Family Sabbatical in Spain
Replies: 6 - Last Post: May 13, 2013 8:27 PM Last Post By: randyfreeby
Apr 15, 2012 7:55 PM
Family Sabbatical in SpainMy husband and our three kids (5,7,9) are hoping to move to Spain in January for 4-5 months. Any suggestions on living in Spain with children? We would like the kids to go to school while we are there, but also have the flexibility to take trips occasionally and pull them from school. Has anyone tried this? Any suggestions on supplementary homeschooling materials?
Apr 17, 2012 2:01 AM
I live in France with my husband and our three children ages 4, 14 and 15. we are on a family sabbatical ourselves for a whole year. Our kids are in school (public French School). We were able to enroll them because we had a special visa that made us temporary residents for a year.
I would advise you to call up the spanish embassy and ask them directly if and how to put your kids in school. It's the most direct route and fastest way. If you start now they may say that the kids need a special visa to attend school and this will give you enough time to apply for their visas.
Another route is, call up some private schools in Spain and ask them what they need to accept foreign students for part of the year..
Good Luck to You..
Apr 20, 2012 7:07 AM
2Traveling with kids in Spain rocks! We've been traveling the world as a family non-stop for 6 years ( to 44 countries on 5 continents so far on just $23/day per person!) and Spain is one of our bases. So we have a ton of experience in this area and you should check out the Spain section of our soultravelers3 blog:
We didn't have any problems enrolling our child in a local school in a small white village and it was a great experience. We are monolinguals raising our child as a fluent as a native trilingual/triliterate and she speaks, reads and writes just like a native. ( We are in tropical Asia now working on her Mandarin).
I suggest a local school in an area with few English speakers so they can absorb as much of the language as possible (NOT private international schools). We traveled for 7 months of the year ( via our RV) and had her in school just 5 months in consecutive winters and still go back ( consider Andalusia and also Barcelona as two of our homes where we have friends that we reconnect with every visit and immerse deeper in the language/culture). We had no trouble taking her out and often took her out as well during the school time...they are pretty mellow in Andalusia.
Last summer's visit:
Making friends will be easy there..Spaniards love kids!
Apr 20, 2012 7:18 AM
3BTW, I don't think you need a special visa for Spain or France as I have known families on a tourist visa ( 90 days) who enrolled kids in school in both places. I think the law in Spain is that any one can go to school there ( even illegals like from Morocco) and the school gets paid for each kid, so they are pretty open about it in Andalusia ( though there are a ton of papers to fill out). It is easiest to handle these things on the ground in person and speaking some Spanish helps ( although I've known some who did it without knowing a word of Spanish).
Kids come all the time without knowing any Spanish, but young ones pick it up quickly in immersed environment ( and our school gave help to the newbies and one can hire private tutors as well). Of course the more you help them before going, the better and easier it will be. Here are a few tips on raising a multilingual kid that worked for us:
Also we homeschool all year in English ( and keep up with Spanish in Asia and Mandarin in Spain etc) so have written a lot about that like this:
Hope that helps...you will all have a ball!
May 11, 2012 4:46 AM
4We have lived in Spain full time for the last two and a half years and our children (now 9 & 12) have been in spanish school most of that time. It's a massive paper trail to enrol them which requires rental contracts, medicals, Identity numbers etc all of which takes a while to get together. My kids love it at their school now but found it pretty tough to start with (aged 6 and 9) - school days are long - 9am to 4.30pm for primary, lunches predictably awful, no half terms and with full time school you end up with starving, knackered kids who are struggling to fit in and understand what's going on.
It sort of depends what you want the children to get out of those months. If it's fluency in Spanish it's unlikely to happen in that time frame especially if you take them out frequently. They'll pick up 'playground' spanish very quickly but very little else. You also need to pick your area carefully - in Barcelona they will be taught mostly in Catalan, although a law has recently been passed to include Castellano (traditional spanish), where we live (near Valencia) our children are taught in both castellano and valenciano (similar to catalan), and there are many other regional languages across Spain. Having done it I actually think the distinction between the languages means that the castellano spoken here is very pure, compared to the 'Andaluz castellano' spoken further south.
If it's friends and someone to play with then that too can be problematic, as they might be able to communicate but you can't with the parents or the child which makes playdates a bit tricky, plus lots of spanish families are pretty insular, especially to foreigners, as they have seen plenty come and go before. International school fees aren't that bad and one of the ones near us is completely bilingual.
Also the weather in most of Spain from Jan to April is unsettled at best, cold and wet more likely - yes it rains here! In Andalusia the last two years they've had two of the wettest winters on record. Where we live has one of the best climates in Spain and winter is cold, houses are damp, pool/sea are freezing and it's hard to appreciate the lovely outdoor life that Spain has to offer. If I was coming for 4 months I would think about March to June or September to December. I put up with winter here because of all the rest.
Have a think about a tutor 5 days a week for an hour (which we did to start with and the kids loved), and then relish in all the TIME you have together, rather than trying to fill it up. Look at language immersion schools in the cities - lots of them will do special programmes for kids. They still find someone to play with at the playground in the afternoon.
For homeschooling we use the Dorling Kindersley Learning Ladder series to keep their english up to speed.
Sorry if this sounds a bit negative, but I'd rather tell it like it is!
Mar 14, 2013 12:20 PM
5Wow, interesting how 3 different families can have 3 different experiences, but that makes sense too as Spain is big and each school and area will be quite different. Even Andalucia is huge and the weather ( and rain) VARIES a lot.
Our 4 winters in Andalusia seem to be VERY different than travellingmum.
Our school was 9am to 2pm and the kids just took a sandwich, so we didn't have that problem and mainly sun every winter. It can get cold at night, but our white village was in a sun belt that got sun over 300 days a year.
My husband speaks a bit of Spanish and my child has been hearing it from birth, so that certainly helped us.
I do have to agree your kids won't be fluent in a few months, but the best free lunch gift you can give your kids is learning another language and immersion is the best way. Just supplement it before you go and after.
I recommend a small village with no or very few English speakers and we found the people extremely open and caring and easy for our child to connect with. She had her first play date planned when I picked her up from the first day of school!
If you homeschool, you just won't get the same kind of value as you do through immersing with a local school. I think it is very worth it, but each family is different .
Hang with the Spanish locals not the unhappy Brits or Germans. Some have been in Spain for decades and can't speak a word of Spanish. Sad. You will miss the whole joy of Spain if you don't connect with the locals!
I love homeschooling, but local foreign schools are the easiest and cheapest way to give languages to your kids! ( It's worked for both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese for us, so we monolingual parents are raising a trilingual. )
Yes, it can be a little uncomfortable for the child at first, but support them and they will thrive.
May 13, 2013 8:27 PM
6My husband and I with our two children (ages 5 & 7) will be spending July and August next year in Spain. We are trying to figure out where to settle down and rent a small house and are looking to all you experts with experience living in Spain with families. All we know so far is that the south is extremely hot during that time of year and filled with northern European tourists. So we've been looking at towns in the northern 1/2 of the country. Ideally we are looking for a cute, safe town that has enough going on to keep us and the two kiddos engaged (maybe even some community kids camps or something) but close enough to city to do cultural day trips.
Any suggestions appreciated. It's a country full of gems and we look forward to learning more. Thanks!
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