Essay on Early Childhood Education in Spain

Published: 2021/11/09
Number of words: 2452


Increased international political interest has recently been prompted by the proved advantages of early childhood education. Increase in the number of slots for children under three years to enroll and those between the ages of three and five to be offered free, voluntary pre-school education was guaranteed under educational reforms by the Spanish national government via La Ley Orga´nica de Educacio´n (LOE). In a bid to enhance academic success and boost rates of college attendance and student graduation, the LOE recommended sweeping changes across the Spanish education system from birth to the university level. In order to harmonize and be in tandem with other European nations, early childhood education (la educacio´n infantil) was identified by the Spanish government under the new legislation as having the ability to enhance student performance. Furthermore, the balance between family and work life is eased due to the provision of pre-school education for three-to-five-year-olds. Families across the Spain would otherwise be over-burdened financially were it not for the subsidization of pre-school education across Spain (Ibáñez & Leon, 2014).

Cultural literacy is achieved in children through schools for young children. This is observed in classroom practices as well as in Spain’s official curriculum of schools for young children. The values of the Spanish society are reflected in the integrating themes and the areas of experience. The curriculum also reflects multiculturalism and the European dimension (Zabalza, 1996).

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The Spanish education system

The reform process over the past few years has deeply modified teaching in Spain. The following represent the reform process most outstanding changes:

  • Schooling in Spain was added a compulsory two years. Schooling has been made compulsory for learners in the age bracket of 6 to 16 years old by the fundamental law, General Organic Law of Education System (LOGSE). The age bracket of 6 to 14 years was the compulsory schooling age previously.
  • There was the establishment of a new mandatory schooling structure. Two distinct school levels were established under the former general basic education for students in the age bracket of 6 and 14 years old. In the two levels, children between 6 to 12 years were to attend primary school while those between 12 to 16 years old were to attend compulsory high school.
  • Children of up to 6 years of age are provided with an education which is not mandatory. Two distinct levels were also established for early childhood education, that is, children between 0 to 3 years of age and those between 3 to 6 years of age.

The education changes made mirror Spain’s political amendments since the establishment of local autonomous governments and the re-establishment of democracy in the country. An open and mixed curriculum model not determined by the central government has been preferred to the centralized one. The stand out features of the new curriculum model are:

  • Local autonomous governments and the central government share the power to establish the curriculum. Similar minimal contents and common structure exist although different curriculum is offered.
  • The official curriculum was adapted to each school’s local situation by teams of teachers and the school council of each school. Priorities for each school are established and the education guidelines are also modified for each school.

In recent years, an interesting dynamic has been created by these circumstances. Commercial materials provided by text book publishers companies, the official models as well as tradition were the reasons behind Spanish schools prevailing institutional culture. The real of teachers was determined by these publishers proving their powerfulness in Spain. Interesting activities are being achieved since the situation is now changing. Early childhood education is especially pertinent to this new dynamic. High quality programs for early childhood education are being established despite huge difficulties faced by young, motivated and highly trained school personnel. Schools for young children have seen a surge in the number of children enrolling in spite of it not being a compulsory school stage. For those between 4 to 5 years old, the rate of matriculation is almost 100% and for those aged 3 years, 90% of them are enrolling for school. Teachers in early childhood education are being faced by one of the most important challenges yet with the large numbers of children in the age bracket of 0 to 3 years old enrolling massively (Gutíez, 2010).

Early childhood curriculum cultural content

Spain’s early childhood education curricular structure as well as the time to enter and leave school are prescribed by an official curriculum. Children’s evaluation and suggestions for methodology are also contained in this curriculum.


The early childhood education curriculum in Spain contains 100 formal objectives. The common elements of social and physical context are integrated in culture as civilization and culture as personal development as these relate to the objectives. Some of these objectives include:

  • Objective 3: Children should be able to explore and observe the natural and physical environment while identifying its elements’ qualities and most outstanding features while showing care and an attitude of curiosity towards it.
  • Objective 7: children should have a sense of belonging to which they can a part of a school, friends, class and family. Children should use these groups to build spontaneous relationships, and should be aware of conventions and social rules that govern these groups as well as the group’s peculiarities and characteristics.
  • Objective 10: Children should show curiosity and respect to their community’s cultural characteristics, such as traditions, folklore and customs.

Curriculum content

Integrating themes and areas of experience are the two divisions in which curriculum content is organized in. Three forms of content are mostly contained in the Spanish curriculum: (1) rules, values and attitudes, (2) capacities, skills and procedures, and (3) information, concepts and actions. All three are what is mostly referred to as curriculum content.

Areas of experience

In early childhood education there are three areas of experience:

  • Personal and identity autonomy. It denotes a child’s self-knowledge progressive improvement. Self-concept and self-image development in children is the focus of schools for young children.
  • The social and physical environment. It is connected deeply with young children’s interactions and personal experiences. With the teachers’ help, there is a systematic and progressive enrichment and enhancement of children’s relationship with cultural products, spaces, people, objects and nature.
  • Representation and communication. The social context of our schools is bound to this aspect of early childhood curriculum. It is a way of enriching new methods of representing inner and outer reality, new ways of understanding and providing new forms of expression.

A religious dimension is also included in the Spanish curriculum besides these three areas. For those parents who wish religious values to be part of their children’s education, a religion (mainly Catholic) is included in the curriculum.

