School shifts in Croatian schools

Elementary school "Ivan Cankar" in Zagreb
Elementary school “Ivan Cankar” in Zagreb

Due to the limited size and availability of classrooms in some schools in Croatia, students may be required to attend school in školske smjene (school shifts). The number of school shifts per school grade depends on the number of children and the organization of a certain school.

As a parent, it is important to know if the school where your child attends is organized into school shifts as it can cause their schedule to vary wildly from week to week. In this post, we’ll break down the school shifts so you can have a better idea of what to expect when enrolling your child in a Croatian elementary or high school.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

School shifts in Croatian schools

How are school shifts set up

If the number of children in a school is large, children will be divided into more than one school class. A class usually consists of 25 to 30 children. For example, some schools can have more than one class of first-graders in a certain school year. If the number of children in a specific grade is large enough, they will be divided into class A, class B, class C, etc.

Depending on the number of classes in a school, the school schedule could be broken down into as many as three shifts.

Those shifts are:

  • Jutarnja smjena (morning shift)
    • School usually starts between 7:00 and 8:00 and finishes between 13:00 and 15:00
  • Popodnevna smjena (afternoon shift)
    • School usually starts between 12:00 and 14:00 and finishes between 19:00 and 20:00
  • Međusmjena (middle shift)
    • School usually starts between 10:00 and 11:00 and finishes between 14:00 and 15:00

Most Croatian schools have only morning and afternoon shifts. Some schools have just a morning shift, and some have all three shifts but they are very rare. The class schedule differs from school to school. The school shifts and the schedule depend on the number of children, teachers, and the size of the school building.

Sometimes students can have an extra class above and beyond their school shift. It is also important to note that their scheduled shift can change from week to week. Perhaps one week they come in the morning and the next week, they could be on the afternoon shift.

Disadvantages of school shifts

If you’re a parent, the shift system is less than ideal. Many parents express concerns over the shift schedule because:

  • Every week is unpredictable
  • Children are not in school all day
  • For younger children, childcare must be arranged for when they get out of school, which may not align with when the parents are available.

Croatian families are closely knit, so usually, there is a grandparent or an aunt that can watch younger children if the parents cannot. However, if you are a foreigner with no family here, school shifts can cause additional stress.

[Read: How to understand the Croatian culture: Part 2 including how Croats are family-oriented]

If you are new to Croatia, it’s important to know if your child’s new school has shifts and exactly what the schedule will be so you can plan accordingly.

For those who want to know what it takes to enroll your child in a Croatian school, here is an extensive post that covers everything you need to know including how to find the closest school to your address. You can also get a detailed description of the education system and how it works in Croatia here.

View our other education posts

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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