Getting off to a good start at your Swiss primary school

If you are new to Switzerland and have children starting local primary school in August you are probably wondering what you will need for your children’s first day for primary school. The good news is: Not much! 

‚I was quite pleasantly surprised when we arrived here to find that the school provided everything‘ (Heike)

While you will not have to worry about buying books or stationary, there are still some items that you need. Your school will provide you with a list of items that your child should bring.

What does your child need?

Once you have your list you might find that some of the items are easy to look up on google translate, but others are hard to find. 

So, if schools ask for Hausschuhe it is pretty clear that these are indoor shoes but what about Malschürze or Schulthek? Malschürze refers to plastic painting apron or art smock. A Malschürze is usually available at Manor or Tchibo stores or a bigger Migros supermarket.

Talking about indoors shoes…Many primary schools in Switzerland ask for geschlossene Hausschuhe (closed indoor shoes) for younger kids as these are deemed safer. Also, if your child goes to Mittagstisch (lunch club ) or Hort (after-school care), you will probably need 2 sets of Hausschuhe. 

A Schulthek is the big square school bag that your child gets in first grade that seems impossibly big for a small first-grader. You can spend a lot of money on a school-bag but keep in mind that from grade 3 onwards, your child wouldn’t be seen dead with a childish Schulthek, preferring a fancy back-pack instead. You get reasonably priced Schultheks at department stores, such as Manor or Coop. 


As for the rest, the school will usually ask for Turnbekleidung and Turnschuhe, meaning a basic sports outfit with Hallenschuhe or ohne schwarze Sohle (indoor sports shoes or without black sole). No need to be fancy, a pair of leggings and a T-Shirt for younger children are more than sufficient! If your child has swimming lessons, you might have to get Schwimmbekleidung (a swimming costume) and a Badetuch (towel) and Shampoo. As your child will go on school trips, you might also want to buy some Wanderschuhe (hiking shoes). 

Some schools send out this list by post, others give it out on the first school day, so do not worry too much if you do not have everything on the first day! Now relax and have a good start at your Swiss primary school!


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