How is school in Poland?
In Poland, children have been going to school since 2012 when they were six years old (previously they started school when they were seven). Some children also go to kindergarten, the Przedszkola, beforehand. On the other hand, one year of preschool, the Zerówka, is compulsory, so to speak, the zeroth grade.
The primary school here is called Szkoła podstawowa. It lasted six years until 2017. However, with the 2017 school reform, the time was extended to eight years. Previously, after primary school, students went to Gimnazjum for three years. That corresponded to the intermediate level. The “grammar schools” have now been abolished. All children still go to school together, so they are not split up – up to eighth grade. Then follows the high school, it starts in the ninth grade.
Those who want to do the Abitur then go to the Liceum ogólnokształcące for another three years. The Abitur is called Matura in Poland. But you can also go to a vocational school or to the technical center, in which case the Abitur is combined with vocational training. At the end there is an exam.
The school year always starts on September 1st and ends next June. The grades in Poland are from 1 to 6 – however 6 is the best grade here! That’s why no Polish student likes to come home with a 1.
Most children learn English as their first foreign language from the fifth grade. But you can also choose German, Russian or French.
The school reform of 2017
So in 2017 there was a school reform in Poland. Not only were grammar schools abolished and elementary school extended, but there were also new curricula, for example in biology and history. New school subjects were introduced, for example chemistry in elementary school. Many primary schools do not have a chemistry laboratory at all. Check educationvv to see schooling information in other European countries.
Children in Poland
What are the names of the children in Poland?
In Polish, maiden names always end in -a. Boy names end in a consonant. The most popular girl names are Zuzanna, Lena, Julia, Maja, Zofia, Hanna, Amelia, Aleksandra, Alicja and Natalia. Boys are particularly often called Jakub, Antoni, Szymon, Jan, Filip, Kacper, Aleksander, Franciszek, Mikołaj or Wojciech.
Pet names in diminutive form are very popular. Agnieszka then becomes Aga, Iwona becomes Iwonka and Hanna becomes Hanka. In boy’s names Jan becomes Janek or Krzysztof becomes Krzyś. The most common surnames are Nowak, Kowalski and Wiśniewski.
Childhood in Poland
And what do Polish children like to do? There are many additional offers through schools and less through associations like ours. In the school there are sports groups, music lessons or working groups. Polish children like to eat pierogi, bigos or barsczc. You can read what that is here.
A lot is eaten, especially at family reunions. It is best when the table bends with all the delicacies. In addition, there is lively partying and singing. The family is very important to the Poles. As with us, there is now only one child in many families. This makes the friends you meet to play with in the afternoons all the more important.
Alone at home
Many Poles work abroad, for example as nurses in Germany. They then leave their children alone for weeks – mostly with their father or grandparents, sometimes they are looked after by neighbors, sometimes they are all alone and on their own. Then they have to take care of the household, shop, wash and clean – and of course still go to school. It is estimated that 100,000 Polish children live in Poland without a mother and father.
Christmas in Poland
How do Poles celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is the most important family festival of the year in Poland. The houses and streets are already decorated for Christmas in Advent. The Christmas tree is put up on Christmas Eve.
Around 5 p.m., a Christmas wafer is broken into pieces and distributed to all family members. It is a very thin pastry on which Jesus, Mary and angels are depicted. Everyone goes to each family member with their oblate, breaks off a piece of the oblate and gives it to the other. You wish the other all the best and luck for the next year. Then there is the wigilia.
What is Wigilia?
Wigilia is the traditional Christmas meal used by Catholic Christians in Poland. It is taken with the family before the pasterka. It is only allowed to begin when the first star has appeared in the sky. The fixed menu consists of twelve dishes and these do not contain meat. Often they include pierogi, beetroot soup, a yeast plait and carp or rollmops. Each guest should try each of the twelve dishes. All dishes are on the table at once, so they are not served one after the other. Traditionally, a place is left free in case an unexpected guest comes to visit.
Sometimes there is some hay under the white tablecloth, which is supposed to remind of the birth of Jesus. But you can also put a coin under the plate to ask for a money blessing for the next year. After dinner you sing songs and open the presents.
At midnight the family visits the Pasterka. This is the Christmas fair in Poland. Some families attend two church services, one at 10 p.m. and one at midnight. Christmas carols are also sung, and the Polish Christmas hymn “Bóg się rodzi” is a must.
And of course everyone also wishes “Boze Narodzenie” – Merry Christmas!