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Starting Pre-School

By Jo Green - Wed 15th Sep 2010

On leaving the initial meeting for registration of our 3 year-olds at pre-school in Spain back in June (click Registering For School Part 1 to read blog), us parents were told that the school would 'be in touch' with details of when the next meeting would be held, and at that time we would be told the exact start dates and the full acclimatisation procedure.

We were fortunate that our daughter had remained friends with many children who would be moving on from Nursery to Pre-school over the summer months some English, some Spanish so we were confident that word would get to us, and that between us all we would figure everything out.

The phone call came on the Thursday, asking us to meet up at the school on the following Monday. We were told to leave our daughter at home ( to save confusing her ) and to bring 3 passport photos of her (to put on her coat hook and on her desk, and one for her records) and 3 Photo's of 3 of us together (so the teachers could recognise us at the school gates and know who they were authorised to let take her home).

This we did, and attended the meeting with a heavy heart, knowing full well that it would be held in Valenciano once more, and that we would struggle to keep up with things.

As it turned out we understood more than we thought we might. Maybe it was a combination of many of the words sounding similar to Castilian, checking the details with our friends, or just plain common sense either way it wasn't too daunting and we were very impressed at how organised and well planned everything was.

3 years old is obviously very young to be starting school by British standards and the 2 classes of 16 were planned to be amalgamated slowly over the course of a week in 4 groups of 4, each attending for 1 hour per day, coming together into groups of 8, then 12 and finally 16. The second week was to rise to 2 hours per day, until at last she would be attending school, in a full class of 16, between 9am 1pm for September at least.

From October to the end of May the school would have 'Comedor' in other words offer lunch, followed by a short siesta on a cushion & blanket that we had to provide, and then school would continue from 3pm to 5pm. The cost of Comedor would be 3-80 Euros per day and a minimum of 3 days per week had to be taken (or not at all, in which case the child would go home for lunch and return for school at 3pm). Comedor was not offered in June and September as, being Summer months, the school did not open in the afternoon.

Meaning Childcare issues once again, for those working families without family living closeby.

One of the Mums was asked to volunteer to collect a 20 Euro per child contribution towards 'materials' notably pens, paper, crayons etc... our first thought was that this seemed odd as parents of school children in the UK would not have asked for this. However, after thinking about it more closely, children at 3 years old in the UK were mostly still at a nursery and the costs associated there were significantly more than 20 Euros per year !

A second Mum (and I'm not being sexist here, just that 90% of the Dads were at work) was asked to form an 'Ampo', or a group who would try and source a good deal for that year's chosen books, on behalf of everyone. A kind of purchasing committee, if you will.

I myself work in the next Village and travelling will mean that I miss both ends of the school run, however, my partner works from home and so we are lucky that we have the flexibility to be able to do this. However, our daughter's old nursery also makes provision to do an 'after school collection' whereby they will pick her up and give her something to eat and entertain her for as long as needs by.

For my daughter's sub-group, school starts on Weds 15th September, where she will taught exclusively in Valenciano up until the age of 11. Her teacher will remain the same for these 8 years, moving up to Infant school and then Junior School with her, which seems a great idea.

A one- to-one appointment has been arranged after her first week so we can find out how things are progressing, and at this stage (apart from our own linguistic inadequacies) we are really pleased with how things have panned out.

Maybe I will have more to report back after we have actually gone through with starting pre-school in Spain soon !

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