Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: The first day of school


You might have seen the news about young Prince George starting school this week and today my British niece started primary school too. I received dozens of cute photos of her in her uniform grinning broadly, totally excited to be starting at last. And this made me think about the difference between that very first day here in Germany and over there in England! It’s all a bit different and many students ask me about the differences.

I attended the first day of school for my German niece a couple of years ago, and everyone was there watching the school welcome in the new intake of schoolchildren. All the children were clutching their “Schultüte”, enjoying the fun and I was a little taken aback because there was a lot of celebration and not a lot of school! A family get-together followed and presents were showered down on the sweet, little thing. She had a great day.

The first main difference is that in the UK, children start school in the school year when they turn five. The school year runs from September to August so if your child has their fifth birthday any time within that period, they will start in that first week of September although there is now a process available to apply to delay entry for one year if you think your child will not be ready in that September. Yes, most children will not yet be five - unless they have a birthday on 1st September! - and some might even be just four – if they had an August birthday for example. This may seem very young for German thinking, but the first year of school, which is called Reception, is a bit similar to Kindergarten – just in a school setting. However, they will definitely begin learning to read, write and do their sums. There will be a lot of playing and they will stay at school all day. Most schools have a uniform and I can’t tell you how cute they look.

We don’t have a tradition of “Schultüte” in England though. Over the years, I’ve given three nieces and a nephew their very own German cone full of presents and they love it. It’s extra special for them because of the fact that no one else in their class will have one! Isn’t it lovely to be unique? This year’s recipient isn’t much taller than the cone itself! What fun.

Another main difference is that there’s no celebration as such. Mums, and sometimes dads, will take them along to school on that first day and wave them goodbye as their new teacher leads them into school for assembly (a coming together of children and staff at the beginning of the school day) or maybe just onto lessons. Photos will be taken and no doubt shared on social media (I’ve been stalking FB and IG all day for cute shots) but that’s about it.

I’ve asked my sister and my niece was in school just for the afternoon 1 - 3.30 on day one and for the rest of the first week, and she will start all day school next week. She and her partner took my niece to school and met up with the teacher at the classroom. Parents and children were showed around the classroom and where their coats and book bags are kept, and then were able to stay and settle the children down for as long as they needed. However, my niece was keen for them to leave as soon as possible as she was super excited just to be there and get started!

When they collected her, they had a mini-celebration at home – just the four of them – but she was pretty tired after all that excitement and just wanted to watch TV! Ha ha!

It’s all a bit more low-key than the German equivalent but it doesn’t mean that the children don’t love that first day any less. If you could see my niece’s beaming face, you’d see that it was just about the best day she’s ever had – so far!

Here’s to the next 14 years!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 69: Joking around in Scotland