Portugal Children and School

By | June 5, 2021

How is the school in Portugal?

In Portugal, children start school at the age of six. Some also go to kindergarten beforehand. You then go to elementary school for four years and then to high school for five years. These nine years are again divided into three levels: the four years of primary school include level 1 (Primeiro Cíclo), the 5th and 6th grade are level 2 (Segundo Cíclo) and the 7th to 9th grade are then level 3 (Terceiro Cíclo).

All students go to school together up to the 9th grade. This basic education is called Ensino basico. Another three years are now compulsory, making a total of twelve school years. This school can be a vocational school or a high school, the Escola Secundária. Here you can choose from different orientations.

Lessons in English have been increased and there are now afternoon classes as well. With this, the Portuguese government wants to catch up with the school system lagging behind in a European comparison. State schools are free, like ours.

The school year begins in mid-September and ends in mid-June of the following year. So the Portuguese students have three months of summer vacation! The school year is divided into three trimesters. There are two more weeks of vacation at Christmas and Easter.


In Portugal there are grades from 5 to 1. A 5 is the best grade you can get and a 1 unfortunately failed you here! The 5 is Excelente in Portuguese, the 4 Satisfaz bastante (Good), the 3 Satisfaz (Satisfactory), the 2 Não satisfaz (Not satisfactory) and the 1 is Fraco: Insufficient. Check ehuacom to see schooling information in other European countries.

In the upper level, like us, points are awarded, but from 0 to 20. We give 20 points a 1. If you don’t get 9 points, you have unfortunately failed.

Children in Portugal

What are the names of the children in Portugal? Girls are particularly often found with the names Marai, Beatriz, Ana, Leonor, Mariana or Matilde. Boys are often called João, Rodrigo, Martim, Diogo, Tiago or Tomás. By the way, the most common surname is Silva, which means forest.

A child always gets two surnames, namely the second name of the mother and the second name of the father. So when Pedro Silvo Duarte and Joana Sousa Coelho have a daughter and they name her Madalena, the child’s full name is: Madalena Coelho Duarte. Imagine if we also had this system – what would you be called then?

However, some Portuguese even have a middle name and a third surname. When marrying, women can add the name of their husband to their two names so that they can then come up with three surnames. Sometimes the signature takes a little longer!

Portuguese children like to play football in their free time, but tennis, canoeing and surfing are also popular. By the way, Portuguese children receive their pocket money just like you in euros. Most of the children here have a brother or sister or they are an only child. Because on average each woman has only 1.3 children.

They like to eat bacalhau. This is dried fish and the national dish of Portugal. And of course they love pastel de nata. Do you want to know what that is? Then take a look here !

Most of the children in Portugal are fine. You have enough to eat and you go to school. But there are also children who earn money because their families are very poor. Child labor is also prohibited in Portugal, but some boys and girls do it anyway. Some do it after school, others don’t even go to school.

Portugal Children and School

How do the Portuguese celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is Natal in Portuguese. As with us, the streets are decorated with fairy lights. The shops are also decorated for Christmas. At home you set up a mostly artificial Christmas tree and a crib. Christmas presents are only given at midnight or even on the morning of Christmas Day, December 25th. They are brought from the Pai Natal, that is the Portuguese Santa Claus. December 26th is no longer a public holiday.

The evening before there is a dinner together after the Christmas mass. Usually this is the dried fish bacalhau, which is prepared with cabbage and potatoes. In some families, however, there is also meat, the Cozido Portuguesa. For dessert, there is something sweet like rice pudding, fritters called Filhos or Rabanadas, baked and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar white bread.

The Bolo Rei is the “king cake”, which is eaten between Christmas and Epiphany. It’s a wreath cake with raisins, nuts and candied fruit. Traditionally, a bean is hidden in the cake. Whoever finds it has to pay for the next king cake.

There are also Christmas markets in Portugal. In Lisbon you can eat delicacies on the Natalis and buy new Christmas decorations. A large Christmas tree stands in Praça do Comércio, one of the city’s large squares.

The individual regions of the country also have their own traditions. On the island of Madeira, for example, trade fairs are held every day from December 16. The Missas do Parto (birth masses) always take place at dawn. They also include singing competitions. Then you eat corn bread and cake. Incidentally, you don’t know a white Christmas in Portugal, unless you go up into the mountains!

In Portugal they want Feliz natal! – Merry Christmas!