Einschulung, noun: the process in which your little bundle of joy is initiated into the German school system. This is an absolute rite of passage in Germany and many deem it, rather poetically, “the end of childhood”. It may cost more than Christmas.
By Katie Kruse
The Einschulung (“schooling-in”) is for children starting 1st grade and is a pretty big event, during which children and their parents or guardians celebrate this next big step together. The kiddywinks aren’t expected to have at the books on the very first day though. That’s because the first day is a Saturday and a cause for major celebration. Children from other grades sing welcome songs, the kids are introduced to their teacher and are shown around the school and their classroom. In Berlin, the magic Saturday this year is 27th August 2022.
What to bring?
On the first day of school (did we mention it’s a Saturday?) your child will need their Schulranze (rucksack), that’s the giant house-sized bag in the corner, the ergonomics of which are probably highly acclaimed and yet your child wobbles dangerously while wearing it.
Usually, you’ll have received a letter with a list of all the necessary school supplies at an information session. These can go in the rucksack on the first day. Children also receive a Schultüte (aka Zuckertüte – sugar bag!) at the Einschulung and parents, this is very much your responsibility, whether you buy ready-made or get crafty with the glue gun.
What’s inside the Schultüte?
A Schultüte is a large cardboard cone traditionally filled with school supplies, but often also with sweets and toys. They come in various different sizes and you can find them in most stationery shops. You can buy plain ones to decorate yourself or you can look on Etsy for bespoke ones.
The Einschulung ceremony
You’ll receive an invitation by post for the Einschulung ceremony from the school at which your child is registered. The ceremony may differ from school to school, but most commonly the head teacher will introduce themselves, there may be songs or a short performance from older children and the children’s names will usually be called out before the class enters the school with their teacher. There might be refreshments and a bit of mingling between adults while the children have a little mini-lesson. You’ll be told when to come back to collect your child.
The Einschulung is a big deal in Germany, and most families will have a private celebration afterwards. It’s a great excuse to pull out all the stops with your best Kaffee und Kuchen. If you’ve invited the whole extended family and want to take them out, book well in advance. Every 6-year old in Berlin will get “eingeschult” on the same day – 27th August.