How are the kids doing in school after their 1st trimester?

American Expat Kids in a Spanish Public SchoolWell, it’s finally here.  We’ve had test scores here, graded papers there, but today was the first concrete evidence of how the teachers think our kids are doing.  In short, they kicked some serious butt!  I’ll get to the details in a bit, but Heidi and I are extremely proud of the kids.

Three months ago, we dropped them in the deep end of the pool, so to speak.  I know it was stressful for them, and it was stressful for us knowing that they were struggling.  But at the end of the trimester, we have validated that these American Expat Kids are making huge strides. It is amazing how resilient they are and how accepting the other students and the staff have been.

There have been plenty of challenges the past few months, but all of which have been opportunities for great strides and growth for us all.  The kids have such determination to do their best and that is all we asked of them. “Just do your best and don’t worry about the grade.” We have made it clear we have not given them an easy path to follow, yet they blazed the trail without a squawk. We are extremely pleased they received Sobre’s and Notable’s, excluding the 2 subjects in which they didn’t participate. For Anya this wasn’t only a challenge of learning in a new language, but she also skipped a grade!

As for the process of getting the grades, that was a bit different from in the U.S.  Lars and Anya brought in papers from school indicating that there was a 30-minute time frame for parents to come in, pick up the report cards, and briefly discuss the child’s progress.

Anya and Lars 2 Americans in Spain with 2 kids plucked from everything they know and dropped into a Spanish Public School. See they are adjusting after their 1st trimester? Read more on

The Process – Spanish Public School

We arrived a bit early to get in line.  Anya’s teacher had the first time-slot, so we waited for a bit with the other parents (mostly mothers).  Once the teacher was ready, he brought all of the parents into the class, and started to discuss some general issues.  I didn’t get everything he said, but a few things that we were able to understand:

  • In general the change in schedule does not seem favorable.
  • At the end of the day, the kids’ attention spans are very short, and the kids get crazy.
  • There appears to be a lack of assistance from the school district.

Anya’s Results

He handed out the papers, and said that he would talk to each parent briefly at the end.  About that time, it was time to speak with Lars’ teacher, so I left.  Here’s what Anya’s teacher said about Anya:

  • She’s very helpful;
  • He’s amazed at how fast she’s learning;
  • Her grades are very good for how little “Castiliano” she knows;
  • She needs less and less translation from her friends;
  • She’s speaking a lot more Spanish, in the classroom, and on the playground;

Lars’ Results

While I was waiting to speak with Lars’ teacher, I talked with another parent about the whole report card process, and general chit-chat.  When it was my turn, the teacher had a big smile on his face, and asked me in.  He provided the following info:

  • Lars is doing very well;
  • Lars’ spoken Spanish is very good, and is improving;
  • Lars is an excellent student and is very smart;
  • The teacher is very impressed with the progress that Lars has made in such a short time;

Grades in Spain

They don’t do grades like when I went to school (A, B, C, D, F).  It’s also different from the school district in North Carolina.  Here’s a table which describes the grades, and the comparable numeric grade in the U.S.:

DesignationMeaningNC Equivalent
SBSobre - literally, "above", or "on top"4
NTNotable - Notable or Very Good3*
BIBien - Good3
SSufficiente - Passing2
INInsuficiente - Incomplete1

I’m sure there are more, but the good news is that we didn’t have any of the “bad” grades.  While the kids did get a couple of IN grades, this was due to them not participating for that particular subject.  They were usually in their tutor classes working on their Spanish.

In Conclusion

Heidi and I are ecstatic, and the kids are very pleased as well.  Once we got home, the big decision is what kind of “reward” the kids get.  After some private consultation between Heidi and myself, we agreed that the kids would get to choose between 5 Euros, or a McFlurry dessert at McDonald’s.  Two notable questions that the kids asked:

  • How much does a McFlurry cost?
  • If we go to McDonald’s, do I have to spend my money on the McFlurry?

We do have some smart kids, huh?

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