Childcare in Spain

Updated 2021-06-11 15:07

If you're moving to Spain with your young family, the education and care of your little ones will be a top priority. In this article, we'll focus on the options you'll have in your new country, including nurseries, kindergartens and childcare centres.

The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP) is the government department responsible for the Spanish education system. Schools set their hours, but typically there are two main schedules. Some run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with no lunch break.

Preschool in Spain

Education is not compulsory for children under six years of age, although it is recommended for their wellbeing and development. In general, many children start going to nurseries (guarderias) when they are a few months old. 

Preschool education, or early childhood education and care (ECEC), is the first stage of the Spanish education system and is divided into two cycles. The first cycle (primer ciclo) covers children from a few months old up to the age of three who attend guarderias. You will find a good choice of public and private nurseries and day-care centres right across the country. This first stage isn't covered by the state, and so whether your children attend a private or state-run guarderia, both charge fees.

The second cycle (segundo ciclo) is for ages three to six and is free. During this cycle, children attend escuela infantile (kindergarten). They are taught the basics in some subjects, learn through play, music and dance and are encouraged with their social development. 

The two cycles may be in the same location or different settings. Many primary schools have kindergartens attached to them. 

Good to know:

The minimum statutory maternity leave in Spain is 16 weeks and is one reason why some babies attend nurseries when they are four months old. However, canguros or day nannies who look after several children at the same time are popular alternatives.

Being in Spain, children are taught Spanish in nurseries and kindergartens. 

Registering for preschool in Spain

Pre-primary school is voluntary and available to every family. To register, you will need to complete an application form obtained from the kindergarten of your choice or the regional education department. When applying, you will need to provide the following documents.

  • Passport/residence card
  • Your child's birth certificate
  • Your child's health card and proof of required vaccinations for a child of their age
  • A padron certificate (certificado de empadronamiento) from your local town hall. This is official proof of your address in Spain

Private fee-paying kindergartens are also available.

Good to know:

Attending nursery and kindergarten is a good way for young children to pick up the Spanish language and integrate. This is excellent preparation for primary school.

Babysitters in Spain

You may decide to leave your children with a canguro instead. If so, search for them on the internet, in classified ads in local newspapers and with nanny agencies. Just remember always to check their references and to take the time to conduct in-person interviews.

Useful links:

Ministry of Education and Vocational Training


Guia Infantil


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