Bocas del Toro has historically attracted backpackers, surfers, and retired expats, but that list has expanded to include families with school-age children in recent times. More and more families are looking to expatriate to our beautiful archipelago for the lower cost of living and richer life experiences surrounded by nature. But what about education? While some families choose to homeschool, many begin searching for schools before the big move. With this influx of families over the past few years, more schooling options have been created.
There are two main divisions when it comes to schooling in our beautiful archipelago: public and private. Public schools are scattered all throughout the archipelago and mainly consist of local Bocatoreños and the indigenous population. As you would expect, public schools are free to attend and are primarily taught in Spanish. The class sizes can be large and much homework is to be expected. Currently, there are only public schools as options on the outer islands. However, for some families that live on the closer outer islands such as Solarte or Bastimentos, commuting to Isla Colon for the private schools is worth it.
For families looking for an education that is more closely aligned to what they are used to in the countries they emigrated from, many look into private schooling options. The Bocas del Toro international schools on the island vary, but have one thing in common, they all have a blend of English and Spanish instruction. Some are accredited in Panama, some in the United States, and even one in France. This allows a nice variety of options to fit the needs of the diverse group of expats throughout the archipelago.
Tangerine International School
Offering classes from PreK – 12th grade, with accreditation in Panama, Tangerine International School is located in Bocas Town and is a top choice for many families living in the archipelago. Their new high school program, in connection with GlobalEd, is also accredited in the United States. Classes are taught in both English and Spanish, with kids from all over the world. Tangerine also offers a variety of after school programs to keep kids engaged in the community and develop strong relationships amongst peers.
Focused on creating a learning environment that is a hybrid between homeschool and traditional classroom environments, Bocas Academy offers a U.S. accredited middle and high school program. The school is located just outside the heart of town where kids in grades 6 through 12 meet four days a week and are guided through lessons presented on an online learning platform. To enrich the learning environment, kids are encouraged to participate in hands-on science experiments and community field trips.
Located further out of town, on the road to Bluff, this new school is focused on providing an education to children that fosters sustainability and eco-awareness while developing an academic foundation. Education is primarily taught in French, with Spanish and English lessons blended in. Chrysalis School welcomes children from ages 3 and up.
As you can see, each school has something unique to offer the community, providing a nice set of choices for families with kids just entering grade school, all the way up to those almost ready to leave for college. Here at United Country Real Estate, we have personal experience with each of these private school options and would be happy to share further insight with you. What we hope you’ll take away from reading this snippet on schooling is that educational opportunities exist in Bocas del Toro and are only getting better with more and more families moving to our little slice of paradise.