Curriculum Overview

La Paz Community School’s core curriculum, based on International Baccalaureate, US and Costa Rican standards and benchmarks, is supplemented by the following philosophies and programs.  For more detail about specific curricular details, please click on the appropriate link or peruse the philosophy of the program below. 

Student-Family Handbook

Rubicon  Atlas Curriculum Mapping prek-12 – Find out what your child is learning during each theme using the password lapaz to login.

Curriculum and Academic Program Overview – Find out more details about standards and programs that we implement.

Learn more about the IB Learner Profile by watching this short video. 

International Baccalaureate Learner Profile from International Baccalaureate on Vimeo.

Dual Language Program (Read More Here) 

20150925_085023Our dual language program integrates Spanish and English in a meaningful, authentic way. La Paz’s program is a combination of the two dual language programs entitled “90/10” and “50/50”. Approximate percentages of English and Spanish are as follows:

  • Preschool: 50% Spanish-50% English
  • K-12th : 40% Spanish-60% English

Due to the fact that the primary language outside of school is Spanish, students receive slightly more academic instruction in English. Both Spanish and English are respectively taught by native or fluent language educators.  The core subjects taught in Spanish are Spanish Language Arts, Social Studies, Civics, P.E and music, while the core subjects taught in English are English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Art. Spanish and English teachers collaborate together to plan thematic units with guiding essential questions.  Through curriculum that promotes academic instruction in English and Spanish, students receive a bilingual and bi-literate education. This also develops cross-cultural understanding, and provides a variety of opportunities for positive interactions among families. While sharing our cultural heritages, we cultivate friendship and respect among the diverse ethnic and linguistic groups represented in the school community.

Morning Meeting

The Morning Meeting is the foundation of the La Paz curricular experience.  Take a moment to learn more about the experience through the students’ eyes.

Growth Mindset and Problem Solving

growing mindset-page-001Success and Failure are equally embraced at La Paz Community School while problems are celebrated as learning opportunities.  Embedded in the La Paz teaching philosophy from preschool through secondary, both Growth Mindset and the La Paz Problem Solving strategies transform students into responsible, self-disciplined, independent learners who understand how to effectively confront both social and academic challenges.PROBLEM SOLVING ENGLISH ONLY

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental ApproachLa Paz educates children about the value of ecosystems and how to manage them properly; the children then share this knowledge with their families and the wider community. Innovative programs teach students to be respectful, responsible stewards of natural resources and protect threatened ecosystems. Please click here to learn more about how we embed Environmental Education into our curriculum through our Anchor Projects.

Service Learning

Service LearningLa Paz Community School firmly believes that service learning is an essential component of a community-based school. Through the use of individual strengths and cooperation, service enhances the students’ connection between self, community, family and world.  Service learning also teaches students how to balance the rights of citizenship with the responsibilities of community membership; while integrating the current educational reform recommendations with critical community concerns. According to experiential education guru, John Dewey, the mind is social, not individual and thus learning comes from social activities. Dewey also believes that students who actually do things – who engage in activities related to school subjects – learn more efficiently, more effectively, and remember what they have learned much longer than students who don’t. This allows students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom environment to authentic experiences. Service learning includes classroom generated ideas, as well as individual service projects that include identifying the need, objective, developing a time-line, method, and evaluation. Learn more about the Creativity Action Service program in the High School Program.

The Arts at La Paz

The Arts It is no surprise that creativity has recently been identified in numerous publications as one of the keys to effective 21st century leadership.  With the information age providing society with virtually unlimited access to knowledge, the new commodity in the global economy is the individual who understands how to think critically about and be creative with the knowledge at hand.  La Paz Community School recognizes the importance of being a unique thinker and has placed a significant curricular focus on the  Arts as a fundamental part of the learning experience.  Students learn to appreciate the Arts through intensive trimester programs in Visual Arts, Music, and Drama in the grades prek-8 at which point they then have the opportunity to explore one of these areas at a higher level through the 9-10th grade elective program.   

