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Homeschooling question

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've been doing some researches and I found that in Germany it's basically illegal to homeschool. My husband will be working here for possibly the next 5 years. After that we are going back to the US. Our DS's are 2.5yo and 3 months (he was born here). We want to homeschool, but I'm wondering if the mandatory school laws apply to us also... Anybody has any thoughts or info on that? Thanks
post #2 of 23
Homeschooling is illegal but the mandatory school age is 7 (depending on which month the birthdays fall in, some children will start at age 6). So, you still have a few years before you have to worry about school.

If you are still living in Germany once your children get to school age, and you know that you will not be staying in there permanently, you can petition the Ministry of Education to let you homeschool your children following an official curriculum. We were able to follow the French curriculum as DH is French (I'm American) and we told them that we planned to enroll them in school in France after we left Germany, and we wanted them to be able to integrate into the French system easily. I imagine you could do the same for the US (if you are American). Once you get permission, you will have to enroll the kids in your local German school, and also in a homeschooling curriculum. The curriculum organisation will then have to inform the local school board that your kids will not be attending the school.

We were in Germany for almost 6 years, and were able to homeschool for 3 before moving away. I do have to warn you that it can be a very isolating experience. Most children go to kindergarten from age 3 on, and obviously there are not any homeschool support groups to get involved with. However, if you and your dc speak German fairly well then it will be easy to get involved in after-school sports/dance/music programs etc.

Good luck and enjoy your time in Germany. Where are you living?
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the info Plaid Leopard!!! I know I still have some time before worrying too much, but I like to be prepared... We are actually French Canadians but we have been living in the US since 1998 and are planning to go back there when we leave Germany. So, I guess unschooling is pretty much out of the question (as it is really what we want to do!!!) If we need to follow a curriculum, is someone testing the kids at some point? You know since we want to unschool we probably won't need them to be tested back in the US (depending in what state we move back too). So, could we say to the government we want to follow a curriculum but actually don't? We don't speak any German, but we are planning to start learning soon as we have been really busy with the newborn and DS1. DH works with a lot of Americans/Canadians and most Germans where we live speak good English, so I think we could find some after-school activities where English is being spoken (for that DS1 needs to start learning more English!). Some of DH coworkers have younger kids too, of course they all attend school even the 3 year olds like you mention. But we could try to meet on the weekends for playdates. The fact that our first language is French has isolated us since we moved in the US back in the days, so we are use to it, but the friendships we are able to make are really really good ones, so it's all good in my opinion! Oh and we live in Dusseldorf!!! Where did you live while in Germany? And I see you are now in the UK, do you like it there? Are the laws for homeschooling as bad as in Germany?

Thanks again for your help... I will keep that info until I need it and who knows maybe by then the laws will change
post #4 of 23
We lived in Leipzig and then in Saarbrucken. I had a hard time as I did not speak any German when we arrived - only French and English. Dh worked long hours so I was own my own a lot, we ended up having two more children while living there...

Now that we no longer live there, there are a lot of things that I miss, such as the abundance of affordable, quality organic food, beautiful wooden children's toys, affordable, quality clothes and shoes, really nice playgrounds, generous Kindergeld, child-friendly cafes and restaurants with play areas for the kids, wonderful Wildparks, good public transportation...

Here in the UK life is a lot easier in many ways - we can communicate easily for one, and homeschooling/unschooling is legal, although the government is trying really hard to curtail homeschoolers rights.

Anyway, if you end up getting special permission to homeschool you will have to enroll in a curriculum, which will send confirmation of enrollment to the German school board, so you really have to enroll somewhere. I imagine it would have to be a pretty mainstream one ( I've heard Clonlara has been accepted in the past, you might want to contact them). We had no intention of moving to France or putting them in school, it was just one of our reasons given for not putting them in German school. You would not want to tell them that you didn't plan to put them in school anywhere, ever.

