Saturday, May 14, 2016

Moving to Puerto Rico: Education



So you've decided moving to Puerto Rico is going to be a lot of fun, but what about moving those kids? What about school? I don't have any first hand experience about schools here because I homeschool my kids. But I can give you a few ideas on the public and private schools in western PR.

I haven't heard many good things about public schools. I only know a couple families that use them, so there must be one or two that are good. Everyone else I know uses private schools. We haven't thus far because of a few reasons: the expense (seems to be about $5K a year at most places - usually $500 a mo and $1K registration fee), I like to be flexible with traveling or putting kids into camp and don't want to take a kid out of school that I'm paying for, and I'm enjoying homeschooling so far.

Private schools in Western PR

Mayagüez: SESO, WALKS, Montessori, Escuela Ubuntu
Añasco: MASIS
Rincón: Mama Mel's, Semillas, Without Walls Academy
Aguadilla: Borinquen Bilingual School, First Bilingual Preparatory School

I've know people to like all the private schools in Mayagüez. SESO and WALKS are your traditional Puerto Rican bilingual private schools. I've heard from locals that the children often come out of this experience only wanting to speak English. The Montessori is also bilingual and is very well respected and has been around for a long time. Escuela Ubuntu is a k-2 Waldorf school and is just completing it's first year. I've visited at an open house and it seems like a really nice little school. It seems like it is mostly Spanish speaking. MASIS in Añasco is cheaper than the Mayagüez schools and I know of a few Americans that live in Rincón and send their kids there. If you use these schools you are guaranteed to have your kids speaking Spanish. That is my one problem with homeschooling. Mama Mel's in Rincon is very popular with many Americans in Rincón and is also bilingual. I don't know anything about the schools in Aguadilla. See comments below for reviews from people that live here and use these schools.

Homeschooling in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico does not regulate homeschooling, so you don't need to fill out any paper work to start schooling at home (see Puerto Rico Homeschool Laws and T'CHERS FAQs). Here are a few resources:
Right now we are mostly homeschooling by ourselves with an occasional field trip with WREACH. I think our favorite trip of the year was seeing El Galeon Andalucia while it was in the port at Mayaguez this spring. We also have been taking advantage of different day camps that are offered in Rincón throughout the year, like Rincon Sailing and Rincon Riding Club.

Libraries
Biblioteca Juvinel de Mayagüez is the nicest children's library you are going to find on the west coast. It is a private library on Plaza Colón in Mayagüez, located on the third floor above Banco Popular. It costs $15 a year for a membership. It has both English and Spanish books. And while it is a children's library, it also has adult literature. I have found that the best time to go is at 9am on Saturday. You are guaranteed to find a very close parking spot at that time and the library is pretty quiet then. They also frequently do special activities for kids on Saturday mornings. Friends Cafe has a small coffee booth on the plaza and is a nice place to pick up a coffee if you are waiting on the kids and a spouse in the library (at least that is what Ben does while I'm with the kids!)

Museums
There is only one art museum on the west coast and it is located at UPR-Mayagüez: Art Gallery, Department of Humanities. While not a traditional museum, the Tropical Agriculture Research Station, run by the USDA, is a great place to visit and learn about tropical plants. It is located right next to UPR in Mayagüez and has parking and is free to visit. You just need to sign in and get a visitors badge. Here are a few posts of our visits to this beautiful place.

3 comments:

  1. Our kids attend Boriquen Bilingual here in Aguadilla and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It is a beautiful little school and our kids are getting a better education here than they did in the states by a LOT. When we moved here, our oldest was halfway through kindergarten in the states and could kind of write and couldn't really read at all. He's smart, but that just wasn't being taught to him in the states yet. Our youngest just graduated Pre-K in Borinquen bilingual (Only attended for 6 months to boot) and can write very well, can do basic addition and subtraction, and most impressive, can READ. He can read really, really well. The teachers and administration at the school are top notch and the tiny-size of it all is very charming.

    And the best part? We paid $360/month for BOTH kids to attend the school and this included breakfast and lunch every day. School lunches in the states costs almost this much so we feel we're getting a very good deal.

    I probably sound like a shill, but I love Borinquen Bilingual School. I am so glad we chose this school for the kids.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for letting us know about Boriquen Bilingual! What a great review and it sounds like the fees are really affordable!

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  2. We discovered the Agricultural Center a couple of years ago and it is so beautiful to walk the grounds. I think we'll go again this next stay in early 2017.

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