Primary School

Primary school (Dutch: lager onderwijs; French: enseignement primaire; German: Grundschule) consists of six years and the subjects taught are generally the same at all schools. Primary schooling is free and age is the only entrance requirement.

Primary education is divided into three cycles (Dutch: graden; French: degrés):
First cycle (year 1 and 2)
Second cycle (year 3 and 4)
Third cycle (year 5 and 6)

Education in primary schools is rather traditional: it concentrates on reading, writing and basic mathematics, but also touches already a very broad range of topics (biology, music, religion, history, etc.). School usually starts about 8:30 and finishes around 15:30. A lunch time break is usually provided from 12:00 to 13:30. Wednesday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday are free. While morning lessons often concentrate on reading, writing and basic mathematics, lessons in the afternoon are usually about other topics like biology, music, religion, history or "do it yourself" activities.

Flemish schools in Brussels and some municipalities near the language border, must offer French lessons starting from the first or the second year. Most other Flemish schools offer French education in the third cycle. Some of the latter schools offer non-mandatory French lessons already in the second cycle. Primary schools in the French Community must teach another language, which is generally Dutch or English, depending on the school. Primary schools in the German Community have obligatory French lessons.

There are also some private schools set up to serve various international communities in Belgium (e.g. children of seafarers or European diplomats), mainly around the larger cities. Some schools offer special primary education for children with disabilities or other special needs.