The School Visit – Educating your kids in Mexico

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  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


Instituto Tepeyac

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)

PHONE:  322-297-0603

Av. Paseo de los cocoteros No. 67 Nuevo Vallarta, CP:63732.


Madeline Milne on EmailMadeline Milne on Instagram
Living in Mexico full time since 2011, Madeline is a graphic designer, writer, iPhone photographer and road tripper.


  1. The three articles on school selection are very detailed, and I think for a beginning level child just entering school, the requirements for preparing the child for school are on the parents. For example, when we visited the school for admission for our 5 year old daughter, she ran into the building ahead of us to meet the teacher, and as my wife an I entered the building, my daughter Lynn walked hand in hand with the teacher and introduced us. The teacher asked what grade Lynn was in, and we explained that she was entering kindergarten , and that this was the first time she had been to a school. The teacher said that she did not have students in the second grade that could speak as well as Lynn.

    You see, we had taught Lynn to speak in sentences with adults, read, count to 100, and know her alphabet. You see, both my wife Loretta and I had gone to U.S. public schools from kindergarten through high school, and knew what was required. The lesson here , is , of what purpose is there of selecting the school, if the student is not prepared for school? Or if the parents are unable to assist in the child’s education at home? So many parents put the cart before the horse when it comes to sending their children to school, and drop the reins when it comes to helping their child with homework in the home.

  2. Regarding teaching the student to be an open thinker, here is a letter to Dear Abby published in the San Francisco Chronicle. The female student still living at home , wrote that although both her mother and the teacher taught her that she should think for herself, but every time she did or said something different from the teacher or her mother, she got in trouble. She is now confused.
    The Dear Abby reply was that most all of the great inventions are made by the free thinkers. However, as long as she is living in her mother’s house, and going to school, she must conduct herself by their rules. When she is on her own, she is free to express her views and make her own decisions.
    There is a thin line for the student living at home regarding their actions. My father was a free thinker and a bully. He got thrown out of every school he attended. But was successful in his working career. I was raised a free thinker, and debated everything with teachers and family, and left home at 15. but continued attending school in a number of forms for another 20 years. Being a none bully, I was never sent to the Principals office, but received a number of requests from teachers to attend their class, and I would receive an automatic automatic A grade in a number of the K-12 school classes.
    For 55 years my career employer tried to have me fired, because I had a mind of my own. Since I was indispensable and a key player , I kept my job, and the supervisor generally lost his job. I was the project design engineer for much of PG&E’s electric substations, distribution & transmission projects, and the Gas & Electric Computer Supervisory Power Control Center, and Supervisory control systems (SCADA).
    I was complemented for my great empathy , and willingness to help anyone – and known by many engineers to be more like a scientist than an engineer. You see, being a free thinker really works, when you are on your own, and in control.

  3. Education revolves around the difference between literacy and illiteracy – the ability to read and write, have culture and experience. Besides PV schools, millions of Mexican children are schooled in U.S. schools that have adopted the Common Core program of teaching , where the cursive handwriting with the flowing connecting letters is no longer taught.

    In it’s place is the printing style of block disconnected upper and lower case letters. Gone is the fine penmanship of connected letters and the stylized Calligraphy. With well over 1 million current words in American English language, with word processing computers, laptops and cellphones, along with spellcheck, printing , and not penmanship has become the norm in a diversified society of second language learners.

    Of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, only General/President George Washington could both read and write, but all the signers penned their signatures in cursive style writing, and not with the usual X marking.

  4. Do grades depend on your IQ level, on your natural ability for a subject, such as spelling or athletic ability, or a decision by the teacher? While the average IQ for an American adult citizen is 100, the method of evaluating one’s IQ is changing, since the average IQ has been going down some 1.4 points per decade, for some time. Today one’s IQ is related to how fast decisions and actions can be made in the brain.

    Not included in measuring your IQ level is empathy, morality, and natural ability. Plus the fact that the brain is not good at being able to play chess, and solving logic problems. Computers are more capable at these things.

    Does education increase one’s IQ level, or does one with a higher IQ level able to achieve a higher level of learning? Attempts are being made to increase IQ levels, but concern is that an excess of intelligence could result in negative consequences for the individual and cause maladapted anti-social behavior, and even psychosis.

    So to be an over achiever or just go with your natural skills? Doctors will say an over achiever leaves one open to medical problems. I was an over achiever who got medical problems , and was ordered to stop what I was doing. By adding vitamins and food supplements to my diet, I upped my goals, and have had a successful, rewarding career, and life.

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