Moving to Spain with Teenagers
What do I know about moving to Spain, with teenagers?
Answer, absolutely nothing! I came to Spain from the UK with two very young children.
Kevin the teenager – Harry Enfield
So, as with everything else on this blog, these are my own personal opinions. I would love for you to comment, below and tell me I am wrong or even if you agree with me. Especially, if you have moved here with teenagers, let me know your experiences. Thanks 🙂
Moving to Spain or anywhere abroad with teenagers must be a daunting task for most parents. What do teenagers fear most about the BIG move? Apart from not wanting to actually go, of course! Well, the fear of losing Friends & Family. Throw leaving behind a Boyfriend or Girlfriend into the mix and you are going to be hated for a long while. Apart from that, their studies and having to learn a new language and make new friends, is somewhat of an unwanted challenge.
I would advise you to wait but hey, who am I to stand in front of your dreams. Let’s consider your teenager and his or her concerns.
Kevin the Teenager – Harry Enfield
Remember being a teenager? You know, how you dealt with peer pressure, adolescence, puberty, acne, fashion, music, weight problems, relationships etc, etc.
It wasn’t easy was it? Nothing’s changed, it’s still not. Being a teenager in familiar confines is not easy but now they have got to deal with moving to a foreign country! So, if your teenager is far from enthusiastic about moving abroad, don’t be surprised. They are at an age when they will need to rebel and assert their views more aggressively. You will need to listen to them, expressing their dissent, and you as a parent must be empathetic. You will need to reassure them that this move will be GREAT, for the whole family. Even though, I am sure you will have anxiety and doubts, listen to their protests and try to put their fears to rest.
You will need all the help you can get, so if other trusted family members or friends can help you out, please ask them.
Get the timing right and you may just make your life easier.
So when might be an appropriate time? If you have been planning this for a long time, make sure you drop hints, every now and again. May be leave magazines about Spain or property abroad, lying around for them to see.
It is important that you introduce the topic of moving to Spain at an appropriate time. The end of the academic year is a good idea, all depending on how long it is before the actual move. This may make it seem a bit more like the beginning of a new chapter in your children’s life. It may also enable them to look at the move as beginning afresh in a new school with new friends and so on. I know I am looking on the bright side, but hey I am an optimist 🙂
An Introduction to Spain and the new family home.
Make sure you have done your homework, you need to convey a 100% conviction about the move, as well as having studied every detail of the new place you will call home. They will soon sense any doubts or flaws in your plans. If you can give your teen a preview of the new place he or she will soon call home, that will make a difference. Show them, how beautiful it is, relate to all the things they like doing and show them how much better they will be able do them in Spain. Films, books or documentaries will be a good introduction for them. You might, encourage your child to find out something on their own, by searching on the internet. If there is an expat community in the area, tell them about it. The existence of an expatriate community will reassure them that they will make new friends and have lots of fun things to do.
Remember to involve them in the whole moving process.
You must make your child feel involved in the transition of moving to Spain. Ask them to go with you on house hunting trips so they can get a feel for the place themselves. I’m not normally one for bribes but if there is something your teenager really wants, then why not let them know they can have it, when you have moved to Spain! This may just help break the ice a little and make your experience a little less painless. Once you have a new home and you can decorate, let them decorate their own room. May be, you might want to oversee it though;)
You may need to be a safety net.
What do I mean by that? Well, ensure your child / children know they can always rely on you for support. You need to make them feel, they can rely on you, as a parent for anything. They may lose their friends but assure them, they have the support of his extended family and their parents for anything. Your job is to let them know, that no matter how embarrassing an issue, you will at least hear them out first. You also need to let them keep in contact with friends and family back home, via Skype, telephone, e-mail and may be at least an annual visit to your home country.
An initial trip to the New School Together.
If possible, depending on the term and time of year, a visit to the new school together with your child would be a good idea. It will help you all, to take a tour of the new school, meet the teachers and the head of the institution so that things won’t seem so new and overwhelming when they start or the academic year begins. If you put your teenagers in an International school it will be a lot easier to be able to talk to the teachers and explain your child’s predicaments if any. This might not be so easy if they are going into a state Spanish school, but this is not a good idea. Your child’s education isn’t something you can play with at this stage of their lives. The studies will be difficult enough, without having to try and understand everything in a new language! They will be completely lost, absolutely everything will be diffrent and alien to them.
Now Family Time becomes Nº. 1
You should now be able to have some special family time when you and your children can bond. Your new surroundings should give you plenty of excuses to get out and explore. Visit all the local places of interest. If your kids love sport get them to join clubs, in the sports they are interested in. Go out to the local restaurants and have fun choosing the menu. However simple, you should all get together and talk about what is happening with you at work and in school. It could also be a short weekend getaway, bowling, skating or hire out a movie for you all to watch together, just something you all enjoy doing.
Whatever family rituals or practices your family has, keep them up and let your children remain in touch with yours and their traditions and values, even though they now live in Spain
A patient and empathetic approach with the element of fun thrown in is all you need to make a smooth transition abroad with your teenager. This might be easier said than done if you live in a non touristy part of Spain, but if you need to and things seem tough don’t hesitate, to try and to seek professional help.
I found this video, it sums up why I live here, in just a few minutes.
[pro-player width=’700′ height=’350′ autostart=’true’ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En6Hue1bZEA[/pro-player]
RELOCATION TO SPAIN 5
Education in Spain.
So what types of education are available in Spain?
