Education in Costa Rica: Navigating Schools for Expat Children

By IEX Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a dream destination for expats, and many families choose this tropical paradise as their new home. If you’re a parent considering relocating to Costa Rica, one of your top priorities will be ensuring your children have access to quality education. In this article, we’ll guide you through the education system in Costa Rica and the options available to expat families.

The Costa Rican Education System: An Overview

Costa Rica boasts a well-developed education system with both public and private schools. Education is highly valued in the country, with a literacy rate of over 97%. The education system follows a model of 6 years of primary school, 3 years of secondary, and 3 years of diversified secondary.

International Schools in Costa Rica

For expat families, international schools are often the preferred choice. These schools offer curricula that are recognized worldwide and are usually taught in English. Many of them follow American, British, or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, making it easier for children to transition seamlessly if they ever return to their home countries.

Language of Instruction

While international schools offer education in English, it’s essential for expat children to become proficient in Spanish since it’s the official language of Costa Rica. Many schools include Spanish language classes in their curriculum to help students integrate into the local culture.

Public Schools in Costa Rica

Public education in Costa Rica is of a high standard and is free for both residents and non-residents. However, these schools primarily teach in Spanish, which may pose a language barrier for non-Spanish speaking expat children. Some expat families choose public schools for the cultural experience and to give their children the opportunity to learn Spanish.

Extracurricular Activities

Costa Rica offers an array of extracurricular activities for children. These activities can include sports, arts and crafts, music lessons, and cultural experiences. It’s a great way for expat children to make friends and engage in the local community.

Considerations for Expat Parents

Before choosing an education option for your children in Costa Rica, consider factors such as the location of the school, transportation, extracurricular activities, and the school’s approach to the curriculum. Visiting the schools and talking to other expat parents can provide valuable insights.

Adapting to the Costa Rican Education System

Adjusting to a new education system can be challenging for expat children. However, Costa Rica’s warm and welcoming culture makes it easier for children to adapt. With the right support and guidance, they can thrive in their new academic environment.

In Conclusion

Choosing the right education path for your children in Costa Rica is a significant decision. Whether you opt for an international school, public education, or homeschooling, Costa Rica offers a range of options to cater to your family’s unique needs and preferences. With a strong focus on education, you can rest assured that your children will have access to quality learning experiences as you embark on your expat adventure in this beautiful country.


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