A little over a decade ago, my wife and I found ourselves driving on a rough mountain dirt road behind Playa Potrero in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We joked about having children in this environment, but a year later, our first son was born in San Jose, followed by a second boy. Eventually, it was time to consider schooling. Our choices along the Guanacaste coast ranged from public to private options.

Coincidentally, I had worked as a classroom aide at a local school called La Paz Community School. We liked the atmosphere, so we enrolled our kids there. My own education in New Jersey and Pennsylvania consisted of a mix of good and not-so-good teachers and facilities. Like most schools, it followed an indoor, sit-in-your-chair format. My children, however, are experiencing a completely different approach to learning.

La Paz is located at the foot of a tropical mountain, providing a stunning vista. The school encourages outdoor activities, as the kids spend much of their day moving between classrooms that border hummingbird-filled gardens, playing soccer, swimming, and relaxing in hammocks. Additionally, some classes teach them to grow food, care for chickens and bees, and compost their lunch waste.

Unlike my own upbringing, where the rumor of uniforms was met with opposition, every school in Costa Rica requires uniforms. To my surprise, I’ve grown to love this aspect since I’m responsible for washing my kids’ clothes. The limited wardrobe makes my life easier.

Another key difference is that my children’s education is bilingual, with half the day in English and the other half in Spanish. When my older son finishes soccer practice, he receives farewells in both languages from children of all ages. This welcoming environment is also evident in the relationships between older and younger kids, who interact and care for each other.

While it remains to be seen how these differences will impact my kids’ educational experience, they both express their love for their school, speaking in their two languages.

Vincent Losasso, the founder of Guanacaste Wildlife Monitoring, is a biologist who works with camera traps throughout Costa Rica. Learn more about his projects on Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at vincent@guanacastewildlifemonitoring.com.

Key Takeaways From Article
1. Consider the location and facilities of the school: Look for schools that are located in beautiful surroundings and offer ample outdoor space for children to explore and play. This can enhance their learning experience and provide a more holistic education.

2. Look for schools with alternative teaching methods: Traditional classroom-based learning may not be the best fit for every child. Look for schools that offer alternative teaching methods such as outdoor classes, hands-on activities, and experiential learning to provide a more engaging and dynamic educational experience.

3. Check if the school requires uniforms: Consider the practicality and convenience of school uniforms. Having a smaller number of specific clothing items to wash and maintain can make life easier for parents.

4. Consider bilingual education: If you value bilingualism, look for schools that offer bilingual programs from a young age. Being able to learn and communicate in multiple languages can provide a competitive advantage and broaden your child’s cultural understanding.

5. Pay attention to the interaction between different age groups: Look for schools where older students interact and support younger students. This can foster a sense of community and create a positive learning environment for all students.

6. Listen to your child’s feedback: Ultimately, your child’s happiness and satisfaction with their school is important. Listen to their feedback and take into consideration their opinions and experiences when making decisions about their education.


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