British Children In Spanish School - Credit Where Credit Is Due

Published on 29/01/2008 in Kids in Spain

Schools and Education in Spain Guide

Schools in SpainAt the school where my children go they are currently running a free course in parenting. I have attended the course because I cheekily see it as an opportunity for free Spanish lessons and also because it gives an insight into another culture’s attitudes to child rearing. It surprises me how concerned the mothers are about the state of the youth just as we are in the UK.

Their primary objective is to nip it in the bud at a young age to avoid problems once they get into their teens. I have to say, as the mother of twin five year olds, I fully agree with this attitude. The most recent topic was the role of the family in the child’s upbringing. They went on to talk about the obvious issues which are issues in the UK too, leading by example, not shouting etc. More or less the types of things that programmes like Super nanny advocate which incidentally does exist in Spain, albeit a Spanish take on the original British version.

They focused on socialisation for a while. As we all know successful socialisation of a child involves agreeing common values and sharing similar habits, ideas and conduct themselves accordingly.  They went on about how a family has certain norms of behaviour in the home which may differ from expectations outside of the home such as school.

This got me thinking about the British children who are doubly expected to play two very different roles i.e. behave in a British way at home and adapt to a Spanish way at school. Of course, the fundamentals will be similar for both British and Spanish cultures but I am sure that there will be many differences too. It isn’t just down to speaking in different languages but it is actually down to more than that.

We are dealing with cross cultural socialisation. They will be expected to eat different types of food, at different times of the day. They are also in an environment where people generally speak much louder so not only will they have to speak louder to be heard but louder in a different language which takes a lot of confidence. It may be that some of their British ways such as queuing just don’t serve them well in Spanish school where you have to muscle in or get trodden on. Of course, they will adapt as much socialisation is indirect and learned by being with other people i.e. in the classroom.

When I was a child moving schools from one end of town to the other was traumatising enough for me and I couldn’t have dreamt of what it would be like to go to school in a foreign country. We don’t really give the British children the credit they deserve especially the ones who start Spanish school past the infant school years. When your parents decide to make the decision which totally turns your life around as an eight or nine year old, you are really going into the unknown.

Most of the British children that I know seem to cope fantastically despite their parents having very little input or communication with the school. Likewise, there doesn’t appear to be much “sympathy” on the schools part as the British children are expected to get on with it with very little emotional support. I have to say though do get on with it and nobody panders or makes allowances for them on the account of the upheaval that they are going through. Such issues simply aren’t recognised. Nevertheless, with regards to the role of the family they are obviously doing something right as these children are getting through school and doing what they are supposed to do.


Written by: Susan Pedalino

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Women In Spain




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