• Pre-school (Educación Infantil, segundo ciclo) – 3 to 5 years of age
• Primary School (Educación Primaria) six years of schooling – 6 to 11 years of age
• Compulsory Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria) four years of schooling – 12 to 15 years of age
• Post-Compulsory Schooling (Bachillerato) two years of schooling – 16 and 17 years of age
Spanish Bachillerato is the post-16 stage of education, comparable to A-Levels in the UK. There are two parts, a core curriculum with the compulsory subjects, and a specialist part with a few pre-selected branches to choose from.
These pre-schools are for children aged 3 to 5. They are normally run by specially trained and dedicated teachers. Attendance is totally optional but places are normally highly valued by most parents, especially if they are both working. Provision depends on availability within the area in which you decide to live. There may be some privately run nursery and infant schools in your area.
The main aim of state Pre School education is to prepare young children for social integration within a school group environment, produce personal awareness and improve co-ordination leading on to integrated class activities, lessons in basic arts and craft, painting, music, team games and learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some pre-schools are beginning to introduce English and/or French to the curriculum for preschool education but again depends on certain areas of Spain. The Authority also places emphasis during infant and primary education on all aspects of civic behaviour, conservation and ecology, cultural integration etc.
PUBLIC or STATE
State education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science, although some regional governments have responsibility & authority for the educational system (including higher education).
Compulsory education termed the basic general education begins at six years of age in a primary school and lasts for eight years. At the age of 16, students receive a school-leaving certificate, which determines the course of their future education. Those with high marks are awarded a titulo de graduado escolar certificate and may attend a higher secondary school to study for their baccalaureate. Less academic students are awarded a school certificate, and attend a vocational programme providing specialised training for a specific career.
Attending a local state school helps children to integrate into the local community and learn the language and I recommended it, if your plan is to stay in Spain indefinitely. Placing your children in a state school lets both them and you become part of the local community. It is worth noting that, whereas it is fairly easy to switch from a state school to a private school, the reverse is not the case. If you need to move a child from a private school to a state school it can be difficult for that child to adjust, particularly a teenager.
A concertado school is a school which receives some government funding and you pay less than you would at a private school. Almost all of these schools were, if not still, run by religious orders and may still instill strong Catholic values.
Concertado schools also actively encourage parental involvement. Children usually wear school uniform and there is a perception in Spanish society that their educational standard is higher than in state schools.
PRIVATE or INTERNATIONAL
If you decide to bring elder children to Spain and if there is a private or International school in your area and you can afford it, it may be wise to look for a school which follows the British National Curriculum or American education system depending on your choice and where you are from.
Some international schools are more ‘international’ than others as nationalities generally include English, German, Russian, South American, Dutch and Spanish. There are schools, particularly on the Costa del Sol which are predominantly English. The age range for international schools depends on the size of the school. Some cover pre-school to sixth form i.e. 3- 18, whereas other might only be 3 – 7. If at three, you feel that your child is too young for school, there are also international kinder gardens that take children from 1 – 6.
In Spain, it is illegal not to send a child of six years upwards to school, so home-schooling is not an option.
Culturally, the family is still a very important part of a young person´s life in Spain. Students may study in any chosen area as long as they are accepted but most students stay in the family home and commute. They can also rent nearby and return home at weekends.
As in all countries, the Spanish education system has its levels of education required for entrance into university but this depends largely upon what subjects you wish to study and works on a points system. The results from these two examinations equates to the total points gained. It is composed of 60% of the Bachillerato marks, plus 40% of the Selectividad. Each university has a point requirement for entrance and this will depend on the individual course and number of students wishing to study the particular subject.
For more detailed information sign up to our FREE ‘First 7 Steps to Successfully Move to Spain’ guide. Just fill in your name & e-mail address in the opt-in form on the left handside of our wall.
RELOCATION TO SPAIN 3
NIE’s, Empadronamiento and what it all means to you…
If you have investigated buying a property in Spain, you would almost certainly come across these two strange words but what do they mean?
What is a NIE number?
NIE stands for ‘Número de Identificación de Extranjero’. Translated means ‘Identification number for foreigners’.
It is the identification number used in Spain for non-residents. It is similar to the National Insurance number in England, the NIE allows you to pay taxes in Spain and it is used to track your activities in Spain.
You cannot purchase a property in Spain without an NIE number. All foreign citizens require a NIE before they can sign the purchase agreement. It is not only property purchase’s that require you to have a NIE, you will also require it for obtaining a
Spanish mortgage, buying or registering a car, setting up a business in Spain, applying for a credit card/loan, applying for a Spanish driving license etc.
So what does it look like?
It is a sheet of A4 paper that has your details, address and NIE number and an official stamp. Rather disappointing for all the work you have to do to get it! Look after it and make lots of copies.
How do I get it?
1. Apply for NIE number in person in Spain (local police station).
2. Apply for an NIE number in person via a Spanish Consulate.
3. Authorise a 3rd party to apply on your behalf, (Power of Attorney).
Empadronamiento, what is it?
Officially known as Padron Municipal, it is a record of local residents. This record is held at the local town hall (Ayuntamiento) and is basically the equivalent to the UK’s electoral role.
Why is important that I get this?
If you are going to buy a property or even rent one you should register, as your local municipality receives funds for every person living in the local area. In turn this pays for local services and infrastructure such as policing, cleaning, local health care etc.
If you have children it is imperative you register, as preference will be given to registered children.
All in all if you want to improve the area in which you live, get ‘empadronado’ and become an official member of your community.
How do I get it?
Once again, go to your local town hall to register. You will need your passport; NIE and if you are a homeowner, a copy of your ‘escritura’ (title deed) or your rental contract, should you be renting.
You are entitled to a certificate but you should ask for it, these can be done individually or one to cover all of your family. The certificate is useful should you need to prove to any official authority that you are empadronado.
Here’s wishing you a successful move to Spain!