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Know any good schools in France or Spain (for 2 and 4 year old)?
Thread poster: Anjo Sterringa

Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
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Jul 1, 2004

Hi! I am really posting this for my sister, who is Dutch and lives with her family in the South of Portugal.
Parents: Dutch (both) Environment: English, German, Dutch. Street: Portuguese. School: English.
Children: almost 4 and 2 years old. They speak mainly Dutch and the oldest speaks some English as well.
So they are really a monolingual family living in a multilingual environment (I hope this forum is for them as well....
Their main problem is to find a school for the children. They have not found any 'alternative' Portuguese schools (=>giving the children's personal development a lot of room) and the English (nursery) school starts giving children homework at the age of 4. What happened to playing and having fun?
They are now thinking of moving to ..... Denmark (?!). Now I am sure there must be people with good experiences with their children's education in Spain or France! Any ideas are welcome, I would hate to see my sister move to Denmark (nothing wrong with Denmark, but it is even colder than the Netherlands!).

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-07-02 00:27]

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Kit Cree  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
French to English
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fitting in is important Jul 2, 2004

our experience of the state school system in Spain has been very positive. we're also a monolingual family (English) and we've found that going to a regular Spanish school is the easiest way for our children to feel part of what essentially is their culture. add to that small classes, a family atmosphere and a big dose of normality....we're very happy. we should remember that it's OUR choice to be 'different' and that most children just want to fit in. we should meet them half way really.
please note that foreign languages are introduced at 3 here. at my son's school they can do english and basque (optional) and later french in primary. nick even had a native english speaking teacher this year!
i think we're very quick to write off the state schools but certainly in Navarra, they are a real luxury.

[Edited at 2004-07-02 09:51]

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Robin Jackson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
German to English
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Consider Waldorf and Free schools Jul 2, 2004

Hello! In reading your note it occurred to me that the problem is not so much how to find a school with the right language combination, as how to find a school that is appropriate for young children -- with an emphasis on play and freedom, rather than homework and advancement. I would look at Waldorf (or Rudolf Steiner) schools, and there are some in France and many all over Europe, including the Netherlands and Denmark, although not in Spain, unless I'm mistaken. The website for the French Waldorf schools is There are a couple of "free schools" in Denmark, one of them called "Yggdrassil", I think, and information about free schools is available from a link at the Sudbury Valley School website. Waldorf schools are wonderful for pre-school, and they are good for elementary school too, although there is usually pressure from parents to do more academics. Free schools are based on a very interesting concept, and you can read more about them at the Sudbury Valley website. I am homeschooling my children, but I have had them in Waldorf and Montessori and public school (in the U.S.), so let me know if you have any other questions.

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Local time: 02:40
English to Spanish
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Waldorf schools in Spain Jul 12, 2004

I know of Waldorf school near Madrid in Las Rozas(private) and of another one in La Navata (public or state). Both are in very nice residential areas within easy reach of Madrid.

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Local time: 02:40
German to French
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Not all schools are the same! Jul 15, 2004

Hi anjoboira!

Why don't you post this question on the Portuguese forum as well? You could perhaps specify a little bit more where your sister exactly lives and, who knows, someone of them could be able te recommend a school there...

Your sister should think about this: not all the schools are the same, neither Portugal nor anywhere else in this world. I am not sure that so called 'alternative' schools for example always give the childrens' personality more room. They often just support another philosophy. I know some 'alternative' schools, for ex., where they try to make of lefthanded children righthanded ones...
(I am not speaking about the 60s of last century, but about the 21st century!).

My sister (bilingual family) lives in Spain, her daughter (now 5) spent 2 years in an expensive Spanish private school. Talking with neighbours who also have children, my sister got the impression that this school was not better than some public schools all around, just more expensive. From September my niece will go to the nearest public school, and I think that is the best solution (she had to spend onr hour the bus to go to the private school!)

Maybe the director of the nearest Portuguese school is a nice, cultivated and open person and your sister could have a look there?
Looking at Portuguese children on the street, the beach etc., I do not have the impression that they have less room to develop their personality than German kids, for example. And the Portuguese adults do not seem to be more frustrated than we are here, at the contrary!

And - would it be a present to give children more psychological room to develop (supposingly), but less physical room, moving to a Northern country (Netherlands, Danmark, Germany, what is the difference?!) where you have to spend more than half a year inside the house?
(I know what I am talking about, we are going to move to Spain
at the end of next year!)

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