By Sara Moen / Playa Maya News
One of the most frequent e-mails we receive are from families from all parts of the globe who are looking to relocate to Playa del Carmen, or other parts of the Riviera Maya, with their children. Of course prior to making the move they want to research educational options in our area. As a former teacher who has taught both in the United States, as well as here in Playa del Carmen, I thought I would give you all an updated list of options and local area schools.
First and foremost the majority of schools in Mexico are private with a handful of public schools that are also available. From my experience, the public schools tend to be over crowded, and in general do not have a true bi-lingual program so I have only included private schools in this directory. All schools, both public and private, require uniforms, registration (inscription) and book fees, and the parents and families of the student are required to supply all school materials i.e. glue, pencils, paper etc. The average monthly tuition usually runs about $310.00 USD for smaller children, but increases as the child goes into higher grades.
An inscription, or registration fee, is a non-refundable annual fee that is more or less equivalent to a month’s tuition. This fee is collected at the time of registration to ensure your child will have a reserved spot in a classroom. Registration can start as early as March for the following school year, and it is best to register as early as possible to guarantee space, and classroom placement.
In order for a school to be accredited they must be licensed through SEP, Secretaria Educacion Publica, and follow their curriculum. Almost all of the schools follow the holiday and school year calendar of SEP as well so click here for the school calendar. If you are going to come to the area for either one full school year, or less, make sure you bring your child to a SEP certified program so they will be able to receive proper accreditation at your school of origin. In addition there is the Secretaria de Educacion y Cultura which is the Secretary of Education and Culture of the State of Quintana Roo which has further information on our state’s educational system.
Schools in Mexico are very different from what I was used to in the United States. They tend to be more strict then US based programs, and often give very heavy workloads to children from kindergarten on up through high school. Due to the fact that Playa del Carmen is an international destination, and has a varied community there are new programs coming into our community that are a bit less traditional then the “old school” style of teaching. When I was a child I would have thrived in any school atmosphere, public, private, old school, or not, but my sister was the exact opposite, she was not a “traditional” student and did better in art based programs. Either way you are the parent and know what is best for your individual child. So all this in mind I have compiled a list of schools in the area with a bit of information on each one. When available I have included web addresses, and phone numbers.
Ak Lu’um International School Community
Waldorf based education and SEP certified. Currently only up to Grade 2, and is the only non-profit school in the area. Student body is made up of both a foreign and national population. Opened in fall of 2006 in a private residence located in the Campestre just south of Playa del Carmen. With a recent land purchase a new facility is in the works for since 2007 school year. Co-founder/teacher Siobhan Bowers is a former teacher from Papalote. Look for this program to develop into something amazing.
SEP certified preschool through high school. Has large foreign student population, fairly traditional curriculum, and it has a very impressive campus and grounds boasting a large pool, soccer field, and large outdoor auditorium.
SEP certified daycare, preschool through junior high/middle school. The campus looks impressive with soccer fields, a swimming pool, baseball diamond, library, and cafeteria. With such an impressive campus it will be interesting to see what type of curriculum they develop.
Colegio Puerto Aventuras
SEP certified preschool through high school. Large foreign population, perfect for Puerto Aventuras residence, but a bit of a commute for Playa del Carmen families.
SEP certified preschool through junior high/middle school. Largely a Mexican student body. I have heard mixed reviews from parents in regards to teaching style. It is a very traditional private Mexican school. Facilities include large pool, and extensive after school activities such as: dance, karate, theater, and soccer. Conveniently located in Playacar.
SEP certified preschool through high school. Traditional private Mexican school with a mixed student body of foreign and national students. Daycare also available for young children 1 to 2 years old.
* Please note that all of the above schools located in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are advertised as being bi-lingual. Keep in mind that some have stronger English programs then others so it is up to individual families to determine which fit is best for their child.