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My daughter's 1st term at Spanish School

By Jo Green - Sat 1st Jan 2011

The school year started for our 3 year old daughter on the 13th of September. The 'soft start' system that they have - whereby the class of 16 is split into 4 groups of 4, and then they are slowly brought together - was an advantage to some, but less so for my daughter, who was in the final set to be acclimatised. That said she took to school like a duck to water and I don't think we have seen tears once at all in the whole of her first term.

It must be a really big thing for her - not only has she had to adapt to totally new environment and set of friends and teachers, but she has also had to get used to a new routine and structure, such as doing what she is told and sitting still for long periods of time and concentrating - a big ask for a 3 year old. Add that to the fact that she is now doing this in 3 different languages as well - oddly she is taught English as a foreign language. I say 'taught' - her teacher tells me that as her English isn't all that good, my daughter teaches most of the class herself.

Once September was out of the way the school hours changed from 9am-1pm (afternoons off) to 9am-12am and then back from 3pm-5pm (June follows the same hours as September and the whole of July & August school is closed for the summer).

Halfway through October school introduced extra hour-long optional lessons at lunchtime : Co-ordination; Dancing; Yoga; Theatre and English. These came at a cost of 9 Euros each per month - except for co-ordination, which was paid for by the Town Hall.

This meant that our daughter was only at home for two hours during the day - not really long enough to have lunch and a siesta, which more often than not meant that she was very tired when she came back from school and in bed quite early.

At the end of November all of her class were invited up to the 'big school' for 5-12 year olds at the other side of town, to take part in the Spanish equivalent of harvest festival, which seemed to comprise learning about and trying different fruits and veg and other produce and playing games with the older children, who were tasked with looking after the ones. Fortunately she already knew a few of the older kids and once again took to this and adapted really well.

The week before christmas the class were invited to go to the Theatre to see a nativity play in valenciano. This involved going on a large coach and it looked really strange to see a couple of dozen 3 year olds struggling to climb the steps of a coach ready to be sent away on their very first school trip.

The term ended on the 23rd Dec, with a visit from 'Papa Noel' in the afternoon. The kids had spent the morning writing a letter to give to him, and making a decorated bell to ring for his arrival. The parents were invited to come and see him as well and everybody was given drinking chocolate and bars of chocolate from Santa. The ensuing sugar rush meant that everybody hung around for an hour whilst the kids went crazy and burned off a little energy.

We were given the books containing the work that she had done over the term, and could see that she had clearly identified number, colours and letter and written her own name in her own handwriting. We knew that she could do it at home in all 3 languages, but it was re-assuring to see that she was not confused about which language to use on which occasion when at school.

Term starts again on the 7th Jan, once the Fiesta of the Three Kings is out of the way. There is no 'half-term' break in Spain like there is in the UK and so it looks like a long slog up to Easter.

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