A breakdown of the best private schools
Congratulations! You’re thinking about moving to Costa Rica. The biggest questions on your mind right now is probably: “But where would I send my kids to school?”
Luckily, the Tamarindo/Flamingo area is arguably home to the very best private schools in the country. Here is a rundown of the main private school options in this part of Costa Rica.
La Paz Community School:
La Paz Community School: La Paz Community School has a certain type of fairy-tale quality that you really have to see to believe. Watching 200+ kids simultaneously sit in silent meditation for morning meeting will make you pinch yourself to make sure it’s not a dream. The school aims to create focused lifelong learners and critical thinkers unafraid to step outside their comfort zones. Their philosophy revolves around developing peace within the self, the family, the community and the world. La Paz is a bilingual school offering IB diplomas, and graduates can then go on to college in the United States or elsewhere. Students come from all different socioeconomic levels and backgrounds including kids from Costa Rica, the United States and dozens of other countries. The school is located in Playa Flamingo, just 20 minutes from Tamarindo and a little over an hour from the international airport in Liberia.
Costa Rica International Academy (CRIA):
Formerly known as the Country Day School of Guanacaste, this legendary learning institution has recently gotten a makeover. Now known as CRIA (“criar” means “to grow” in Spanish), this English-language institution is dual-accredited by both the Costa Rican Ministry of Education and the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges in the United States — meaning to graduate from here is equivalent to graduating from a school in the USA (click here to see their impressive list of college acceptances). They have an unbelievable campus filled with state of the art facilities – like a near-Olympic-sized swimming pool for laps, covered gym, on-campus housing for boarding students and air-conditioned classrooms to name a few. CRIA is home to students from over 10 different countries, and the campus is located just 5 minutes from Huacas on the road to Playa Brasilito (20 minutes from Tamarindo).
Educarte is a bilingual school focused on teaching with artistic flair. According to their website, “[Their] philosophy is based on the different theories that support constructivism, where children create their own learning through didactic situations proposed by the school and teachers.” Educarte is the closest private school to Tamarindo, about a 10-minute drive away. One of the two Educarte campuses features a swimming pool, and both teach the children important principles like recycling from a young age. Educarte follows Costa Rica’s basic MEP curriculum but prides itself in featuring additional learning opportunities for an enhanced educational experience.
The Guanacaste Waldorf School is located just a short drive from Tamarindo on the road to Santa Cruz, right by the crossing where you would turn to go to Hacienda Pinilla and Playa Avellanas. It is a bilingual school with half the curriculum taught in Spanish and the other half in English (although German is taught twice per week, so I guess you could argue that it is trilingual). The follow the same philosophical approach as all Waldorf Schools, encourage the “reduce, reuse, recycle” motto daily and only serve vegetarian school lunches.
TIDE is a bilingual, flexible-schedule school focused on an alternative, hands-on learning style. It’s perfect for families that travel a lot; according to their website “The school will allow students with additional commitments to complete their studies on another location without having to play catch up when they return. Students should not be penalized for living a non-traditional life.” TIDE is located in the same center of the Automercado right in Tamarindo, just 5 minutes from the beach. Core class schedule is Monday-Thursday, 8-12pm with lunch until 12:30pm and optional activities until 2:30pm. They have small class sizes, international online accreditation for grades 1-12 and a really cool and unique (optional) surf academy built into the experience, features small class sizes and an international online accreditation for grades 1-12.
Photo by: Genna Marie of Tamarindo Family Photos