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How Delft MaMa saved my sanity

NOTE FROM THE EDITORS

Initiated over 2 years ago, the Delft Mama blog has delivered numerous creative, heartwarming contributions throughout the years. Looking back at those earlier posts  in our role as current editors we realized there were quite a few that we missed. Surely we aren’t the only ones, especially with new members joining Delft Mama each year. With that in mind, we decided to take a look back a couple times each year to recall one of those “Oldies but Goodies”.

Here’s the first installment, a rather recognizable, yet shocking and frankly funny post that speaks to the core of one of Delft Mama’s missions to help build networks and provide support that makes families (and families-to-be) feel at home here in Delft.

Read more

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Birthday Party Resources in and Around Delft

by Amanda de Souza, with Onica King

One of the enduring memories I have of childhood are birthday parties, the ones my mother held for my brother and I. She was a born extrovert and revelled in entertaining children. She would come to life during those parties, jettisoning daily cares for a few hours and casting everyone in her magical spell.

Lasting birthday memories

Like most parents, mine were busy with the day-to- day challenges of raising us, feeding us and clothing us while maintaining a semblance of normality amidst the chaos. But birthdays were special – a time when both working parents could put some time aside to be with us and our friends.

My mother did everything from scratch for those parties and while that is an admirable endeavour, there are now numerous other options to help parents along. I don’t have the personality or inclination to imitate my mother – indeed my rudimentary Dutch precludes me from major festivity orchestration. With that in mind, I’ve colluded with Onica to identify some ideas for birthdays (including some for having parties at home).

Please keep in mind that most of these activities are best suited for school age children who have the ability to focus on activities, take simple instructions, or play in groups. And yes, we’ve focused on indoor activities given the unpredictable Dutch weather.

Your starting point in Delft

From pony parties at Buyten Delft to scientific experiments at the Delft Science Center,  or climbing fun at the Bouldercentrum to making mosaics at Atelier Zeven, the DMM Get Out! post from earlier this year provides a great point of departure for birthday party options. Most of the resources identified offer children party packages that include time learning or practicing the given activity along with snacks or a meal and drinks for each child. Some have minimum (4 – 6) or maximum (12 – 20) participant requirements, while pricing typically ranges between €10 – €15 per child. Though for some activities like skiing or go-karting, you can expect to pay upwards of €20 per child.

A few other options here in Delft that did not make the Get Out! list include:

Beyond Delft city limits

If you’re willing to venture a little further afield to entertain your little and their friends, here are a few notable options that may be worth the trip.

The wonders of Museums

Let’s not overlook some of the great museums in the area. They provide fantastic options for birthday celebrations. Here are a few to consider for younger and older children alike.

The comfort of home

Not inclined to stray from home and you’re up for the challenge of having 4 – 12 little munchkins barrelling around your house (along with the inevitable clean-up associated with that). There are quite a few options to help you organize fun filled festivities at home.

Right here in Delft you’ll find Funny’s, Flying Tiger, HEMA, SoLow, and Xenos for most of your party supply needs. Alternatively, head online to Baker RossParty City, or Pipoos if you still can’t find what you need.

Looking to bring the entertainment to you? 

  • Consider a Henna workshop via the Hand of Fatima
  • Get their faces painted from Inge at Kinderfeest En Zo
  • Invite a few reptiles to the party with Exotus Serpenti
  • Jump onto a bouncy castle from MTR, or simply do a search for “springkussen verhuur” to choose from the many options.
  • Organize your own survival games with gear rental from 123FUN
  • Rent a party box filled with toys from an old Delft favorite, Poppedijn
  • Twist and turn a balloon figure or two with Miko the Clown

Intrigued by these “home” options, but daunted by that aforementioned associated clean-up? Then consider holding the event at one of the local sport halls or school gyms around town. The Delft municipality rents out these facilities when not in use for nominal fees. