee (Landeseltern ausschuss),<br />

state parents’ advisory council (Landeselternbeirat), parents’<br />

board (Elternkammer), state parents’ council (Landes elternrat),<br />

or state parents’ assembly (Landeselternvere<strong>in</strong>igung)<br />

In Your City or District<br />

For example: District parents’ advisory council (Kreiselternbeirat), district parents’<br />

council (Kreiselternrat), district delegation of parents (Kreiselternvertretung), city<br />

parents’ advisory council (Stadtelternbeirat), city parents’ council (Stadtelternrat),<br />

or city delegation of parents (Stadtelternvertretung)<br />

At Your Child’s <strong>School</strong><br />

Parents’ council (Elternrat)<br />

In Your Child’s Class<br />

Parents’ representative<br />

(Elternvertretung)<br />

8.5<br />

The second way:<br />

Informal channels of cooperation.<br />

Parents can help organise many th<strong>in</strong>gs together with the school. Here are<br />

just a few ideas: Tutor<strong>in</strong>g, offer<strong>in</strong>g a course, accompany<strong>in</strong>g school groups to<br />

swimm<strong>in</strong>g lessons, help<strong>in</strong>g out at the school library, read<strong>in</strong>g stories to kids,<br />

accompany<strong>in</strong>g school groups on excursions, referee<strong>in</strong>g football matches,<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g up a café for parents at the school and/or provid<strong>in</strong>g assistance at the<br />

café, organis<strong>in</strong>g school events, or expla<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g certa<strong>in</strong> topics to other parents<br />

over a cup of coffee or tea at the school.<br />

… 36 …


What can you do?<br />

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

from the school?<br />

2. Get to know other parents from your child’s class and exchange <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

with them.<br />

3. Attend parents’ even<strong>in</strong>gs, parent conference days, and other school<br />

events.<br />

4. If an opportunity presents itself participate <strong>in</strong> an event at the school or<br />

even consider organis<strong>in</strong>g an event yourself.<br />

5. Run for election as a parents’ representative for your child’s class or<br />

participate <strong>in</strong> the parents’ council.<br />

… about the <strong>in</strong>formal<br />

channels of cooperation:<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the official channels of cooperation:<br />

On the federal parents’ council’s website,<br />

www.bundeselternrat.de, you will f<strong>in</strong>d more<br />

detailed <strong>in</strong>formation and contact <strong>in</strong>formation for<br />

the parental committees <strong>in</strong> your federal state.<br />

Navigation: Der BER > Mitglieder<br />

In the brochure ”Eltern <strong>in</strong> die Schule. Väter und<br />

Mütter mit Zuwanderungsgeschichte berichten”<br />

(Parents at <strong>School</strong>. Immigrant fathers and<br />

mothers report) seventeen families give their<br />

accounts of their experience with their schools<br />

<strong>in</strong> seventeen languages. You can download the<br />

brochure at www.bqm-hamburg.de.<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 37 …


Parents have many rights.<br />

9.1<br />

Parents’ rights are found <strong>in</strong> the education act.<br />

<strong>School</strong> systems <strong>in</strong> every federal state are governed by the respective state<br />

education act (Schulgesetz). The act also covers how schools should<br />

cooper ate with parents <strong>in</strong> the education of pupils. The act sets forth<br />

parental rights. The language of these acts is difficult to understand.<br />

For example, parents are allowed to …<br />

<strong>in</strong>spect their child’s school record (Schülerakte), for <strong>in</strong>stance the file<br />

from the school’s guidance counsellor (Schulberatungsdienst) or school<br />

physician or nurse (schulärztlicher Dienst). Parents may only <strong>in</strong>spect<br />

school files at the school upon mak<strong>in</strong>g an appo<strong>in</strong>tment with the teacher.<br />

sit <strong>in</strong> on classes for a time and observe class <strong>in</strong>struction.<br />

exempt their child from attend<strong>in</strong>g religion class.<br />

request that teachers present and expla<strong>in</strong> your child’s class work and<br />

tests, marks, and report card.<br />

<strong>in</strong>quire about lessons, the class, or the school, for <strong>in</strong>stance what methods<br />

and materials are used to teach your child.<br />

express desires or compla<strong>in</strong>ts to the teacher with respect to lessons at<br />

parent meet<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

9.2<br />

Parents are not allowed an absolute free<br />

hand and that is probably a good th<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

For example, parents may not …<br />

select a particular teacher or class for their child.<br />

def<strong>in</strong>e what and how teachers should teach.<br />

decide whether their child should be assigned homework<br />

or not.<br />

take their child out of school early for holidays, or delay<br />

their child’s return to school beyond scheduled holidays.<br />

… 38 …


exempt their child from physical education or sex education classes.<br />

schedule their child’s lessons or have marks changed.<br />

If for personal, religious, or ideological reasons you are uncomfortable with<br />

particular school topics and activities, you should contact the school. The<br />

school is required to demonstrate openness for different values <strong>in</strong> society.<br />

Parents can demand neutrality and tolerance from the school.<br />

9.3<br />

After primary school:<br />

Academic track recommendation and parental right of choice.<br />

The academic track recommendation (Schullaufbahnempfehlung) is the<br />

primary school’s recommendation with respect to secondary school. Your<br />

child’s primary school will <strong>in</strong>form you about your child’s performance and<br />

the requirements and expectations at different secondary schools dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your child’s f<strong>in</strong>al year at primary school (depend<strong>in</strong>g on the federal state this<br />

will be <strong>in</strong> year 4 or year 6).<br />

In order to receive a recommendation for grammar school (Gymnasialempfehlung),<br />

your child must have good or very good marks <strong>in</strong> German,<br />

mathematics, and science (this subject has a different name <strong>in</strong> every federal<br />

state).<br />

If primary school lasts six years, then your child must also show good performance<br />

<strong>in</strong> a foreign language. Nevertheless, <strong>in</strong> some German federal<br />

states parents may send their child to the school type of their choice de -<br />

spite the academic track recommendation. This is called the parental right<br />

of choice (Elternwahlrecht). In other federal states, the<br />

academic track recommendation has precedence over the<br />

parental right of choice.<br />

However, if you do not agree with the academic track<br />

recommendation, there is almost always a possibility to<br />

have the recommendation reviewed. Consult your<br />

parents’ council.<br />

… 39 …


9.4<br />

Not only do parents have rights, but children do as well.<br />

When a conflict arises between adults, often one forgets that children have<br />

rights too. These rights are set forth <strong>in</strong> the United Nations Convention on<br />

the Rights of the Child which most countries (among them <strong>Germany</strong>) have<br />

implemented.<br />

Some of the most important rights <strong>in</strong>clude the <strong>in</strong>herent<br />

right to life, education, and protection from violence.<br />

There are many more rights <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g equal treatment for<br />

boys and girls, the right to privacy, language, religion, and<br />

much more.<br />

9.5<br />

Sometimes you must fight for your rights.<br />

It can happen that you as a parent are of the op<strong>in</strong>ion: ”My child is not be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

assessed objectively by teachers.” Or: ”My child’s teachers are<br />

violat<strong>in</strong>g the school rules.”<br />

If you are <strong>in</strong> disagreement with a decision, because you doubt its<br />

validity, you may request a review. There are several ways <strong>in</strong> which<br />

to do this. You can lodge a substantive compla<strong>in</strong>t (Sachbeschwerde),<br />

a discipl<strong>in</strong>ary compla<strong>in</strong>t (Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde), or a request for<br />

reconsideration (Widerspruch). The parents’ council can provide you with<br />

more <strong>in</strong>formation.<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. If you have questions about your rights, consult the parents’ council.<br />

2. Suggest to the parents’ council that the school organise an <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

even<strong>in</strong>g for parents at the school with respect to parental rights.<br />

3. Obta<strong>in</strong> brochures or guidebooks for parents specific for the federal<br />

state where you reside. <strong>School</strong>s generally have these k<strong>in</strong>ds of brochures<br />

on hand, as does the local education authority (Schulbehörde), district<br />

supervisory school authority (Schulamt), or the state parents’ council.<br />

4. When your child is <strong>in</strong> year 3, have the academic track recommendation<br />

<strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d. Before the academic track recommendation is made, you should<br />

discuss with your child and his or her teachers: How does it stand for<br />

your child right now? Where does your child want to go? And what<br />

must be done to make this a reality?<br />

… 40 …


If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about parental rights:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation about<br />

parental rights <strong>in</strong> German, Farsi, Polish, Russian,<br />

and Turkish <strong>in</strong> the ”Handbuch für <strong>in</strong>terkulturelle<br />

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural<br />

Work with Parents) (yellow module, pp. 3-5)<br />

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de.<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… about the rights of children:<br />

The book entitled ”Die Rechte der K<strong>in</strong>der von<br />

logo! e<strong>in</strong>fach erklärt” (The Rights of Children<br />

Easily Expla<strong>in</strong>ed by logo!) is written for children.<br />

Parents, however, can learn much from this book.<br />

You can order the book free of charge from the<br />

website of the German Federal M<strong>in</strong>istry for<br />

Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (Bundesm<strong>in</strong>isterium<br />

für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und<br />

Jugend – BMFSFJ) at www.bmfsfj.de<br />

Navigation: Service > Publikationen<br />

… about academic track recommendation<br />

and parental right of choice:<br />

On the website of the Stand<strong>in</strong>g Conference of<br />

the M<strong>in</strong>isters of Education and Cultural Affairs<br />

of the Länder (states) <strong>in</strong> the Federal Republic<br />

of <strong>Germany</strong> (KMK), www.kmk.org, you can<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d <strong>in</strong>formation about how academic track<br />

recommendation and parental right of choice<br />

is handled <strong>in</strong> your state.<br />

Navigation: Themen > Allgeme<strong>in</strong>bildende<br />

Schulen > Schüler, Eltern, außerschulische Partner<br />

… 41 …


Parents also have obligations.<br />

10.1<br />

Parents must be the alarm clocks and the sandwich-makers.<br />

Parents must send their children well rested and on time to school. They<br />

must make sure that their children have enough healthy food and dr<strong>in</strong>k to<br />

take to school.<br />

10.2<br />

Parents must be outfitters.<br />

Parents must supply their children with all of the important th<strong>in</strong>gs they will<br />

need for school, for example:<br />

a schoolbag<br />

a pencil-case<br />

exercise books<br />

tra<strong>in</strong>ers/sneakers and<br />

sportswear<br />

10.3<br />

Parents must be <strong>in</strong>formants.<br />

Parents must <strong>in</strong>form the school if their child is unable to<br />

come to school, because he or she is sick or will be absent<br />

for some other reason.<br />

… 42 …


10.4<br />

Parents must be holiday planners.<br />

If the family must travel for an important reason dur<strong>in</strong>g the school term<br />

and your child must be absent, parents must timely request a leave of<br />

absence <strong>in</strong> writ<strong>in</strong>g for your child from the school.<br />

