Starting expat children in Danish schools as newcomer in Denmark

It’s always amazing and worth looking forward to what life would be upon arriving in Denmark. Mark you, opportunities to explore in Denmark keep growing. For those planning to bring along family, its unavoidable to start thinking about starting your children in Danish schools.

Foreigners getting jobs in Denmark under the Pay limit Scheme or fast-track scheme need to move with families. Most of these professionals have already married and have children. These children need to enroll in school as soon as the family lands in Denmark.

People arriving in Denmark under cultural exchange programs, research, doctorate or Au pair may also end up establishing a family. It means that thinking of schooling for your young ones isn’t out of this world.

Every immigrant in Denmark definately needs to put their children through school

To a great extent, Denmark really embraces the children and provides the best welfare protection to them. It doesn’t really matter whether the children’s parents identify as foreigners or born from mixed races. When it comes to the education of children in Denmark, there’s no discrimination. Not even children of refugees, asylum seekers or expats lag behind. Compulsory education demands that every child goes through the prescribed levels of study. 

Getting to understand the Danish education system as a newcomer

As an expat arriving in Denmark alongside the famil, so much come to play. The mind is obviously already clouded with trying to fit in the extremely closed social system. Equally, you start figuring out how your children will get to start school.

We may assume that enrolling children in the Danish school system needs to be pretty simple. Of course it can be simple for someone who has been in the Danish system. If you already have some children in school, the process is a no brainer as things remain largely the same.

Due to language problems and differences in how education systems, most expats may resort to enrolling their children to international schools in Denmark. This choice may not be a recommendation especially for those who look forward to establishing base in the country for a prolonged period.

Education that promotes lifelong, holistic learning

As a basic starting point, the Danish education system has a particular orientation towards holistic learning. Right from daycare to kindergarten, primary  and all along, the learners get trained on life skills, culture and self care.

At a more advanced level, learners start getting orientation towards their career choices. The career advisors come in handy to railroad the learners towards their best career choices. Here, the learner’s interests, actual school grades and parental involvement play a key role. Eventually, the learner gets properly placed on a path towards self discovery and meaningful careers.

In Denmark, education has three main levels but with other pre-school stages which of course matters a great deal. 

Mandatory education in Denmark kicks in immediately when your child turns six years old and lasts ten years later. After ten years of education, the rest of education isn’t a must have. However, it would of course be a good thing to get higher education. Remember, the world keeps changing and new challenges keep emerging which demands even more sharpened thinking to resolve. 

A schematic representation of the education system in Denmark 

For ease of understanding, an expat parent in Denmark just needs to best understand the compulsory education for the children. These include primary and junior secondary education. Basically, grades 0 to 9 are a must have for every kid in Denmark. 

Here below you can get a clear impression of what education really counts as compulsory and non-compulsory. But as someone who wants the best for your kids, you probably want to guide them towards setting even bigger goals for education.

Structure of Danish education system that every immigrant needs to understand

Danish education system encourages leaners to chat their own path in career and trade choice. Children need not be forced into particular courses or education. A responsible parent who expects own children to be the best has a role to play. From the world class education facilities in Denmark, find a sober way to guide them somehow. What you need to avoid is manipulation and imposition of your choices on them.

When do you need to start your children in Danish schools as a newcomer?

Expats arriving in Denmark come from countries with different education systems. On the first few days of moving family, including children to Denmark, attention shifts to enrolling them in school.

Every child in Denmark must be registered in the population register and be issued with a CPR number. This means that the system ought to automatically notify you when it’s time to start them in school.

Your children must be put in school as a Danish resident from grade 0 to grade 9. As soon as your child attains age 6 mandatory schooling kicks in. It will be expected that you have already selected a school for your child and enrolled them. 

As a point of information, you can choose to have your children going to public primary school popularly called Folkeskole. Alternatively, you may go for private grundskoler and Friskoler (state subsidized private schools). 

The thrill and fun every child gets in pre-school institutions

For the preschoolers, you may choose to take them to Kindergarten (Børnehave) or vuggestue depending on their specific age. These preschool stages aren’t mandatory but count so much in preparing your children for the mandatory school.

Immigrant parents in Denmark must be aware that the delivery of mandatory education happens exclusively in Danish language. Teenage children or even toddlers, need to start in a aggressive learning of language. Remember, knowing Danish as a child helps in building confidence and self-esteem necessary to perform better in the new environment. 

Non-mandatory schooling in Denmark

In Denmark, a lot of jobs lack enough workers. Being a highly industrialized country but with a limited population, getting a reasonably paying job ought not to be a hassle. Of course immigrants may report having to start from a low level but that’s expected as an entry strategy to any new country.

The world keeps experiencing fresh challenges each day and Danish education provides avenues for people to advance their knowledge. So, there are a lot of industry driven and skill-building training programs that build one for their desired careers.

Advanced education is good to have but not a must in Denmark

You will commonly come across categorisation of expertise as highly skilled or highly educated professionals in Denmark. It takes higher education or tertiary learning in Denmark to acquire an advanced capability. These education aren’t a must have but necessary. 

What makes higher education and tertiary learning interesting in Denmark is that those who qualify actually get it free. Aside from the free education in Denmark, learners in institutions of higher learning get state educational grant (SU). This grant lets you focus on learning without the troubles of diverting so much time to fending for yourself as a learner. 

Guiding your child through school in Denmark as an expat

Most expats in Denmark come from countries where educations means a lot. In fact, parents emphasize to their children that without the highest possible education, their life would run into ruins.

In Denmark, parents have a role to play in the education of children. Yes, you may assist with homework and prepare them for school. It’s also okay to share stories with the children on what profession really makes people something amazing but without downplaying the others. 

No forcing your career will on children in Denmark

A parent in Denmark needs to avoid imposing their will about career choices on their children. The education system has a design to make every learner succeeed in a unique way. True to the spirit of Janteloven, no learner is a failure-they only succeed in their own unique ways and based on their individual abilities. Whatever learners choose to pursue should gurantee them a chance to find joy in it and be successfful.

Whether your child decides to become a cheff, a baker, a singer, name it, you must support her in that line. Maybe you would find it fancy and proud if they became top notch engineers or doctors to lead the creme de la creme firms in Denmark but even so, being something else doesn’t make them failures.

If need be, you may talk generally about careers but not lean towards invoking their guilt into pursuing any given one of them. Just be open to let them go ahead with their areas of strength. After all, the teachers in school and administrators pay close attention to the abilities of the learners. They have training to single out the abilities of each child without compromising anything.

At the end of the mandatory education period in Denmark, a national examination is administered to decide which path your child follows next. Based on the lifelong demonstration of skills and abilities plus the performance in this national examination, your child will be either oriented to select a  gymnasium for secondary education or be prescribed for a trade school  if they prove to be more practically oriented. 

Final submission on children education in Denmark

Every immigrant or expat in Denmark has a duty to put their children in school. Whatever your belief in education is, it’s a requirement that your child enroll in education from grade 0 to 9. After this mandatory education, schooling in colleges and universities is a free choice. 

An immigrant may be interested in ensuring that the children get the best out of the Danish system. Actually, there’s minimal if any excuse anyone should have for not making their children get the best learning in Denmark. 

Fredrick Awino

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