What is Dos Latidos?
Dos Latidos is a private international school, approved by the United States and accredited by the Community of Madrid as a foreign teaching centre. We adhere to all the legal and administrative requirements to be an infant and primary school in Spain (soon to offer secondary teaching as well).
Is Dos Latidos a conventional school?
We are not very conventional, because we believe that life isn’t either. To live is to change, to evolve, and if there is a space that needs to change more than any other it is the school. We do not settle for what we know, we investigate what we know and apply these learnings to educating in a new and innovative way, adapting to the challenges we are presented with in the actual world. Our world is always changing at a high speed; therefore, to live a full and happy life we need to be always learning and have the capacity to listen to ourselves and others, to be creative, to have confidence in our own talents , we need to have our own opinions, to be able to make decisions… To reach these goals we believe we should educate in a different way, one that is not conventional.
Is Dos Latidos what they call an ‘alternative school’?
Yes, we consider ourselves an alternative school. But we know there are a wide range of schools that call themselves alternative, and we differ from many of them. We are an alternative school because we promote an education that is non-directive, but not one that is without direction. We are an alternative school because we help children exercise self-management, but we do not leave them alone if they are faced with a challenge they do not know how to overcome. We are an alternative school because we promote active and experiencial learning, but we also utilize theoretical and conceptual learning when the students need it to move forward. We are an alternative school because our students decide what they want to do with their time, but we offer guidance when we see that they are lost. We are an alternative school because each student requests workshops that are most interesting to them, but we also offer others on topics they may not have known existed…
What are the school fees?
Our fees for the 2019-2020 course are €4330 per year, the payment is distributed as follows:
– An annual registration fee of €290.
– Ten monthly installments of €350 (from September to June) and two special installments of €270 in July and August (these instalments are for advancement, and they will be equalize in the 2020-2021 course). For siblings the instalments are €312 per student.
When a new student joins Dos Latidos, in addition to the registration fee, the family must pay a €700 deposit (two monthly payments) which will be returned to the family in full when the student leaves the school, as long as the family communicates their intention to not attend the following year before the 31st of March.
What stages of learning does Dos Latidos include?
Currently, Dos Latidos fully covers the stages of infant and primary education. The group in infant education corresponds with what we call the Blue House, where students ages 3 to 6 share learning spaces. The Green House is where we welcome students aged 7 to 12 (primary education), all these students share the same rooms. Students between ages 6 and 7 are at a stage of transition between Blue House and Green House, and the teaching team helps to realize this change when the time has come for each student. (Note: currently we are working to incorporate secondary education as well, so as to cover all compulsory education).
Why are students not separated by age?
Because that is not how we naturally develop. Human beings are designed to learn with people of all ages, as we have for millions of years. Experience has demonstrated to us that older students learn from younger ones, and vice versa. This in conjunction with the fact that age is never an objective reference point to design a learning itinerary based on: two children of the same age can learn to read at different times, this is what happens more often than not. This is why we are committed to having groups of mixed ages so that children can relate to and learn from peers of their choosing, based on needs and interests, no because they are the same age.
What is the student to teacher ratio?
It is very important to us to have a low ratio because it allows us to provide personalized attention and each student can see that their needs and interests are wholly attended to. This is why our current ratio is 9 students per teacher for infant education, and 12 children to each teacher in primary.
Is the school schedule the same for all educational stages?
Dos Latidos opens its gates for an intensive day from 9:00 to 14:00, with the possibility of extending the day to 16:00 (students must bring a lunch from home). But we know that not all people need the same number of school hours and some days students have more energy than others. For this reason, there is the option to arrive at a second entrance time, at 10:00, whenever desired, whether you are part of the infant or primary group. We also offer, for our younger students, the option of permanently shortening their school day.
What does an average day at Dos Latidos look like?
Always different from the last. If there is anything to characterize a day at Dos Latidos it is the richness and variety of experiences.
For those in the infant group (Blue House) there are a few routines that help the young ones have points of reference throughout the day: a meeting moment when they arrive, a weekly workshop, a weekly artistic activity, and story time before they go home. Nevertheless, we are very careful to ensure that these daily routines do not fill all of the students’ time, as we believe only with free time will students be able to develop self-reflection and identify their own interests and needs and focus on them with determination, always with our support.
For the primary group (Green House), every day is centered around one fundamental principle: each student decides how they want to dedicate their time, while respecting the time and choices of others. Every Monday we begin the day with a planning meeting in which students choose activities and projects they want to participate in that week. From this point, each student distributes their time between spontaneous and programmed activities. The result is that sometimes they choose to be self-taught, other times they choose to get direction from a member of the teaching time, sometimes they prefer to learn through individual workshops, and sometimes they choose the format of a group activity.
