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    My children just started school here and we have just moved to Spain - they are 3 and 5.

    How long did it take your children to learn the language, be able to participate in class and play with the other children? Neither of mine seem to have any friends and are always on their own when I drop them off/pick them up. Back in UK they were both very sociable, happy children. My 3 year old is waking in the night and seems very unsettled. We are really considering packing up and heading back home for the sake of our children.

    Would love to hear your experiences.
    Hi, my son is 2yrs 9 months and started school 2 weeks ago, at first he was upset going in and out but the last few days he has begun to settle. I asked the mums in the playground if anyone spoke english and found a little boy in Fionn's class who understands English as his grandma is British and his speaks fluent english. I have been encouraging Fionn to play with this child and have been chatting to his mum and Grandma to find out how Fionn is in class. I also met with his teacher to discuss my fears and make sure that Fionn is ok. Your children will learn quickly, give them time and just try to teach them as much Spanish as you can ! It's such a great opportunity for them and everyone I have spoken to has said their children learned really quickly. I know how you feel, it's hearbreaking to think your kids are unhappy, but stick with it, this life is so much better for children than the UK. Good luck, Jen
    • CommentAuthorliza
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2010
    My daughter just started Catalan school - She has no Catalan. I spoke to the teacher about how hard it was for her and she said that normally within a few months they start to understand and 6-8 months start participating. I have a few friends who told me that as soon as I hear my child communicating in Catalan I will know I have done the right thing. Its really hard now but am convinced it will get better.
    • CommentAuthorlaylee
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2010
    Hi newmuminspain,
    I started my kids 9 years ago at the local school and they hated it. I forced them to go for about 4 months and it never got any better. We really fell apart as a family unit and all of us were so unhappy. Infact things were so bad that I ended up splitting with my husband as we didnt agree on how best to proceed. He wanted to stick it out but I got really depressed and couldnt see past the fact that I didnt want them to suffer at any cost. I ended up going back to UK and putting them in the village school...which wait for it...they also hated! I figured they just didnt like going to school and actually language was irrelevant. If you look at other kids in the class I am sure that you will see that even the local children are having a tough time of it. We are just so oversensitive as expats as we put ourselves in our children´s shoes and imagine how unhappy we would be if we were them. Year later, I ended up moving back to Spain as realised the lifestyle was so much better. I had to put my kids in an international school as they had no Spanish and I see now that they suffer not being part of the local community. If I could turn back time I would have stuck in there. I now see friends whose kids started at the same time as mine. They are fully integrated and have a fantastic standard of living. I dont regret them having a British education for the years we were back and being close to their cousins and grandparents, but I feel mine really suffered by me acting so rashly and emotionally.
    Sorry for going on and on but the short of it is, having been there and done that, I would so recommend just sticking with it. They will be fine. Children are so resilient - more so than mummies and daddies as I found out.
    Good luck and dont give up
    Well Laylee´s experiences are really interesting but I would say that every child and every family is different.I have lived here for 24 years but my youngest daughter ( 7 ) has struggled to integrate while her older brother had no problems at all. I think that fully integrating them involves a big effort -not just at school - you need to go to all birthday parties, find where they meet after school, participate actively in all local fiestas and maybe change things like mealtimes and bedtimes to be able to participate fully in everything thats going on.Watch Spanish TV. I also think that the majority of Spanish children are " institutionalised" after all they have probably been at guarderia since they were 4 months old. Subsequently they tend to waltz into any new situation without mum with no problems.My only advice would be to try and stick it out for a bit longer. Be positive about going back in the afternoon - talk about something nice that will be happening and I even resorted to small "prizes" from the toy shop if Beca went back.Try not to get depressed about the going back in the afternoon because they will pick up your vibes.I have done that long walk back to school at 2.45 - try and make jokes about what you see on the way, what you´re going to have for supper etc etc anything but how you are feeling.Good luck
    • CommentAuthorllluisa
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010
    When we first moved here we put our kids in a local school because we wanted them to learn the language asap and it just didnt work out. They weren´t happy and definitely struggling with the language as well as adapting to an unfamiliar surrounding. We took them out and put them in an international school. Like Bridget says integration doesn't just come from the school. We live in a Spanish-speaking community, our children take part in all the local events and have picked up the language with no problem albeit it has probably taken a little longer.
    • CommentAuthormarissa72
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010
    Hi all,
    I have to work full-time and my children attend the local school. I dont have any choice on how long they stay / if they stay for lunch /if I pick them up and drop them off later etc. Both have been full-time at a guarderia since the age of 2. They know that they have no choice so we have never had any problem about not wanting to go / having to take them out and bring them back in. They ran in pretty much from day one. I think children are savvy enough to play a situation and if they know you might cave in then they are going to give it their best shot. M
    • CommentAuthormarissa72
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010
    PS Has their father tried taking them to school? I have heard so many stories of children being in floods of tears when their mothers drop them off but run in with their father.
    Wow many thanks for all your comments. Really interesting reading what you all had to say. We are just finding it so hard at the moment - trying to be positive but just hate seeing them so sad. Going to try and put on a brave face and stick with it for now. Thanks for your support
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2010
    Dear Newmuminspain
    Not sure if you follow us on facebook but Nicky Wilcox just wrote the below comment. I hope you are feeling reassured with all the feedback you have been receiving. If its any consolation my son has just started P3 so I know what you are going through.
    All the best Rebecca
    "Stick with it, my little one is nearly 4, and loves it. She is learning castillano, valenciano and English. Its a wonderful way of intergrating, and if you can comunicate with the mothers, then do so, as once they accept you, you will never go back to england. Ive been here 25 yrs.Nicky Wilcox Stick with it, my little one is nearly 4, and loves it. She is learning castillano, valenciano and English. Its a wonderful way of intergrating, and if you can comunicate with the mothers, then do so, as once they accept you, you will never go back to england. Ive been here 25 yrs."
    • CommentAuthorsaoirse
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010
    Newmuminspain, I do hope you stick with it as I see this as a fantastic chance for your children. Reading the above comments I can relate to pieces in everyones situation. My daughter is 7 and I moved here when she was just 9 months old. I´m a single mum so had no other choice than to put her into a guardaria, but I wouldn´t say she had been "institutionalised". Even though she had been going to the guardaria from 9 -5 my biggest shock was the thought of her going to school from 9 - 5! In Ireland they would begin school at 4 or 5 years of age and for the first 2 years from 9am till 12 in the afternoon. Starting school my daughter did have a good understanding of both the catalan and castellano and one of the girls from her guardaria was even in her class but for the first couple of months she hated it. Honestly, I think it was March when she finally felt 99% happy cause she had been invited to her first birthday party. I would say for you it is a mixture of things. Children pick up on a lot more than what we give them credit for and are maybe picking up on your feelings. Also, as they are so young, I assume they are both in the infant classes and have the same playground area and so, being siblings, will be there for one another and thus gravitate to each other during playtime and perhaps this is why you notice them always together. As has been said above, speak to their teachers to find out how they are settling in and bear in mind it has only been 5/6 weeks of school. The autum and halloween projects should be starting so by bringing things into class they should start feeling incorparated. Every child is different and I am sure yours will settle in and before you know it you will not have a clue what they are talking about. And please remember that you are important too and make sure you also take care of your needs.

