When do children start kindergarten?
Children generally begin their schooling at age four in kindergarten or a similar classroom setting at the age of four. The deadline for enrolment is usually 31 July. This means that children who have turned four by the end of July, will start kindergarten after the summer holidays. Some cantons in eastern and central Switzerland have a different cut-off date.
People who want their children to start later (or earlier) need to apply to the school board for this in most cantons. In some cantons you can decide this yourself.
How long does compulsory education last?
In most cantons, children are required to attend school for 11 years, including the two years they attend kindergarten.
Primary school, including kindergarten, usually comprises eight years. Secondary education usually comprises three years. In Ticino, primary school lasts seven years and secondary school four years.
The website of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education provides an overview of the cantonal school structure (web page available in German, French and Italian) for each canton.
Children can be sent to a public school or they can be homeschooled. Contact your canton for the specific rules and conditions.
The aim of school is also to support children experiencing difficulties at school, children speaking a foreign language and gifted children, and integrate them into normal classes (the last two web pages are available in German, French and Italian).
Gifted children have the option of starting school earlier or skipping a grade. In addition to the curriculum, children speaking a foreign language can take intensive language courses. Special support is provided to children experiencing difficulties at school during their regular classes.
If integration into a normal class is not possible or sensible, children are placed in a special class or schools tailored to their needs.
The school year starts in August.
The following chart lists school holidays (web page available in German, French and Italian) for all cantons. School holidays for your specific school are available on the website of your commune or of the school.
Getting a child to school is the responsibility of the parents. The communes only provide support if the route to school is very long or too dangerous.
Pedibus (website available in German, French and Italian) is an option for small children, where adult volunteers accompany groups of children on their way to school.
Getting to school safely
Parents can contribute to safety by teaching their children safe conduct in road traffic. The old saying still holds true: ‹Wait, look, listen, walk.›
Drivers can help protect children on their way to school by driving safely and paying attention to signs indicating the beginning of school after the summer holidays.
Chart with school holidays (web page available in German, French and Italian)
School structures in the different cantons (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Support for children speaking a foreign language (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Gifted children (web page available in German, French and Italian)
Pedibus option for walking small children to school (website available in German, French and Italian)
Video on how to get to school safely (video available in German)