Finally, in both the Blue House and Green house, we have a monthly excursion to places related to art, science, nature, sports, health… One of every three excursions happens with students from the whole school together, with activities adapted for each age group, promoting coexistence between all students.
Why are Fridays field days?
Because children need direct contact with nature. It’s that simple. Much research has been done in the field of neuroscience that demonstrates that children in particular, and humans in general, experience a more harmonious and complete development if they have the opportunity to have regular contact with nature. For this reason, our school offers students a field day every Friday. Every week we go to the mountains or pastures near Dos Latidos to live a day in the challenges of nature, with themed workshops, or sporting activities. But above all, this is a day of free play in nature to recognize and value what nature has to offer and how lucky we are to be located in the Sierra de Guadarrama.
After Dos Latidos, can my child continue their studies at a conventional Spanish school?
Yes, of course. At any point in their infant, primary, or secondary education students at Dos Latidos can pass directly into the Spanish education system; without any kind of exam or validation test they can directly enter into the class corresponding to their age. If after finishing secondary education at a foreign teaching centre a student wants to enter university, they can join pre-university classes for the corresponding country (in our case, the United States of America) or they can enter the Spanish university system by taking a validation test that allows them to begin their bachelor degree. We are aware, however, that this change is not easy for many students. For this reason, if we are informed ahead of time that the student will continue their studies in a conventional Spanish school, we will put together a personalized transition program for the student to help them acquire the resources and knowledge they need to make the transition as fluid as possible.
Can I come with my child to school if they need me?
Of course. At Dos Latidos we believe in a shared, not delegated, education. Our mission is to accompany families in the process of educating their children, and we cannot do that unless we are walking hand-in-hand. For this reason, we have established an Accompaniment Education Plan for the adaption period in which the mother or father can come with their child into the school if necessary. In turn, we ensure that this accompaniment does not interfere with the space or disturb the other students.
How often do you have family meetings?
Once a quarter, or month, or week… it is a case by case basis, this meaning, we meet whenever the family or school needs to. Upon request for a meeting, we offer space for brief meetings before the school is open to students, or sometimes in the afternoon if the topic requires a longer meeting. We also offer the option of having phone meetings every afternoon. In turn, the school has quarterly meetings with individual families to discuss how the learning and development of their child (or children) is progressing.
Through what channels is there communication between families and the school?
For us, constant communication with families is absolutely necessary for the effective development of our work. We communicate daily in person at the school, sometimes through broadcast lists on WhatsApp, through individual audio messages, or via email. We also hold regular general meetings for different reasons: to carry out work commissions, to share school news, for trainings sessions, to share experiences related to parenting and teaching, to make a global assessment, and at the end of each course… Among the virtual communication channels we use is a shared cloud DRIVE, in which we post documents or our Google Calendar, which allows us to organize voluntary participation of parents for workshops at the school.
Do you use new technologies?
Yes, not doing so would be a waste of a resource full of great educational opportunities. But we use it in moderation and only with students in primary education. Neuroscience research demonstrates to us that the human being is designed to learn with other humans, not with machines, even though the opposite may seem the case when observing some of the spectacular designs of new technological tools. This is why we rely more on learning from interactions between students and teachers. But this is not to imply taking away technology, but rather teaching how to use it; we develop activities with our students who want to learn how to make responsible and safe use of technology, taking advantage of their educational potential without becoming attached. As children grow, we are exploring the possibility of using technological resources until they reach the secondary stage of education, at which point technology can become an indispensable tool for developing personalized learning itineraries through e-learning.
How does Dos Latidos develop project-based learning?
Learning through projects means choosing a topic of interest, deciding what you want to do with this interest, stopping to think about how you want to carry this out, locating and obtaining the resources you need, executing the project as designed, then evaluating your result… In more defined terms, learning through a project means learning about the ways of the world and working on a topic that has caught your attention, knowing that during the process one’s learning will cross many boundaries, some visible and others not as much. And this is enough for us. We do not need to write exams or give out homework to reinforce what we have learned. All we need is for each student to feel free to set a goal and pursue it with passion, and we will provide them with the guidance and help needed along the way. In this way, we prefer for our students to learn at their own pace and in a holistic way. For example, in a cooking workshop, students can simultaneously acquire knowledge of mathematics, language, geography, biology… Without forgetting that the most important learnings are those which give us life skills such as working in a group, addressing frustration, persistence, creativity, making decisions, resolving conflicts…