It’s September and those of us lucky enough to live on the Costa del Sol can enjoy beautiful sunny days and warm nights, without the crowds – it’s one of our favourite times of year. However, it is also the time when reality returns, the kids head back to school and work begins again in earnest, so we wanted to give you some advice to manage the back to school rush.
The International Schools head back earlier, starting around the 1st or 5th of September, but the Spanish schools take longer to return, with most starting around the 12th of September.
If your child goes to a Spanish school, or will be starting this year, don’t be alarmed not to have received any information. It’s quite normal to wait until the beginning of September to know anything at all, something which causes a lot of nerves for international parents. The teachers arrive back at the beginning of the month and then a few days later you can expect to see pieces of paper outside the school gates telling you things like start times, parents’ meetings and book lists. The book shop closest to the school, may already know what books are required, so go and ask them if you want to get ahead of the game. It’s also a good idea to find your school’s AMPA (PTA) on Facebook, as they often post the important information so you don’t have to be at the gates every day.
For parents of 3 year olds starting Spanish school for the first time, you need to be prepared for shorter hours for the first week at least. They try to ease the kids in gently with just a few hours the first day, increasing it gradually over the first week. Some schools take this even further into the first month, which is tough for working parents, but works well for children who have never been away from home before. Make sure you ask as soon as you can so you can make arrangements.
There will normally be a parents’ meeting the week before the start of school, or a few days ahead of the start date. This is an important meeting as you will meet the teacher, be given book lists and information about what the children will be studying that term. The date and time for this will normally be posted in front of the school, so keep your eye out from the beginning of September.
At this meeting they will also tell you how much money you need to pay for materials for the year if you have younger kids, normally between 20 and 50€. You will be informed about a bank account to pay this into and this money enables the teachers to do their projects, decorate the classrooms and generally make the year more interesting for the kids.
Ask if there is a class What’s App group and make sure they have your number, as this is an excellent source of information throughout the year, even if your Spanish isn’t that great. There are often days which spring up when the kids have to dress up, or bring something in and if your child isn’t very good at giving you the bits of paper they come home with, this is a very important resource!
Reach out to the class representatives and any other non-Spanish parents and try to make connections, even if it’s just to say that your Spanish isn’t very good. If you show yourself to be approachable, you will have better chance of making friends, as well as getting people that you can ask if you’re not sure about anything.
This is a stressful and expensive time of year for parents, especially if it’s a new school, but don’t worry, you and your kids will soon get into the swing of things. Just know that most parents haven’t got a clue what’s going on either, so you can be clueless together. Ask your child and hopefully they will help you though it!
Have a great term! You can find more useful information about healthcare, language learning and education on the Costa del Sol on our website and we can help you settle in to your new life here, providing quality long term rental properties and lots of practical advice from experts who have been through it all themselves.