Three ways are used to approach the contents of early childhood education in the Spanish curriculum:

  • Through concepts. Each area of experience has information that children learn including names and knowledge.
  • Through procedures. Physical and cognitive way of managing concepts in different ways is what is referred to as procedure in this context. Teachers apply new concepts once understood in order for children to implement them and utilize them during different functions.
  • Through rules, values and attitudes. In the school for young children, there should be development of values and attitudes as encouraged by the Spanish curriculum.

Integrating themes

As projects in school, children need to work on basic themes as directed by the Spanish curriculum. Our time’s special education relevance is adhered to in these themes. These themes are not approached as isolated topics, or as new areas of experience, or even as independent themes. Instead, they complement school-developed activities. In this regard, instructors include all content areas and include integrating themes in all areas of experience. A double function role is played by these integrating themes. Issues of educational and large social relevance are incorporated to contents of education such as health, leisure, preservation of nature gender equity and education for peace. In relation to common concerns, they allow cooperation among schools and families and also they are dependent upon issues of incontestable social values. Additionally, they offer connections between various areas of the curriculum. It is not only in the early childhood education that one finds the integrating themes but they are also sustained throughout the school curriculum through primary and high school. This ensures that children will not depart from their cultural values.

The following represent the early childhood education integrating themes:

  • Education for peace and moral education. Supportive and positive relationship among people, social compromise, tolerance, dialogue and personal autonomy are examples of values explicitly reflected in moral education. On the other hand, schools are expected to transmit and manifest positive values through education for peace.
  • Education for gender equity. Women’s position in the society has been a burning cultural issue for a very long time and it is reflected in this integrating theme. Gender should not hinder any child from performing any activity, or be a hindrance since every child should grow up valuing their sexual identity. The goal is that from the moment children begin school, they develop sensitivity and awareness of equality between the sexes.
  • Education for health. At an early age, children are taught that their quality of life will depend on their health and how they take care of their bodies.
  • Environmental education. In our daily lives, the environment plays an important role in our survival and this theme is there to let the children know this fact.

The teacher’s role

Local culture incorporation in classes is of great importance in early childhood education especially for Spanish teachers. Cultural activities of the community within the school locality are developed by the teachers and integrated in classroom work in addition to the official curriculum. Religious celebrations, traditional holidays and seasons are examples of the different cycles of the school year which are linked to these cultural activities. The schools, the trades, the days dedicated for the exaltation of the local culture and family are the elements in the children’s lives brought together when other general themes are incorporated. What sort of access to available culture should also be considered alongside which culture is incorporated into the school for young children. In their daily work, teachers have various ways they use to present cultural knowledge to young children. Religious and popular holidays, the activities of different occupations, the cycle of farm work and the seasons of the year are the annual cycle of social and family life events that teachers follow when teaching cultural studies. The basic cultural base of the program for early childhood is constituted in these elements of the children and their kin. The social and cultural dynamics of the present time are connected to the routines and the program activities by instructors who tend to include cultural activities with their comprehensive topics (Aubert et al., 2017).

At an early stage of education, multiple activities of the curriculum associated with the schooling and schooling objectives are covered by each topic or cultural issue. All planned aspects of curriculum for this stage of education are developed by teachers through exploiting these cultural topics. When they approach cultural subjects, teachers use certain resources. Trips outside the school compound are among those resources. Participating in the development of social events, speaking with different people, taking notes while directly observing natural phenomenon and collecting objects for later class use are examples of in situ activities that children engage in when they leave school with their teachers. Items from the immediate environment and those brought from home are the authentic materials that teachers try to use. These items can play two roles in education, (1) they can be related to their uses and social functions; they can as well be classified, described and studied as cultural objects. (2) Different goals and objectives of the curriculum can be accomplished through these objects.

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Commonly, teachers choose topics that are rich in educational possibilities and also stimulating during the cultural teaching process. The various topics chosen are associated with clear social values, nurture fantasy, have a great deal of dynamism, contain a wide range of motoric and cognitive possibilities and are also colorful. At the end of the process, almost all the chosen topics comprise some social act (public performance) or some product (a doll). In their participation in this final activity, parents either visit to admire the work of their children or participate in the process of development. The relationship between young children and their kin is supported owing to the opportunities provided by the cultural topics.

Additionally, the possibility of contact is realized between members of the same school who attend different classes as well as between different schools due these events. Traditional songs and dances, typical meals reflecting celebration or the season of the year and narrated history are the three aspects that are mostly contained in cultural topics developed in Spanish schools. Working in the mother tongue is paid great attention particularly in autonomous areas that have their own language, e.g., Euskera is spoken in Basque Country, Galician is spoken in Galicia and Catalan is spoken in Catalonia. Children in Spain are taught the importance of bilingual education in that they can be able to speak fluent Spanish as well as in the language of their own autonomous region. In this case, the school and its own culture are joined by the mother language which acts as an umbilical cord (Agut et al., 2014).


Agut, M. P. M., Ull, M. A., and Minguet, P. A. (2014). Education for sustainable development in early childhood education in Spain. Evolution, trends and proposals. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 22, 213-228.

Aubert, A., Molina, S., Schubert, T., and Vidu, A. (2017). Learning and inclusivity via Interactive Groups in early childhood education and care in the Hope school, Spain. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 13, 90-103.

Gutíez, P. (2010). Early Childhood Intervention in Spain: Standard needs and changes. International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education, 2(2).

Ibáñez, Z., and León, M. (2014). Early childhood education and care provision in Spain. In The transformation of care in European societies (pp. 276-300). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Zabalza, M. A. (1996). Cultural content in early childhood education in Spain. Early Child Development and Care123(1), 47-60.

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