10.5<br />

Parents must report illnesses and be nurses.<br />

Parents must keep their children at home if they catch a contagious disease<br />

(whoop<strong>in</strong>g cough, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, scarlet fever,<br />

head lice, or any other contagious disease). After catch<strong>in</strong>g a contagious<br />

disease, parents will need a certificate of health<br />

(Gesund meldung) issued from a doctor when their child is<br />

healthy enough to attend school aga<strong>in</strong>.<br />

Very important:<br />

If your child does not have an excuse note for his or<br />

her absence from school, this results <strong>in</strong> unexcused<br />

absences. This will be reported <strong>in</strong> his or her report<br />

card and can have negative impacts <strong>in</strong> future, for<br />

example when apply<strong>in</strong>g for a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position. You<br />

must make sure that your child always has a written<br />

excuse if he or she is go<strong>in</strong>g to be absent from school.<br />

… 43 …


What can you do?<br />

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

before start<strong>in</strong>g to school. Apply for education package benefits (Bildungspaket)<br />

if you qualify for assistance.<br />

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

someth<strong>in</strong>g to eat dur<strong>in</strong>g breaks, and is well rested.<br />

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

(school office) and call the school as soon as possible if your child is<br />

unable to come to school for some important reason, for example<br />

because of illness. Be sure to turn <strong>in</strong> a written excuse to the school<br />

which can look someth<strong>in</strong>g like the example provided below:<br />

*Excuse note for [name of your child]<br />

Dear Mrs/Dear Mr [teacher’s name],<br />

I am terribly sorry to <strong>in</strong>form you that my daughter/son was unable to attend class from<br />

[supply the dates of absence] because of [provide the reason for the absence, for example<br />

illness (Krankheit)].<br />

K<strong>in</strong>d regards,<br />

[Parent’s first name, surname, address, and telephone number]<br />

… 44 …


4. Get acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with your child’s class teacher. Don’t just visit the school<br />

only when there are problems. Attend as regularly as possible parents’<br />

even<strong>in</strong>gs, parent conference days, and other events at your child’s school.<br />

5. Do not be afraid of show<strong>in</strong>g up at the school if you speak little or no<br />

German. Talk to the school about organis<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>terpreter for you (this<br />

is possible <strong>in</strong> some German federal states). If this is not possible, ask if<br />

there are any teachers at the school who speak your language. Otherwise,<br />

talk to your friends or family members who are proficient <strong>in</strong> German<br />

and ask them to help.<br />

Important note: Make an appo<strong>in</strong>tment if you would like to speak at<br />

length with the teacher.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about parental obligations:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation about<br />

parental obligations at school <strong>in</strong> German, Farsi,<br />

Polish, Russian, and Turkish <strong>in</strong> the ”Handbuch für<br />

<strong>in</strong>terkulturelle Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural<br />

Work with Parents) (yellow module, pp. 3-5)<br />

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 45 …


Report cards and marks are like traffic lights:<br />

You must take their signals seriously.<br />

11.1<br />

The marks for German, mathematics, and English<br />

are particularly important.<br />

These are called core subjects (Kernfächer) or primary subjects (Hauptfächer).<br />

They are more important than other subjects. Core subjects carry<br />

more weight <strong>in</strong> the report card (Zeugnis) and more hours are devoted to their<br />

<strong>in</strong>struction. The marks (Schulnoten) received for core subjects are ma<strong>in</strong>ly<br />

determ<strong>in</strong>ative of whether or not a child will pass on to the next year or which<br />

type of secondary school he or she will attend. Therefore, you should pay<br />

particular attention to your child’s marks <strong>in</strong> these core subjects.<br />

11.2<br />

The mark received <strong>in</strong> the subject associated with<br />

your child’s career choice is important.<br />

The core subjects are important for all professions and then there are<br />

particular subjects that are important for particular careers.<br />

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

good marks <strong>in</strong> German, mathematics, English, and physical education.<br />

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

need good marks <strong>in</strong> German, mathematics, English, and chemistry.<br />

11.3<br />

A ”3” <strong>in</strong> your child’s report card can be a sign of success.<br />

Example I: Bus<strong>in</strong>esses (enterprises or companies) not only look at the most<br />

current report card, but also earlier report cards from prior years. Why?<br />

If a bus<strong>in</strong>ess sees that an applicant had a ”5” <strong>in</strong> mathematics two years ago,<br />

a ”4” a year ago, and now has a ”3”, this is an <strong>in</strong>dication that the pupil is<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g an effort. Thus, a ”3” can be a good mark. In this case, this <strong>in</strong>dicates<br />

that the child is capable of learn<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Example II: An applicant has the marks ”3” and ”4” <strong>in</strong> his or her report<br />

card. However, he or she is very outgo<strong>in</strong>g and does volunteer work, for<br />

example he or she mediates disputes, tutors others <strong>in</strong> the community, or is<br />

a coach at a local sports club. Some companies f<strong>in</strong>d such activities just as<br />

important as marks. They prefer to hire applicants that are active <strong>in</strong> the<br />

community. At these companies, this can mean that the chances for gett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a job may not be so good for the best pupil <strong>in</strong> the class who has done noth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

else, but learn for school.<br />

… 46 …


11.4<br />

There is more <strong>in</strong> a report card than just marks.<br />

Typically your child’s social behaviour (Sozialverhalten) and work habits<br />

(Arbeitsverhalten) are assessed and reported <strong>in</strong> the report card along with<br />

other marks. These are sometimes called general conduct marks (Kopfnoten).<br />

They assess how well a pupil applies him or herself (work habits)<br />

and conducts him or herself socially (social behaviour). These marks are<br />

called ”Kopfnoten” <strong>in</strong> German (literally translated as head notes), because<br />

they used to be reported at the top of the report card. General conduct<br />

marks are important when pupils apply for tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g positions or for a place<br />

at higher education <strong>in</strong>stitutions.<br />

Many companies f<strong>in</strong>d general conduct marks <strong>in</strong>formative because they<br />

reveal <strong>in</strong>formation about a person’s character. Social behaviour and work<br />

habit assessments are not the same for each federal state. In some states,<br />

general conduct is assessed as a mark and <strong>in</strong> others it is expressed <strong>in</strong> a<br />

written statement, and sometimes both can be found. What are some<br />

examples of what is be<strong>in</strong>g assessed?<br />

Work habits (Arbeitsverhalten)<br />

Pay<strong>in</strong>g attention dur<strong>in</strong>g lessons<br />

Participat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> class<br />

Complet<strong>in</strong>g homework<br />

Turn<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> assignments<br />

Organisation and attention to detail<br />

Reliability<br />

Social behaviour (Sozialverhalten)<br />

Behaviour <strong>in</strong> the face of a conflict<br />

Acceptance of responsibility<br />

Will<strong>in</strong>gness to help<br />

Ability to reach an agreement and follow rules<br />

Participat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the organisation of matters<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the class<br />

11.5<br />

Caution! Report cards have their own language.<br />

There are pitfalls associated with the language conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> report cards.<br />

It is easy to be misled if German is not your native language. At <strong>in</strong>itial<br />

glance, there are some sentences that sound positive, but <strong>in</strong> reality they<br />

reveal problems.<br />

Example I: ”Your child is very quiet <strong>in</strong> class.” This means that your child seldom<br />

participates <strong>in</strong> class.<br />

Example II: ”Work habits meet expectations”. This sentence means that<br />

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

needs to put <strong>in</strong> more effort.<br />

… 47 …


How do I make sense of the assessments?<br />

Behaviour …<br />

Mark<br />

as a Number<br />

Mark<br />

as a Term<br />

… has earned special recognition. 1 Very good<br />

… has fully met expectations. 2 Good<br />

… meets expectations. 3 Satisfactory<br />

… meets expectations with some reservations. 4 Sufficient<br />

… does not meet expectations. 5 or 6<br />

Unsatisfactory<br />

and <strong>in</strong>adequate<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Note how your child’s marks develop <strong>in</strong> his or her report cards. Compare<br />

each mark reported with the marks reported <strong>in</strong> the last report<br />

card. If a mark has improved <strong>in</strong> a subject, be sure to praise your child. If<br />

a mark <strong>in</strong> a subject has deteriorated, <strong>in</strong>vestigate potential reasons for<br />

this and consider gett<strong>in</strong>g your child a tutor.<br />

2. If your child needs tutor<strong>in</strong>g, be sure to do this as early as possible. If your<br />

child has a ”4” <strong>in</strong> a subject, tutor<strong>in</strong>g can be more effective at improv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

his or her marks, but if you wait until your child has a ”5” or ”6” <strong>in</strong> a<br />

subject, your child will have a more difficult time turn<strong>in</strong>g his or her<br />

marks around, even with the help of a tutor.<br />

3. If your child’s general conduct marks are not good (worse than ”3”), talk<br />

to your child’s teacher and <strong>in</strong>quire about how improvements might be<br />

made.<br />

4. If there is someth<strong>in</strong>g about your child’s report card that you don’t<br />

understand, ask your child’s teacher. He or she will be able to expla<strong>in</strong><br />

the report card to you.<br />

… 48 …


Mark Po<strong>in</strong>ts Term Mean<strong>in</strong>g<br />

1+<br />

1<br />

1-<br />

2+<br />

2<br />

2-<br />

3+<br />

3<br />

3-<br />

4+<br />

4<br />

4-<br />

5+<br />

5<br />

5-<br />

15<br />

14<br />

13<br />

12<br />

11<br />

10<br />

9<br />

8<br />

7<br />

6<br />

5<br />

4<br />

3<br />

2<br />

1<br />

6 0<br />

Very good<br />

Good<br />

Satisfactory<br />

Sufficient<br />

Unsatisfactory<br />

Inadequate<br />

Performance exceeds targets.<br />

Performance fully meets requirements.<br />

Performance generally meets requirements.<br />

There are some deficiencies <strong>in</strong> performance,<br />

however overall requirements are be<strong>in</strong>g met.<br />

Performance does not meet targets, but does<br />

<strong>in</strong>dicate that requisite fundamental knowledge is<br />

present and that deficiencies can be rectified <strong>in</strong><br />

the foreseeable future.<br />

Performance does not meet targets. There are<br />

major gaps <strong>in</strong> fundamental knowledge, so much<br />

so that deficiencies cannot be expected to be<br />

rectified <strong>in</strong> the foreseeable future.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