Once the kids are enrolled somewhere, the German school board is out of the picture, but you will have to do some work for the curriculum. We followed the French national curriculum (CNED), and were supposed to send in "evaluations" to France every three weeks, after doing the lessons. They were basically reviews of the work the kids had done, mainly to show that the kids were making progress. We never managed - or desired - to follow the lessons to the letter, much less send in the evaluations every three weeks. But the kids had to do a minimum to be allowed to continue to homeschool the following year. There were no home visits or surprise tests or anything like that.

I really wanted to unschool too, although DH isn't for that. So having to follow a curriculum was difficult for me, for all of us, really. DH would actually want to send the kids to school if we lived in France, so despite having studied French and dreaming of living in France - I hope we don't move there any time soon.

I hope the laws will change soon and you won't need this info!

post #5 of 23

it's really good that you started researching already.

The mandatory school entry age was recently changed. It depends on the Bundesland/state and varies between 5 and 7 years at this time. Some states start now earlier with first grade which is compulsory, some states made their K Program (Vorschule) compulsory at age 5 etc.

In some states, like NRW, you are required by law to have your child tested at age 4, the test is called DELPHIN, and is designed to give additional language/speech support.
These tests are conducted at local nursery schools (Kindergarten) and children are tested mainly in groups of 4 by a speech therapist and an elementary teacher. No parents permitted during the testing.
If your child fails (and many children do), then again your are obliged by law to either enrol your child at a full nursery school program or to send them to a speech therapist weekly (some districts allow only a therapist of their choice). This, however, is free, so no costs involved.

From friends we learned that the easiest way to get an exemption is to be already enrolled at an accredited distance program in their home country (and only if your stay in Germany is short), but that's pretty much depending on the school board you apply exemption for.

Homeschooling in the Belgium is very easy, or even in the Netherlands, should you live close by.

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks Summer! That test sounds a bit scary! Do they test the kids in German or English? What if DS doesn't speak any German by 4? Even if we would love to learn some I don't think he would know a lot by 4! We are already teaching him English as a second language. So I guess I'll start looking in what my bundesland's requirements are? I mean how could my DS go to speak therapy when he doesn't speak the language??? I don't want to traumatize him... Do you think like I said in my other post that 5 years is considered a short stay? I guess I'll look into accredited distance program in the USA... but then would they have to do some work and send them by mail or over the internet? I did long distance classes in the past but that's not really homeschooling!

We do live close to the Netherlands, 40 minutes I think... But I don't think it will be possible to move there as my husband employer is paying part of the rent here. I don't think they would want him to be in an other country (tax purposes I guess!)

Thanks so much for all the additional info... I guess I still have lots of research to do! After reading Plaid Leopard's reply my husband said: "Well DS1 will be 7 in 5 years so we should be fine and be back in the USA by then, no need to worry anymore." Now I'm a bit worried but I'll try to find the info somewhere I got a good start thanks to you two ladies
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well I didn't know my state but we are in NRW!!! So, is my only option to avoid the test (I know it's still in 2 years, but I want to be prepared) finding a accredited distance program from the states for DS to try to get an exemption?

Thanks again. I'll check back to see if anyone else has more info or advice for me.
post #8 of 23
AJ's Mommy,
that test named "Delfin4", it's a ridiculous one, was just introduced and NRW is the only state were it's compulsory.
It's only in German, and kids are required to repeat phantasy words and must exactly provide the results they expect or points are subtracted.

Many German native speaker children fail (!!!!), but that's not an administrative problem, because the extra training is provided at the nursery school the children attend. Or if your children don't, they would get the extra speech/language tution for free at the nursery school, or at the speech therapist if you decline the nursery school option (which they would try to convince you).
It's especially designed to identify children of immigrants who are not enrolled in nursery programms yet, to to integrate them to the schooling system and prepare them for elementary school. And of course to identify German native-speaking children with language gaps.
This in itself is contradictory, because the children get there yearly medical check-ups (which are by the way compulsory too, since last year), and the pediatricians should be able to see language problems and make a referral.
Or the nursery workers would recommend to see a pediatrician, as most children are technically enrolled in nursery school programmes.

There are several online/distance courses from the UK and the US, also $$, there are cheaper French distance programmes, should you speak French.

You can't escape their "invitation", it's done via the Einwohnermeldeamt, and you get it automatically.

