Everything You Need to Know About Pre-School Education in Spain

If you’re moving to Spain with your children, or thinking about starting a family once you are settled in Spain, then you may be wondering about what day-care or pre-school opportunities are available in the country. It is widely publicised that compulsory education in Spain doesn’t begin until children are six years of age: that means that you can keep your children at home with you until they are six years old if you wish to. But the vast majority of Spanish parents choose to enrol their children into preschool education. This prepares the child for the routine of the school environment, gives them access to educational and social opportunities, and provides structure to their days. Here’s everything you need to know about pre-school education in Spain, and the wide range of options that are available to you:

When Can You Enrol Your Child Into Preschool?

Many parents in Spain have already explored their local preschools and chosen the school that will best suit their child before that child is even born! This is because children can attend preschool in Spain from as early as three months old and stay in the preschool system until they are six years old.

Preschool education is popular in Spain. This is demonstrated by the fact that, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Spain has an above-average enrolment for children in preschool education. In 2019, 97% of Spanish children between the ages of three and five attended a preschool or other early years education setting. The overall average for all other OECD countries was an 88% enrolment rate.

Unsurprisingly, enrolment rates dropped slightly during 2020 and 2021, with more parents working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they were available to care for their children. Many parents were also concerned about sending their children to pre-school during this period, as they wanted to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus. It is expected that these numbers will rise again throughout 2022.

Should You Send Your Children to Preschool in Spain?

Only you can decide what is right for you and your children, but there are so many wonderful benefits of choosing to send your child to a Spanish preschool or day-care setting. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Giving your child the opportunity to make new friends. Building relationships with other children is important. This will give your child the confidence to grow. It is also a great way to integrate them into the Spanish culture from a very early age.
  • Helping your child to learn Spanish. In a Spanish preschool your child will constantly be exposed to the language, which will help them to quickly and efficiently develop duel language skills of their own. If you expose children to multiple languages before they are five years old, research shows they will use the same part of the brain to learn Spanish that they use to learn their mother tongue.
  • If your child learns Spanish at an early age, they can attend a Spanish public school. Private schools in Spain can be very expensive, so giving your child the tools they need to attend a public school setting could save you considerable sums of money. This will also allow your children to better integrate with native Spanish speakers as they grow up, ultimately boosting their future career prospects by ensuring they are fully duel lingual.

The Two Stages of Preschool in Spain

There are two stages of preschool education in Spain, with the type of pre-school your child will attend being determined by their age.  These stages are:

0-3 Years Old: Preschool or Nursery

In Spanish this stage is known as ‘Guardaria’ and children can stay in this setting from three month of age until they are three years of age. Like almost all educational settings in Spain, you have the option to pick a private or public preschool at this level. It is important to note that, whilst working parents using preschools in Spain are given a tax break of up to 1000 euros a year, attending preschool is not free. It is, however, affordable. The amount you pay is determined by your income. Expect to pay between€150 and €400 per month for a public preschool and between €400 and €1,000 per month per child for a private preschool.

If you choose a public nursery at this age then your child will attend their setting between the hours of 9am and 1pm. If you need extended hours these are sometimes available, but for an extra cost. Private nurseries offer more flexible hours, with most opening between 7am and 9pm. The amount you pay for this convenience will depend on the hours you choose.

3-6 Years Old: Infant School or Kindergarten

When your child is three years old, they will graduate from preschool and move up to infant school (Escuela Infantil). Infant schools are even more popular than preschools, with 97% of children attending this setting. This is because it teaches children the skills, they will need to excel in primary school; infant school children learn to write, read, and count. Not all the focus is academic here either; your child will also learn essential social and emotional skills. Children also take part in daily exercise activities and are encouraged to stress themselves by becoming creative.

One of the reasons that infant schools are so popular is because, if you opt for a public school, they are completely free. If you prefer a private school setting, for whatever reason, you should expect to pay around 500 euros per month, per child. In both settings, the school hours are similar, with children attending between 9am and 4.30pm. Whilst this might seem longer than the British school day, Spanish school children are given a two-hour lunch break. You can either collect your child and take them home for their lunch, or they can enjoy their meal with their peers at school.

How Do You Enrol In a Spanish Preschool?

The way in which you enrol into a Spanish public preschool varies from region to region. Because Spanish public education is, as you would expect, taught in Spanish, the enrolment forms you will need to complete are in Spanish too. This may be different in a private school setting, especially if you opt for an English-speaking private school.

The main criteria for being accepted into a public nursery will be the proximity of the nursery to your home. If other siblings are already in the setting this will also increase your likelihood of securing a place. In most cases, you should expect to register your child directly with the school itself, but if this isn’t the case then visit your local town hall who will be able to provide you with a list of both private and public preschools in your area and advise you of the local application system. Enrolment in a public preschool in Spain takes place between May and September.

Have the following information to hand to make enrolment as easy as possible;

  • Birth certificate for the child
  • Proof that the child is fully vaccinated
  • A padron certificate
  • A passport or TIE number
  • A completed application form

Are you thinking of moving to Spain with your family? Looking to escape the cold and rainy weather in the UK and make an escape to the sun? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, who are perfectly placed to help you find the Spanish home of your dreams. We’re excited to help you make your next move your best move!