…. about the topic of marks:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation about the<br />

topic of marks <strong>in</strong> German, Farsi, Polish, Russian,<br />

and Turkish <strong>in</strong> the ”Handbuch für <strong>in</strong>terkulturelle<br />

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural Work<br />

with Parents) (yellow module, p. 1) from BQM<br />

Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 49 …


It is not only about marks.<br />

12.1<br />

Poor marks do not mean that a child is ignorant.<br />

It goes without say<strong>in</strong>g that marks are important. Your child may know<br />

much, but nevertheless have poor marks. Poor marks <strong>in</strong> a report card are<br />

not an automatic <strong>in</strong>dication of how much your child knows or of how clever<br />

he or she is. History has taught us that there have been a number of<br />

very clever <strong>in</strong>dividuals who had poor marks <strong>in</strong> school.<br />

12.2<br />

Poor marks can have different causes.<br />

A child may have test anxieties, dislike his or her teacher, is<br />

picked on or bullied at school, have dyslexia (Lese-Rechtschreib-Schwäche)<br />

or dyscalculia (Rechenschwäche), has hit<br />

puberty and is listless, does not have any role models, is<br />

generally tired of school, is highly gifted and is bored <strong>in</strong> his or<br />

her class, can’t get organised and requires clearly def<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

rules, or has emotional problems.<br />

12.3<br />

Improv<strong>in</strong>g marks?<br />

It is possible, but every child is different.<br />

Once you and your child have discovered why marks are poor, you absolutely<br />

should attempt to change the situation. This will vary depend<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

reason for poor marks: Help with homework, private tutor<strong>in</strong>g, or mentor<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Some children need their parents to show more attention and more<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> learn<strong>in</strong>g; some need more supervision, discipl<strong>in</strong>e, and clearly<br />

def<strong>in</strong>ed rules; and yet others may need more motivation. Someth<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

works well with one child, may not be very effective<br />

for another.<br />

It is particularly important that your<br />

child understands that you are serious,<br />

are go<strong>in</strong>g to stay on the ball,<br />

and that he or she will benefit.<br />

… 50 …


12.4<br />

Poor marks are not the end of the world.<br />

It can happen that after you and your child have tried several times that<br />

there is noth<strong>in</strong>g more you can do to improve marks. They simply rema<strong>in</strong><br />

worse than desired. It won’t help to blame your child. Consider what can<br />

be done together with your child and his or her class teacher.<br />

Example I: Your child has qualified for a general certificate of education –<br />

ord<strong>in</strong>ary level after year 9. With career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g,<br />

your child can qualify for a general certificate of education – advanced<br />

subsidiary level (mittlerer Schulabschluss).<br />

Example II: Your child’s grade po<strong>in</strong>t average (Notendurchschnitt) is not<br />

sufficient to qualify for an Abitur (general certificate of education – ad -<br />

vanced level) or a Fachabitur (applied general certificate of education). Your<br />

child can first complete career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and<br />

then attempt to complete the coursework for an Abitur or Fachabitur at a<br />

later date.<br />

12.5<br />

Marks are not everyth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Personal skills are also <strong>in</strong> demand.<br />

From conversations with companies that offer career and vocational education<br />

and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, we know that report card marks are not always the<br />

most important th<strong>in</strong>g be<strong>in</strong>g looked at when applicants are evaluated. This<br />

is of course dependent on the specific company.<br />

Internships (Praktika)<br />

In order for your child to familiarise him or herself with an occupation, it<br />

can be beneficial for him or her to do an <strong>in</strong>ternship at a company so that<br />

he or she can say afterwards that this is someth<strong>in</strong>g he or she would like to<br />

do or this is someth<strong>in</strong>g that he or she is not <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong>. It is important for<br />

many companies to know that applicants have already familiarised themselves<br />

with the profession. Therefore, <strong>in</strong>ternships can be very beneficial.<br />

Volunteer work<br />

Your child does volunteer work, for example at a youth organisation, a club,<br />

<strong>in</strong> your community, tutors others, or helps <strong>in</strong> the organisation of neighbourhood<br />

celebrations. This demonstrates a sense of responsibility on the part<br />

of your child.<br />

… 51 …


Jobb<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> spare time<br />

Your child has held a job dur<strong>in</strong>g the holidays or has an after-school job, for<br />

example distribut<strong>in</strong>g leaflets, work<strong>in</strong>g as a sales assistant, or <strong>in</strong> a restaurant.<br />

It is good if your child can demonstrate work experience with employer<br />

references from spare time jobs. Companies f<strong>in</strong>d it beneficial when applicants<br />

already have workplace experience.<br />

Work <strong>in</strong> the family<br />

It could be that your child has certa<strong>in</strong> responsibilities with<strong>in</strong> the family, for<br />

example look<strong>in</strong>g after younger brothers and sisters, work<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the family<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>ess, or help<strong>in</strong>g refurbish<strong>in</strong>g the house. This shows that your child can<br />

take on responsibility.<br />

Hobbies and <strong>in</strong>terests<br />

Your child may have <strong>in</strong>terests which could be important for his or her<br />

occupation later <strong>in</strong> life. Even your child’s favourite pastime can be helpful.<br />

This depends on what your child does dur<strong>in</strong>g his or her free time. Play<strong>in</strong>g<br />

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

other hand, develop<strong>in</strong>g computer games, i. e. programm<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>in</strong> your child’s<br />

free time sounds much better.<br />

Driv<strong>in</strong>g licence<br />

For some bus<strong>in</strong>esses and some occupations it is important that applicants<br />

have a driv<strong>in</strong>g licence.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about <strong>in</strong>ternships:<br />

You will f<strong>in</strong>d a checklist for parents at<br />

www.schulewirtschaft.de <strong>in</strong> the brochure ”Checklisten<br />

Schülerbetriebspraktikum” (An Internship<br />

Checklist for Pupils) from the Bundesarbeitsgeme<strong>in</strong>schaft<br />

SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT.<br />

Navigation: Inhalte > Publikationen > Berufsorientierung<br />

… 52 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Specifically ask your child’s teacher semi-annually how your child is<br />

do<strong>in</strong>g at school.<br />

For example, you might ask the follow<strong>in</strong>g questions:<br />

How is my child perform<strong>in</strong>g at school?<br />

Does my child need extra tutor<strong>in</strong>g?<br />

How is my child’s social behaviour?<br />

Does my child like be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> his or her class?<br />

Does my child have any friends at school?<br />

Does my child need some sort of support and assistance?<br />

Will my child pass to the next year?<br />

Will my child get his or her school-leav<strong>in</strong>g certificate?<br />

How can I help my child?<br />

2. For <strong>in</strong>formation about improv<strong>in</strong>g marks: You will f<strong>in</strong>d concrete suggestions<br />

on page 17.<br />

3. Compile all the <strong>in</strong>formation about what your child has done and is do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

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

someth<strong>in</strong>g applicable to a particular field of work, <strong>in</strong>clude this <strong>in</strong> your<br />

child’s cover letter and curriculum vitae. Together with your child, gather<br />

references: <strong>in</strong>ternship certificates, employer references, references for<br />

volunteer work, any certificates of attendance, diplomas, media reports<br />

(e. g. clipp<strong>in</strong>gs from a school newspaper), or the telephone number of<br />

someone who will give your child a positive personal reference.<br />

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

be able to do <strong>in</strong> the near future. There may be some th<strong>in</strong>gs that your<br />

child can catch up on after school.<br />

… 53 …


Integrated career and vocational education<br />

and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Aus bil dung), university,<br />

or a work-study degree programme (duales<br />

Studium)? They are all equally good!<br />

Let your child decide.<br />

13.1<br />

Career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and/or<br />

university studies: This is how you get the tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and<br />

education you need <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> for an occupation.<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, there are two motorways so to speak that are available after<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g school. The one takes you down the road towards career and<br />

vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and the other to study<strong>in</strong>g at university.<br />

Young people either start with career and vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or study<strong>in</strong>g at<br />

a university or a higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution.<br />

13.2<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong> there are different variations of career and<br />

vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and/or university studies.<br />

The two motorways have many lanes. The five most important are:<br />

Career and vocational school tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (schulische Ausbildung):<br />

Your child learns an occupation at a vocational school.<br />

Integrated career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung):<br />

Your child learns an occupation through on the job tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and attend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a vocational school.<br />

Work-study degree programme (duales Studium):<br />

Your child learns a profession through on the job tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and attend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

an <strong>in</strong>stitution of higher education/university.<br />

University of applied sciences (Fachhochschulstudium):<br />

Your child studies to learn a profession at a university of<br />

applied sciences.<br />

University education (Universitätsstudium):<br />

Your child studies at a university <strong>in</strong> a specified field of<br />

study.<br />

… 54 …


13.3<br />

Each path can lead to success or may be a wrong decision.<br />

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

al career, or a wrong decision. You need to keep <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d that nowadays<br />

there are hardly any straight career paths anymore.<br />

13.4<br />

It is not a matter of either-or.<br />

When compared to other countries, <strong>Germany</strong> has a very flexible educa -<br />

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

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and then go on to study, or alternatively study first<br />

and then undertake vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. Lateral crossovers are possible.<br />

13.5<br />

The occupation must suit your child.<br />

It can happen that even after f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g school your child does not know what<br />

he or she would like to do professionally. There are various possibilities<br />

available to utilise this time effectively.<br />

There are no statutory age limits. Everyone can beg<strong>in</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or commence<br />

study<strong>in</strong>g at any age. However, the older one gets, the more difficult<br />

it can be to f<strong>in</strong>d a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position.<br />

It is not dramatic if your child makes a wrong decision. It is<br />

not dramatic if your child tries out different th<strong>in</strong>gs and then<br />

decides.<br />

… 55 …


What can you do?<br />

1. This table can help you and your child compare the advantages<br />

and disadvantages of career and vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g,<br />

university studies, and a work-study degree programme<br />

(duales Studium).<br />

Advantages<br />

Integrated Career and<br />

Vocational Education and<br />

Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung)<br />

1. Apprenticeship pay, earlier<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ancial <strong>in</strong>dependence<br />

