Finding a School in Cancun

"Finding a school", something that was never an issue in Canada but it certainly is here. In Canada, you go to the closest school in the zone in which you pay taxes, usually you've got a choice of public, Catholic and in some places, French immersion, but beyond that, you don't have much choice. While we are happy with Max's current school, they only offer classes up to Kinder 3 so we've got to find a primary school. He's got two years left of Kinder, but in speaking with other mommies, it seems the pressure is on to figure out what we're going to do with him come grade one. I saw a flyer last week for an exposition of Cancun schools, so Saturday we jumped in the car and headed to the Cancun Convention Center.

What a huge disappointment that was! I fully expected to see all the big schools represented and was hoping to speak with each of them to see what they have to offer. There was only ONE, I repeat, ONE school that offered primary education. There were three kinders, a handful of universities and a summer camp in Canada booth. We ended up finding more information for Hubby than for Max (he's considering doing his Master's degree). The one school that we talked to was interesting, Colegio Alexandre, they have an amazing facility, they are bilingual, offer several extra-curricular sports and activities and are REALLY FREAKING EXPENSIVE. I liked what the representative had to say and enjoyed the presentation, but wow, I don't know if we can swing the 5000 pesos a month in tuition fees. The school is quite advanced in terms of technology, all the classrooms have "smart boards" and the kids have a password for a special web page for homework and extra lessons, games if they earn enough homework points, etc, etc, that was very cool. The school is totally bilingual, with English classes in math, history, geography, etc, though I was disappointed that the English teachers are not native speakers. They were insistent that the coordinators were native speakers, but I want my son in a classroom with someone for whom English is their first language.

And that was that for the expo, yawn! (Well, except for the fact that I won a raffle with my entrance ticket, a free entrance exam to Alexandre, haha). I'm trying to find information about the other schools in town, but so many of them either don't have websites or their websites are useless, so I guess we're going to have to do some good old fashioned legwork. I hear a LOT of gossip and rumours and opinions on other schools from moms and dads in my daily journeys, but I really want to make my own decision based on discussions with the directors and teachers at the schools. The "I've heards" are starting to make my head spin, too much information and too much of it second and third hand. "I've heard that St. John's is good, but totally "fresa" (snobby)". "I've heard that Balam is good, but totally overcrowded". "I've heard that Britanico is good, but their facilities aren't so hot, no green areas" and so on and so on. "I've heard" that Boston is good, but for me, I will not send my child to a Catholic school (school is for learning, not religion thank you very much). Other schools I want to check out are Da Vinci, La Salle and CES (CES is a front runner right now, mostly because that's where most of the ex-pat kids seem to go, including the son of my best friend and a good friend of Max). Lots of choices in schools actually, picking the "right" one for Max is not going to be an easy task. The ideal school for us will be totally bilingual, have a small student to teacher ratio, offer extra curricular activities, have teachers with excellent credentials and zero religious instruction. Anything else is "buttah".

Now, back to kindergarten for a moment, Max has a special celebration of spring tomorrow and needed a costume to go with the theme. Soooo, in the interest of his future embarassment, I present to you my tree (thank you thank you yes I made it, as if the shoddy home made aspect wasn't obvious, what you think you can just buy a visor with three little birdies in a nest on it?!)

Come on, he looks happy about it, right? That photo is such a keeper for future romantic partners.


I am in the midst of the exact same issue. I'm moving to guatemala and it's all about the finding of the school. if you can believe it, the private schools in the city cost more than some of the better schools in NYC. no joke. so, i'm flying there tomorrow to get a better picture of what is going on!!!!!!!
The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist
Steve Cotton said…
And we wonder why the word "mother" shows up so often in the therapy sessions of sons?

Even I have to admit that that last photograph will hit a 10 on the Max scale.
Jody said…
Have you thought of homeschooling? It is a blast!
Heather said…
Good info, Im always wondering what everyone else goes through for schools. I run into the biggest problems with us moving every 6 months, but im trying to put my feelers out there.
Great pix!
Amanda Lynn said…
Max is so adorable! And the tree costume is pretty darn awesome too. Good luck with the school search!
Gaelyn said…
Max makes an adorable tree. Wow, what a lot of work to find the right school. Yet it's so important. Good luck.
Brice said…
In your last post, you asked how you could threaten Max if he misbehaves.
Tell him that when he's older, you'll show his dates your photo album! lol
Kelly said…
Oh my goodess how precious! Erm, I and tough. That's boy-speak, right?
mare ad mare said…
That boy is gonna be a lady killer...

and school isn't for religion??? then why does Ontario have the separate school system for Catholics?!?! ;-)
K.W. Michigan said…
Good luck with the school search! And the costume is very creative and Max looks so darn cute.
dichuy said…
My niece and nephew went to Balam and all the family loved it. I believe when my niece was there (about 8 years ago) there were a lot of British teachers. She called me from time to time with homework questions and it was usually over a "british" word. Hehe. My nephew, 12, is now at the school across the street from the futbol stadium on Av. Luna (I think that's right). He's liking it. Good luck. Seems as dificult as getting your kid in a school here in Manhattan! And the pic is adorable!
CancunCanuck said…
Marina- Good luck with the search, it is a big task!

