Looking for expat schools in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua? We look at the options when it comes to educating your children in this beach town.
San Juan del Sur, located on the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua, has become a popular destination for expats and digital nomads seeking a laid-back lifestyle in a beautiful, tropical, surf community.
While the town is small, there are a number of schools in the area catering to expat families who seek high-quality education options for their children. The most common question I get about living in San Juan del Sur, in fact, is about schools. I always try to give an honest and unbiased explanation of the most popular options foreigners have to choose from.
These options really boil down to the San Juan del Sur Day School, Escuela Adelante, or home schooling. Some expats do choose to send their kids to one of the local public or private schools, although they’re a minority.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the above-mentioned schools in San Juan del Sur for expat children.
San Juan del Sur Day School
The San Juan del Sur Day School is the best (and about the only) non-homeschooling, English-instruction option for kids aged five or older. Located high on a hill, set on farmland, this private, bilingual school offers education for children from pre-K through grade 12 and is MINED-accredited (MINED is Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education).
The school offers a rigorous academic program, focused on developing critical thinking skills, creativity, and a love of learning. Alongside regular curriculum topics, students practice yoga and meditation, enjoy swim lessons, and learn about gardening.
They use the surrounding nature to teach the curriculum and students spend a lot of the day outside. Respect and compassion are high priorities for the day school. Students receive a word of the week that correlates with these values.
View this post on Instagram
Escuela Adelante offers bilingual preschool education for kids 18-months through sixth-grade. Located outside town, this school enrolls students from both Nicaragua and around the world. It’s also MINED-accredited and most of the teachers are Nicaraguan.
The school focuses on the individual needs of each student, and offers a personalized learning experience that allows students to progress at their own pace.
The curriculum includes a mix of traditional academic subjects as well as experiential learning opportunities that allow students to explore their interests and passions.
Esuela Adelente also offers an online program for anyone who wants to learn or improve their Spanish, not only children. This program can work well in conjunction with any expats planning on homeschooling their children instead of sending them to school.
Homeschooling is another option for children who want an English-based education while living in San Juan del Sur.
Many parents say they enjoy the freedom that homeschooling offers their families, with the ability to hold a class anywhere in the world. A creative parent can use what exists in their environment to create the necessary curriculum. Homeschooled kids usually excel quicker than those in the traditional classroom and often test higher than their grade level.
Most homeschooling parents use K12 for the curriculum or create their own, using sites like Singapore Math. They supplement using STEM projects and things found on Pinterest that go along with their educational goals and curriculum. Khan Academy and BrainPOP are also great online sources.
It should be noted that homeschooling is not recognized in Nicaragua, and all children have to attend school from age 6 to 15. While not officially prohibited by law, MINAD has stated that it doesn’t recognize homeschooling as a valid form of education.
This means that homeschooled students may have limited access to higher education and job opportunities in Nicaragua. That said, this is extremely unlikely to affect expat kids at all.
View this post on Instagram
Local public and private schools in San Juan del Sur
Some expat families choose to enroll their kids in one of the local public schools, where instruction is completely in Spanish. It takes an outgoing or Spanish-speaking child to feel comfortable with this option.
We once sent our daughter to a public preschool for a month, when San Juan del Sur Day School was on a break. I loved dropping her off in her school uniform and watching her make friends with the local kids.
The school system, though, is very different to what I was used to. There’s less time spent on education, and without substitute teachers, there were many days when there was no class, or the kids got out early. I struggled with the daily time changes, trying to plan my day around what time school would be out.
That said, her teacher and the director of the school were very kind. They welcomed the little gringa in the class for a month.
The Colegio Nuestra Señora de Fátima is a faith-based, private Nicaraguan school in Rivas, the main city of southern Nicaragua, about 30 minutes from San Juan del Sur. It’s where most of the more wealthy Nicaraguans in the SJDS area tend to send their children, and a few integrated expats kids attend this school, too.
The education at this school is a step above the local norm. Although all instruction is in Spanish, there’s an ESL class taught in English. The say they plan to make the school bilingual one day.
In San Juan del Sur there more choices for expat education than any other beach town in Nicaragua
Whether you want to integrate your kids into the public school system and watch their Spanish flourish or care more about their education staying on track with your home country’s standards, there’s a school option or combination in San Juan del Sur that will help you achieve your goals.
By choosing one of the above schools in San Juan del Sur (or by homeschooling), you can be confident your child will receive a top-notch education in a beautiful tropical setting.