2. Practical experience right from<br />

day one<br />

3. Good chances to get a position<br />

<strong>in</strong> the company where job<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g was conducted<br />

4. Clear learn<strong>in</strong>g objectives<br />

provided by <strong>in</strong>structors<br />

5. Relatively brief tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g period<br />

(2 to 3 years)<br />

University Studies<br />

1. Unemployment risk is lower <strong>in</strong><br />

comparison to persons who<br />

have not studied (this depends<br />

on the profession)<br />

2. Higher average <strong>in</strong>come (this<br />

depends on the profession)<br />

3. Possibility of an academic/<br />

scientific career<br />

4. Possibility of be<strong>in</strong>g able to work<br />

<strong>in</strong> more than one profession<br />

Work-Study Degree<br />

Programme<br />

(duales Studium)<br />

1. Higher tra<strong>in</strong>ee allowance than<br />

with <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

2. Bachelor’s degree and a vocational<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g certificate are<br />

awarded: Two diplomas at once<br />

3. Practical experience right from<br />

the start and much theoretical<br />

knowledge<br />

4. Good chances to get a position<br />

<strong>in</strong> the company where job<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g was conducted<br />

Prerequisites and possible disadvantages<br />

Integrated Career and<br />

Vocational Education and<br />

Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung)<br />

1. Lower average salary than<br />

persons with a university<br />

degree (this naturally depends<br />

on the profession)<br />

2. Job options are limited to the<br />

vocational occupation<br />

University Studies<br />

1. Abitur or Fachabitur is<br />

required<br />

2. Study<strong>in</strong>g is f<strong>in</strong>ancially expensive<br />

3. Less practical experience<br />

4. Responsible for f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g your<br />

own employment after gett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

your degree<br />

5. You must be organised and be<br />

able to work <strong>in</strong>dependently<br />

Work-Study Degree<br />

Programme<br />

(duales Studium)<br />

1. Abitur or Fachabitur is<br />

required<br />

2. Much time and effort is<br />

required<br />

3. You must be organised and be<br />

able to work <strong>in</strong>dependently<br />

4. No semester break, but rather<br />

24 to 30 days of holiday a year<br />

5. Challeng<strong>in</strong>g application process<br />

… 56 …


2. If your child has set his or her sights on one particular profession or university,<br />

consider some alternatives together with your child, for example<br />

similar types of occupations. This way, your child would have some other<br />

options <strong>in</strong> case it does not work out with a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position or university.<br />

3. Procure the address for the career or student-counsell<strong>in</strong>g centre at the<br />

German employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or for another suitable<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centre. (Keep <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d that it does not<br />

look good for you to call and make an appo<strong>in</strong>tment on behalf of your<br />

child. Your child should call and make the appo<strong>in</strong>tment.)<br />

4. Accompany your child: You can accompany your child as a curious<br />

spectator when he or she visits an education and job fair or someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

similar. This way you both can gather <strong>in</strong>formation and discuss these<br />

topics together.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about career and vocational education and<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or university:<br />

www.bachelor-studium.net/ausbildung-oder -<br />

studium.php<br />

… 57 …


Made <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>:<br />

The whole world envies us because<br />

of our <strong>in</strong>tegrated system of career<br />

and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

(duale Ausbildung).<br />

14.1<br />

The world is diverse, and <strong>in</strong> every country occupational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g is different.<br />

Example I: In some countries, occupations are learned with<strong>in</strong> the family, for<br />

<strong>in</strong>stance from older relatives. Advantage: You don’t have to apply. You only<br />

need to take advantage of family ties. <strong>School</strong>-leav<strong>in</strong>g qualifications are not<br />

so important. Disadvantage: Young people do not have any k<strong>in</strong>d of certificate<br />

ev<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>g that they have actually learned a particular trade.<br />

Example 2: In some countries, occupations are learned over<br />

many years only at some sort of school. Advantage: A lot of<br />

theoretical knowledge is learned and students get a diploma<br />

or certificate. Disadvantage: Little or no practical experience.<br />

Often work<strong>in</strong>g at a company is unfamiliar and difficult.<br />

Example 3: In some countries, young people learn their<br />

occupation through on the job tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or apprenticeships.<br />

Advantage: A lot of practical skill and a certificate. Disadvantage:<br />

Less theoretical knowledge about the occupation.<br />

14.2<br />

<strong>Germany</strong> has a unique recipe: The <strong>in</strong>tegrated system of career<br />

and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung).<br />

<strong>Germany</strong> has developed an education system which is unique <strong>in</strong> the world:<br />

the <strong>in</strong>tegrated system of career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

(duale Ausbildung).<br />

Integrated education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g takes place parallel at vocational school<br />

and at a company. This facilitates learn<strong>in</strong>g theoretical knowledge and practical<br />

skills at the same time. Advantage: Much practical skill, theoretical<br />

knowledge, and a diploma or certificate. Disadvantage: You must apply,<br />

otherwise there is no disadvantage.<br />

… 58 …


14.3<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, many professions are not studied at<br />

university, but learned through an <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and<br />

vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g programme at<br />

a company (duale Ausbildung).<br />

In many countries, learn<strong>in</strong>g an occupation means study<strong>in</strong>g at a university<br />

after secondary school. In <strong>Germany</strong>, many occupations can be learned at a<br />

company and a vocational school, for example to<br />

become an import-export merchant, a banker, a civil<br />

servant for certa<strong>in</strong> occupations, an IT specialist, and<br />

many more occupations.<br />

14.4<br />

In <strong>Germany</strong>, there are about 350 occupations with<strong>in</strong><br />

the <strong>in</strong>tegrated system of career and vocational education<br />

and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g that provide good job opportunities.<br />

It makes no difference where <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> young people receive their<br />

career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. The standards and qualifications<br />

are the same. Integrated career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

from <strong>Germany</strong> is of high calibre and allows for good job and cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g<br />

education opportunities.<br />

Many parents th<strong>in</strong>k that <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational education and<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g may only be received <strong>in</strong> the skilled crafts and trades, but that is not<br />

correct. Qualified personnel are needed as office staff as well as <strong>in</strong> the<br />

fields of IT, logistics, trade, <strong>in</strong>dustry, freight forward<strong>in</strong>g, public<br />

adm<strong>in</strong>istration, and many more.<br />

… 59 …


14.5<br />

Career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g:<br />

Your child learns an occupation and gets paid for do<strong>in</strong>g it!<br />

Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g is not only free, but tra<strong>in</strong>ees also earn money. The money is called<br />

vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g pay, tra<strong>in</strong>ee allowance, or apprenticeship pay (Ausbildungsvergütung)<br />

and amounts to between EUR 300 to EUR 1,000 each<br />

month depend<strong>in</strong>g upon the profession, region, and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g year. After<br />

complet<strong>in</strong>g tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, young persons can directly beg<strong>in</strong> work<strong>in</strong>g (often at the<br />

same company where tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g was completed) or commence<br />

studies for a degree programme upon certa<strong>in</strong> conditions.<br />

Someth<strong>in</strong>g very dist<strong>in</strong>ctive is the work-study degree programme (duales<br />

Studium). A student will receive vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g at a company whilst<br />

study<strong>in</strong>g at a university or higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution. Upon completion,<br />

students have both at once: a vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g diploma and a higher education<br />

degree.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about (<strong>in</strong>tegrated) career and vocational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g ((duale) Ausbildung)<br />

and vocational occupations:<br />

www.berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de<br />

… about work-study degree programmes<br />

(duales Studium):<br />

www.duales-studium.de<br />

www.wegweiser-duales-studium.de<br />

… 60 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Don’t transpose your experience with education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g onto your<br />

child. What was true <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> or some other country 20 or 30 years<br />

ago, is different today.<br />

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

then go to university!” Rather ask your child the follow<strong>in</strong>g questions and<br />

discuss with him or her their answers:<br />

What would you like to do?<br />

What do you do particularly well?<br />

Do you have a dream job?<br />

Where and how can you learn the skills for this job?<br />

3. F<strong>in</strong>d out more about <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational education and<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung) and work-study degree programmes (duales<br />

Studium). Go to an <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centre or career <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

centre (Berufs<strong>in</strong>formationszentrum – BIZ) <strong>in</strong> your area.<br />

4. Go with your child to an education and job fair <strong>in</strong> your area, and get<br />

acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with bus<strong>in</strong>esses and professions.<br />

5. Visit a company and ask questions.<br />

… 61 …


My child will go to university.<br />

15.1<br />

Every university is different.<br />

There are <strong>in</strong>numerable courses of studies.<br />

When it comes to <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

(duale Ausbildung), it does not matter <strong>in</strong> which German federal state young<br />

people get their education. For example, tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g for office adm<strong>in</strong>istrators<br />

has the same curriculum <strong>in</strong> Aachen, Berl<strong>in</strong>, or Zwickau.<br />

However, with universities this is different. Each German federal state<br />

is responsible for its universities. There are thousands of courses of studies<br />

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

happens each year with respect to courses. Even <strong>in</strong> the same or similar area<br />

of studies there are differences which can be important.<br />

Example: European studies are taught at many universities, however, the<br />

curricula can have different areas of focus: European history, education,<br />

culture, bus<strong>in</strong>ess, law, politics, or work <strong>in</strong> European Union <strong>in</strong>stitutions.<br />

15.2<br />

There are three types of academic degrees:<br />

Bachelor of Arts or Science, Master of Arts or Science<br />

and the Doctorate/(PhD).<br />

<strong>Germany</strong> used to have its own k<strong>in</strong>d of academic degrees (akademische<br />

Abschlüsse). They were entitled Diplom, Magister, and Staatsexamen. However,<br />

some years ago <strong>Germany</strong> adopted the three <strong>in</strong>ternationally recognised<br />

academic degrees. These are:<br />

Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc)<br />

This is the first level of study. To be awarded this undergraduate degree,<br />

a person must study for a m<strong>in</strong>imum period of three years.<br />

Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc)<br />

This is the second level of study. To be awarded this graduate degree,<br />

a person must study for an additional two-year m<strong>in</strong>imum period.<br />

Doctoral Degree/Doctorate (Dr)/(PhD)<br />

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

study for yet another three-year m<strong>in</strong>imum period and publish a dissertation<br />

