Girls at school
Last week the Department of Education in Catalunya published the official 2011/2012 school timetable. Schools will be starting on September 12th and finishing June 22nd. Many parents were hoping that schools would be allowed the possibility of operating on a jornada continua schedule in which teaching hours would be concentrated in the mornings and then children could finish the school day at 2pm. Unfortunately, this will not happen and schools will continue to run on a jornada partida schedule with classes in both the mornings and afternoons. This means that in general, children don’t leave school until between 4-5pm.
I know that for many expats here in Barcelona, this is an important issue. Obviously, if you work full-time, having a long school day for your children starting from a young age is ideal. However, for those of us who don’t work, or who work part-time, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Many of us come from countries where it isn’t customary for a child to begin all-day school until they are five or six-years-old, so the decision of whether or not to send a 2 ½ or three-year-old to school for several hours a day can be very difficult.
Some schools are fairly tolerant about letting parents pick up younger children for lunch and then keep them home for the afternoon session. Unfortunately, my son Nico’s school was not flexible about this which meant that it was all or nothing.
This was the process that went on in my mind when we first moved to Spain and I was faced with the choice of whether or not to enroll Nico (then three years old) in school.
-Well, on the one hand, 9-4.30 seems like a really long day for a such a little kid. Maybe I should just keep him on part-time at his nursery?
-But that’s really expensive. Plus there wouldn’t be any other kids his age and most of the activities are geared towards younger children. Maybe he’d get bored...
-Perhaps I could just send him to school in the mornings and bring him home for lunch and then back again after?
-But then I’d be spending hours every day just walking back and forth from the school.
-So maybe he should just stay there all day. But it’s such a looong day!
-So maybe I should just wait until he’s four to begin...
-But then he might not get a spot in the neighborhood school and then what will we do?
Basically the above sequence of thoughts just ran in a loop through my brain throughout the several weeks it took me to make the decision.
In the end, I decided to give it a shot. I sent him to school and it actually worked out just fine. What I do regret is that I feel like I have very little time to spend with him. He loves school but when he gets home, he’s exhausted. Then by the time he eats dinner and takes his bath, it’s pretty much time to go to bed.
I would have loved the opportunity to pick him up at 2pm everyday so that I could have more time with him but at least for now, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. How do you all feel about the long school days in Barcelona? Have any of you chosen to hold off on enrolling your child in school? If so, what alternatives have you found?