Educating Our Kids in Costa Rica & the United States

School in Tamarindo, How it Works for Us

We get a lot of questions and inquiries about school and how we go about educating our kids in both Costa Rica and Colorado. While I can not speak for any other schools besides the three in Colorado that we have experienced this with, I feel pretty confident in saying that if you are at a public school, in your home matriculation area (not opting in or school choice, etc) you may very easily have a similar experience. Of course, be sure to do your research, but this is what our experience has been like for the last 5 years with schools in Colorado and Costa Rica.

As of this year, our three kids are all in different schools in Colorado. We’ve got one at the Elementary School, one in Middle School and one in High School. When we first started coming to Costa Rica and attending to the TIDE Academy in Tamarindo, all three of our kids were at the same Elementary School, so it was very easy, and it’s still fairly simple, but each school has their own way of dealing with our transitions.

The big questions we hear are “Do the schools let you do that?” “How do you get the schools to agree to that?” “How does it work with school?” – and our answer is very simple, YES, the schools allow us to live this lifestyle and it is not difficult from a administrative standpoint at all. I think it would be different if we were not bringing them to a quality school like the TIDE Academy or one of the other fantastic schools in the Tamarindo and Guanacaste area, and I have a feeling it may be different if we were at a private school, or any sort of choice/opt in school in Colorado.

The Elementary School: The process is extremely simple at our Elementary School. In short, our kids are withdrawn from school (i.e. no longer in the school system). The school is very accommodating and when we return to Colorado (if it’s the same school year) the kids are re-enrolled on our return date and placed back in their same classrooms. It’s as simple as that.

The Middle School: The Middle School is slightly more complicated, but still a simple process. Again, the kids are withdrawn from the school system on their last day of school (simple as going to the office and filling out a brief form). The difference in Middle School is that they have “class selections” so we do have to re-enroll them at the school when we return and the kids are assigned a new schedule vs. keeping the schedule they had prior to leaving. They are essentially treated as New Students and are assigned classes as such.

The High School: High School is the most complicated of the three, but again, it wasn’t difficult. The more complicated piece in the High School age range is that their grades are on their official transcript (for college, etc) and we have to make sure that they get credit for the classes they attend in Costa Rica on their USA transcripts and don’t fall behind (credit wise) with their targeted educational path. That is where the US Accreditation that TIDE Academy has comes in very helpful. We had a meeting with the Colorado schools guidance counselor, vice principal and principal to go over the plan the first time we left and they gave us information on what we need to bring back to Colorado from TIDE in order to add the TIDE classes and grades to their official transcripts. We also had to make sure that required classes were covered at TIDE like 9th Grade US Government, PE, etc. Once we determined that every class matched, we simply need to provide an official transcript from TIDE when we return to Colorado and they will integrate the grades into the official transcript. Similar to the Middle School, they are withdrawn from the system when we leave, so when we return we have to re-enroll them as new students, get a new schedule and classes and then we’re right back where we left off, ready to continue learning in Colorado.

Like I said earlier, we can not speak for schools nationally or even around Colorado, but this is what our experience has been with schooling in both Costa Rica and Colorado for the past 5 years. Be sure to check with your schools and find out what the process will be like for your kids, hopefully it will be as easy and painless as ours has been! The schools have been very supportive of our decisions and have repeatedly expressed how they believe this is an amazing experience and opportunity for our kids. They have never given us any flack, negativity or push-back and we are grateful for that.

Curious about some of the schools available in the Tamarindo area? Be sure to see our guide to School in Tamarindo.

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