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Why you should enroll your children in a local school

| 11 Comments

Image Source: pr.gov

Image Source: pr.gov

Hello everyone,

In this post I want to give you some personal accounts and explain to you why you should enroll your children in a local school here in Puerto Rico. Although I must admit that I am a bit biased and would prefer private over public schools, there are a few select schools that I would enroll my own children.

*Full disclosure* I home-school my children but it is primarily because I cannot afford private schooling in the area and because they are not equipped to deal with kids with Celiac Disease, among other things. I will go into that and more in another post, but the gist of it is that if I could/would enroll my children in a local school, it would be a private (or one of a few select public) school. For those of you who are moving here with the armed forces, my answer is no, I would not enroll my children in either the Buchanan or Ramey schools, I am VERY familiar with those schools and their programs, and yes they are good in some ways, but I do not recommend them.

So why is that? Why do I recommend a local, mainly private school? Well, the main reason is the language. I cannot stress this enough, it would be a disservice to your children if they do not take the opportunity while they are here in Puerto Rico to learn Spanish. You think it is not all about learning Spanish? Think again. I see it over and over again, employers passing on some other very qualified potential employees graduated from prestigious schools and colleges with really good GPAs, instead they hire the other applicant who may or may not have graduated with the best GPA and from the best school, but he/she speaks Spanish. I see it all the time, and I am seeing it even more now. There are actually state government officials coming from the US for the sole purpose of recruiting bilingual teachers, police officers, and many other positions, getting paid higher wages than their English-only speaking counterparts.

I was on clasificadosonline.com today looking for part time jobs. I was surprised that there was an ad for a lawn mowing and gardening job that required employees to be bilingual! And this was no fluke, over and over again I saw just about every job out there requiring fluency in both English and Spanish! So, trust me, if you are here for a short amount of time or you are planning on staying here long term, I HIGHLY recommend that you immerse your children in a Spanish speaking school.

I generally (not always) recommend private over public, there are many very good private schools which are affordable for most families. Be careful with the “Bilingual” schools though because normally the kids in those schools know enough English to speak only English to your children on top of the fact that most subjects will be taught in English and therefore making it very difficult for you child to learn Spanish. However, those schools may be a good bridge between English and Spanish.

What about Buchanan or Ramey? Well, although my personal experience has been limited to the elementary level, I have seen kids that knew no English at all at Pre-K to knowing no Spanish at all by the end of First grade, Honest. It is because once you reach first grade, Spanish it literally forbidden from all classrooms. All the kids that knew no English learned English, but no kid learned Spanish. However, there is a Spanish class in middle and high school, but it is only one class and trust me it is not enough. I met so many people that took 4 years of Spanish and learned nothing more than “Hola” and “Me llamo John”. I have also met many kids that went from Kinder through 12th grade at those schools and learn so little Spanish that they had to go to College in the US. Not to mention, there are so many things I disagree with their system that I won’t get into here, maybe a different post, but there are a lot. Having said that, there are some exceptions, not all is bad and not all kids end up knowing only one language, I do know one girl that is bilingual and graduated from Buchanan, she however spent 6th through 9th grade in a local public school.

Your children will get a good education from just about any local private school. Even though I do have friends that went to public schools, they admitted that they felt somewhat lost once they got to college and they needed to adjust, but for me and many others who went to private schools, the transition to college was pretty seamless. If you are afraid that your child is too old to be immersed in a Spanish speaking school, there are programs that help with that so that your child can learn Spanish at a different pace until he/she is up to speed.

So please, trust me on this. Learning Spanish is imperative, and if you are here for the short or long term, take the opportunity to learn it. Your children will be much better off being bilingual. Enroll your children in a local school here in Puerto Rico and immerse them in the local language and culture. Kids here are very accepting of others and they will meet new friends and do just as well here as anywhere else.

Take Care.

 

Jay-Webmaster

Author: Jay-Webmaster

Jay is an Atmospheric Physicist and Massage Therapist who was born and raised in Puerto Rico but went to college in the US before moving back to Puerto Rico. Creator of NewToPuertoRico.com and the new forum NewToPuertoRico.com/forum

11 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I’m so glad I found your site and I’m hoping you can help. Just moved from Jersey to PR with the my 13 year old daughter who does not speak nor understands Spanish at all. She just started attending a bilingual private school. After 3 weeks of school, my daughter is happy with the friends she’s made because they speak English, however she’s completely lost in class. Most of her teachers do not speak English and she’s relying on her IPhone to translate. My question is: is there a law or a requirement from the Board of Education to provide Spanish class as a second language? I know in Jersey schools offer ESL classes to all non English speaker new students. Is there such thing here? She’s in a 8th grade level Spanish class instead….. Thank you!

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Mrs Vazquez:

      I believe you may be able to ask about the Title 1 Program. I know someone who qualified for that program. However, I think she had to prove that she couldn’t afford private a private tutor or that she was of low income. I don’t know the details on that but she did tell me that under Title 1 she was able to get some help for her kids. 2 out of her 3 kids are completely bilingual now. The school should know about this program or offer some help.

      • Perfect! Will meet with the principal Monday and I have a card to use to start seeking help for my daughter. Thank you so much. You are a true blessing!! 🤗👍

        • Jay-Webmaster

          Thank You!

