Buenos Aires, Argentina Report of what it's like to live there - 08/05/19
Personal Experiences from Buenos Aires, Argentina
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I'm the parent of two children attending this school.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
We arrived when my girls were ages 3 and 5, respectively. We are three years at post (2017-2020), so when we leave, they will have attended pre-school (3 & 4), kindergarten, and grades one, two, and part of grade 3.
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
We are with the US State Department, so we wanted to live in the city, near the embassy. My husband is able to walk to work, and the school is about 2km away from our apartment building. We can walk, but little legs sometimes find it tiring after a long day at school, so usually we drive or take the city bus to and from school.
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes. Most embassy families go to Lincoln International School. That is out in the suburbs, and the instruction there is in English--and follows the American school calendar. For our experience, we wanted our girls to learn Spanish, so we chose an Argentine school. We also were looking for something non-traditional, Montessori-like, and Aletheia fits that. It's not a traditional Catholic school (many Argentine schools are), and it has a progressive approach (Reggio-Emilia) to their instruction.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
The admissions processes are stated on their website, but as with most things in Argentina, it is best to call to arrange an interview. Even better, it's best to meet face-to-face with the administration. We arranged everything through a Skype interview, pre-arrival, and then we went to the school directly when we arrived at post.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
The support of new families was really great. They always have an "adaptation period" for the new students--giving them time to adjust to the school. Soon after our arrival, other parents reached out and included us in a WhatsApp group so that we could communicate with other parents. Everyone is super friendly and inclusive.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Communication is ok at this school. There are several avenues of communication: a WhatsApp group, a school portal/website, e-mail, and notebooks that the students take to and from class. Usually, e-mail is the best way to communicate with the administration, and the notebooks are the best ways to communicate with the teachers.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Families have to pay for uniforms and, if they choose it, lunches. There are some after school activities offered at the school, and those are an extra cost, as well. But the overall costs are far below any private school in the US.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
This is a preK through 7th grade school. To my knowledge, there are no personal or academic counselors at the school.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
Yes. There is no additional cost for the before/after school care. But they only are offered one hour before the start of classes (8.00 a.m.-9.00 a.m.) and one hour after the end of classes (3.00-4.00) for the pre-school and kindergarten kids.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
There is a small library in the school. It is a cozy space, and my girls like to go there with their class, but students cannot borrow the books to read at home.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
There is a lot of technology at the school. Every classroom has a whiteboard and screen with video capabilities. Teachers often record students when they do English work. My girls don't have homework yet, so I'm not sure about the laptop/homework question.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
They are very up-to-date. There are computers at the school, and I believe that most 5th-7th graders either work on laptops or computers regularly.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a gym, and from 4th grade upward, students are bussed to a bigger campus for gym days so they can have more green space and use better facilities. There are no playing fields/tennis courts/pool at the school.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
One teacher:: 8-10 kids.
8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
This is not an IB school.
9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
The curriculum at this school is non-traditional and very project-based. Teachers teach the individual versus the entire class. There are also lots of small groups. Kids are happy and challenged. They love going to school because every day is a kind of exploration. They have them doing math in interesting ways; they learn about science and history and art and music. They are writing and reading Spanish and English at the same time (starting in first grade and continuing throughout).
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Music, drama, art
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Again, this is an Argentine school, so all speak Spanish. But the English teachers speak English fluently.
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are no special services available at this school.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are no special services available at this school.
14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are no special services available at this school.
15. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
This year, the school is offering a robotics class, gymnastics, and soccer for after school activities--for my girls. I'm not sure what they offer for other grades, but it seems like they change the offerings each year.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
In my opinion, this is a very inclusive school. Most families are entrepreneurs or artists, and as such, it seems they gravitate toward this school and the school, in turn, embraces different kinds of families.
2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
If students have special needs, I think they are referred to seek help outside of the school. Special needs issues have been brought up among the parents many times, but the school firmly believes (perhaps because of the Reggio-Emilia ideology) that they can address most issues via one-on-one attention.
However, they probably could benefit from having speech therapists, OTs, and guidance counselors at the school.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
In our first year here, our kids were the first expat kids. They were embraced whole-heartedly. I couldn't have been happier when, on our first day, my then five-year old came out at pick-up with two new Argentine friends holding her hands, happy and curious to be with her. Her class was so excited to have a new girl in their midst--and an American on top of that! They really embraced her, and she now is speaking Spanish like an Argentine, and, I think, her class treats her like one of them.
In our second year here, other expat families arrived--one Finnish, some Brazilian, another American--and they were also accepted very easily. It does help, however, for at least one parent to be able to speak Spanish--just to make the transition more smooth.
4. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
There have been some problems with some kids among the boys in the first and second grade. Our children didn't experience anything directly, but friends of ours are having trouble in one grade.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
A. We love this school at this stage for our girls. It's warm; the teachers are great and attentive and give hugs all the time; the families are welcoming and lovely; and, most importantly, our girls love to go to school.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
My oldest daughter learned to read, write, and speak in Spanish! My youngest daughter speaks Spanish and is on her way to learning to read and write in Spanish.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
We really like this school, and we've recommended it to many people during our time here. It was a perfect place for our girls to go, while young, to learn Spanish, to enjoy school, to be curious, and to feel welcomed by other Argentine kids. It's been an amazing cultural and educational experience for them--and for us.