Children in Germany start school at the age of 6 and subjects are the same for all students from grade 1 to 4. After the 4th grade, they are separated according to their academic ability and attend one of three different kinds of schools: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium.
The Hauptschule (grades 5-9 in most German states) teaches the same subjects as the Realschule and Gymnasium, but at a slower pace and with some vocational-oriented courses. It leads to part-time enrollment in a vocational school combined with apprenticeship training until the age of 18.
The Realschule (grades 5-10 in most states) leads to part-time vocational schools and higher vocational schools. Students with high academic achievement at the Realschule can switch to a Gymnasium on graduation.
The Gymnasium (grades 5-13 in most states) leads to a degree called the Abitur and prepares students for university study or for a dual academic and vocational credential. Subjects offered here include classical language, modern language, and mathematics-natural science.
Beyond the Haupschule and Realschule lies the Berufsschule. This combines part-time academic study and apprenticeship. When the student successfully completes the apprenticeship program, he earns himself a certification in a particular trade or field of work.
No matter what kind of school a student attends, he/she must complete at least nine years of education. German children only attend school in the morning. School life in Germany also means more homework and very few extracurricular activities.