As a mother of two boys living here in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, one of the main questions I am asked by families thinking of moving overseas to Mexico is, “How is the school system in Mexico?” Or, “Where can my children go to school if we move abroad to the Riviera Maya?”
What Are Schools Like in Mexico?
My first answer is not to worry. We moved to Mexico’s Riviera Maya from London 9 years ago with the same questions, but have found that the school system in Mexico is excellent and a vast majority of the children here are expats who moved here speaking no Spanish at all, just like my children, who were only 3 and 5 years old when we arrived.
There are many international schools where the education is half in English and half in Spanish, and you will be surprised how quickly younger children pick up the language, both through school and playing with all their new friends. You will find that they are almost totally bilingual in just a few months.
Older children sometimes take a little longer, because they might be a bit more inhibited about speaking up, but they will also pick it up in no time. I found that the best way they learn the language and make new friends is to enroll them in extracurricular activities. My boys, for instance, met all their best friends through the football (soccer) team and they are still together now, 9 years later, even if they might now be in different schools.
Mexico Education Facts
All schools in Mexico are strictly regulated but the SEP (The Secretary of Public Education), and they must comply with all the regulations to maintain their accreditation. A diploma from the SEP will be recognized if you ever decide to move back to Canada or the US.
Children can start school as young as two, and this is known as "maternal," then there are three years of preschool (Kinder) and primary school (Primaria) is from years 1-6, Junior High (Secundaria) is years 7-9 and finally there is Senior High (Preparatoria) from years 10-12. The great thing is that Mexican families place a lot of importance in their children's education, so there is always a good choice of schools. The international or bilingual ones are private, and you can expect to pay between 3000-6000 pesos a month.
I have been more than happy with the education my two boys are receiving and they have been to two schools here. The first was El Papalote, which is a Waldorf school with children attending from all over the world! In one class, you are likely to find children from at least 10 different countries, which is wonderful for our kids to experience so many different cultures.
Both of my children went to Primaria (primary school) there, and I don´t think there was a happier place in this world that we could have chosen to be. It was the perfect choice for two little boys arriving with no Spanish and a new life. From the very first day we were welcomed as if it were our family and we have all made lifelong friends from our years there.
For Secundaria (high school), although it pained me to leave El Papalote, I moved them to the Instituto Tepeyac, a bigger school with more facilities for both sports and science, etc. They adjusted straightaway, and again the language of football helped them as they already knew a lot of the kids from playing sports for so many years with them, so the transition was pretty easy.
These Are Just Some of the Best Private Schools in Mexico’s Riviera Maya:
So, there you have just a few tips if you are thinking of moving abroad to the Riviera Maya and wondering about the education of your children. Each of these schools has its own special ethos and method of education, so you just need to check them out and choose which suits your family and way of thinking the best.
I can´t believe the time has gone so quickly and now my youngest is in secondary school and my eldest will be going to Senior High next year! I must say I am very happy to have seen them grow into well educated, respectful boys and where better to have done this than living here in paradise. I believe with the diversity of people they have met and now being bilingual and hopefully even trilingual, they will do well anywhere in the world. It really is a fantastic place for kids to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. I have never regretted it for one moment.
What are your main concerns about moving abroad and education while living in Mexico?