Information on childcare and the German school system
We offer all international researchers and doctoral candidates who bring families with them information on schools and childcare. We are also happy to provide additional information on these topics and assist with the formalities.
If you would like assistance, please send us a short e-mail describing your situation. The Family Service website contains detailed information about the services offered by the University to support your family.
Early childcare is available for children aged between eight weeks and three years. Places are in high demand and must be applied for in good time. In some cases, you may have to wait several months for a place for your child. The childcare facilities look after children for half days or full days in groups of a maximum of twelve children. Costs vary (from around 150 euros per month for half-day childcare).
FAU’s Family Service is constantly increasing the number of places which FAU has at individual childcare institutions and setting up new childcare institutions in collaboration with trusted partners. Please contact the Welcome Centre or the Family Service if you are looking for a childcare place.
In Germany it is not compulsory for children to attend kindergarten. Children are normally admitted from age three and attend kindergarten until they start school (usually at age six; exceptions may be made). The Bavarian kindergarten year goes from September to August. It is only possible for children to be admitted in the middle of a year if there are places free.
Children attend kindergarten in the morning (from about 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.), until after lunch (from about 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or full-time (to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.). A warm lunch is frequently offered. The kindergarten groups are mixed-age. There is often a special pre-school programme for five- and six-year-olds to prepare them for school.
Kindergarten places cost around 80-120 euros per month. In some kindergartens, the fees are income-dependent. Non-state or non-church kindergartens are usually more expensive.
Children usually go to the kindergarten nearest to where they live. Many municipalities provide information about their childcare facilities online (e.g. for Erlangen).
In Germany, schooling is organised at state level; the following information applies to schools in Bavaria.
The school year begins in September after six weeks of summer holidays. Education is compulsory for all German and foreign children between the ages of six and fifteen living in Germany. Every child’s school education begins with Grundschule (primary school – first to fourth grade). In the fourth grade, it is decided which secondary school the child will attend:
- Mittelschule, where students graduate after ninth grade (Qualifizierender Hauptschulabschluss) or after tenth grade (Mittlere Reife auf dem M-Zweig)
- Realschule, where students graduate after tenth grade (Mittlere Reife)
- Gymnasium, where students graduate after the twelfth grade (Abitur, i.e. university entrance qualification)
- Children with learning difficulties can attend attend a school for children with special needs
Attendance of public schools is free of charge in Germany. Attendance of private or international schools is subject to tuition fees. The Franconian International School is a private school in Erlangen with English as the teaching language.
Classes take place in the mornings in Germany, usually from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Primary school often finishes even earlier (between around 11.15 a.m. and 12.15 p.m.). Students usually have to do their afternoon homework for the next day outside of school.
At Gymnasium, there are afternoon classes on one or two days a week. At Realschule, all compulsory classes are in the morning, with optional subjects in the afternoon where attendance is voluntary.
Some Bavarian schools have started offering full-time classes in the past years. However, spaces are often in very high demand, so make sure you register your child early if you are interested.
Many primary schools have lunch-time supervision until 3 p.m. at the latest, or after-school care where the children can be supervised until the late afternoon and during the holidays. Parents must pay for lunch-time supervision and after-school care. Costs vary (lunch-time supervision starting at 45 euros, after-school care at 120 euros per month).
School children have about 13 weeks of holidays per school year. FAU’s Family Service offers childcare for kindergartners and school children during the holidays.
Children usually attend the primary school closest to their home. Secondary schools offer different specialisations and are chosen according to the children’s interests and performance. All primary schools have guidance counsellors who can answer any questions regarding your child’s school career (school enrolment, choosing a suitable secondary school, etc.). There are special classes in primary schools for foreign children who have only a limited knowledge of German.
For children who do not have sufficient knowledge of German, there are transition classes (Übergangsklassen) starting from the fifth grade. The main focus of these classes is for the children to learn German, but they are also taught other content to prepare them for the transition to their desired school after several months. The Eichendorffschule is home to Erlangen’s transition classes.
If you are unsure about which school to enrol your child in, please contact the Welcome Centre. We will be happy to send you further information and help you with the application. Many municipalities provide information about local schools online (e.g. for Erlangen).