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5 Things We Love And Hate About Mexico Public Schools

There are good things about Mexico public schools and there are bad things about Mexico public schools. We put Sawyer, our five-year-old, in the third grade of pre-primary school last August. (This is equivalent to Kindergarten in the US.) We took Sawyer out six months later and decided to homeschool him. Six months of schooling in Kindergarten does not make us an expert on this subject, although I can tell you 5 things we love and hate about Mexico public schools. *Remember, these are only our opinions. You can take them or leave them ;-)

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5 Things We Love And Hate About Mexico Public Schools

Everyone Speaks Spanish

Yes, I know I live in Mexico. Yes, I know that Spanish is the national language. I love Spanish! Our family is slowly learning the language and I am very happy that my kids will probably be bilingual. However… when it comes to trying to communicate with an active five-year-old and he has no idea what you are saying… let’s just say that the language difference is a hindrance and not a help.

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Schools are Simple and Low-Budget

This isn’t a bad thing. I love simple and low-budget. But I also love the opportunities that money can buy when it comes to education. I hate the fact that some kids don’t get the assistance they need because there isn’t enough help to go around.

For example, Sawyer needed one-on-one help learning the Spanish language. Even if it was only a half-hour a day, it would have been better than nothing. His school could not provide this. Sawyer has learned more in the last two weeks homeschooling than in the last six months of public school.

There is No Consistency.

I am not a stickler for school rules. I hated some of the rules we had to put up with when my girls were in public school in Kentucky. I like a bit of freedom and that is why our family practices unschooling as part of our eclectic homeschooling curriculum. Almost everything about Mexico is relaxed. Frankly, it’s awesome.

With this in mind, Sawyer’s school had a few rules that were a surprise to us:

  • If you arrive after 9 a.m. you will be locked out and no matter how much you kick and scream they won’t open the doors for you.
  • Parents are expected to attend school meetings. Apparently, they are a requirement even if you only understand half of what they are saying.
  • When you pick up your kid you must have an ID card. We didn’t realize this was important. I guess even though he was the only white kid and we were the only white parents in the entire school, they still needed his card to identify us.

Seriously, I am cool with most of these rules. (Except for the two-hour school meetings every few weeks.) What I hate is the lack of consistency. Parents are to follow these requirements but the school system doesn’t give parents the courtesy of a dependable schedule.

Case in point, teacher education days pop-up out of nowhere. On Thursday afternoon we would be told, “School is canceled tomorrow for a teacher education day.” Great. Thanks for the warning. There were two occasions I had no warning whatsoever. I drove Sawyer to school only to find no one there. In one case, Brad drove Sawyer to school and then brought him right back home. Why? It was raining. The director told him, “If it rains, just stay home.” What!? I am a firm believer that if a school system wants parents to respect its rules than it’s representatives should show respect for a parents time and schedule. That would be consistent.

first-day-of-school-in-mexico
Sawyer with his little brother on his first day of school.

School Days are Three Hours Long

I missed Sawyer when he was at school. After three hours I was ready for him to be back home torturing his little brother.  But I am not sure that three hours is long enough to give 30 kids the time and attention needed for a good education. Not when an hour of that time is spent on the playground, eating a mid-morning snack, and taking potty breaks. At home, we easily finish school in three hours with four kids… not 30 kids. I think that Primary (Elementary), Secondary(Junior High), and Preparatory (High School) are a little longer, but I am not positive. We didn’t get that far ;-)

Uniforms are Required – I am including this one so I officially have “5 Things”

I can’t really say anything negative about uniforms. Sawyer was super cute in his school uniform. All the kids looked proper and smart. The price was reasonable, especially with 30% discount at the end-of-season sale. Uniforms seem to create a unity in the classroom, at least in the lower grades.  Even in Kentucky, most schools required uniforms. Let’s just call this a bonus tip for anyone moving to Mexico with children ;-)

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We could fork out the money for our kids to attend a private Mexico school and give that a try… but honestly, we don’t want to budget for schooling. Even though private schools are cheaper here than in the US, they still cost a few thousand pesos. This would cut into our travel expenses. In my world, travel is a huge education in itself.

In the end, we have a love/hate relationship with Mexico public schools. Each of my “things” except for uniforms… had positives and negatives. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives. Bottom-line: Mexico public schools are not worth the stress for our family, and Sawyer’s education is more important than immersing him in a Spanish school. He doesn’t miss it and he is learning very well at home. I think we will keep him here. Signing off, Tina

*This post was shared at Practical Mondays Link-Up.

Originally published February 20, 2016

5 Things We Love And Hate About Mexico Public Schools

12 thoughts on “5 Things We Love And Hate About Mexico Public Schools

  1. Sy Contreras says:

    We live in Tijuana Mexico. Moved from Texas. My husband and I are deaf and we all are fluent in asl. We are supporting lsm congregation. My kids are learning to speak Spanish and sign Spanish. I agree that they will learn a lot quicker at home than at school. Especially if kids don’t want to waste their time talking to you. My oldest is already becoming fluent and they other 2 are picking up in it. At least you tried the public school system. You can now say I’ve tried it. Kudos to you. Ta ta.

  2. swapna says:

    I like uniforms- frankly it takes off the pressure of having a cool wardrobe and wondering what he should wear tomorrow. yikes. I mean they’re just clothes. it should be simple!

    “everyone speaks spanish” is a big deal…sigh. YES children pick languages quickly & spanish isn’t very difficult (would be super easy if we could eliminate the verbs & those horrible reflexive thingies!) But still!

    Pls do share your stories at the practical mondays link up! They’re be a perfect addition.

  3. Lana says:

    3 hours! That’s hardly anything. I like uniforms too (we’ve lived in Australia and now in England, but I’m American.) Whenever I was unsure about the education my kids were getting, my husband would say, “well you know, just being here is an education.” They are getting an experience that many kids won’t have.

  4. Ruth Lopez says:

    I was born in US but I grew up in Mexico, now that I know both school systems I still choose the one in Mexico, not the pre-k though. I feel that I learned more in Mexico that what my stepson is learning now (considering that I went to school many many years ago lol). But none can be perfect. If I could , I would take my daughter to a Mexican school. Although, my comment can be biased because I was raised in Mexico. Great post!

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      Thank you Ruth! I wish it worked out but at least we tried. The language was the biggest barrier. I wish my husband and I were completely fluent, (instead of only a little fluent), so we could have been more of a help to Sawyer and the school! I must say life is a whole lot easier though including him in homeschool with the girls :-)

  5. Fabiola Rodriguez says:

    Well, you are not alone. I know a couple of expat families here in Mexico and they also homeschool their kids. I am Mexican, but I spent part of my childhood in the USA, so I know about schools on both sides of the border, and I can honestly say that there are pros and cons to both. Currently, both of my sons attend public school here in Mexico. One of them is in 12th grade and will soon go on to college. I have nothing but praise to say about his high school here. It’s an amazing school. My younger son attends 3rd grade, and I positively hate his primary school, almost as much as he does. The hours are fine (8:00 to 2:30) and I don’t mind the uniform (it’s cheaper than shopping for an entire wardrobe) but the teachers are too narrow-minded, my son doesn’t get the assistance he needs, meetings are too long and too frequent (my husband and I normally blow them off, which doesn’t make us popular), and teacher education days pop up every month (FYI, they’re always on the last Friday of every month, like clockwork). We would like to get him into a private school, but tuition is just too much for our family budget, so public school will have to do. My little girl is starting kindergarden this fall, and she’ll go to a public school too, but her day won’t be so short. The schedule will be 8:30 to 2:00. Anyway, wish us luck!

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