(a scientific or academic paper). This course of studies usually takes longer<br />

than three years to complete.<br />

For law, medical, and teach<strong>in</strong>g degrees, <strong>Germany</strong> still uses the Staatsexamen<br />

(this is similar to a bar or licens<strong>in</strong>g exam).<br />

… 62 …


15.3<br />

Trust is good, but verify! Not every higher education<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitution is accredited by the state.<br />

With nearly 20,000 courses of study, there are a few schools that are not<br />

accredited by the state. If a tertiary education <strong>in</strong>stitution is not accre d ited<br />

by the state, it can be difficult upon gett<strong>in</strong>g a degree to f<strong>in</strong>d a job, as many<br />

employers will not recognise it.<br />

Some education providers call themselves an Akademie<br />

(academy). This is not a legally protected term,<br />

unlike the terms Universität (university) or Hochschule<br />

(higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution). There are highly<br />

prestigious academies <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> with accredited<br />

degree programmes, however, there are also academies<br />

that are not accredited by the state. Therefore,<br />

it is worth double-check<strong>in</strong>g!<br />

15.4<br />

The Abitur secures the right to a place at university;<br />

however, there is the numerus clausus.<br />

Generally, <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> every Gymnasium graduate has the right to study at<br />

a university/higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution. However, some courses of study<br />

are very popular. Many applicants vie for limited space <strong>in</strong> degree programmes<br />

and universities can’t accept all of them.<br />

Therefore, universities rank applicants accord<strong>in</strong>g to their grade po<strong>in</strong>t<br />

average. This process is called numerus clausus or NC. This is a Lat<strong>in</strong> term<br />

and means clos<strong>in</strong>g number.<br />

For example: A university has 600 spaces available for biology students.<br />

The 600 applicants with the best marks reported <strong>in</strong> their Abitur will be<br />

accepted <strong>in</strong>to the programme. Now for our example let us say that the<br />

grade po<strong>in</strong>t average of the 600 applicants that were accepted <strong>in</strong>to the programme<br />

was 1.8. This means that the numerus clausus is 1.8 this year for<br />

this subject. In other words, this means that anyone who has a grade po<strong>in</strong>t<br />

average beyond this mark would not be accepted <strong>in</strong>to this programme at<br />

this university <strong>in</strong> this year. Thus, the numerus clausus may differ each year.<br />

… 63 …


Important note: It is possible to be accepted at a university or higher education<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitution <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> without an Abitur (general certificate of<br />

education – advanced level) if an applicant has completed <strong>in</strong>tegrated career<br />

and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung) and can demonstrate<br />

three years of relevant employment experience. However, applicants<br />

must take and pass an entrance exam<strong>in</strong>ation.<br />

15.5<br />

Study<strong>in</strong>g costs money.<br />

In comparison to <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

(duale Ausbildung) where tra<strong>in</strong>ees receive money every month, study<strong>in</strong>g at<br />

university or a higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution always costs money. This also<br />

means expenses for rent if a young person no longer lives at home or must<br />

move to another city <strong>in</strong> order to study. There are also costs for semester<br />

contributions (Semesterbeiträge), books, technical equipment (laptops,<br />

telephone), and possible tuition fees (Studiengebühren). Students often<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ance their education from various sources. It is well worth it to apply for<br />

scholarships (Stipendium). Scholarships do not have to be paid back<br />

unlike government f<strong>in</strong>ancial aid (BAföG). You should consider<br />

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

(( Studien-)Kredit) with a private lend<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>stitution.<br />

How is study<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>anced?<br />

Source of Money Students as a % Average <strong>in</strong> Euros<br />

Parents 86 % € 541<br />

Work<strong>in</strong>g whilst study<strong>in</strong>g 61 % € 385<br />

Government f<strong>in</strong>ancial aid 25 % € 435<br />

Sav<strong>in</strong>gs 18 % € 171<br />

Scholarships 5 % € 423<br />

Student loans 5 % € 463<br />

Federal student loans 1 % € 264<br />

Source: Deutsches Studentenwerk, 21. Sozialerhebung 2016, www.sozialerhebung.de.<br />

… 64 …


What can you do?<br />

1. Don’t impose your desires onto your child. Let your child decide for him<br />

or herself and then f<strong>in</strong>d out together where his or her <strong>in</strong>terests truly lie<br />

and what career aspirations your child has.<br />

2. Investigate together with your child which courses of study match his or<br />

her career aspirations.<br />

3. Figure out how study<strong>in</strong>g can be f<strong>in</strong>anced: Will your child study <strong>in</strong> the<br />

city you live <strong>in</strong> or elsewhere? How expensive is study<strong>in</strong>g there? Will<br />

your family be able to pay for it on its own? If not, how can study<strong>in</strong>g be<br />

fi nanced? Are there more cost-effective options?<br />

4. F<strong>in</strong>d out whether the higher education <strong>in</strong>stitution is accredited by the state.<br />

5. Investigate what the chances are of f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g employment once a degree<br />

programme has been completed.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the topic of university<br />

studies <strong>in</strong> general:<br />

www.hochschulkompass.de<br />

www.studienwahl.de<br />

… about work-study degree<br />

programmes (duales Studium):<br />

www.ausbildungplus.de<br />

www.duales-studium.de<br />

www.wegweiser-duales-studium.de<br />

… if your child is the first <strong>in</strong> your<br />

family who is about to study:<br />

www.arbeiterk<strong>in</strong>d.de<br />

… about scholarships:<br />

www.mystipendium.de<br />

… about the topic of university studies<br />

without an Abitur:<br />

www.studieren-ohne-abitur.de<br />

… 65 …


There are more options after<br />

secondary school than some parents th<strong>in</strong>k.<br />

16.1<br />

Career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or<br />

university – age is not an issue!<br />

If your child knows what he or she wants to do, then, of course, he or she<br />

can immediately start career and vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or university after<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g school. However, this is not mandatory. There are no laws <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong><br />

that set age limits as to when someone must commence studies or<br />

start tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. Sometimes it may be very reasonable to do someth<strong>in</strong>g else<br />

between secondary school and gett<strong>in</strong>g a tertiary education.<br />

16.2<br />

I have no idea what I want to do.<br />

Someth<strong>in</strong>g that many young people say.<br />

Many children don’t know what they want to do after they f<strong>in</strong>ish school.<br />

This is normal. Did you know what you wanted to do when you were<br />

16 or 19 years old? It is better if your child takes a bit of time to f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

out what he or she would like to do, rather than simply do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g just for the sake of do<strong>in</strong>g someth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

… 66 …


16.3<br />

It is better to take some time and gather some<br />

different experience after f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g school, rather<br />

than to rashly make a wrong decision which can<br />

affect you for the rest of your life.<br />

After the stress and effort of school, your child may just need a<br />

break before he or she starts learn<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>. Let your child have<br />

this break. This, of course, must be with<strong>in</strong> reason and shouldn’t<br />

last for years on end.<br />

16.4<br />

If the application process is not immediately successful,<br />

use the time effectively.<br />

There are many ways <strong>in</strong> which one can effectively utilise the time between<br />

school and cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g with further education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. Dur<strong>in</strong>g this time,<br />

your child can learn a number of important th<strong>in</strong>gs. He or she can ga<strong>in</strong> new<br />

experience and <strong>in</strong>dependently solve new problems. He or she can improve<br />

or learn a foreign language, or strengthen his or her social and personal skills.<br />

And most importantly: Your child can gather work experience and f<strong>in</strong>d out<br />

about different occupations. German federal volunteer service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst),<br />

tak<strong>in</strong>g a year off to do voluntary social service (Freiwilliges<br />

Soziales Jahr), or work<strong>in</strong>g are all th<strong>in</strong>gs that are regarded positively<br />

when applications are evaluated.<br />

… 67 …


16.5<br />

There are many options for secondary school<br />

graduates both <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong> and abroad.<br />

Here are some ideas:<br />

German federal volunteer service<br />

(Bundesfreiwilligendienst)<br />

A year of voluntary social service<br />

(Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr – FSJ)<br />

A year of voluntary environmental protection service<br />

(Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr – FÖJ)<br />

These voluntary services allow young people to become active <strong>in</strong><br />

the community. Volunteers work <strong>in</strong> a number of areas, for example<br />

with children and adolescents, <strong>in</strong> health and geriatric care, with<br />

disabled <strong>in</strong>dividuals, <strong>in</strong> environmental protection, nature conservation,<br />

sports, culture, monument and heritage preservation, politics<br />

and <strong>in</strong>tegration, or <strong>in</strong> schools. Volunteer work can also be<br />

done abroad.<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Two school years before your child graduates from school, consider<br />

together with your child which path is most suited and realistic for him<br />

or her. The more specific the plan is, the better. Together you should<br />

also consider a plan B (and even better still, a plan C) if th<strong>in</strong>gs don’t quite<br />

work out with career and vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g at the dream company or<br />

acceptance at the first choice university.<br />

2. Be familiar with the options available to your child after f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g secondary<br />

school and talk to your child about them periodically.<br />

3. Don’t make a fuss if your child is not accepted <strong>in</strong>to a career and vocational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g programme or university directly after<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g school. Instead consider with your child how to reasonably<br />

bridge this year.<br />

4. Make sure that this year does not appear as a gap <strong>in</strong> your child’s curriculum<br />

vitae. What was accomplished <strong>in</strong> this year needs to be specified. Remember,<br />

your child will have learned and experienced much <strong>in</strong> this year.<br />

… 68 …


If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the German federal volunteer service<br />

(BFD):<br />

www.bundesfreiwilligendienst.de<br />

… about volunteer service <strong>in</strong> a foreign country:<br />

www.weltwaerts.de<br />

www.ijgd.de<br />

… about a year of voluntary social service (FSJ):<br />

www.pro-fsj.de<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about a year of voluntary social service <strong>in</strong><br />

a cultural <strong>in</strong>stitution (FSJ):<br />

www.fsjkultur.de (Information is also available<br />

<strong>in</strong> Arabic, English, French, Polish, Russian, Spanish,<br />

and Turkish.)<br />

… about a year of voluntary environmental<br />

protection service (FÖJ):<br />

www.foej.de (Information is also available <strong>in</strong> English.)<br />

… about au pair programmes:<br />

www.aupair.de<br />

… 69 …


Every child has strengths<br />

and weaknesses.<br />

17.1<br />

Children and teenagers don’t only learn at school.<br />

Children and teenagers are hardly conscious of the fact that they<br />

know and can do much more than what is <strong>in</strong>dicated <strong>in</strong> their<br />

report cards. Frequently, parents aren’t even aware of<br />

this. A person learns and tries out new th<strong>in</strong>gs not only at<br />

school, but also with family and friends, and when do<strong>in</strong>g<br />

recreational activities and hobbies.<br />

This is how social, <strong>in</strong>tercultural, and personal skills (soziale,<br />