Normally the bureaucrats consider up to two years a temporary residence, but it depends how you present your case to them. If you are native English speaker and you are just a short while in Germany or if you plan to send your children to an $$$ International School later on, it would be logic to me, that you should get an exemption for the language test. Do you have other expat friends who encountered this problem yet?

Here is the official description

And here are some critical reviews of the test (on public tv)

Hope you don't have to participate!
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well I guess we are also illegal with the pediatricians visits We went for the DS2 1st week visit but that was it and DS1 has not been to one yet! I don't really believe in wellness visit in North America either, so I'm not starting in Germany. No we don't have any friends with the homeschooling problem (since they all send their LO to school, mostly private or international schools, they cost too much money IMO), but I will ask the other Americans/Canadians my husband work with. Some of them have 3 and 4 years old kids, so they should know about the test. Our first language is French, but are planning on possibly living in the US after we are done here (we are also US resident), so the boys will speak both languages. We are here for sure for 2 and a half more years and then maybe longer but we don't know yet! So, you're not really saying, but once I get the "invitation' how can I ask for a test exemption and where? Should I ask now since is 2 and a half? How long does it take?

Summermay are you in Germany now? Did you have to deal with this? Thanks for the links I'll check them out later. Thanks again for all the info.
post #10 of 23
I never liked well-baby visits either, but I was lucky to find a very friendly peditarician who supported and encouraged breastfeeding, was knowledgeable about homeopathy and other "alternative" and natural treatments, and was ok with not vaccinating.
I would suggest you find a ped and take the baby for the visits.They will track you down! We were staying in Italy for a few months when ds was a baby, and so missed the 9 month WBC in Germany. We received a letter saying that we had to take ds to a doctor immediately and send proof of the visit (I can't remember what the consequences were if we didn't). As we had already had a run-in with German social services we did take ds to a doctor in Italy.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry but I'm not liking been here so much anymore The ped we took DS2 for his first visit was not really supportive of anything I'm doing. She told me to breastfeed him every 4 hours (not when he wanted to nurse...well I listened but didn't do it of course!!!) Right then I knew she wasn't for me. Plus I told her we weren't vaccinating and she looked at me like I was crazy... she said ok but only until he was 1... our insurance doesn't even cover her! Would I have to take DS1 too? I mean we have a supportive ped back home but DS1 saw him only twice in 2 and a half year! I just don't see the point in taking them if we don't vax and all is good with them... they couldn't tell me if he had a speech delay for example... he speaks French, so how would they know? How would I find a ped like the one you found? Where do I start looking? The people I know here all go to the ped I don't like. What will I do when I go home to visit this summer... take him to our ped and bring back proof like you did??? How crazy?!?! Sorry I'm getting really overwhelmed and frustrated here! Well I have until the 18th for the next visit according to his medical record book... I'll start looking maybe I'll ask in an other thread. Thanks again I don't know what I would have done without your replies ladies
post #12 of 23
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you!

I don't know if the baby has to be seen by a ped or if it can be a general practitioner. You could call around at midwives' practices and ask for ped recommendations. My midwife recommended my ped. Actually, a friend had recommended him for my older kids, but he wasn't taking new patients at that time. For some reason he had to take the baby because he was a referral from the midwife, and then he agreed to take all the kids as patients.
Or maybe you could call a La Leche League leader and ask if she knows a good, BF friendly ped.
post #13 of 23
Oh yeah, one reason they made well-baby visits mandatory is because there was a child who "slipped through the cracks" and died because of serious neglect and abuse. I think they hope to catch any abuse/problems faster through mandatory WBV.
post #14 of 23
AJ's mommy,

if you are lucky and you get an exemption (based on your planned temporary stay as foreigners who would like to prepare their kids for their home countries' educational systems) enrolling your children at an French or English distance school is normally required. You would be required to send a transcript/record from each term to the school district, so you really have to be enrolled and do all their assignments.

There is a legal homeschooling initiative www.schuzh.de, maybe they can help you.

