By Liza Warkentin
So, you’ve read the first two articles in the Tribune on how to choose the perfect school for your child. You know what to look for and you are ready to make those first phone calls. You call the school and ask for an appointment to see the school. What now?
It’s important that you get all the school’s literature so that you can check for the things on the priority list I’ve been writing about in the other two articles. I recommend that you get you pick up the literature and check the schools’ websites before you actually step onto a campus so that you know what questions still need answering. But it’s critical to go and visit the school campus to get a feel for the physical facilities. There’s so much you can learn about a school community when you actually walk around and look inside classrooms.
I checked some websites and found a great resource for the school visit at www.greatschools.org. They had some great focus questions and tips for the school visit. When visiting, you should look for cheerful classrooms with sufficient space for the number of students, with student work displayed. Teachers in classrooms should be enthusiastic and engaged, asking questions and discussing with groups of students. Students should seem interested and positive. Check to see how students behave as they move from class to class or at recess. Request that you meet the principals. They should be knowledgeable, confident and comfortable around the students they encounter on campus. Look around at the school grounds. Are they well maintained with facilities in good repair? Above all, be sure they look safe and secure.
Here are a few key questions to ask on your visit:
- What is the school’s philosophy and/or mission statement?
- What extracurricular activities are offered?
- How does this school monitor and help children reach the curriculum standards?
- What is the school’s discipline policy?
- What accreditation does this school hold?
- What hiring requirements do you have for teachers?
- How is technology used to help children reach their potential?
- What emphasis does this school place on the arts in education?
- What kinds of library resources are available?
- How does this school help students with difficulties in learning?
- How does this school help students whose first language is not English/Spanish?
- What entrance requirements do the students need to meet?
Of course, price may also be important to you, so don’t forget (as if you would!) to ask for a complete price list for your child’s age level. In any private school you will find there are many extra costs you may not be expecting, such as an often hefty registration cost, materials fees, uniform costs, and book fees.
So here we are at last, at a list of a few of the schools you may want to contact. These are just a few of the well-known private schools in Puerto Vallarta, most of which have been open for many years. A couple of schools on this list are relatively new, but with schools in other major Mexican cities. Choose carefully, ask questions, and visit those that really stand out once you see their literature and websites.
And remember that almost all vital educational, social and intellectual skills children will need in college and adult life are learned long before college, in elementary and secondary school. Use this Tribune series as a guide to make the best decision for your children. They are worth it!
American School of Puerto Vallarta
Phone: (52) 322-221-1525
Albatros 129, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48354
British American School
Phone: Primaria:(322) 22-456-14 ; 22-493-54 y 22-410-11
Secundaria y Preparatoria:(322) 22-505-62 y 29-330-99
Pavo Real 171 48328 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Phone: (322) 226-6430 al 48 y (322) 293-7953
Av. Manuel Lepe 181, Parque Las Palmas, C.P. 48317, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Entre la Central de Autobuses y el Centro Internacional de Convenciones
Instituto SPAC (ISPAC)
Phone: 322 2263660
Manantial # 157
Col. Ojo de Agua. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48328
Colegio Anglo Americano
Phone: 01 322 224 8766
Viena 89 Díaz Ordaz, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Harkness Institute (high school only)
Av. Paseo de los cocoteros No. 67 Nuevo Vallarta, CP:63732.