I have a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by families who are starting school in Spain for the first time having guided and supported many families over the years to find the Best school for their child in Spain (Madrid). The first month can be both exciting and overwhelming for both parents and their little ones, and is always exhausting. It’s wise to take proactive steps to ensure a smooth start to school in Spain. In this article, I will share some trusted tips on the necessary steps you should consider during the first month of your child’s new school adventure in Spain.
- Meet their Class Teacher (Tutor / Tutora)
Your child’s class teacher will be an important figure in their day to day schooling and definitely somebody that you should meet. Speak to the school secretary (secretaría) to schedule a meeting or attend any school orientation sessions that may be offered. Building a strong rapport with the teacher will help ensure open communication throughout the school year. Share any concerns or unique circumstances your child may have, such as language barriers or special educational needs. The teacher can provide valuable insights into your child’s progress and offer guidance on how best to support their learning.
- Sign Up for Afterschool Activities (extraescolares)
Almost all schools offer a variety of extracurricular activities, ranging from sports to arts and sciences. Additional information and signup forms are usually found on the school website. Participating in afterschool activities is an excellent way for your child to make friends, discover new interests, and feel more connected to their new school community. Depending on the school, these activities might take place during lunch break or once the school day has finished.
- Consider Language Lessons
If you have relocated to a country like Spain where the primary language differs from your child’s native language, consider enrolling them in language lessons. These lessons can significantly ease their integration into the school system. Language barriers can be one of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to a new school, and language classes can provide your child with the tools they need to communicate effectively. Consult with the school to explore any additional support language programmes during the school day. And if none available, contact language schools in your area. Another popular option is a private tutor who could come to your home or even online classes.
- Seek Additional Support if Needed
Every child’s educational needs are unique, and some may require additional support to thrive in a new school environment. If your child has specific learning difficulties, behavioural challenges, or emotional concerns, seek assistance from the school’s counselling services or special education programmes. If the school cannot help, try to connect with external specialists.
Or contact helpful associations such as:
- Autismo España
- Federación Española de Dislexia
- AEST Asociación Española de Superdotados y con talento para niños, adolescentes y adulto (AEST)
- Stay Informed and Involved:
Stay engaged with your child’s school life by regularly checking in with their teacher, attending parent-teacher meetings, and participating in school events. Joining the school’s parents association (AMPA) or similar organizations can also help you connect with other parents and become an active part of the school community. This involvement not only supports your child but also provides you with a network of support during your transition. And of course gives you a deeper understanding of the internal workings of the school.
- Parents WhatsApp groups
Love them or loath them, these groups can be a valuable way to connect with other parents, stay informed about school-related matters, and build a sense of community. These chats can be a great way of putting yourself out there and if language is a challenge, text messages can easily be translated 😊 The challenge can be finding out about the groups, a good starting point is your child’s teacher who almost certainly will not be in the group but will know other parents who can add you.
7. Family time
The first few weeks are truly exhausting for all of the family members, as parents we worry as much or even more about our children’s experience at their new school. Remember to take time out as a family to enjoy all that Madrid has to offer, both in the evenings and at weekends. September is a great month in the city with near perfect temperatures and people still basking in post holiday glow. Ánimo
In conclusion, starting in a new school in a new country like Spain can be a challenging experience for both children and their parents. However, with the right approach and proactive steps, you can help your child settle in and thrive. Remember that building strong relationships with teachers, exploring extracurricular activities, addressing language barriers, seeking additional support when needed, and staying engaged in the school community are all essential elements of a successful relocation to Spain.
Sinéad Galvin’s extensive experience as an education consultant fuels her commitment to helping families successfully navigate the Spanish education system and discover the Best school for their child. Sinéad founded Steps into Spain, a boutique education consultancy situated in Madrid and offers a variety of school search services. Take a look to learn more about these services and how they function. If you’re ready to begin or want more information, feel free to reach out to Sinéad.