Posted on | February 25, 2011 | 2 Comments
In the Southern hemisphere, summer break is just about over and the kids will be starting up school soon. If you haven’t already got yours enrolled, you need to hurry! By this time, a lot of the best schools will already be full – or so they’ll say. I haven’t run across a school yet that wouldn’t actually accept another student.
In Peru, anyone that can afford to sends their child to private school. Public schools here don’t expect the kids to excel at anything, and they don’t push them. The material they teach is not bad, but the regimentation is severe. All the children of a certain grade are taught together – if you have trouble in math, tough for you. There are no remedial courses. If you fall behind, tough. The teacher doesn’t have time to help you. In a class where one teacher is with 30 or so students, the quicker students get the attention and anyone who can’t keep up is lost.
Of course, some private schools aren’t much better. The good thing is that class sizes are often smaller, and there is more individualized attention for the kids. The bad news is the schools are often so desperate to maintain enough students to get the bills paid that they overlook all kinds of bad behavior. After a children at one school were caught doing things like bringing porn and alcohol to class, the director informed me that she did not have the luxury of suspending or expelling the students because it would anger the parents, and she would lose the students. What ended up happening is she lost my kids, who weren’t causing problems, and a lot of other good kids because their parents were tired of paying for an education that was being interrupted by problem children.
The best schools cost literally thousands of dollars just to enroll – and then you have thousands in monthly tuition on top of that. For the families that can afford it, the schools are very good, with international baccalaureate programs that can be transferred to other schools and universities around the world. Many of these schools were started to fulfill the needs of certain expat communities, so you have schools that teach English, German, French… depending on who started the school.
While some of the top schools supply all materials as part of the costs, others require you to purchase all school material. This includes not only notebooks and stationery, but depending on the school, might include books, art supplies for the year, and even cleaning supplies. Some schools require that parents come once a month or so to help clean.
One thing that I’ve learned the importance of is keeping in touch with the teachers. Each school gives the students an “agenda” to write all their homework down in, and the teachers are also supposed to use it to send notes home to the parents. Both parent and teacher are supposed to sign it every day. However, a lot of teachers don’t bother writing anything down, because they assume parents don’t care. It’s up to parents to go to the school and talk to the teachers to find out what’s going on with your kids. The majority of teachers that I’ve worked with come across as very cold and uncaring about your child – this is because they are accustomed to being blamed for every shortcoming that kids have. Let them know you aren’t looking to blame – let them know you want to work together and that you will do whatever it takes to make sure your kid does well, and you’ll find that the teachers are much more willing to work with you. It’s true everywhere – be involved in your child’s education if you want them to make the most of it.
Something that’s a little different from schools in the US – if you don’t show up at the PTA meeting here, you get fined! While I’m guessing this isn’t at every school, it has been in both public and private schools that our kids have gone to. Also, there are usually monthly dues that are set aside to cover end of the year parties and such. At the end of the year, if you owe any money for fines or dues you will not be allowed to receive your child’s final reports. That means you can’t enroll them in school the next year – you need to have all your “permanent records” to enroll.
If you’re looking for a list of the best schools in Lima, you can start here.
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