Starting school in Switzerland…

With the summer holidays coming to an end, it is nearly time to start school. Is your child among those setting off for their very first day of school? Do you live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland? If so, here is what the Einschulung or Schulanfang (school enrollment/first day of school) is all about…

While school officially starts with Kindergarten, for most parents and children, the first day of school is in ‘big school’. The Schulanfänger (school starters), also called ABC-Schützen, (abecedarians) will impatiently wait to take their Schulthek or Thek (a heavy-duty, almost box-like school bag) out and pack their Etui (pencil case), containing Buntstifte (coloured pencils), Farbstifte (coloured pens), Bleistifte (pencils), Lineal (ruler) and Radiergummi (eraser) and Spitzer (sharpener) and, last but not least the Znünibox (snack box)! Parents will be given a leaflet with what to pack for a healthy snack. Anything not deemed healthy, including sweet and salty snacks, such as chocolate or muesli bars or crisps are taboo.

Children will also need a Turnbeutel (sportsbag) with Turnschuhe (indoor sports shoes) und Turnbekleidung (sports clothes) and often also a Duschtuch (small towel for the shower) as well as Finken (house shoes for the classroom). Normally, Schulbücher (books) and Hefte (exercise books) or Mäppli (folder) are provided by school.

In some regions near the German border or with a sizeable German population, some children will also take a Schultüte (school cone, filled with sweets and school material) on their first day to school. This is not a Swiss tradition though and the majority of children will probably not have one.

The child’s parents both accompany their Erstklässler (first-grader) to school where they are usually received by the Schulleiter (head) and Klassenlehrpersonen (the prospective class teachers).
In some schools, there is a little ceremony including a welcome address in the Aula (assembly hall) and older students might perform some songs and poems. After the ceremony, the Klassenlehrer will lead children and parents to the Klassenzimmer (class room). Parents can come along and will usually stay for a little while, before the teacher asks them to leave. The remaining hour or so until lunch gives children the opportunity to settle into their new environment. After that, parents can take their children home.

On their first day, children will normally receive the Stundenplan (lesson plan) and a yellow Leuchtweste or Lüchzgi (fluorescent vest or triangle) that they need wear on their Schulweg (journey to school).
Drivers will be reminded to take extra care at zebra crossings with the slogan: ‘Rad steht, Kind geht’ (cars should come to a complete stop before the child crosses).

Ich wünsche Euch einen guten Schulanfang! I wish you a great school start!

For more information on schooling in Switzerland visit: www.livingswitzerland.ch

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