    Today, my daughter is happy in school, friends with everyone, speaking 3 and a half different languages and running rings around me and I wouldn´t have it any other way!!!
    • CommentAuthorladybea
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010
    Bea started school at 2 (nearly 3) and was fine(ish) from the beginning. I followed the below plan.

    First few months - Mornings Only
    Then and only when settled - Mornings + one afternoon
    Then when happy with that - Mornings + two afternoons
    etc until she was doing full-time.

    Of course the teachers complained and said she was going to get behind but come on how can a 2 year old get behind? She shouldnt even be at school at that age. They told me it wasnt fair that we had taken the place (it was an oversubscribed school) when she was only doing part-time but I just didnt listen. I am so glad we stuck to our guns as we never had any real issues. I am sorry but 9-5 at the age of 3 is simply crazy. It is your right to insist your child be taken out at this age, schooling isnt even compulsary and its very narrow-minded of teachers who complain. Of course they can pick up the language and form friendships by doing mornings only and how far behind the curriculum can they really get! They should be at home playing not following any curriculum. My daughter is now in her third year and understands everything and communicates pretty much as well as any of her class mates.

    I am very anti the educational system here and how they teach. I find it so unchild-focused, traditional and quite frankly very boring. Half the time I feel they treat the parents as the enemy and there is no real mutual respect. The only reason I put Bea in was to learn the language and integrate but I plan to take her out at secondary level. Whether we return home or put her in an int. school is yet to be decided but I think the system here is incredibly lacking in so many ways.

    Charlie is due to start next year and I will certainly follow the system I used with Bea. Maybe he will find it harder (not all children are the same) but I will not let him suffer, if he is unhappy I will take him out for a year and try again a year later. They are too little to have go through this and I dont want either of them to gain a negative experience of the learning process, which at this age should be a beautiful thing.

    My advice would be to do what you think is right and dont let the teachers bully you into anything. You know your child better than anyone so just do what you think is right. Your children will pick up the language and then it will be easy for them to form friendships. Have patience and follow the lead of your child.
    • CommentAuthoranabanana
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2010
    It has taken my son one year to learn Spanish (he was four when we arrived in Spain one year ago). His Spanish is not as good as his English, but he communicates without much difficulty now. He attends an international school, so his schooling is in English, but most of his classmates are Spanish.
    • CommentAuthorjanine
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2010
    I would say not too long to understand the language but there is a big jump between that and speaking - this also depends on the personality of the child and whether they are shy or not. I would agree with anabanana that it takes around a year to really be able to speak well and certainly to participate in class (again personality dependent). Playing should also happen quicker as children can play together in any language. Sure the first few months will be tough but worth it in the end. Even if you dont stay just giving them a chance to learn another language will develop certain parts of their brain that would otherwise remain dormant. Janine
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2010
    I expect your children are enjoying the long weekend - my son is delighted school is closed :)
    Kate Pemberton just left the below comment on our facebook page.
    "Both my children were born in Spain and when the kids were little we had Spanish speaking home help, but when our eldest started school he found the Spanish children very difficult to get on with both from a language and cultural perspective - in the end he was so miserable we moved him to a British school - he blossomed and the happy sociable boy returned. He's 8 now and still struggles with Spanish, I think some children just find a 2nd language more difficult - he's catching up now he's in a better frame of mind."
    • CommentAuthormaelin
    • CommentTimeOct 12th 2010
    A school year (around 9 mounths more or less) depending on how much they are exposed to it. First month or so always tough. Will get better.