First of all, Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world where the government pays special attention to preschool education of children. Costa Ricans believe that in early childhood a kid acquires interest in learning and other abilities.
Therefore, Costa Rica is a world leader in early childhood development.
The structure of preschool education
In general, preschool education in Costa Rica consists of 2 cycles:
- Ciclo Materno Infantil (cycle of mother and child; from 0 to 5.5 years);
- Ciclo de Transición (the child’s transition to school, from 5.5 to 6.5 years).
Ciclo Materno Infantil. This cycle is optional. Meanwhile, you can enroll a child in institutions of this cycle from birth. In addition, it is divided into three parts:
- Bebes (0 to 12 months).
- Maternal (1 to 3.5 years old).
- Interactivo (3.5 to 5.5 years old).
Ciclo de Transición. Unlike Ciclo Materno Infantil, this step is mandatory. After all, it includes a program of preparation for school.
Is preschool education compulsory in Costa Rica?
In 2018, the Costa Rican government introduced 2 years of compulsory preschool education. According to this law, the child must complete a year of the Ciclo Materno Infantil and a year of the Ciclo de Transición. The recommended age to start – 4.5 years.
It is interesting to note that compulsory preschool education is present in only 11% of the world’s countries.
In this case, an exception can only be for children who do not have any preschool institutions nearby. However, the parents of the child must prove it officially.
Preschool education program
Basically, the program of preschool institutions focused on teaching arts, music, crafts, and languages. The main task of preschool education in Costa Rica is to prepare the child for school as much as possible, as well as to teach social interaction with other children. Furthermore, the entire program is based on game techniques.
Types of preschool institutions
It is worth noting that Costa Rica has a large number of preschool educational institutions. These include:
- education and nutrition centres – Centros de Educación y Nutrición (CEN);
- nurseries – Guarderías Infantiles;
- children’s comprehensive care centres – Centros de Atención Integral (CAI), Centros Infantiles de Atención Integral (CINAI);
- kindergartens – Jardines de niños;
- community homes – Hogares comunitarios.
As a rule, the fees for attending a preschool institution differs depending on the individual preferences of the parents. Meanwhile, bilingual or trilingual schools are more expensive. Overall, costs in private institutions range from $ 200 to $ 800 per month.
However, the government of Costa Rica also offers the opportunity of free preschool education.