Navigating Mexico: Choosing the Right School for Your Kids

Juan De Jesus Breene - Pulse News Mexico
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April 12, 2022

As summer approaches and transnationals begin discussions with their employees about relocation to Mexico (or any other country), the big question of “what about school for the kids?” ranks right up there with safety. (The same applies for digital nomads who see Mexico as a great place to work at a distance with fast internet and close proximity to the United States and Canada.)

All kinds of guides already exist with private school rankings by city. Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara all have wonderful “American” schools, as well as other international schools.

Even smaller cities like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta have fine American schools.

But what if your company is not paying the tuition bill or what if the “most prestigious” schools’ values do not align to yours? What are some of the questions you should ask?

Before getting to the questions, know that Mexican public schools have only been in existence since they were decreed in 1921 by presidential mandate, and it was not until well into the 1930s that they began to become marginally compulsory in urban areas. It was likely not until about 2000 that Mexico achieved a semblance of universal public education coverage.

On the other hand, private schools have often been around for much longer. In fact, for centuries, they were the only schools that existed, run by Catholic religious orders.

So while a mid-size city in the United States may have a dozen or so high-priced independent schools and triple that number of Catholic or other faith-based private schools, a medium-size Mexican city may have several hundred.

Where does a potential new arrival begin when trying to choose the right school for their children?

Obviously, asking coworkers where their children attend is a good start. But when you finally decide to visit some of these schools, here are a few key questions to ask, and the answers will not exist in the guidebooks or on the school’s website.

What percentage of the students are native English speakers? You might be surprised to learn that at even in some of the most prestigious and most expensive schools that have American or British in their name, that percent is surprisingly low, from 8 to 15 percent. Schools prefer to publish the percentage of students with a non-Mexican passport, whose numbers are much higher as many are dual citizens.

Local families want their children to go to school with your native-speaking child. However, in the schools with a low percentage of native English speakers, your child will be the minority, potentially with no one to talk to at recess.

Read the rest at Pulse News Mexico

Related: Moving the Kids to Mexico? Here Are Some Parenting Differences Few Mention (Mexico News Daily)

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