As for the ped' visits. It's also done via the Einwohnermeldeamt. At each ped visit, they send a "yes" message to your child's data and you are done. If the WBV is missed during the prescribed time frames(I think they have them until the age of 14 years, so not only babies), you just automatically get a friendly reminder.
When you have had your WBV then, it's booked in your child's data at the Einwohnermeldeamt with a yes, and everything is settled. If they don't receive a message from a ped/doc about the WBV, you might get a referral as described by Plaid Leopard. As Plaid Leopard wrote, LLL or independent midwives normally know the good medical practioners or you could look for anthroposophic doctors, they are quite common in Germany and easy to find.

We lived in Germany a couple a years and still have friends overthere.
Back then we had a lovely midwive and ped in Germany, but it's about 2 hrs drive from you.

Please keep us updated about the language test, that would be really good to know if you get an exemption. Keeping our fingers crossed for you.
post #15 of 23
Maybe we should have a "sticky post" with the homeschooling and WBV requirements, to parents know what to expect.
post #16 of 23

The BF comment was stupid and the doctors in the hospital where I gave birth EXPRESSLY recommended BF "ad libitum" (=whenever you and the kid bloody well darn feel like it).


Changing the pediatrician shouldn't be a problem, if you feel like it.


You probably will have not much luck where not vaccinating is concerned though. The vast majority of pediatricians fully support vaccinating.

post #17 of 23

You can actually find many docs who accept non-vaccination or delayed/selective vaccination. There is a support network for this in German on the internet, they list docs who are anti-vax and such. You don't need a ped, a family doc is fine too (regular doc, most of the time those are Internisten, the specialty family doc doesn't exist). The WBV are now mandatory, and if you go in too late you have to pay a fee (happened to my sister who due to preparations to move to China forgot about it). They treated her as if she was a negligent parent. It was annoying!

I agree that midwives, the more crunchy homebirth-homeopathy kind will know a doc who's okay with parents who have issues with vaccines and such. My friend had her 1st baby a day before my DD unfortunately via csection for a breech (she was no candidate to go vaginally due to extended internal scar tissue after a nearly fatal accident at age 16) and then had the coolest midwives still who recommended a ped that was ok with that. She's anti-vax (my friend) and all the doc did at the 2 months checkup was we recommend x vaccines today. She said no thank you. All the doc did was to cross vaccine counseling done in the baby's health booklet that you get and they moved on. Not at all the hassle you get in the US (gosh military docs are the WORST).


Homeschooling is mostly illegal unfortunately (and I take offense that it is a law introduced by the Nazis, so they can indoctrinate all kids). These days people consider homeschooling dangerous as dangerous thoguht material might be introduced (!!!), idiotic I know. My mom is a teacher and was livid when she heard people homeschool here, because she believes you have to go to college to be a teacher and parents are underqualified as they didn't study to be a teacher. eyesroll.gif



Oh here a link to all the U checkups: http://www.gesundes-kind.de/u-untersuchungen/vorsorgeuntersuchungen.jsp

post #18 of 23
Originally Posted by nia82 View Post

Homeschooling is mostly illegal unfortunately (and I take offense that it is a law introduced by the Nazis, so they can indoctrinate all kids).

The tradition is actually much older, in some (mostly protestant) territories there were laws about compulsory schooling by the 1500s (not really enforceable at the time...). The first "serious" introduction was in Prussia in 1717. For the whole of Germany, compulsory elementary schooling and the prohibition of homeschooling was actually introduced in the early days of the Weimar republic and thus by the very first democratic state in Germany in 1920, the motive being to integrate the children of the higher social echelons who had traditionally been homeschooled until the later grades (the Nazi motive for reinforcing the prohibition being indoctrination, of course). Interestingly, both the Weimar Republic and the Nazi law provide for exceptions to the prohibition, some laws today don't...not sure whether that makes you feel better about it, I just wanted to throw it out there to set the record straight.

post #19 of 23

Cool I thought otherwise - I never researched it, but that's what friends in Germany told me who wanted to homeschool (unsuccessfully, of course).

post #20 of 23

I guess when people in Germany hear about homeschooling, they think of images like this one : http://agonist.org/files/active/2/homeschoolers.jpg and get a negative view of the whole subject.....

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