          Did you get your questions answered by the principal? If I could afford it I would have my kids in a bilingual private school, since I can’t I do homeschool instead. The conditions of most public schools leave a lot to be desired to say the least, they simply do not have the budget to properly maintain them.

  2. Do you recommend any of the private schools? If so, which ones? Also, what are the tuition costs? My job is looking to expand to Puerto Rico and when they do I plan on relocating. I love Puerto Rico and I know my 7&4 year old boys will love it as well!! Your website has been very helpful.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Well, recommending a private school is a very difficult task because they all have their pros and cons. Also, I am mostly familiar with the schools in Guaynabo and San Juan because those are the areas I grew up in. I know of a few other schools elsewhere but not too many. I can tell you that I do prefer private schools over public schools with the exception of a few specific public schools (which are very difficult, almost impossible, to get into).

      Private schools here will set you back generally between $300 to $1000 per month depending on many factors. To that you have to add the “Matricula” which is a once-a-school-year yearly enrollment fee and it can easily surpass $1000. Generally, the more affordable private schools are good enough, I know people who have their kids in affordable private schools and they are ok with it because at this time being immersed in the Spanish language is much more important than having a pretty computer lab or other luxuries. In fact, I sometimes prefer the more basic schools as the kids tend to be more humble, much less entitled, and much more appreciative of everyday things; but that is a generalization and not always the case.

      So depending on where you relocate to, you can look for the local private schools. You can see some rankings online of people who ranked some schools based on general criteria but I could disagree with those rankings and some of them were rather comical to those who actually know about the real details of some of those schools.

      I do homeschool my children, not necessarily because I don’t like the private schooling, but because I cannot afford the private schools and the public schools are not equipped to deal with children that have the dietary restrictions my children have. But I highly recommend you find the best private school you can afford in your area and have your children be immersed in the Spanish language, once fluent they have 21 other countries they could visit or find jobs in without a problem, not to mention it is a legitimate way to then easily start to learn other romance languages like French, Italian, Portugese, etc., knowing Spanish is a HUGE asset. So if you do relocate here, send me a private message on the municipalities you’re looking into and I’ll ask around for the best schools in that area.

      Take Care!

  3. What do you recommend for an adult coming with the time to spend on Spanish learning?

    How useful is Duo lingo?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Art!!!

      Duolingo is useful but it has its limitations, nothing beats being immersed in the culture or practicing with formal classes, but Duolingo is better than nothing, and probably just as useful or even better than the expensive software packages such as Rosetta Stone. So if Duolingo is all you have, by all means use it, you will learn enough to defend yourself but I don’t expect fluency unless you are immersed in the language and use it regularly.

      Take Care!

  4. I have to disagree in one topic regarding the children that go to Fort Buchanan and Ramey Schools in Puerto Rico. First of all most of the students are hispanics and they DO NOT forget it because they have conversational spanish among themselves at any opportunity they can. Though instruction is in English most teachers are bilingual and translate to spanish what is being taught. Second, there is a subject called Heritage in which all students are exposed to the traditions, history and folklore of this island. It is taught in spanish. They celebrate Hispanic Month and they celebrate the Discovery of Puerto Rico with parades and night activities with Orchestras such as El Gran Combo, La Sonora Ponceña and many others every year.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Xiomara:

      Like I mentioned, my experience is limited to the Elementary school, and when I say I am familiar with the system there is because I am VERY familiar. Heritage is taught once a week or twice a week in some rare cases. I don’t know at what level or school you are talking about but the Heritage classes I experienced were NOT in Spanish. Also, this post is mainly for people coming in from the US or who do not speak Spanish and if they are here for 2-3 years they WILL NOT learn Spanish well enough to get a job or consider themselves bilingual. Of course, there may be exceptions but the great majority will follow the same trend of not learning Spanish. I have friends with kids who went to Buchanan from Kinder through 12th, these are Puerto Rican kids with only Spanish being spoken at home, and their Spanish performance is similar to that who learns Spanish as a second language, they may not forget it, even though I have seen kids who have, but their Spanish does suffer, a lot. I know people who have been here for nearly 10 years in that system and not learned any Spanish.

      Yes, there is opportunity to learn conversational Spanish OUTSIDE of the classroom, which is sad in it of itself that you don’t have the opportunity inside the classroom, yes they celebrate Hispanic Heritage month like most other Federal Government agencies, they have a parade once a year on November 19th day of the discovery of Puerto Rico, but all of this is done in English! As they call the groups in the parade they are doing it in English, which is fine, I have nothing against English at all! BUT, if you want your child to learn Spanish well enough to be bilingual, it won’t happen at Buchanan or Ramey, and if it does it would be the exception, not the rule, and even then it will most likely be because of some outside instruction or immersion.

      El Gran Combo and La Sonora Ponceña are great cultural icons, El Gran Combo performed on the 4th of July activity (which was held on the 2nd of July) but they won’t teach you Spanish at school. The local schools do a better job of honoring the heritage and culture of this island than Buchanan or Ramey does. Of course it is appreciated that they honor the culture and do something to expose the local culture to the students, but again, that will not teach them Spanish., and I have personally spoken and inquired about teaching Spanish at the school with the highest in command, and I have been told that teaching Spanish is not an option and that we all should learn English and that English is the sole focus. I wish I had gotten that on paper and signed.

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