Brazilian Challenge Day 149: International School

In Sao Paulo, and other cities as well such as Rio, if you want your child to have a good to exceptional future, you need to send them to private school. Many Brazilians, if they can, elect to have their kids attend an international, English speaking school.

On Monday, Day 149 of my challenge to do something Brazilian every day, we went to see the British College of Brazil. Because this is a new school, it actually has less Brazilians attending than the other international options. Brazilian kids make up about 70+ percent of the American and British schools in Sao Paulo. But this one only had a couple families that were pure Brazilians. Might also be because the Brazilians who can pay for this category of private education demand a larger campus for their little ones.

This school is small (because they are still in the process of building), but cute, and the educational program seemed solid. Of course, as are the other international school, and similar to Manhattan, it is ridiculously expensive and there is a waiting list.

The decision between international and Brazilian school has been a difficult one for us. The good Brazilian schools are very good in terms of education, and you really get some mixed reviews from parents on their international contenders. But if we want to ever go back to the U.S., our daughter is going to need to have her education in English. Regardless, the good Brazilian schools are also difficult to get into.

So we put her name on a bunch of waiting lists and leave it up to the hand of fate.

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23 Responses to Brazilian Challenge Day 149: International School

  1. Shelley says:

    Have you looked into the Canadian schools? Maple Bear? For the little kids they only instruct in English, and for “Fundamental” it’s half Portuguese and half English. Of course I’m biased (I work there), but we have my son in Year 3 and we’re pretty pleased.

  2. Corinne says:

    I have opted out of bilingual schools for my son mostly because of price, eventhough my goal is for him to be able to go to college in the US or Brazil. My strategy is to take advange of sabbaticals so that he can get at least 2 whole years in a US school before he turns 18. However, it is a hard choice and I may have to reevaluate over time.

  3. Meredith says:

    Are there bilingual schools in SP? I work at one in Brasilia and have already put my son on the waiting list for when he’s 2 years old…yes, in 2014.

  4. anna says:

    I am not from SP but some schools I know are good:
    – internationals: Graded , St Pauls , Chapel
    – brazilians: Vera Cruz , Dante Alighieri, Santa Cruz , Porto Seguro

    • Thanks!! Graded and Chapel are soooo big and far away!! And she is so small. 🙂
      St. Paul’s is close to where we are now, but I’m not that excited about how focused on materialism the kids are – I want my daughter to be proud of who she is, not what she has. Thanks for the Brazilian school recommendations.

  5. Danielle says:

    I agree with Corinne that it’s not super important for your daughter to get her formal education in English if you’re speaking English with her at home. As long as you teach her to read and write and make her read a LOT in English, she’ll be OK. If she applies to an American university, she’ll need to take TOEFL either way, even if she went to an international school (because it’s still a school in a non-English-speaking country). But that won’t be for another 15 years or so– who knows what the rules will be like then! But my sister had a friend at UC San Diego who had an American mother and a German father and who had grown up in Germany. She went to German schools and had English only from her mother, but was totally fluent and got into a good American school. I’d say that more than the language, you guys will want to consider the actual quality of the teachers (I can tell you as a teacher that even a lot of private Brazilian schools are crap and just teach students to copy from the book rather than to think critically or paraphrase), the social experience you’ll want your daughter to have (only Brazilians to mesh more? Foreigners to be more “globalized”?, and the amount of time she’ll actually spend at school (some Brazilian schools are only 3 years of high school, 4-5 hour school days, etc).

    • That is another problem with the Brazilian schools – only 1/2 days! And I have heard from friends that the well known ones only focus on memorizing and not thinking. The other down side to an international school, especially one that doesn’t have a lot of Brazilians, is that her friends will be moving away every couple years!

      • Meredith says:

        It’s true that some schools just have the goal of helping the students pass the vestibular to get into a good public college.
        As for the international school and friends moving away, that does happen, but in my experience it’s not as much as you’d think. The majority of the students at my school, which is an international school, is mostly Brazilian. Some of children of diplomats and so they do move, but most of the students study at the school from Nursery to 12th grade.

  6. anon blog fan says:

    Is your daughter going into…the US equivalent of kindergarten? How exciting! I worked as a college admissions counselor for international and/or educated abroad students for a few years, and I still work in int’l ed now. I have no personal experience with int’l schools in Brazil in particular, but if you want to know my thoughts on what I’ve seen in general, I’d be happy to share (I thought I’d ask first because no one wants that person who pollutes their blog with so much useless information…)

  7. Susan Wells says:

    Because this is a new school, it actually has less Brazilians attending than the other international options.
    Fewer Brazilians.

  8. Caio says:

    Hey there,

    Sorry to comment so late on an old post, but I just came accross it. Having attended an international school myself (though a French one) and having friends who attended other international schools, I should tell you even if the level of education they offer is very good, they don´t always prepare the students very well for the vestibular test here in Brazil. Schools here tend to go deeper into subjects such as physics; and the vestibular follows suit. A friend of mine who went to Graded found she was extremely lacking in that subject when she sat for the Vestibular. I myself had problems with geography. We both had to take a prep course for a couple of years to get in. Not to mention; here in Brazil all that matters as far as getting into a good university is the students score in the vestibular. Extracurricular activities and where they went to school make zero difference. If you´re concerned about the possibility of going back to the US in the future; there are schools like Dante who are now offering a “double high school diploma” kind of thing. Essentially, they take extra classes which follow a typical american syllabus and graduate with both a brazilian and american high school diploma. If memory serves, that´s an outreach program by Texas A&M University. You should check it out.

  9. Maria says:

    I just came across your post. Did you choose British Collegue of Brazil? I am looking for an international school for my 3 years daughter. Thank you!!!

  10. luciana says:

    I’m coming to sao paulo after 17 years living abroad . the demand for schools are between two options: st pauls and british college . I would like to get in touch with other parents and learn from their own experiences. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Luciana. Contact the International Newcomers Club of Sao Paulo. They will put you in touch with other parents with children at these schools. I’m familiar with both and each has its own pros and cons.

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