<strong>in</strong>terkulturelle und personale Kompetenzen) develop. For example: organisation<br />

or technical skills, multil<strong>in</strong>gualism, or reliability. All companies f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

these and other skills very important and sometimes even more important<br />

than school marks. Therefore, your child should consciously develop these<br />

skills and mention them <strong>in</strong> applications.<br />

17.2<br />

Your family is like a small enterprise. Every family<br />

member has his or her own tasks to perform.<br />

Many young people assume important tasks <strong>in</strong> the family. They help younger<br />

brothers and sisters with homework, help with household chores, work<br />

<strong>in</strong> the family bus<strong>in</strong>ess, or take care of older family members. Undertak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

such tasks, they learn and demonstrate very important character traits like<br />

responsibility and <strong>in</strong>dependence.<br />

… 70 …


17.3<br />

Some children are already little professionals.<br />

Many young people <strong>in</strong>terpret for their parents or grandparents, who don’t<br />

speak German, at government agency or doctor’s appo<strong>in</strong>tments, or act as<br />

mediators of different cultures, such as between parents and the school.<br />

Many are also very familiar with another country. Perform<strong>in</strong>g these activities,<br />

they acquire <strong>in</strong>tercultural skills like <strong>in</strong>terpret<strong>in</strong>g, flexibility, empathy, and<br />

sociableness. They are not afraid of new th<strong>in</strong>gs or be<strong>in</strong>g immersed <strong>in</strong> different<br />

languages and cultures. They have experienced misunderstand<strong>in</strong>gs and<br />

know how to cope with them.<br />

17.4<br />

Identify<strong>in</strong>g strengths is not always easy for everyone, but<br />

important for professional life.<br />

There are children who have managed to struggle through from secondary<br />

modern school (Hauptschule) on to junior grammar school (Realschule)<br />

and from there get their Abitur (general certificate of education – ad -<br />

vanced level). Even if their school marks are not the best, these young<br />

people have demonstrated perseverance, a will<strong>in</strong>gness to learn, and a sense<br />

of purpose which are important attributes for any profession.<br />

Important note: Your child should be able to talk about<br />

his or her strengths and achievements <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>terview<br />

(Bewerbungsgespräch). In some cultures, it is not customary<br />

to talk about one’s own accomplishments. This is<br />

viewed as boast<strong>in</strong>g. However, for applications it is very<br />

important that accomplishments are specified.<br />

… 71 …


17.5<br />

Weaknesses are also a part of daily life.<br />

For many parents, their child is the best <strong>in</strong> the world. However, if we are<br />

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

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

and handle criticism, especially <strong>in</strong> professional life:<br />

I am good at this. I need to practise this a bit more.<br />

I did this well. This was my mistake.<br />

Important note: Your child will also have to discuss his or her weaknesses<br />

<strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>terview. This is never easy, however, one must be prepared for it.<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Together with your child, consider which strengths and abilities he or<br />

she has developed to date. How do you see this as a parent? What is<br />

your child particularly good at? And what positive characteristics does<br />

he or she possess?<br />

2. It is best to make a list: Write down examples that highlight your child’s<br />

strengths and abilities.<br />

3. Give your child constructive feedback.<br />

4. Honest feedback is important: What is it that your child does not do so<br />

well? Where are his or her weaknesses?<br />

5. Rem<strong>in</strong>d your child of those th<strong>in</strong>gs that he or she has done and achieved<br />

outside of school and about anyth<strong>in</strong>g that can be used to demonstrate<br />

proof of this.<br />

… 72 …


If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about the topic of f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g strengths:<br />

In the brochure ”Schätze heben” from BQM<br />

Beratung Qualifizierung Migration you will<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d skill/competence sheets on pages 63-70.<br />

Us<strong>in</strong>g these sheets, you and your child can<br />

discover his or her skill sets so that they can<br />

be listed <strong>in</strong> applications:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 73 …


In this world, parents are simply<br />

irreplaceable, especially when it comes<br />

to choos<strong>in</strong>g a profession.<br />

18.1<br />

Parents are the most important people when it comes to<br />

choos<strong>in</strong>g a profession.<br />

Even if perhaps many young people do not like to admit it: When it comes<br />

to the choice of an occupation, teenagers take their parents’ advice seriously.<br />

In surveys most young people (70 to 90 per cent) rank their parents<br />

first when asked which people <strong>in</strong>fluence them the most when it comes to<br />

choos<strong>in</strong>g a profession, followed by the school or friends. Thus, parents have<br />

the greatest <strong>in</strong>fluence on their children’s occupational choice.<br />

18.2<br />

Parental <strong>in</strong>fluence can be positive.<br />

If a parent has many bus<strong>in</strong>ess contacts, he or she can provide his or her<br />

child with many examples and even perhaps arrange useful contacts.<br />

However, even if this is not the case, you can still support your child. It can be<br />

a great help, if you take this subject seriously, talk with your child about it on<br />

many occasions, and accompany him or her to important appo<strong>in</strong>tments.<br />

18.3<br />

Parental <strong>in</strong>fluence can also be negative.<br />

Both statements are possible: ”My child shall carry on <strong>in</strong> my profession!” Or<br />

alternatively: ”I want my child to have it better than I had it.” Many children<br />

learn a certa<strong>in</strong> profession only because this is what the parents want.<br />

If a parent is only familiar with very few occupations, then he or she may<br />

not be provid<strong>in</strong>g very good advice to his or her child. There are about 350<br />

occupations that require career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g as<br />

well as thousands of degree programmes. No one can know everyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about each one of them.<br />

Fortunately, there are many career advisors who can assist young people <strong>in</strong><br />

their choice of an occupation and help them with their university or vocational<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g applications.<br />

… 74 …


18.4<br />

Many people can play a role <strong>in</strong> your child’s<br />

occupational choice.<br />

There are others apart from parents that play an important role <strong>in</strong> your<br />

child’s occupational choice. For example: grandparents, teachers, career<br />

advisors, friends, and acqua<strong>in</strong>tances. Trade unions, foundations, government<br />

agencies, immigrant organisations, and neighbourhood organisations among<br />

others concern themselves with the occupational choices of young people.<br />

These organisations can supply you and your child with <strong>in</strong>formation and<br />

advice. Information and consultation centres can establish beneficial contacts<br />

or even arrange for an <strong>in</strong>ternship (Praktikum) or a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position.<br />

District councils<br />

Sports clubs<br />

Local economic<br />

development bodies<br />

Charity organisations<br />

Bus<strong>in</strong>ess and<br />

professional associations<br />

or guilds<br />

Child and youth<br />

services organisations<br />

Higher education<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions<br />

Companies<br />

(e. g. bus<strong>in</strong>esses offer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

apprenticeships or immigrant<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>esses)<br />

Adult<br />

education centres<br />

District authorities<br />

(e. g. school supervisory<br />

authorities)<br />

Employment agency,<br />

Jobcentre<br />

Institutions, NGOs<br />

(<strong>in</strong>cl. expatriate organisations<br />

or clubs, projects)<br />

Trade unions<br />

Foundations<br />

Local council and<br />

other local government<br />

bodies<br />

Relay tra<strong>in</strong>ers or<br />

coaches (full-time or<br />

voluntary)<br />

Parent and family<br />

support <strong>in</strong>stitutions, social<br />

welfare services <strong>in</strong>stitutions, and<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions offer<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>tegration<br />

courses<br />

Integration centres<br />

Religious groups<br />

… 75 …


18.5<br />

Network<strong>in</strong>g is important,<br />

even for your child’s education and career.<br />

It used to be that people said ”mak<strong>in</strong>g contacts”, but today people also say<br />

”network<strong>in</strong>g” (Netzwerke). Network<strong>in</strong>g is very important. You may f<strong>in</strong>d<br />

this good or bad, however, it is a fact that almost half of all apprenticeships<br />

or tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g positions are filled through network<strong>in</strong>g and recommendations<br />

from friends or acqua<strong>in</strong>tances. Accord<strong>in</strong>g to studies conducted <strong>in</strong> <strong>Germany</strong>,<br />

this applies especially to small and medium size companies.<br />

Networks can be very different. Take a look <strong>in</strong> your address book or take<br />

10 m<strong>in</strong>utes and write down all the names of acqua<strong>in</strong>tances, friends, family<br />

members, and neighbours that you know. Perhaps you will be astonished<br />

about how many people you know.<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Visit the career <strong>in</strong>formation centre (Berufs<strong>in</strong>formationszentrum – BIZ)<br />

or another <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centre <strong>in</strong> your area with your<br />

child and collect <strong>in</strong>formation about various occupations.<br />

2. Make sure that your child attends important appo<strong>in</strong>tments, for example<br />

for career counsell<strong>in</strong>g. Perhaps you could accompany your child?<br />

3. Talk with teachers and social education workers who are responsible for<br />

provid<strong>in</strong>g education and career guidance at your child’s school.<br />

4. Attend job and career events organised at the school.<br />

5. Attend job and career events organised outside of the school together<br />

with your child: education and job fairs, open houses, Girls’ and Boys’<br />

Day, visits to companies, etc.<br />

… 76 …


If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about how parents can help their children<br />

choose a career:<br />

Parents can f<strong>in</strong>d much <strong>in</strong>formation about the topic<br />

of career choice on the German Federal Employment<br />

Agency’s website www.planet-beruf.de.<br />

Navigation: Eltern > Me<strong>in</strong> K<strong>in</strong>d unterstützen<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d some easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

about choos<strong>in</strong>g a career <strong>in</strong> German, Farsi, Polish,<br />

Russian, and Turkish <strong>in</strong> the “Handbuch für <strong>in</strong>terkulturelle<br />

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural<br />

Work with Parents) (red module, pp. 31-32)<br />

from BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de.<br />

Navigation: Informationen für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 77 …


ALL parents can help their child<br />

with applications.<br />

19.1<br />

Meet<strong>in</strong>g deadl<strong>in</strong>es is what counts: Application deadl<strong>in</strong>es!<br />

(Integrated) career and vocational education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g ((duale) Ausbildung):<br />

