Nurseries - yes or no?



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Maybe a Solution to your problem...

Hi Johanna,

I read your article as I am in a similar situation as you. My Partner Daughter (21 months) and I have been living in Barcelona for the last month and have started looking for work.

Our daughter Lily was in Child Care in Australia and was really benefiting from socialising with other children. But for the last 5 months since we have been travelling she hasn't had alot of contact with other children other than at local parks etc.

I was thinking that maybe if you were interested I could babysit your son for the mornings that you required and that way my daughter also has a little play mate.

Or if you have already found a childcare for your son, If any other mothers were in the same situation I think this might be a great alternative to childcare.

:) Amy

Amy Robertson more than 5 years ago

insightful comments

Thanks so much for your insightful comments Maria.

Johanna more than 5 years ago

Socializing young children

Thank you for the article. At last somebody is addressing the elephant in the room. On what expert basis can people suggest that young children need socializing? Expert studies I have seen usually say the opposite that kids DON'T need to be playing together at a young age but instead need ADULT input and guidance! You do not learn from other kids how to be sensitive, patient and empathetic grown-ups. Why indeed is there zero discussion of this issue in the national press here? My experience has been that Catalan parents first show conviction in the fact that guarderia is the best choice for their child but when pressed further avoid discussion of the issue or say they they have no choice. I imagine that not everyone truly thinks that it is best for their children but are following suit in some type of collective delusion that it is fine for kids to be institutionalized from the age of 4 months. What will this generation of children be like, can we know? Perhaps yes if we only spent some time reading the expert studies on young brains carried out over the 25 years since we have been encouraged to put our kids into this type of care? If only the guarderia option had a better child to carer ratio then it might go some way to being acceptable. At 10 babies to a carer or 18 to 1 for toddlers, this type of childcare should not be available. What is needed is better quality care and better working hours that allow parents to at least have part-time if not full-time care of their children. My biggest concern is why it is that the international community of parents here often gets sucked into the normality of guarderia without question. Some expat, non-working mothers even feel the need to full-time their kids at nursery rather than look after them at home! Hiring and sharing babysitters is a great option if you need some time off or getting together with other parents (of whom there are many like you) is a wonderful option for kids' play. Spending lots of time with your kids when they are young is important for building parental tolerance and patience. Perhaps this is why you see so little of this on the home from school and guarderia runs or in the interaction with children in general here.

Maria more than 5 years ago

Shared Cared Option

All though there is no registered child-minding scheme in Spain as there is in both the UK and France, it is possible and affordable to share a carer for your child. Guarderias are not the only option if you would like you children to play with others (or before the age of 3 alongside other in parallel play isn't it?) There are plenty of qualified candidates in Barcelona posting on sites like

Emma more than 5 years ago

social pressure

It's true that there is a lot of social pressure towards the guarderia. The ironic thing is that we have the complete opposite problem in the US in that there is a lot of social pressure to stay home with your kid and you are made to feel like a bad parent if you send your child to daycare. We need a middle ground!

Johanna more than 5 years ago

The pressure

I've come to terms with the fact that the pressure to put my child in a guarderia is completely cultural. From what it seems, the locals consider it a place to learn, which I'm sure they do. I just don't like being criticized for my personal parental decision to take care of my own child as if I had her completely isolated all day and she couldn't learn anything from being with her mother.

Also, I wonder if the recommendation to put them in a guarderia also has to do with trying to put women to work to support the weak Spanish economy. A family friend's mother from Pais Vasco said they recommend kids go to school at 2! Interesting....and kids from Finland are supposedly the smartest in the world and start at age 6 or 7? Hmmm....

J more than 5 years ago

balancing act

First, I think all kids are really different and I respect mom's decisions on putting in or leaving them out of daycares. That being said, my daughter got bored with me at about 6 months, which is when I put her in (6 hrs a day) in the US. She likes playing with kids non-stop. Let's face it we don't live in villages anymore where groups of kids are always playing together, modern times means more isolation. In that respect I think nurseries are really good. My daughter is happier there and she gets the social interactions she needs. We were lucky to find an international one where Castellano and English are spoken (mostly the former though). I think kids will learn the language no matter what. My daughter is learning three (maybe 4 I have no idea how much catalan she learns from other kids). Personally, I would have never chosen for her to learn Catalan or Spanish because we are here temporarily and she is already hearing Dutch and English at home. I really see that she is behind in language skills and frustrated compared to her monolingual counterparts.

We have to travel an hour a day to get to her daycare, but there was room for adaptation, which was really important. I had to yank her out of a local guadaria (half private half public) after I week. Because she was upset at pick up every day, which had never happened before. It didn't even cross my mind that they could be so strict: no adaptation, no lingering at drop off, inflexible pick up times, closed doors, terrible teacher student ratios...

There are a different set of questions that need to be asked before putting a kid in a guadaria (diff from the US, and I am assuming the UK as well from what I have heard). Mainly covering those issues.

Sunny more than 5 years ago

home-based childcare

Thanks for your comment Jenny! I've also wondered why there isn't more home-based childcare in Spain. In the US you can always find people who are licensed to take care of children in their own homes- in this way your child can socialize with other kids but still have something of a home atmosphere. They don't seem to have that at all here though...

Johanna more than 5 years ago

Child care - long days!

Hi - yes, it's very different from the UK. We did the same as you and had a person look after the kids at home in the mornings until they were older. I am always surprised at how many people are unquestioning about putting their kids in nursery for very long days at a very early age - or who think it's the best option for the child. It's a shame that they don't have home-based child carers here.

Jenny more than 5 years ago

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