Children in Germany start actual school (Grade 1) at the age of 6. The answer to the first question should determine if your child should go to a State/Village/Council run German school or to a Bilingual school or to an international school.
If your stay in Germany will not last more than 2 or 3 years, then the natural choice would be a Bilingual or an international school, because you don’t want the child to feel alienated to English when you get back to India. (No, English isn’t taught as a subject until Grade 4 in local schools if you thought so). But this choice needs some introspection in terms of financial planning, as you need to spend a good amount of money towards education. In some cases, the companies do support the employees with the fees. So if your stay is short and if you can also afford, then Bilingual or International schools would be the best choice. But the application and selection process for these schools start during May and get completed by July. So your travel dates should be planned accordingly. ”If you think, “why not a local school ? “ , Imagine your child attending 3 years of school learning German in a local school, and start 4th grade in India., where the child would be expected to ANSWER IN DETAIL IN ENGLISH. So foresee the consequences before making a decision.
On the other hand, If you do see a future beyond 5 years, then the local school would be the best option. The education in state run schools is free of cost which is a huge advantage, but the initial challenge would be the language. The lower the grade , the lesser the challenge. Children find it hard to adapt in the beginning, importantly if they are used to the schooling system back in India. Children would feel left out and isolated. But , these issues and fears fade away in no time before you could even realize it. As parents, you should be mentally tuned to handle the heart breaking moments in the beginning and do all that you can to support and help the child. Keep talking to parents like you for reassurance and support. If your child starts schooling at a higher grade(grade 3 and above), then looking out for external help for language assistance is highly recommended. Local schools give utmost importance to German language and grammar skills. The local parent group should be able to give details about this. Most schools offer integration courses, but that wouldn’t be sufficient.
Post Grade 4, the children are categorized based on their academic achievements and performance during the primary school and are sent to different schools accordingly. Those are called the “Gynmnasium”, “Realschule”, “Mittelschule”.
Once you are done with your city registration, locate the nearest “GRUNDSCHULE” using maps. You can walk in and directly apply by filling out a simple form during the working hours. Ensure your child completes 6 years of age by September 30th of that academic year(If you are applying for grade 1).
Also ensure that you apply for the day care facility that’s available (Commonly called Hort or Mittagsbetreung) immediately after applying for a school seat. The space in such a facility as widely claimed is hard to get ,more so if one of the parent isn’t working. But luck could play a role, so no harm in applying. This would just ensure that the child spends good time out of school with other kids which in turn aids in learning the language and hence quicker integration. The day care support could cost anywhere between 100 and 200 Euros per month, which requires a bit of financial planning .