If you have children or are planning to have a family in Germany, you will be interested to know that the German government tries to promote families.  As a result, they offer child and parental benefits (see Having a baby) and state-run nurseries and schools which produce high-performing pupils.  There is an excellent source of information on how the schooling system works in Germany.


Options for children from one to three years include toddler groups (Ger. "Krabbelgruppen"), childminders (Ger. "Tagesmütter/Tagesväter"), playgroups (Ger. "Spielkreise"), crèches (Ger. "Kinderkrippen") and kindergartens.  From three years to school age, children usually go to kindergartens or "Kindertagestätten".  More and more German women are going back to work earlier, so make sure you register your child in one of these as early as possible.  Germans do so during the pregnancy!  Although none of these are mandatory, it is an excellent way for your child to learn the language from an early age - it´s so much easier then! - and the easiest way for you to make friends.  Information is provided by the town hall.


Schooling is mandatory in Germany, usually as from the age of 6.  However, as the schooling system is managed by each individual Land, the school authority in your area will be able to provide further information on this. They will also be able to tell you which schools are in your area.  This is important because most schools only take children who live in their district.  Most schools are only half day, although many are becoming all-day schools (Ger. "Ganztagsschulen") due to the increasing demand.  There are several types of school, but usually children attend a primary school (Ger. "Grundschule") for four years and then either a "Realschule" for six more or a "Gymnasium" for eight or nine more.  The former will typically be followed by an apprenticeship (Ger. "Ausbildung"), while after taking the "Abitur" at about 18 or 19 in the Gymnasium, pupils may continue on to further their education at a university.  Comprehensive schools (Ger. "Gesamtschule") are also available in some towns.


School and public holidays vary from state to state, and schools have a few more days which they can assign as days off school at their convenience (Ger. "bewegliche Ferientage").  Up-to-date information can be found online: German public holidays in English.  There is also a useful calendar for school holidays per state (all green days are holidays or "Ferien").


Non-school related activities

Music and sport: find information on these in your local town hall, local daily newspapers or online.  City-run music schools (Ger. "Musikschule" - search for the music school in your city in Germany under "Musikschulsuche") are common as well as courses for children in the local "Volkshochschule" (adult education centres).  Some schools offer these after-hours as well.


Protection of minors

The "Jugendschutzgesetz" stipulates what minors are allowed to do, for example:

  • 6 to 14-year-olds: are not allowed to be without adult supervision in a cinema after 8 pm
  • 14 to 16-year-olds: are not allowed to go to a restaurant without adult supervision, or to be in a cinema after 10 pm without adult supervision
  • 16 to 18-year-olds: can go to a restaurant, disco or cinema on their own until midnight and are allowed to purchase and consume beer, wine and similar drinks. They are not allowed to go to casinos, buy or consume stronger alcoholic drinks or smoke cigarettes