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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Spain

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2013

Family life in Spain

When expatriates talk about their family life in Spain most of them feel they are happier now than they were in their original countries, even though the economy in Spain still looks gloomy.

People in Spain tend to have a family oriented, slow pace of life. It is quite common to see family members of three or more generations living together in the same house. Parents go out to work while grandparents help with house work and take care of the children. Parents will travel back home to join their family members in the middle of the day to have their lunch. Family gatherings commonly take place between 8pm and 10pm.

For more information about family life in Spain, please see https://familylifeinspain.com/.


Childcare in Spain

In Spain the age for compulsory education is six. Many children, especially for those up to three years old, are looked after by their family members.  On the other hand, there is a high enrolment rate for nurseries and pre-schools (Educación Infantil) in the age group of between three and five years old. Some information about childcare and pre-school education can be found here: https://spain.angloinfo.com/family/toddlers/childcare/.

When you move to Spain finding a good childcare provider is on the top of your to-do list. In Spain childcare service is usually  of excellent quality, no matter in a kindergarten (Guarderias), a nursery, or a pre-school.  There is not much difference between a kindergarten and a nursery, despite a kindergarten usually only accept children over three months old. Children can usually stay in a nursery for the whole day. A typical state nursery can cost you around EUR250 per month, including a meal. You can use the following website to find a kindergarten or nursery near where you live: https://www.spanish-living.com/children-childcare-spain/nurseries-guarderias.

The Government of Spain claims to offer sufficient pre-schools to all children between three and five years old free of charge. There are normally 20 to 25 children in each class. It would not be difficult for an EU citizen to find places for their children in Spanish state schools. When you complete  the enrolment application you should provide; the child's passport, birth certificate, proof of address and a certificate of registration at the Town Hall (certificado de empadronamiento). Expatriates from outside of the EU should also provide their residents permits.

There are other childcare providers such as babysitters, nannies, private nurseries, international schools or private schools.  Baby sitters are normally teenagers who temporarily care for children. Some nannies may provide bilingual services. For information about international schools or private schools, please see https://www.spanish-living.com/children-childcare-spain/private-international-schools . You can find advertisements on local newspapers and websites. However, to avoid dispute, it is suggested that you should use an agency to find a proper provider.  

Spanish is the main teaching medium at all levels in Spain, although there are about 1,000 bilingual state schools. There is a general view that younger children are more likely to settle in a foreign country quicker than their older counterparts, including learning the language.  You may want to consider bringing your children to Spain as soon as you feel applicable.  

For further information about education in Spain, please see State School Systems for Expats in Spain. You also can find further information about education in Spain from the Ministry of Education and Science (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia) here https://www.mecd.gob.es/portada-mecd/.



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