Americans Moving to Spain with Children a Complete Guide

  • February 1, 2024

Helping expats in Valencia choose the right school for their children.

Emigrating to a new country can be a thrilling yet challenging experience, particularly when children are involved. One of the foremost priorities for expatriate families is finding a suitable school for their children. In Spain, the education system offers a variety of options, ranging from public schools to private and international institutions. This article aims to delve into the intricacies of the Spanish education system, shedding light on the different types of schools available, associated costs, and considerations for expatriates seeking a seamless transition for their children.

British School of Valencia is a popular choice.
Know how schools in Spain work compared to the US

Understanding the School Landscape: In Spain, schools are broadly classified into three categories: public schools (colegios públicos), partially state-funded private schools (colegios concertados), and fully privately funded schools (colegios privados). The latter often includes international schools, which are the primary institutions in Spain that offer education in English.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, Social Policy, and Sport, approximately 67% of Spanish students attend public schools, while 26% opt for state-funded private schools, and the remaining 7% enroll in fully private institutions. Notably, state education in Spain is entirely free up to the university level, with parents only required to cover the cost of school supplies. Private schools, on the other hand, necessitate payment through monthly or annual installments.

Should I choose a private or public school in Spain?

Diving Deeper into School Types: Public schools, known as colegios públicos, are government-funded institutions that provide free education to students. While they predominantly follow the Spanish curriculum, some may offer bilingual programs or language courses to cater to the growing demand for English proficiency.

Partially state-funded private schools, or colegios concertados, operate on a combination of government subsidies and parental contributions. These schools often offer a more affordable alternative to fully private institutions. However, their curriculum aligns closely with the national education program.

Shown here, the British School of Valencia has the highest academic standard and university placement near 95%. It also comes with a 600 to 850 per month Euro cost depending on age group.

Fully private schools, or colegios privados, are funded exclusively by private means, whether through tuition fees or other sources. International schools usually fall into this category, providing education in English and often following an international curriculum. Some of these institutions may receive partial subsidies, contingent on a minimum percentage of Spanish students.

Financial Considerations: While subsidized private schools (colegios concertados) generally offer a more economical option compared to fully private institutions, parents may still find the cost of education a significant consideration. Fortunately, many schools provide scholarships to alleviate the financial burden for deserving students, making quality education more accessible.

Navigating the System in Valencia: For expatriates settling in Valencia, finding the right school can be facilitated with the help of experienced advisors. Leveraging both personal and professional insights, these advisors can guide families through the myriad of educational options, offering recommendations based on individual needs and preferences. Whether seeking a local or international school, these experts can help streamline the process, ensuring a smooth transition for children into the Spanish education system.

More tips for moving to Spain with children

Moving to Spain with children from the US can be an exciting adventure, but it requires careful planning and consideration. Here are five important tips to help make the transition smoother:

  1. Research Education Options: Familiarize yourself with the education system in Spain and explore schools in your desired area. Consider language barriers and whether your children will attend a local Spanish school, an international school, or homeschooling. Ensure that you understand enrollment procedures, curriculum differences, and any required documentation.
  2. Obtain Necessary Documentation: Ensure you have all the required documentation for moving to Spain with children, including passports, visas, birth certificates, and medical records. Research any additional paperwork needed for enrolling your children in schools or accessing healthcare services.
  3. Plan for Healthcare: Familiarize yourself with the Spanish healthcare system and ensure your family has access to medical care. Research health insurance options to cover your children’s healthcare needs, whether through private insurance or Spain’s public healthcare system. Make sure you understand how to access emergency services and find English-speaking healthcare providers if needed.
  4. Support Language Acquisition: Help your children learn Spanish before and after the move to ease their transition into the new environment. Consider enrolling them in language classes or finding language exchange opportunities. Encourage language immersion through everyday activities and interactions with local children.
  5. Provide Emotional Support: Moving to a new country can be challenging for children, so provide them with emotional support throughout the transition. Talk to them about the move, address any concerns they may have, and involve them in the decision-making process when possible. Encourage them to make new friends and explore their new surroundings to help them feel more at home in Spain.

Emigrating with children involves careful planning, and securing the right education is a paramount concern for expatriate families. Understanding the nuances of the Spanish education system, including the different types of schools and associated costs, is crucial for making informed decisions. With the right guidance, navigating the educational landscape in Spain, particularly in cities like Valencia, can be a more straightforward and rewarding experience for both parents and their children.

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