Applications must be submitted between 12 to 6 months before<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g starts. This can be done before receiv<strong>in</strong>g the last report card.<br />

Example: Your son is <strong>in</strong> year 9 and would like to start career and vocational<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g after year 10. You can start submitt<strong>in</strong>g applications <strong>in</strong> the summer<br />

before he beg<strong>in</strong>s year 10. The earlier, the better!<br />

Work-study degree programmes (duales Studium):<br />

Applications must also be submitted a year <strong>in</strong> advance!<br />

University or higher education <strong>in</strong>stitutions:<br />

In this case, wait for the f<strong>in</strong>al report card and then start apply<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Example: Your daughter is <strong>in</strong> year 12 and will be complet<strong>in</strong>g<br />

her Abitur. She can submit her application for admission to<br />

university <strong>in</strong> the summer after f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g her Abitur.<br />

19.2<br />

A person used to write applications only on paper.<br />

However, today there are many options.<br />

It used to be that there was only one way to submit an application: on paper.<br />

However, today more and more bus<strong>in</strong>esses do not want applications on<br />

paper, they want them electronically. Applications per email (also known as<br />

onl<strong>in</strong>e applications) are possible for most companies these days. This saves<br />

applicants pr<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g and post charges and bus<strong>in</strong>esses the paperwork. Another<br />

type of application is an application us<strong>in</strong>g an onl<strong>in</strong>e form. Generally, this<br />

form is a mask on a company’s website and has to be filled <strong>in</strong> step by step.<br />

Nevertheless, the classic application on paper requir<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

photo and an applicant’s signature does still exist. Your child<br />

can personally drop these applications off or send them via<br />

post.<br />

… 78 …


19.3<br />

Admission or acceptance right with the first application:<br />

It could happen, but it’s unlikely!<br />

In addition to your child’s dream job or dream company, he or she should<br />

have a backup plan – plan B – and better yet a plan C. Nowadays, it is customary<br />

to send applications to various enterprises. There fore,<br />

don’t just send off one application! Send off many!<br />

19.4<br />

You only get a brief chance with your application:<br />

Every little th<strong>in</strong>g counts!<br />

Human resource managers <strong>in</strong> large companies receive hundreds of applications<br />

every year and must decide <strong>in</strong> a few m<strong>in</strong>utes whether or not an<br />

application has made a good impression and if the person should be <strong>in</strong>vited<br />

to an <strong>in</strong>terview. If an applicant is not <strong>in</strong>vited to <strong>in</strong>terview, it is frequently<br />

because of mistakes found <strong>in</strong> the application which can very easily be<br />

avoided.<br />

Important note: Every bus<strong>in</strong>ess is different. That is why you should first<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d out how the company likes to see applications. Most of the time, this is<br />

specified <strong>in</strong> the advertisement. An <strong>in</strong>correct way can lead to the application<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g immediately sorted out.<br />

Example: A company has expressed that it only wants onl<strong>in</strong>e applications.<br />

Applications that arrive <strong>in</strong> the post will be returned or land <strong>in</strong> the wastepaper<br />

b<strong>in</strong>.<br />

19.5<br />

Parents can help their children before an application<br />

is sent off via post.<br />

Absolutely avoid the follow<strong>in</strong>g mistakes: cr<strong>in</strong>kled paper, paperclips, coffee,<br />

tea or grease sta<strong>in</strong>s on any paper, miss<strong>in</strong>g signature, unsuitable photo,<br />

spell<strong>in</strong>g mistakes, wrong company address, or failure to attach support<strong>in</strong>g<br />

documents.<br />

… 79 …


What can you do?<br />

1. You have most likely applied for a position at least once <strong>in</strong> your life.<br />

Presumably this was some time ago or even <strong>in</strong> another country. You<br />

should note, however, that the way <strong>in</strong> which applications are written has<br />

changed over time, not to mention there are major differences <strong>in</strong> each<br />

country and <strong>in</strong>dustry. Apply<strong>in</strong>g for a bank clerk tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g position is different<br />

than apply<strong>in</strong>g for a mechatronics technician apprenticeship.<br />

2. It is not good if you write your child’s application. The application may<br />

appear too implausible or well prepared. This should be done by your<br />

child.<br />

3. However, you can help with its preparation or by review<strong>in</strong>g it once it is<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ished and before it is dispatched. You will f<strong>in</strong>d a checklist on page 81.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about applications:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d <strong>in</strong>formation and practical recommendations<br />

at www.planet-beruf.de.<br />

Navigation: Eltern > Me<strong>in</strong> K<strong>in</strong>d unterstützen<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation <strong>in</strong><br />

German, Farsi, Polish, Russian, and Turkish <strong>in</strong><br />

the ”Handbuch für <strong>in</strong>terkulturelle Elternarbeit”<br />

(Manual for Intercultural Work with Parents)<br />

(green module, pp. 1-13) from BQM Beratung<br />

Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de<br />

Navigation: Informationen für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 80 …


Checklist<br />

All documents are pr<strong>in</strong>ted on clean, white or recycled paper (are not<br />

cr<strong>in</strong>kled and do not have any sta<strong>in</strong>s on them).<br />

Your child’s name and current address are located <strong>in</strong> the letterhead.<br />

The application photo was taken by a professional photographer (not<br />

<strong>in</strong> a photo booth or dur<strong>in</strong>g your most recent holiday). Your child is<br />

dressed appropriately <strong>in</strong> the photo. He or she should not be wear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

colourful T-shirts, large earr<strong>in</strong>gs, or show<strong>in</strong>g cleavage. Your child need<br />

not be wear<strong>in</strong>g an expensive suit or designer outfit. A proper blouse<br />

or pressed shirt is sufficient.<br />

The application photo is attached to the page (not with a paperclip).<br />

Diplomas, certificates, report cards, and other important support<strong>in</strong>g<br />

documentation are enclosed as copies. Never send orig<strong>in</strong>als!<br />

The cover letter and the curriculum vitae bear the same date.<br />

The cover letter is addressed to a specific person, if possible.<br />

Good is: Dear Mrs Peters, (…)/Dear Mr Jackson, (…).<br />

Bad is: To whom it may concern: (…).<br />

Even worse is: Hello, (…).<br />

The envelope has the proper amount of postage.<br />

The curriculum vitae is no longer than one page.<br />

The cover letter is no longer than one page.<br />

Your child has signed both the cover letter and the curriculum vitae.<br />

In the application folder/portfolio there should be<br />

1. curriculum vitae (CV),<br />

2. copies of diplomas, certificates, or report cards, and<br />

3. references for <strong>in</strong>ternships (Praktika) or volunteer work.<br />

The cover letter is placed loosely atop of the application folder/<br />

portfolio (not <strong>in</strong> the folder).<br />

Important note: Your child’s application must be written for a specific company and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

position. You cannot send the same application to many different companies. The application<br />

documents should be slightly adapted for each company’s profile.<br />

… 81 …


Today the application process is<br />

almost like an audition!<br />

20.1<br />

The company is sitt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the jury when it comes to<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternships (Praktika), <strong>in</strong>tegrated career and vocational<br />

education and tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (duale Ausbildung), or work-study<br />

degree programmes (duales Studium).<br />

When it comes to a career, companies are your most important partners.<br />

Companies that tra<strong>in</strong> young people are called apprentic<strong>in</strong>g companies<br />

( Ausbildungsbetriebe).<br />

The company decides <strong>in</strong> its sole discretion who will be offered an <strong>in</strong>ternship<br />

(Praktikum), a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position, or accepted <strong>in</strong>to a work-study degree programme<br />

(duales Studium). Each company naturally only wants to educate<br />

and tra<strong>in</strong> the best and brightest. Some companies focus on school<br />

performance and others want to educate and tra<strong>in</strong> youth<br />

which are reliable, capable of learn<strong>in</strong>g, and show a passion<br />

for their future occupation.<br />

20.2<br />

Search<strong>in</strong>g for a company:<br />

There are many roads lead<strong>in</strong>g to Rome.<br />

Before your child sets off on his or her search, he or she should f<strong>in</strong>d out<br />

which companies <strong>in</strong> your vic<strong>in</strong>ity (community, town, city) offer tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g programmes<br />

or <strong>in</strong>ternships (Praktika). Your child has many ways of f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

company.<br />

Here are some ideas: Do an <strong>in</strong>ternship (Praktikum), use <strong>in</strong>ternet search<br />

eng<strong>in</strong>es, look <strong>in</strong> bus<strong>in</strong>ess directories or the telephone book, talk to contacts<br />

(this also means friends and acqua<strong>in</strong>tances), visit education and job fairs, visit<br />

the state employment agency and other <strong>in</strong>formation and consultation centres,<br />

read the classified advertis<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> newspapers, pay attention to outdoor<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g, for example billboard ads <strong>in</strong> the street or<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g posted on buses or <strong>in</strong> supermarkets. You can<br />

call a company directly, get <strong>in</strong>formation from their website,<br />

or even stop by for a visit.<br />

… 82 …


20.3<br />

Every company has its own recruitment procedure.<br />

Every company has its own ways for f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g what they consider to be the<br />

best applicants. Here are some examples:<br />

Interview (Bewerbungsgespräch): Your child will go to the company, <strong>in</strong>troduce<br />

him or herself, <strong>in</strong>terview with two or more persons from the company,<br />

answer various questions, and become acqua<strong>in</strong>ted with the company.<br />

Telephone <strong>in</strong>terview (Telefon<strong>in</strong>terview): Your child will <strong>in</strong>terview with a<br />

person from the bus<strong>in</strong>ess over the telephone, describe him or herself,<br />

answer questions, and be able to ask questions.<br />

Onl<strong>in</strong>e test (Onl<strong>in</strong>etest): Your child will answer various questions on the<br />

computer at home and will be asked to complete a series of exercises or<br />

tasks.<br />

Recruitment test (E<strong>in</strong>stellungstest): Your child will take an exam at the<br />

company. Frequently, the subjects that are tested <strong>in</strong>clude mathematics,<br />

German, and general knowledge.<br />

Assessment centre (Assessment-Center): Your child will<br />

spend an entire day at a company and will receive various<br />

tasks to complete. For example: tests (mathematics, German,<br />

general knowledge, and politics/civics), personal<br />

<strong>in</strong>troductions, group exercises (group discussions or role<br />

play<strong>in</strong>g), and presentations or speeches.<br />

20.4<br />

In an <strong>in</strong>terview even little th<strong>in</strong>gs can be decisive.<br />

