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  • Writer's pictureCandice M. Roberts

Kids Returning to American School after Auxiliares Experience

Updated: May 31, 2019

We are back in the states after three years of completely immersing ourselves in Spanish lifestyle and culture. My children attended Spanish public school with the hopes of them picking up the language naturally through exposure.   Though it was not easy, it seemed to have worked.  My two youngest have soaked in the language like sponges. 

We recently had to came back to America abruptly.  The children completed their first week of school in Spain, then we flew back to the states that Saturday.   Jet lagged, I let them sleep for a week.  Once that following Monday came, they were ready to start their new adventure.

What I didn’t expect was for them to be so excited.  Well, my girls were over the moon to actually be in a school where English is spoken all of the time.  I was worried about their adjustment socially, academically and emotional. But it is all working out just fine. 

My son misses Spain.  He was the youngest, starting Spanish school at age 6. He had become very accustomed to their academic schedule and demands.  It has been a tough adjustment for him. 


Math is taught differently.  The younger two have had some struggles catching up to the American standards of math.  Division problems are structured differently which can be confusing for anyone who has learned the American way.  My children tried to teach their classmates in Spain the US technique but they found it difficult as well. It is not more or less complicated, its simply the way you learned and what you are used to. 

In addition, it is highly discouraged to show your work in Spain.  Anyone American reading this knows that it is a grave offense to not show your work in math.  It has been difficult getting my youngest to show his work now that we are back.   

The school day is longer.  Their school day has extended by at least three hours.  The school days are so short in Spain that there is not a set lunch hour.  They ate a small snack during recess.  

My youngest went from five year old kindergarten in the states to second grade in the Spain. The grade levels are broken up by year versus age at the start of school. He should have started the first grade but went to second grade.  He had to learn to multiply very quickly but aside from that, he did very well. Upon returning to the states, it's been a challenge because he is 9 and in the 5th grade.  When tested, he placed as a child entering the 4th grade.  He is age appropriate academically, but is not quite an American 5th grader.  He completed the fourth grade in Spain, there is no reason to ethically hold him back.

He does a lot of catch up work in the evenings.  Because he began instruction in Spanish so young, he lacks academic English.   He reads very well for his age, but he learned to read like an ESL learner.  This means there are holes in his English grammar and phonics awareness.  It’s been hard on him but my last conference with his teacher was reassuring.  She says he is a fast learner and has already caught up in some areas.  

Spanish elementary students to not write text in the way American children are encouraged to write.  My daughter’s are middle school age and this academic year is the first time they were ever taught to write a paper.  

Up Side

The technology available to them now was not available in Spain.  Each of them have an iPad distributed by the school and they complete their assignments digitally. The textbooks and materials are in shared files with their teachers.  They also used various apps to complete their math and history assignments.  This has been the easiest thing for them to pick up.

They have made friends quickly.  We are currently in the DMV.  There are many kids in their school that somehow have just as many stamps in their passports. The children definitely have interesting travel conversations that would have been unheard of when I was a child. I am relieved to know that our #kidsmeetworld tribe is expanding.  

They have a serious reference point for all of the information they are learning.   In Spain, we lived in the area that the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria departed for the long journey to the Americas. They understand history lessons through experience.  

My son was tested again before Christmas break.  He is meeting expectations for the average 5th grader.  Yes, he is younger.  Yes, he was skip by accident.  BUT...he is rising to the challenge and I am proud of him.  

They have brought their foreign languages with then.  In Spain, they studied French in school, along with maintaining English and gobbling up Spanish.  My girls are taking French in Middle school without complications and my son was placed in the advance Spanish class with the native speakers. I say that is a win on languages.

Our experiment worked.  We went and conquered.  The kids adjusted and came out on top.  I am proud of them.  

If you are in Spain and have plans to return to the states eventually, remember...

1.  Reviewed phonics with younger children.

2. Encourage the value of showing work in math, even if the Spanish teacher hates it.  

3. Practice writing. Once they return to American school, this is a skill that they must have.  


Candice is an introverted extrovert who loves to read, wander aimlessly and is addicted to olives. She is a photographer and loves to share travel experiences. She is married to the best husband ever hands down and they have 3 wonderful creations.

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