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School dilemma

(23 Posts)
SenoraPostrophe Tue 15-Feb-05 20:10:59

A bit long this, but I can't stop worrying.

dd is nearly 3. In Spain children start school in the Sep after they're 3 - it's called "preschool" but it is in school, smae hours as school and there is one teacher to 25 children. Not only that, but the teaching practices are somewhat old-fashioned - teachers never have to do any refresher courses, and they do seem to treat 3 year olds like older children - all sit down and do what teacher says. My friend's 3 year old has had an excellent report from his teacher because he can colour in between the lines - he doesn't really speak in class, however.

So i'm worrying about whether or not to send dd. The big advantages are that its free, and that it is likely that one or two of dd's nursery friends will be in her class at school. But i really don't think she'll be ready for such formal schooling.

My alternatives are:

1. move her to a new nursery
2. keep her at current nursery, but swap both to afternoons (5pm till 8pm) - she can't continue in the mornings as there will be no "class"
3. (gulp, can barely bring myself to write this) private school. I don't like this idea, but they have more classroom assistants and one I know of actually does creative stuff.

All 3 options will be a pain in their own way. And i should really wait until i've looked round the local schools. But what do you think?

motherinferior Tue 15-Feb-05 20:12:45

I share your gulps but might also find myself considering option 3. Formal education at this age is a horrid idea, isn't it.

marthamoo Tue 15-Feb-05 20:19:23

All my lovely socialist egalitarian principles go out of the window when it comes to my kids: I would give no.3 serious consideration too (but do still look around the local schools...)

She's only 3, far too young IMO for a formal learning environment. I think ds1 was too young at 4.5 to start in reception - way too much emphasis on "learning" and not enough on playing, social skills and just being a child

Why are we in such a rush for them to "learn to colour in between the lines" <<<sigh>>>?

Caligula Tue 15-Feb-05 20:20:43

Keep all options open and go and look around all the options. When you've had a good look, go with your gut feeling about what your DD could cope with.

Mine is now at 2 playgroups, one AM and one PM, which she loves, but I know that DS at the same age would have loathed it and it wouldn't have been right for him.

Do you not like the formal option because you're anti it per se, or because you think your DD would suffer because of it? (Bearing in mind that all her peers will be doing it?)

SenoraPostrophe Tue 15-Feb-05 20:24:18

hmmm. But It does seem silly to put her in private school now when she's too young to be at school at all!

Caligula - both really. She doesn't do sitting down and listening yet, though she will sit and do something for ages if she's enjoying it. She soemtimes gets put in with the smaller children at nursery when her class are having a story, for example.

Caligula Tue 15-Feb-05 20:27:33

I agree it seems deranged having her at a private school when she's too young for school. Just trying to understand properly - what's the difference between keeping her at her current nursery but in the PM, or moving her to a different nursery? Would she be in the company of her own age group at a different nursery? Or would she be with younger children in both?

SenoraPostrophe Tue 15-Feb-05 20:33:25

I haven't checked yet, but there are a couple of English style nurseries nearby with smaller classes. Problem is, they speak English and half the point of dd going to nursery is to learn Spanish. Also they are further away, and ds is happy at the current nursery - don't want to keep moving them.

The afternoons thing might work, but it's only 3 hours (they go for 4 now) and less conducive to my work.

Caligula Tue 15-Feb-05 20:36:54

Hmm, do you think she would react badly to being moved? I'm ruthless, so wouldn't worry too much about it, but then, my DD is very adaptable and just likes going to new places as well, so it's easy for me to say - I wouldn't have felt that way with DS.

With the Spanish/ English thing, I wouldn't worry too much about it - she'll pick up Spanish within 6 months anyway once she goes to school.

SenoraPostrophe Tue 15-Feb-05 20:39:48

I'll wiat until I've looked at the schools though. The one my friend's son is at has an excellent reputation, but I suspect that the reputation is to do with the amount of formal learning. Also will phone those nurseries. Thanks!

Caligula Tue 15-Feb-05 20:43:49

Good luck.

KatieinSpain Tue 15-Feb-05 21:28:45

Buenas tardes, SP!

Go look, that is what I'm planning on doing. DS turns 3 this May and I'm off to play the foreigner card and ask to see what actually happens and meet the teacher.

All I can say, as reassurance, is that a couple of Australian friends here have 4-year-olds at school and they are all as happy as sand-boys!

Then, go with your gut instinct. TBH, if we'd stayed in the UK, I would have gone private if at all possible. Small groups, opportunities to be creative, more attention - all the most positive things for little ones.

Hope you are pleasantly surprised.

KatieinSpain Tue 15-Feb-05 22:08:10

Sorry - wrong abbreviation, will stick with full names in future!

tigermoth Wed 16-Feb-05 07:25:05

good luck with your looking - hope you find a school that feels right. I too would have felt vey apprenhsive about my lively sons at 3 years old having lots of formal sit down lessons.

