There are plenty of considerations one must take into account when it comes to choosing where to live within a given city. Proximity to work, safety, walkability, and nearby businesses all play their part in making the decision. For families, though, another not-to-be-ignored factor to consider is the quality and location of nearby schools.
For all of the great things Panama City offers to expats, high-quality public education is not necessarily one of them. Unfortunately, public schools in Panama tend to lack in comparison to those in other developed nations. While there is plenty of variability in the quality of public schools, too many schools hire inexperienced teachers, are underfunded, and don’t provide a rigorous and enriched learning environment.
Until the system changes and public schools improve, most expats will continue to opt for sending their children to private schools. The question is –which ones offer high-quality education as well as a great value for money? While there are plenty of great schools for all ages scattered around the city, one area with a particular wealth of strong options is San Francisco.
Not only is San Francisco a centrally located neighborhood with lots to offer in terms of dining, recreation, and a relaxed atmosphere, it also has plenty of great schools. Whether your kids are barely out of diapers or already in high school, the following schools in San Francisco are fantastic options when it comes to high-quality schools.
Jardin de Niños is considered to be one of the best daycare programs and preschools in Panama City. The school offers four levels for students as young as 18 months and as old as four years.
The school is known to have an environment where students are well cared for and learn by having fun. The teachers are all experienced. In fact, more than 80 percent of the staff has worked at Jardin de Niños for more than 10 years. The teachers develop strong relationships with the students and this shows in the warm and supportive environment.
As opposed to merely offering daycare, Jardin de Niños also offers programming to help the youngest learners grow and develop. Children learn to work independently and in teams, take turns, communicate effectively, and build their self-esteem. There are about 20 classrooms as well as a computer room, a kitchen, and a main office. The school also offers special enrichment activities such as music and folklore.
Jardin de Niños strives to provide the best for students, even after they’re out the door. The school offers 10 bus routes for families who would like transportation and there is always a teacher on each bus to ensure that students make it safely and peacefully to and from school each day.
Another great option for San Francisco’s youngest students is Happy Kids Pre-School. Offering admission for students from ages one to six years, Happy Kids is a safe and nurturing place for children to spend these formative years of their formal education. In fact, the preschool has been trusted to educate young students for more than 35 years and consistently gets rave reviews from parents and families.
Happy Kids offers care and instruction in both English and Spanish starting at age two, to help young learners master and become comfortable communicating in both languages. In addition to providing full-day care and supervision, children enrolled at Happy Kids take part in activities such as music, art, and computation (depending on their age). The administration at Happy Kids Pre-School is focused on keeping classes small and helping students develop crucial soft skills such as self-esteem and creativity.
In order to provide parents with flexibility, Happy Kids Pre-School offers both half-day and full-day programs. In addition to the San Francisco location, they also have a site in El Carmen.
A third and excellent option for where to send first-time students to school in San Francisco is Wisdom Academy. The school offers courses for students ages one to seven, Wisdom Academy is a fantastic choice for early education. The school is focused on the social and emotional development of all students and encourages learning through hands-on activities and everyday experiences.
Over the course of a week, students will have the opportunity to participate in a number of activities. Depending on the age of students, these may include instruction in languages such as Spanish, English, Italian, and French. Students can also participate in activities such as ballet, karate, music, and crafts. Through classes and organized activities, students will also learn important skills such as teamwork, sharing, and responsibility.
The Wisdom Academy school was renovated in 2014 and now includes larger and more modern classrooms, a multipurpose room, and updated outdoor spaces. The experienced teachers are passionate about working with young learners and regularly participate in professional development and collaborative practices to continue refining their approach.
Wisdom Academy is open from 6:30 am until 7:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Parents have the option to enroll students for half day, half day with lunch, or full day.
York International School offers courses for prekindergarten through eighth grade. In operation since 2005, York International School was one of the first in Panama to focus their instruction on the theory of multiple intelligences.
To this day, the approach to learning at York International School strives to develop students who are not only academically prepared but also who have strong values and social-emotional development. Apart from academic instruction in English and Spanish, students at York International School have opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning through art, music, and technology.
York International School consistently gets great reviews from parents who appreciate the open communication between families and administration. Thanks to the fact that students can join York International School at a young age and stay on through eighth grade, there is a strong sense of community at the school that only adds to the nurtured and innovative learning environment.
El Colegio de Panamá (home of the Mighty Eagles) was founded in 2008 and today includes two locations, one in Costa Sur and the other in the heart of San Francisco. Over the past decade, El Colegio de Panamá has earned a stellar reputation for providing high-quality education for students from pre-K through high school.
El Colegio de Panamá uses a wide range of learning materials and digital programs that help concepts and subjects come alive for students. Whether working one-on-one with a teacher, in small groups of peers, or on an individualized online-learning platform, students are provided with a diverse range of ways to develop content knowledge and practice academic skills.
At El Colegio de Panamá, teachers and administrators believe in developing the whole child. As a result, there are plenty of extracurricular activities and initiatives that students can get involved in outside of the classroom. From sports like Jiu-Jitsu and soccer to programs that develop leadership skills and a sense of civic responsibility, students will love all of the perks of joining the Mighty Eagle community, and parents can rest assure their children will be well prepared for college and the world beyond the classroom.