What is the Einschulung?
The Einschulung takes place on the first Saturday after the standard school term begins (which is changeable, but this year it's the 5th September) and is for children beginning first grade. It is a special event to welcome the new children who will be joining the school and gives the children and their families the chance to celebrate this big step in their lives. No actual classes take place on this Einschulung day, just the celebration and introduction to the school.
What to bring to Einschulung
Based on what I've seen before, your child won't need to bring their school bag, it is however tradition for children to receive a Schultüte on the first day of school.
You may have well seen these colourful cones around the city and wondered what they are (I know I did up until a few years ago!) These cones are called a Schultüte. They come in different sizes, colours and types. Some are covered in fabric, others use card or wrapping paper. Many stores across the city sell these incl. traditional toy stores (look for the ones with them hanging in the windows) as well as many supermarkets, Karstadt, McPaper etc. Handmade ones can be bought from Dawanda or, if you are feeling crafty, there are plenty of tutorials online for making your own. Here are a few of my favourites:
Red Ted Art Schultuete
San Diego Family Schultuete
Voyage Kids Schultuete
If you need to find the supplies to make your own school cone, you can go to Idee Creativmarkt, Modular, McPaper or one of the many smaller crafts shops.
I am guessing that the ceremony's differ, but they usually occur at the school itself (although some schools hold theirs elsewhere so check the location with your child's school to be sure). Extended family members are often invited to join the direct family for the ceremony but some schools will give a maximum limit on how many people can join, so do clarify this with them to avoid disappointment. During the Einschulung I experienced, the new children entering the first year were invited to sit at the front of the school hall with the family members sat through the rest of the space. There was then a talk by the school head teacher and then a short performance by some children who already attend the school. There were a couple more speeches from other school teachers and then the children were called in to their new school class groups and their teachers took them to their school classrooms whilst the family members waited in the hall. They were then returned to us a while later.
It is traditional for many to hold a celebration for the child after the ceremony. Some make this a major event whilst others will do something a little more simple (as I will!) with a family gathering with cake and drinks and a chance for everyone to chat and celebrate together. Depending on where you live, there is a good chance that many popular cafes and the like will be booked up for this particular day but if you have somewhere in mind, it is worth contacting them and asking if they have a table you can reserve.
So that's it, a guide to the first day of school in Berlin. I think I have covered everything but do let me know if there is any information missing. You can see further school-related posts here.