IME my children were very resiliant about moving nurseries, childminders etc at that age - it was I who felt more worried. So don't dismiss having a trial run at a nursery or two, just to see how your dd likes them.

miam Wed 16-Feb-05 08:41:55

I really think it is awful that children as young as 3 are made to do structured work. At that age they learn through play - a very important stage of their development. They have the rest of their childhood to be made to endure structured education (something I don't agree with full stop, but that is another issue!). I really hope you can find a suitable alternative. xx

marialuisa Wed 16-Feb-05 09:38:28

The Spanish school may not be as formal as you think, and I certainly wouldn't read too much into the colouring iside the lines comment. To me that simply sounds like the teacher finding something worth praising to boost the child (as you say he has other difficulties)rather than an absolute essential. Why shouldn't a 3 year old be praised for colouring neatly? It may not be reasonable to expect a child of that age to manage to do so, but I don't see that as the same as celebrating the achievements of another child.

My real concern about the Spanish school would be the single teacher for 25 kids. In fairness anyone left to deal with 25 3 year olds single-handed is going to need to instill a certain amount of order to avoid complete mayhem!

SenoraPostrophe Wed 16-Feb-05 21:36:03

marialuisa - the colouring comment was an example. This friend teaches English at the school for half an hour a week (that's the kind of involved mum she is! Might do it myself) and she says it is very formal, in the sense that the children are sat at their desks all the time - probably because it's rather difficult to control 25 3 year olds as you say!

I'll see. The other thing of course is the money: if the business doesn't go as planned private won't be an option anyway.

KateInSpain - that's the right abbrevaition!

GRMUM Thu 17-Feb-05 06:19:47

Hi SP its difficult deciding what to do isn't it? As someone who has been through some of the agonies you are going through in order to decide about schooling for my kids, I'll pass on a few thoughts.

Is the pre-school that starts at 3 compulsory? If yes does this mean that dd will be doing a full "day" at the private nursery/school? I am surprised to hear that they start formal schooling so early in Spain, here in Greece the kindergarden year is still optional, compulsory schooling starts at 6.

I would avoid if at all possible the afternoon hours. Some schools here still work a split shift(too many children not enough places)so half the school goes in the mornings and the other half late afternoons. teachers and parents alike agree that the afternoon "shift" is awful. Most children have far worse concentration in the afternoons.Plus during the summer it is very tiring due to heat.

Bear in mind your future plans. If it is at all likely that you will move back to the UK at any time in the future, it may be worth going into the UK system from the start. On the other hand if you are most likely to stay in Spain I would go for the spanish system from the start. Of course it is possible to change, I have seen children of various ages change at some stage usually successfully, but it is hard on them at first.

My children are in the greek system. At first I hated it, it is also a formal, old fashioned system.Lots of learning by heart, homework from age 6 every day, not as much emphasis on art, music, drama, sport etc as i imagine there is in the UK. However as they have gone through the school (oldest is now 16) I have come to appreciate many positive points and I am now happy with our decision but it is a worry at the beginning.

Rather a long post but I hope it has given you some food for thought!

WideWebWitch Thu 17-Feb-05 06:25:18

I haven't read the other replies senora but I think I'd look around and then make a decision. Is there not an option 4, to send her when she's 5?

KatieinSpain Thu 17-Feb-05 08:49:15

Hola SP!

A friend of a friend told me yesterday that registration starts in March and that I'd need to get it sorted for a place to be guaranteed! I expect it varies from region to region but maybe you should check out the dates.

Have you visited anywhere yet?

marialuisa Thu 17-Feb-05 08:51:37

Sorry SP, am a touch sensitive when MN goes on about the "horrors" of formal education for pre-schoolers as I have a nearly 4 year old who has thrived in such an environment. Horses for courses....Actually one of my school gate friends is Spanish and she's sent her DS to this school because it was as near to the Spanish pre-school classes as she could get. He is a holy terror and she thinks he needs the structure. From the POV of my own family I think the expectations of 3 year olds are quite different to those in the UK.

SenoraPostrophe Thu 17-Feb-05 14:26:08

www - would love option 4, but I work so need to send her somewhere. I suppose i could go back to getting a childminder in (for both of them), but I think it's good for them to mix for language/social reasons.

KatieInSpain - yes march here too, hence worrying about it now.

vess Thu 17-Feb-05 18:50:21

So hard to decide what to do, isn't it!
My advice would be to give it a go anyway. If it doesn't work out, you can always move her. But give her plenty of time (like a month or two) to get used to it. And even if she really, really doesn't settle, I don't think there will be a significant lasting damage...
I don't know the situation there, but if so many children of similar age are doing it and seem ok and happy, then chances are that it can't be that wrong. You never know until you've tried...

whymummy Thu 17-Feb-05 19:18:42

hi senora
sorry you're finding it difficult to decide if it helps just to let you know that i also had to start at 3 was nearly 4 as my birthday falls in december but i was fine and the children still get to go home from 12 till 3 and also days are much longer in spain and the weather is good enough to have 2 or 3 hours of play in the park after school,and anyway they're always on holiday!!!!lol,also my friends back home say there's a lot of playing in preschool so i bet is more or less like nursery,i don't know if this helps but try not to worry i'm sure everthing will be fine
wm x

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