I’ve had several inquiries about my son’s German school, so I thought I’d share a bit about it. Many people wonder why we chose to send him to German school, even the principal of the school wanted to know why since apparently not many American’s do. My answer? To learn the language. I have studied German on my own and through a couple classes and while I can get by just fine as a tourist, I cannot have an intelligent conversation in German. The best way to learn conversation is through immersion.
Some of the benefits of German school are that it’s only 4 hours a day. He is home in time to eat lunch every day of the week. Also, because he is in first grade and was in second grade in homeschool, he is not learning anything new academically, so he can focus solely on learning German.
I also love that they teach religion in school. He comes home singing songs he learned about Jesus and tells me things he learned about the apostles. They get two weeks off, not for “holiday break” and “spring break” but for Christmas and Easter. To celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. I think it’s pretty cool that rather than undermining or diminishing our religion at school, they support it. They also have a big emphasis on being active. He has sports day once a week and every day they have 3 breaks where they can play outside with all sorts of fun equipment that would be banned in the US because of our liability laws. Germans have the idea that if you’re stupid and get hurt it’s your fault, so they don’t eliminate things for everyone because of one or two nitwits.
Some of the challenges are that I HATE having him gone. It disrupts our whole day since in the past I got all our reading and such done in the morning so afternoons would be free. It is nice to have time with just Joshua and Grant in the morning, but I can only do a few things since we do most of our school together. Also, he has homework every day. I hate homework. He hates homework. It’s just busywork and since it’s so easy and boring I have to fight to get him to do it. He is responsible for writing his homework down in his planner book and sometimes he doesn’t write it all down. He’s starting to get better, but it’s time taken away from MY schooling and I don’t like it.
German cursive is different than English cursive, but fortunately he’s a quick learner and has figured it out. Sometimes he gets corrected for doing the “wrong” letters (English style). They also do some things differently like capitalize every noun rather than just proper nouns and they write their 1’s and 7’s different, so it’s taken some adjustment for him to get the rules down. His teacher doesn’t like his doodles around the edges of his notebooks (he love turning numbers into little people) or his wiggling in class, but those are minor offenses and frankly I don’t want my child to be a conformist.
Learning the language is harder than we thought it would be for him. He can understand many things and has a perfect accent, but still doesn’t feel confident to speak German. He’s spent his Easter break attending a language class (where he claims he isn’t learning anything) so we’re hoping he’ll start to gain a bit more confidence. I also need to be better about speaking German at home, I’ve been really lazy about it.
Will we send the other boys to German school? Probably not. I would love for them to spend a few hours a day at the kindergarten to learn the language, but both schools are full and next year when they lower the starting age from 2 to 1, they will have even more children. If Joshua doesn’t learn basic German, I will not send him to 1st grade there next fall. Our landlord has offered to help the boys learn a bit, so I’m hoping it will help to have them exposed to German more. And maybe when the weather finally gets above 30 degrees we’ll discover other children in the neighborhood they can play with.
One thing sending him to school has done is solidify my decision to homeschool. I will never send him to public school again if I can help it. I cannot even imagine him being gone the entire day, it’s hard enough having him gone until noon. Since he’s cooped up in a classroom all morning, by the time he comes home he is so full of energy ready to burst. It takes the entire rest of the afternoon and evening for him to wind down and get all his wiggles out. I like to know what he’s learning and spending his time doing and know I can accomplish so much more in a morning of relaxed reading on the couch than all day seated in a chair in a classroom. For now, he’ll keep attending German school as long as he continues to enjoy it and continues to learn the language.