Monday’s a big day for the majority of the children living in U.S. military communities around Europe as the school doors open for another year.

But for thousands of others, Monday might not carry the same significance.

Each year, many parents choose to teach their children at home or send them to local schools off base, and their classes may already be under way, or will be starting later.

Military and Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe officials don’t have an official count on the number of these students. Although parents who home-school their kids are supposed to register their children with the base’s school liaison, “We know not everyone does,” said David Ruderman, DODDS-Europe spokesman. “And we don’t really have a way of tracking it.”

If they did, those parents would be eligible to receive some assistance from DODDS, Ruderman said. Sometimes that means students can take individual classes, such as art or chemistry, or participate in extracurricular activities.

From time to time, the school system also has extra textbooks available in some subjects and parents can pick them up at the school library, he said.

Other students attend local national schools outside the base, and Ruderman said those numbers are even harder to come by. Schools in countries such as England, Germany and Italy are similar in some ways to American schools, but different in others.

Students in German schools in the states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate return to school on Monday. But those in Bavaria don’t go back until Sept. 12 and those in Baden-Württemberg wait until Sept. 18.

A typical German school day is six 45-minute periods, beginning at around 8 a.m. and letting out at about 1 p.m. Some days, students might have fewer periods scheduled and some days more.

After fourth grade, students are separated into three secondary school programs: Hauptschule (grades five through nine); Realschule (grades five through 10) and Gymnasium (grades five through 13). Graduates from Gymnasium can go on to college or university.

The official start of the term at many schools around the major U.S. bases in the United Kingdom is Sept. 1, though individual schools have discretion to set a different date.

American parents in the U.K. tend to send younger children to British schools because of a perception that primary schools offer somewhat-accelerated programs outside the base.

In high school years, however, American students tend to gravitate back to the DODDS system because the British system requires students to start choosing specific career options and narrowing course loads to fit those choices as early as age 16.

Italian schools don’t start up again until Sept. 11 in most of the country.

All students there are required to attend primary schools through eighth grade. They go six days a week, including a half-day Saturday.

After eighth grade, students attend liceo, where they receive classical or scientific educations for five years and often go on to attend universities, or a variety of technical or professional schools. Such schools are similar to American vocational schools, where students leave with specific job skills, but they also contain a basic general education element.

Staff writers Ben Murray in the United Kingdom, Michael Abrams in Germany and Sandra Jontz in Italy contributed to this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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