Volunteer teaching in Costa Rica in a rural primary school

  • Volunteer teaching in Costa Rica in a rural school
  • Live and work among the community for a rich cultural volunteering experience
  • Ideal for volunteers with a mature outlook who want to experience the real Costa Rica
  • The wildlife and adventure activities of Costa Rica surround you

Project summary

The connections of our in-country coordinator mean Outreach International is privileged to provide volunteer support to two small, rural primary schools in Costa Rica.

Extra curricular activities in sports, arts, drama and activities which offer critical thinking and creativity are now missing from the national curriculum, so volunteers are encouraged to develop and deliver these activities for the children, in addition to supporting English lessons.

The teachers develop and deliver a curriculum in 3 month blocks so with advanced notice a programme of work can be developed with knowledge of the volunteer’s skills and experiences in mind.

The size of the schools mean that a volunteer teaching in Costa Rica will share an intimate experience with the class, and be able to make a real impact. One school has just 10 children being taught in a single classroom, while the other has 55 children aged between 4 and 13 years old, who all get taught between two classrooms.

The children are well behaved and well looked after but not particularly stretched, in part due to the mixed age classes and the ratio of staff to pupils. Located near to each other, a volunteer would support both schools, cycling between them.

This volunteering opportunity is ideal for volunteers with a mature outlook who want to experience the real Costa Rica.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

A programme of activities will be agreed locally between the volunteer and the head teachers. You will help the teachers with their general classes which includes working with children of mixed ages and abilities.

Volunteers can be instrumental in delivering English lessons, and importantly giving the children time to practice speaking English with a native speaker. English lessons could for the basis of an after-school club.

If the Spanish skills are adequate it may be possible to teach the whole class. Otherwise the volunteers will act as teaching assistants for the main class activities.

Given the lack of state support, volunteers are requested to help design and deliver extra-curricular activities that provide a creative and sporting ability in the children. Arts & crafts activities, music, drama, and sport activities are all welcomed as providing an alternative to the standard lessons.

How you can make a difference

The resource limits and state curriculum mean the children are offered a limited education with no cultural, language or sporting opportunities outside of what the volunteer can provide. Creativity is missing from the usual curriculum.

Volunteers therefore bring an added dimension to the school lives of these children, stimulating interests and talents that so many children in more developed countries take for granted. You will helping discover new talents in them, as well as yourself.

What is distinctive about this project:

There will be no other volunteers working at these schools, so this placement offers a real cultural experience in a quiet and tranquil part of rural Costa Rica, as well as experience in teaching.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is not a mainstream project, but a unique invitation to teach in a small, rural community that we are proud to promote.

The forest location is reasonably remote, with no shops or services in the immediate area and the nearest town being some 10 km away. Volunteers need to be comfortable with this quieter, rural way of life and be accepting (or even delighted) that they will not have other volunteers or English speaking staff living nearby. It is only suitable for volunteers with a mature outlook, therefore, who have the confidence and pioneering spirit to adapt to the cultural experience.

This opportunity has been visited and assessed by our UK staff and our local coordinator, who has sponsored this opportunity. As a new project to Outreach International, however, we are keen to receive detailed feedback from a volunteer perspective and so a discount is available in recognition of this (see Prices)


School holidays are in December and January, plus 2 weeks in July


Given the semi-remote location and homestay accommodation, volunteers need moderate Spanish, which can be boosted by Spanish lessons provided by Outreach.

Experience required:

Ideally volunteers will have some teaching experience, or experience working with children. Basic teaching skills can be learned as preparation for the trip, as should ideas for extra-curricular activities. You do not need to be an expert at drama, sport or arts. You will be filling in a vacuum and it is likely your modest efforts, based on your home-country experience, will delight them and surprise yourself.

Good to know:

You will be living in a home stay with Hernandez, a local outdoor adventure guide who works with our Outreach International coordinator and who has a daughter at the school. He speaks very little English but is keen to learn. The remote location promises a quiet life, with the opportunity to join Hernandez in adventure activities like zip sliding, canyoning, rafting or just walking in the forest.

Price table

8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks

Pioneer: Fees include discount for Pioneer project, in return for expanded volunteer feedback
Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations. Spanish lessons are not included but can be arranged upon request

Things to see and do

  • Visit the volcano
  • Go white water rafting
  • Waterfalls in abundance
  • Canopy tours
  • Bird watching

Country co-ordinator

Javier Cano

Javier has been working as an experiential teacher since 2001 with a focus on the benefits of outdoor education. He joined Outreach International in 2007. He provides an excellent level of support to our volunteers encouraging individuals to grow and develop through their projects. Javier believes that volunteering can be an excellent opportunity to reinforce positive values that will aid students in the future. Sharing his creative and leadership qualities with students has made his educational career successful.

About Costa Rica