Homeschooling is very common in many countries such as the UK and the USA and families choose this for many cultural, religious and logistical reasons. The topic however in Spain is quite controversial as the general consensus is that even though there are lots of families that do it, it is illegal. It can be an attractive option for many expats as they help their children to transition into a new culture. In this article, we look at the options available to you for homeschooling in Spain and get some expert insights.
Firstly, however, it is important to note that children are legally required to attend school in the calendar year that they turn six. Many newbies are confused by this as most children start school here in Spain in the calendar year they turn three but this is optional. It is, however, important to point out that, while three-year-olds may attend a building that is part of a bigger school with a uniform, their education is far from ‘formal school’. It is most definitely what most would consider to be kindergarten or play school. In fact, infant school teacher has to have a greater level of qualification than any other type of teacher.
The legalities of homeschooling in Spain
If it isn’t legal, how is there so much interest in homeschooling in Spain? According to a lawyer we contacted, even if it’s not legal, it is permitted – don’t you just love an answer as grey as that!
When we contacted Spanish education expert Almudena Garcia she told us very clearly that: “strictly speaking, following the letter of the law, all children aged 6 to 16 must attend an officially recognized educational centre. Whether you agree with this or not, you must be under no doubt about what the law says”. Laura Mascaró, a homeschooling mum with her own educational business, agreed, adding that home education is not unconstitutional but it is illegal. However, she has urged us to put our readers’ minds at ease by pointing out that the only consequence of prosecution for home educating is a legally binding sentence forcing parents to enrol their children at school. Spanish prosecutors do not fine families for breaking the law, nor do they remove children from their homes if found to be homeschooled.
Laura Mascaró points out that the legal requirement to formally educate all children aged between 6 and 16 years old only applies to permanent residents and therefore those families who have not yet received permanent residency or who are only here for a limited period of time need not have any concerns about being prosecuted for educating at home.
In most homeschooling countries, there are large networks for parents to be part of to get advice and guidance for what to do. As there are only a small minority of homeschoolers in Spain, there are fewer resources available. Antonio Soria is a member of one of the biggest network of Spanish families who homeschool in the Comunidad de Madrid. To find out about the workshops and classes that they arrange on a regular basis, check out his website. He says that there are many fluent English speakers in the group and that between them they will help newcomers get ahead with homeschooling within the Spanish framework.
For those that speak enough Spanish, Laura Mascaro runs a course on the ins and outs of homeschooling in Spain so you have all the information before making a decision.
If you’re also looking to help your children improve their Spanish before joining school, LAE Kids offers preparation courses for all ages.
As is typical in Spain, things are not 100% clear but should you need any help you can contact any of our experts and as always, follow us on Facebook where we share helpful blogs every week! Don’t forget to check out our blog for more useful information about life in Madrid for families.