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Choosing a School: Location, Location, Location

Per our last article about education, parents new to Madrid need to consider which type of curriculum will best allow their children to adapt first to Spanish, and then to English. A strong command of Spanish is indispensable (imprescindible to the Spanish) to your child’s ability to keep up in school. Yet much of their practice will come from outside the classroom–in your child’s social interactions with their peers, as well as your family’s involvement with the school community.

In addition to choosing a school that offers the right balance of Spanish and foreign language education, the school’s location is an important factor to consider. A school close to home or easy to commute to allows your family to become part of the community–whether that means parents’ ability to attend teacher meetings, your children’s participation in extracurriculars, or getting to know the families of other students.

For Public School
If you have elected to send your children to a public school, you may have a wider range of options available to you than for public schools in your home country. In many parts of the the US, for example, the only public schools available to your family will be those schools in the district of your residence. In the Madrid area, there is a lot more flexibility, provided your family meets the deadlines for application .

The rule of thumb for Madrid families is generally, the closer the school is to home, the better. Families and students get deeply involved in the community; parents are on first name basis with the teachers, and children often walk home from school together, go to birthday parties, or participate in extracurricular activities.  For the same reason, a smaller portion of local families will send their children to a school close to the parents’ workplace.

For Private or Concertado School

If your family has opted for a private education for your children, it is likely you have chosen a school for the benefits it provides for your children. Private  schools may offer multiple advantages–from education in your native language, to university preparation, or strong curricula in specific subjects.

Nevertheless, in order to fully enjoy those advantages, it remains important for your family to choose a school that is within reach.

If your children are in nursery school, it is recommended to choose one that is closer to home or work–and operates with extended hours. If both parents work, nursery schools close to work and with extended hours ensure the best possible care for your child. Many nurseries operate from 7.30 a.m. until 18.00 p.m.

For parents of older children, it remains important to choose a school that your family can easily reach by public or private transportation. A long or tedious commute could take away hours of time that would be otherwise used for homework or socializing–and put a strain on your child’s success.

Thankfully, Madrid is home to a top-notch public transportation system. It boasts a metro system with more stations per capita than London, or other world capitals. The commuter rail can take you to the surrounding areas very quickly. In this case, your commute should not greatly exceed one hour.   However, if you are set on a particular school, you may consider living outside the busy center and finding a home much closer by.

Many private schools offer bus transportation, which your family can take advantage of if you live in the neighborhood surrounding the school.  However, if your family relies on private transportation, your commute should not exceed twenty minutes.

In Madrid, planning your children’s education can be an exercise in real estate: location, location, location!  When finding the best school for your children, keep in mind that a short commute supports your children’s success (and lets everybody sleep a little longer in the mornings).

If you need further help with the school search process, do not hesitate to send us an email!

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Posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by in Madrid for Families

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