Without a doubt the most stressful part of moving to Spain as a family is finding a school for your kids. An English child starting school in Spain can be a stressful time. You can either choose and English speaking International school or a Spanish state school. The first option is obviously a much easier transition, but a Spanish state school can often be a better option long-term.
We chose a Spanish school for our daughter which has been a learning curve, but a great decision. Here are our tips for an English child starting school in Spain…
Learn Spanish before you leave
It’s important for many reasons to learn as much Spanish as possible before you move to Spain, but even more so for children. Most teachers in Spanish schools will speak little to no English, and all lessons will be taught in Spanish. You may be lucky and have other English kids who can help translate but you can’t rely on this.
As soon as you know you’re moving to Spain, hire a private tutor for your kids. One hour a week for a few months will put them in a great position when they start.
Learn essential phrases
Whether you have a tutor before you leave the UK or not, make sure your child knows some essential phrases before their first day.
Knowing how to ask ‘Can I?’ (puedo), or say ‘I have’ (tengo) or ‘I need’ (necesito) will at least help them with anything urgent. It can be a good idea to write some of these phrases down on a piece of paper to put in their pocket.
Hire a local tutor
Your child will most likely need extra Spanish tuition in their first year or two, and hiring a local tutor will help them to become fluent much quicker. If you don’t speak very good Spanish yourself, you’ll probably struggle with homework so having a tutor can help with this. Schools in Spain give regular tests, so a tutor can also help your child to study for these.
Focus on making Spanish friends
As important as learning Spanish and keeping up with schoolwork is, making new Spanish friends is arguably more important. Having Spanish friends will help your child to fit into the class, as well as learn Spanish quicker. Only sticking with the other English kids will hold your child back a lot.
Join local after school clubs
Extra curricular activities are an extra opportunity for your child to make friends and learn Spanish. If you sign them up to the local dance class or football team you’ll probably find that most of the other children are from their school.
Most importantly, be patient – that goes for both them and you! Starting a new school at any time is daunting, let alone when you don’t speak the language. It will take a while to get used to the different routines and rules, different ways of learning, and working in Spanish. But we’re sure you will be amazed at how quickly your kids settle in and become fluent in Spanish!
We hope that these tips for an English child starting school in Spain will help your kids to get settled in their new school. Try not to let it all stress you out too much, it might take a bit of getting used to but it’ll be worth it!
As always, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch.
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