Steve- Oh heck yes, I foresee therapy for sure, LOL!

Jody- I thought about it, but I realize that Max is SOOOO high energy that he really needs to be around other kids. If I had more than one and they were close in age, I would consider it more seriously, but I think he really needs the socialization that is found in a school.

Heather- As the kids get older, it's going to be harder to make all those moves, especially once they start school. I don't know where you get the energy!!

Amanda Lynn- Thanks! I wish I were more "artsy craftsy", but I think I pulled together at least something that wasn't going to be too embarrassing. For me. It will be embarrassing for him later, teehee.

Gaelyn- Thanks, I'm ready to do the work to find the best place for "ma boy". :)

Brice- Oh that is perfect, I'm going to start the "Do it or I show your dates THIS" album.... :)

Kelly- LOL, yes, cool and tough. He is getting sensitive about things like "Awww, you look so adorable baby!" His response "I'm not a baby and I am not adorable!!!"

mare ad mare- Oooh, don't get me started on full funding, lol. It was a big peeve of mine when living in Ontario, I personally feel that a Catholic school is inherently private and therefore should not be paid for by the government if there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. But like I said, don't get me started, I hate confrontation, lol.

K.W.- Thanks amiga. :)

Dichuy- I've heard nice things about Balam, except that they are apparently overcrowded right now, with classes being held in the hallways etc.. We will check it out regardless, I don't want to go by hearsay. Glad your nephew is liking his school, is it totally bilingual?
Cristina said…
Hi! I found this blog while searching for bilingual primary schools in Cancun for my 11 year old son..
We are a small family moving to Cancun from the Miami in 2 months and trying to find out as much as we can about everything there!!! Please someone tell me what is CURP, it seems that most schools require this for enrollment...does that mean you can't have your kid at at school on a tourist visa??!!!...... we will arrive on that tourist status.. hope we don't have to wait until we have the FM-3 just to have our kid in school.. Does anyone have info on that?..
Btw.. I contacted CES school, and thy replied right away which was nice and sent us the tuition fees,etc.. they're as expensive as Alexandre...

Cristina said…
Ah.. your son s sooo cute... I miss it when mine was 4:) time flies!!
CancunCanuck said…
Hi Cristina,
As far as I know, you have to have your FM3 to get a CURP, you must prove residency here and the tourist visa won't do that. It is a requirement of schools to have it as you must be a resident. I would highly recommend looking into your FM3's before coming down, you will definitely need them. Coming through the airport the INM officers are pretty good at detecting those who want to move here but don't have the documents. Depending on how you plan to get the FM3 ("rentista" meaning retired or able to show income of 10000 pesos a month from out of country or as an employee of a local business), you may be able to take care of it at the local Mexican Consul office. Worth a shot paying them a visit to see what advice they offer.

Found this on Wiki...."Mexico

Not mandatory, but needed in almost all official documents, CURP is the standarized version of an Identity document. it actually could be a printed green wallet-sized card or simply a 18-character identification key printed on a birth or death certificate. Contrary to in almost all other countries, CURP has been awarded to almost all minors, since government and most private school request that number to the parents for having a data base of all the children. Also, minors will have to present their CURP when asking for a passport or being registered at Public Health services by their parents.

Most adults need that personal number too, since it is required for almost all governmental paperwork like tax declaration, and passport requests. Most companies ask for the CURP, voter's card, or passport rather than birth certificates[citation needed].

To have a CURP issued for a person, a Birth Certificate must be presented to the issuing authorities to proof that the information giving at the application is true. If foreigners try to apply for a CURP, they must present the document that gives the right to be legally residing in Mexico. Foreign-born Mexican naturalized citizens must present their naturalization certificate. On 21 August 2008 the Mexican cabinet passed the national security act, which oblige all Mexican citizens to have a biometric identity card cédula de identidad ciudadana before 2011"

Good luck!
CancunCanuck said…
Sorry, by "local" consul, I meant in Miami, not here. :)
Hi, well we are going through the same here and i have been surfing the web for hours trying to get info on "little school" for our 5 yr old girl. NOT EASY! so thank you VERY much for at least helping jump straight to some school websites. We are a british family who live on Isla Mujeres and not much choice here, she is in state kinder at the mo but only 3 hours a day and a bit limited so we are considering the trek over the water each day, but ferry fees and 5000 pesos tuition a month....erm can't afford that! Did you ever find anything affordable AND educational for your boy in the end?
Miranda said…
We are now searching for a school for our 2.5 year old son. I'm Mexican Canadian and my husband is also Mexican. I guess I am in a similar spot. Finally where did you enroll your son? Did you finally do that legwork? I was wondering if you could post your actual findings – it might narrow the search down for me a bit. So far we are leaning toward Creativo- but we still are in the middle of research. BTW I like your blog.
gconstantino said…
Hi, thanks for all the info. I just wanted to know if Colegio Alexandre was 5000 pesos a month or 50,000? Just wondering if there was a typo. If not, then that's great news :) I will have to contact them. I tried looking at their website, although I found nothing on tuition. I didn't want to inquire without reading reviews. Thanks again. Did you end up choosing a school?

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