5. The Spanish nursery school: The ‘Guardería’

Casares countryside
First school day
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I have to prepare myself  for the next hurdle in my new Spanish life. This time with my middle daughter Danielle (3yrs old at the time) who will attend the local nursery. A little different from the to the bone organized nursery in Holland I have to say.  But no less fun right?

Casares countryside

From the 1st of October , Danielle can go to ‘school’ in Casares: to the Guarderia. It was a little disappointing for her at first that she couldn’t join her big sister Nienke, but that was thankfully dealt with quickly. Attending her ‘own school’ is way more interesting!


A guardería a a pre-school care center. Some are  privately run, others are run by the town hall. Private centers offer full day care, centers run by the local government normally only offer activities in the morning. Nowadays it is not so easy to get a place in a municipal care center. You have to justify the urgency (for reasons of work) and you will be placed on a waiting list also depending on your economic resources. Municipal run guarderías are very cheap, in between 50€ and 75€ a month. The private ones ask quite some more, depending on the facilities they have to offer.

Small squeaky voice

Danielle could hardly wait to go in. In the morning she wanted her hair braided and she packed her rug sack with a snack and a drink. She kept asking: “Is it time yet? Are we going, are we going?” In the car she got quieter and quieter. And when we finally arrived in the village, I heard this little squeaky voice in the back of the car, “Mommy, I think I won’t go to school today after all

But Mommy was adamant. I said, “Let’s at least go in to have a look sweetheart”. Danielle felt that there was no escape for her today, that it was definitely going to happen and she hid behind her hands.

I don’t speak Spanish?

The ladies running the place, Dori and Conchi, tried all possible tricks to reassure her, unfortunately with no luck. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. “I cannot stay here mommy, I don’t speak any Spanish.” I felt a lump in my throat. She is still so little. Should I go through with this? We agreed that she would try it for an hour. I also said that she could simply talk in Dutch to everyone. They wouldn’t understand everything but surely they would grasp the important things? When I came to pick her up she was very clear: She’d had a fantastic  time but would never go back again! Oh yes, she had also learned Spanish: peepee is  to pee. That’s easy!

With pleasure
After this difficult first day she loves it in her ‘school’. She gets along with all the children and with her blond curls she has  stolen many hearts in the village. Every day she comes back home  with a few new Spanish words. Although, Spanish …, I should say: ‘Andaluz’. I fear that my children will master the local dialect perfectly.

Useful links for schools in Andalusia:

Information about the Spanish education system

International schools in Andalusia

Anita Schmidt | 27th May 2013