Community Cooperative Program

Coop ProgramEach family contributes at least 18 hours/year (6 hours/trimester) of volunteer time. Family donation time can be categorized in some of the following manners:

  • Office/Logistical Support: This may include answering phones, making community connections, fundraising, organizing business logistics
  • Transportation/Errands: Organizing/attending field trips, running errands for materials and/or supplies, etc.
  • Classroom Support: In classroom assistance, project help, one-on-one support with students
  • Specials: Leading activities that you are passionate about or that coordinate with classroom studies
  • Extracurricular Activities: Volunteer to lead an after school activity

Place Based Education

  • “Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum. Emphasizing hands-on, real-world learning experiences, this approach to education increases academic achievement, helps students develop stronger ties to their community, enhances students’ appreciation for the natural world, and creates a heightened commitment to serving as active, contributing citizens.”

guanacaste culture– David Sobel, Place-Based Education; Connecting Classrooms & Communities. Place-based education allows students to address the questions: Where am I? What is the nature of this place? What sustains this community? It fosters not only knowledgeable, but responsible, contributing citizens in both the local and global community. In order to accomplish this, children must focus on self at a younger age, and broaden that focus to family, community, and eventually world, as they grow older. “Love of nature, one’s neighbor, and community is a prime motivating factor in personal transformation.” (Sobel ii)

Thematic Learning

Rincon de La ViejaThe La Paz curriculum utilizes monthly themes as a unifying factor across grade levels to ensure that all material, regardless of subject matter, be taught in an interdisciplinary matter.  By focusing on themes, the subject matter always has relevance to the big picture and aids students in the understanding of their place within the broader context of the world.  The 8 themes for the school year are Peace Ambassadors, Sustainability, Origins, Land and Sea, Wellness, Energy, Creative Expression, and Gratitude.  Experiential excursions that take students to our local communities as well as regions around Costa Rica to dramatically impact the power of the learning experience. Examples of excursions that occur on an annual basis include but are not limited to the following:

ChirripóKindergarten – Weekly excursion to the local sustainable farm to study the animals and plants
1st Grade – Congo Trail Ziplining
2nd Grade – Palo Verde National Park
3rd Grade – Cultural and Natural Science studies in the City of Liberia
4th Grade – Volcano Studies at Rincón de la Vieja National Park
5th Grade – Cave Studies at Barra Honda National Park
6th Grade – Biological and Social study of the Monteverde Cloud Forest
7th Grade – Cultural Studies experience in Upala
8th Grade – Tropical Dry Forest studies at Santa Rosa National Park
9th Grade – Social Studies/History/Art investigation in San Jose
10th Grade – Creativity, Action, and Service experience at Earth University in Guácimo
11th Grade – Biological Studies at the Osa Conservation Trust on the Osa Peninsula
12th Grade – Culmination of the secondary experience by climbing the highest peak in Costa Rica: Volcán Chirripó


La Paz Community School’s assessment focuses on process as well as product in student development of knowledge, attitude and skills. Students are responsible for creating assessment portfolios with samples of student work, student and group reflection, and student self-assessment in addition to teacher and peer feedback. Preschool assessment is primarily narrative, and kindergarten –12th grades include both numerical evaluation, narrative assessment and portfolios. Across grade levels, student work and social development is assessed with a grading rubric from zero to four (0: No Evidence, 1: Emerging, 2: Developing, 3: Proficient, 4: Exemplary). At the secondary level (grade 6-12) final trimester grades include a personalized comment from each teacher, a behavior/effort grade, and an academic grade based on the students’ ability to understand and apply the content as per Bloom’s Taxonomy. During progress reports the two grades are combined for one general report.

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom created a classification of learning objectives known as Bloom’s Taxonomy, which consists of three categories: cognitive, which focuses on mental skills (knowledge); affective, which focuses on growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude); and psychomotor, which focuses on manual or physical skills (skills). According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, after a learning episode, the learner should acquire new knowledge, attitude, and/or skills: the learning happens more easily/readily based on creating, evaluating, analyzing, applying, understanding, remembering.