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 ;-)
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.
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 of 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 a 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 then its representatives should show respect for a parent’s time and schedule. That would be consistent.
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 a 30% discount on the end-of-season sale. Uniforms seem to create 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 ;-)
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
Originally published February 20, 2016
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of creating this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep me going ;-) Gracias!