Preparation is the key.<br />

Your child has already been successful simply by the fact that he or she was<br />

<strong>in</strong>vited to an <strong>in</strong>terview. However, this is no guarantee that your child will be<br />

offered a tra<strong>in</strong>ee position. Every bus<strong>in</strong>ess will <strong>in</strong>terview several applicants<br />

and then select one or more.<br />

Now your child’s success is cont<strong>in</strong>gent on the <strong>in</strong>terview. It is important that<br />

your child is punctual, properly dressed, make-up modestly applied, if any,<br />

only hav<strong>in</strong>g applied a discreet amount of cologne or perfume, not chew<strong>in</strong>g<br />

gum, have his or her mobile phone turned off, etc.<br />

… 83 …


20.5<br />

Professional human resource managers notice everyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

or almost everyth<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

It makes a good impression <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>terview if you look your <strong>in</strong>terview<br />

partner <strong>in</strong> the eye, smile, be respectful, be able to talk offhand, speak loud<br />

and clear, and sit without fidget<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

It makes a good impression <strong>in</strong> group exercises if you have your own<br />

ideas, make suggestions, let others express their thoughts, are able to listen,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clude others, are able to debate issues, yet are able to be responsive to<br />

the op<strong>in</strong>ions of other participants, are conv<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>g, yet not dom<strong>in</strong>ate, and are<br />

conscious of time.<br />

These are some typical issues and questions<br />

for an <strong>in</strong>terview:<br />

Tell me a little about yourself and expla<strong>in</strong> your curriculum vitae<br />

<strong>in</strong> more detail.<br />

How did you learn about this profession?<br />

How did you go about choos<strong>in</strong>g this type of career?<br />

Why specifically did you choose this qualified job?<br />

Why do you want to receive tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g to become (…)?<br />

Why did you apply with us?<br />

What do you know about our company?<br />

What are your strengths and weaknesses?<br />

In your op<strong>in</strong>ion, why did you do so poorly <strong>in</strong> (… whatever the school<br />

subject is …)?<br />

How do you account for your unexcused absences from school classes?<br />

Why did your marks decl<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> your last year?<br />

Do you have any hobbies?<br />

What do you like to do <strong>in</strong> your free time?<br />

Do you have any questions for us?<br />

What can you do?<br />

1. Search the <strong>in</strong>ternet or telephone directories with your child to f<strong>in</strong>d out<br />

which <strong>in</strong>stitutions near you address the topic of job and career. The<br />

follow<strong>in</strong>g search words may be helpful: Berufsberatung Köln, Ausbildung<br />

Berl<strong>in</strong>, Ausbildungsagentur Hamburg, or Ausbildungsplatz NRW.<br />

… 84 …


2. Visit companies near you that offer career and vocational tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g programmes.<br />

Many companies are very <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> work<strong>in</strong>g with parents<br />

and offer tours of their facilities.<br />

3. Practise <strong>in</strong>terview<strong>in</strong>g at home. Rem<strong>in</strong>d your child to prepare for a re -<br />

cruitment test: He or she should practise basic mathematic operations<br />

and refresh and improve general knowledge.<br />

4. Before your child heads off to an <strong>in</strong>terview, check how he or she is<br />

dressed. F<strong>in</strong>d out the best way to get to the company so that your child<br />

can f<strong>in</strong>d it and arrive on time.<br />

5. Make sure that your child arrives punctually to his or her appo<strong>in</strong>tment<br />

or timely cancels if he or she is unable to make it to the <strong>in</strong>terview, test,<br />

or first day of tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g.<br />

If you would like to learn more …<br />

… about tests used <strong>in</strong> application procedures:<br />

There are practise tests that you can do with your<br />

child available at www.e<strong>in</strong>stieg.com.<br />

Navigation: Ausbildung > Bewerben für e<strong>in</strong>e<br />

Ausbildung<br />

… about <strong>in</strong>terviews:<br />

You can f<strong>in</strong>d easy-to-read <strong>in</strong>formation about<br />

<strong>in</strong>terviews <strong>in</strong> German, Farsi, Polish, Russian, and<br />

Turkish <strong>in</strong> the ”Handbuch für <strong>in</strong>terkulturelle<br />

Elternarbeit” (Manual for Intercultural Work<br />

with Parents) (green module, pp. 4-10) from<br />

BQM Beratung Qualifizierung Migration:<br />

www.bqm-hamburg.de<br />

Navigation: Angebote für Ratsuchende ><br />

Publikationen<br />

… 85 …


Thanks<br />

This book has been made possible through fund<strong>in</strong>g from the European Social Fund<br />

(ESF), the Behörde für Arbeit, Soziales, Familie und Integration (BASFI) (the Authority<br />

for Employment, Family and Integration), the Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung<br />

(BSB) (The Authority for <strong>School</strong> and Vocational Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g) and the Behörde<br />

für Stadtentwicklung und Wohnen (BSW) (the Authority for Urban Development<br />

and Hous<strong>in</strong>g) for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Our colleagues and cooperation<br />

partners have provided subject matter support. We would also like to express<br />

a special thank you to the Deloitte and Kutscheit Foundations for their special award<br />

„Sprachförderung“ (learn<strong>in</strong>g and improv<strong>in</strong>g language skills) with<strong>in</strong> the context of<br />

the Hidden Movers Award 2012. The prize money from the award allowed us to<br />

publish the first edition. Furthermore, this book would be unconceivable without the<br />

tireless and longstand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>volvement of so many parent facilitators.<br />

In 2014, Hamburg launched the cooperation project, „<strong>School</strong> Mentors – Hand <strong>in</strong><br />

Hand for Strong <strong>School</strong>s“, which KWB is carry<strong>in</strong>g out with the Authority for <strong>School</strong><br />

and Vocational Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. Currently, there are 33 schools <strong>in</strong> Hamburg, which are <strong>in</strong><br />

difficult circumstances be<strong>in</strong>g advised and assisted <strong>in</strong> sett<strong>in</strong>g up a mentor<strong>in</strong>g system.<br />

There are three types of school mentors that are qualified and used: parent mentors<br />

take on responsibilities with<strong>in</strong> the scope of parental work <strong>in</strong> schools and pupil mentors<br />

and external volunteers work directly with select pupils.<br />

The project receives f<strong>in</strong>anc<strong>in</strong>g from European Social Fund (ESF) through the Authority<br />

for Employment, Family and Integration (BASFI) and support from the Authority<br />

for <strong>School</strong> and Vocational Tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g (BSB) and the Authority for Urban Development<br />

and Hous<strong>in</strong>g (BSW).<br />

Education is a essential for a successful life of self-determ<strong>in</strong>ation. Educational topics<br />

with<strong>in</strong> neighbourhoods are of central importance particularly <strong>in</strong> the Integrated<br />

Urban Development Framework Programme. Through special measures, the project<br />

aims to promote educational success <strong>in</strong> schools at select locations as well as<br />

assistance <strong>in</strong> start<strong>in</strong>g a career, especially for young people with a migrant background.<br />

The 33 select schools are located <strong>in</strong> specified neighbourhood catchment<br />

areas for <strong>in</strong>tegrated urban district development such as Wilhelmsburg, Veddel,<br />

Billstedt/Horn, Steilshoop, Hohenhorst, Osdorfer Born, Neuallermöhe, Phoe nix-<br />

Viertel, and Neuwiedenthal.<br />

The project will susta<strong>in</strong>ably strengthen schools <strong>in</strong> difficult situations and help them<br />

to improve pupils’ learn<strong>in</strong>g success. As part of the project, parents, as school mentors,<br />

<strong>in</strong>form, advise, and support other parents <strong>in</strong> develop<strong>in</strong>g their children’s learn<strong>in</strong>g profile<br />

and prepar<strong>in</strong>g them for a scholastic transition (primary school/secondary school)<br />

or for the transition from school to professional life.<br />

Pupils, as mentors, support their classmates by assum<strong>in</strong>g responsibilities for the<br />

development of the educational environment at school. Scholastically, they are <strong>in</strong>corporated<br />

as bridge builders and advisors for pupils and teachers.<br />

… 86 …


Impr<strong>in</strong>t<br />

Publisher:<br />

Executive Director:<br />

Authors:<br />

Content advice:<br />

Editors:<br />

Layout:<br />

Illustrator:<br />

KWB e. V. · House of Commerce<br />

Kapstadtr<strong>in</strong>g 10 · 22297 Hamburg<br />

Phone: +49 40 334241-0 · Fax: +49 40 334241-299<br />

<strong>in</strong>fo@kwb.de · www.kwb.de<br />

Hansjörg Lüttke<br />

Dr. Alexei Medvedev<br />

assisted by Elisabeth Waz<strong>in</strong>ski<br />

Hülya Eralp, Tanja Grohmann<br />

Monika Ehmke, Christ<strong>in</strong>e Robben<br />

Reg<strong>in</strong>a Neubohn<br />

Photographs: KWB e. V.<br />

Translation:<br />

Contact:<br />

2nd revised edition<br />

Alke Mammen, a.mammen@web.de<br />

Dr. Ralph A. Fellows<br />

Monika Ehmke<br />

ehmke@kwb.de · Phone: +49 40 334241-333<br />

Other publications from KWB<br />

Schule <strong>in</strong> Deutschland verstehen.<br />

Grundwissen für Eltern. Hamburg, 2017. Available <strong>in</strong> Arabic, German, English,<br />

Farsi, Russian and Turkish.<br />

Handbuch Medien- und IT-Berufe 2018.<br />

Ausbildung, Studium und Weiterbildung von A–Z. Hamburg, 2017.<br />

Informationen zur K<strong>in</strong>derbetreung.<br />

Hamburg, 2017.<br />

Schätze heben.<br />

Leitfaden und Kompetenzbilanz für die Beratung von Jugendlichen am Übergang<br />

Schule–Beruf. Hamburg, 2013.<br />

Eltern <strong>in</strong> die Schule.<br />

Engagierte Väter und Mütter mit Zuwanderungsgeschichte berichten.<br />

Hamburg, 2012 (<strong>in</strong> Kooperation mit ASM e. V.).<br />

… 87 …


www.kwb.de<br />

• • • KWB e. V. · House of Commerce<br />

Kapstadtr<strong>in</strong>g 10 · 22297 Hamburg<br />

Phone: +49 40 334241-0 · Fax: +49 40 334241-299<br />

<strong>in</strong>fo@kwb.de · www.kwb.de

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