Berlin provides sufficient child care facilities for children between the age of 8 weeks and 6 years. Child care facilities (in German called Kindertagesstätte, short Kita) are usually open non-stop from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (sometimes even 6:00 p.m.). The fees depend on the income of the parents and on how many hours per week your child is to receive child care. Child care is free of charge during the last year of kindergarten before your child is to attend school; only a contribution for the meals of approx. 23 euros per month has to be paid.
In order to enroll your child in a Kita, you need a voucher (Betreuungsgutschein) which is issued by the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) of your local residents’ registration office. Then you contact the administration of the Kitaof your choice and hand in the voucher. Please be aware that this has to be done within two months after having received the voucher.
Please note: Spaces are allocated as early as spring of the respective school year (beginning in August or September). Many preschools/Kitas also admit children during the year, if there are vacancies, so you may be able to enroll your child at a later date.
Freie Universität Berlin has its own cay care center that provides places for up to 165 children from the age of 8 weeks up to 6 years. Information can be found here.
There are a number of international and bilingual preschools in Berlin.
Nannies usually look after several children in their own homes during the day. They care for young children (usually between 8 weeks and 3 years) on a flexible time basis. Nannies can be found through newspaper ads or the local youth welfare office. If you contact a nanny through the youth welfare office the monthly fee will be estimated on the same basis as for presschool (in Germany called Kindergarten; i.e., income, number of children, hours per day). You also need to apply for a Kita voucher if you want to place your child with a nanny via the youth welfare office.
Babysitters care for your child for a few hours during the day or in the evening. They can best be found by word of mouth or through ads on notice boards in supermarkets and preschools. You should also ask both your neighbors and colleagues for recommendations.
All children aged 6 to 15 have to attend school in Germany. First they are enrolled at the Grundschule (elementary school, grades 1 to 6). After completing elementary school, pupils choose one of the following secondary schools:
In some federal states the Gesamtschule (comprehensive secondary school) is organized not according to subject preference, but to individual ability and combines the various types of schools. For subjects like German, foreign languages, and mathematics, there are courses offered at different levels. The kind of certificate attained mainly depends on the levels of these courses.
Note: In Germany, school classes are generally only held in the morning between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. In elementary school the time spent at school is usually even shorter and classes are more irregular. Exception: all-day schools (Ganztagsschule) which in addition to timetabled lessons in the morning offer an all-day program comprising at least seven hours per day on at least three days per week. They provide afternoon activities that have a conceptual relationship with the lessons in the morning and a midday meal.
Pre- and after-school care centers affiliated to schools (Hort) look after children during specific hours prior to and after school, e.g., from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. These facilities include lunch and supervision of homework, and allow time for play. Costs amount to approx. 80 to 120 euros per month. Application has to be made at the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) of your local district.
Attending state-run schools is free of charge. If you have a child to enroll, contact the administration of the school of your choice. There you will receive information about the class to which your child will be assigned and whether additional German lessons are offered for children from foreign countries.
Berlin has several European schools with bilingual programs. Within the network of the Berlin State European School (Staatliche Europa-Schule Berlin, SESB) there are 18 elementary and 12 secondary schools. Beginning with grade 1, 50 percent of lessons are taught in German, 50 percent in the partner language. To be admitted, the partner language must be the student’s native language or the student must speak the language as well as a native speaker. All standard German school-leaving qualifications can be attained.
A number of public and private international schools also offer bilingual classes or instruction in English or French only. Public international schools are, like state-run schools, free of charge. Private international schools are quite expensive and some of them are inconveniently situated on the outskirts of Berlin. A list of these schools can be found here.