Homeschooling in Germany: Is your child eligible?

By Anna-Maria Pfeffer
Stuttgart Law Center

student study bookHomeschooling is more common in the United States than it is here in Germany. Only military and civilian sponsors of school-age children with status of forces agreement status have the option to conduct homeschooling. There are many families in this military community that choose to educate their children in the home. If you have been homeschooling your child, or if you wish to do so now, you should start by reaching out to your child’s Department of Defense Education Activity school. Also, Child and Youth Services can provide you with additional resources, such as websites, to help you homeschool your child.

However, if you do not have SOFA status, the German rules apply. Concerning homeschooling, the overall attitude of the German legislation and jurisprudence is pretty simple, yet strict. According to the German Federal Constitutional Court, the parents’ natural right and duty for the care and upbringing of their children is secondary to the state’s duty to supervise the entire school system. Therefore, there is a general duty of every child of a certain age to (physically) go to school. The arguments brought forward by the court are mainly ruled by integration, tolerance, participation in groups and dialogues, as well as the development of social competence and assertiveness, which are considered basic qualities of a human being living in a democratic society.

The German states (“Länder”) expressed this constitutional rule in their school laws. For the Stuttgart area, the law of Baden-Württemberg applies. In sections 72 to 76 of this law, it says that children have to attend a school for a minimum of nine years, starting at approximately six years old. If parents do not send their children to school, the German authorities will take action. Exceptions from this rule are possible, but very rare, hard to argue, and require a written request in German in advance.