Dazed and confused - finding out about schools in Cyprus!

My least favourite thing about living in Cyprus is the fact that I generally have no idea what I am doing most of the time when it comes to the 'official' stuff.  I realise this is partly my fault and if I could speak some useful Greek (rather than the random things I have learnt so far) then life would be much easier, but as yet my Greek is so limited I cannot hold any kind of helpful conversation and I'm constantly trying to figure out what the hell is going on!

I have spent many many hours on line trying to find concise information on everything from becoming residents, getting medical cards, tax rebate and most recently how, when and where to enrol Leo into school.  Although over the last couple of years I've used many websites I have yet to find one with all the answers, this is probably due to the fact no-one knows all the answers as I have a sneaky suspicion they frequently change!

Using a combination of websites and experiences of friends I managed that the Ministry of Education of Cyprus offer education to children age 3 and over, but it is only compulsory from the age of 4 years and 8 months. This means they MUST complete a year of Pre-primary before entering Primary School from 5 years and 8 months old. I'm not 100% sure on this bit but I believe this is free of charge when the child is four and there is only a fee if they start at age three.

This morning I went to register Leo at the local pre-primary, I found out they start at 7.45am and finish at 1pm. They have limited places for afternoon but I believe these are offered first to working Mums (which makes sense). It will cost 80 euros or 100 (and something) if I wish him to have lunch before leaving just after 1pm.

That's about it, I don't know any more about the whole process - what they do, how big the classes are, when they start the term, and other things I haven't actually wondered about yet!  They will ring me (when I have no idea!) to tell me if he has a place, obviously as it is compulsory for 4 year olds to attend priority is given to them first.

To be fair the ladies at the school were very nice and helped me to fill in the registration form which was all in Greek but I always feel so uncomfortable sitting with many conversations going straight over my head and feeling completely lost.

Although I'm sure he will be fine and take to it all like a duck to water, I worry for Leo and hope he picks up the language quickly. I would love to be sending him somewhere in advance of school to get him more used to it but at the moment finances will not allow that.  Time to really get serious and finish my Greek course so I can help him out I suppose!


  1. Every good wish - I find it fascinating that our 3 year old cheerfully speaks her few words of Tamil (our local language in India) far more confidently than I do - I also long for a higher level of understanding and shared communication with others rather than them communicating with each other about me! Here's hoping - classes ahoy!

  2. If Cypriot schools are anything like Spanish schools, then you'll find he has loads of homework.  My vocabulary improved 10 fold, helping with homework, starting off with matching words to pictures, and as they got older with grammer as well.  I did have Spanish lessons as well though, as I really didn't like the idea of not being able to communicate properly with the girlies teachers.  Now, I often get called into the school to help out with any new English children starting.  Although this year the actual English teacher can actually converse properly in English, and is not just qualified to teach it!!!

  3. I can completely sympathise with you, I had to do a similar thing last summer to get my eldest into a pre-primary which they start at 5 and primary at 6.  But it is hard and frustrating to be in that situation, Im lucky as normally I have my portuguese husband to help, but this summer I didnt, but sometimes even understanding the language the rules can be confusing (at least here)

  4. I'm registering DD next Sunday. I know exactly how you feel about the language issues. My worry is that my Hebrew will probably see us through to about 4th Grade but after that, as far as help with homework is concerned, she'll be on her own.


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