This summer we travelled to Spain for three weeks. We started with a home exchange just north of Valencia, among the orange groves. Then travelled by AVE to Madrid to visit some friends, and onwards to Palencia where I stayed for another week with the kids.
S is now 7 and E turned 3 in July. They are both competent Spanish speakers but rarely get to interact with other children in Spanish. Almost all of their Spanish conversations is with adults or with each other.
This summer was the ideal time for the holy grail (apart from bilingual education) – play time with Spanish kids!
We started well, S quickly making friends with 9 year old Ernest whose grandparents live in the flat below the home exchange flat in Valencia. In Madrid he also played surprisingly well with my friend’s daughter Alba. Despite being still 3, Alba is tall like her mother and S took to playing with her as an equal. And finally, in Palencia, he became good friends with Irene, the 5 year-old daughter of a friend of a friend, Raquel, who generously lent us her apartment for a week.
As well as these individual friendships, S attended a campamento for the first time while in Palencia. At first I only signed him up for two sessions (10am – 2pm), but he liked it so much we booked an additional day. The campamento was at Caracubo, a kind of nursery / after school club /holiday club. There were only eight children in the campamento which I think is a perfect number, allowing him enough people to chat to without being overwhelmed by a large group.
Palencia was a perfect location for us. As well as the campamento, both kids were busy all week at different workshops and events aimed at local kids. We also joined the local library and took out five picture books per day. The city is compact and easy to navigate, with a long pedestrianised street that runs through the city centre, lots of parks and a lovely green area with woods and rivers and a large public outdoor swimming pool. A perfect Spanish immersion week for all! Gracias Raquel!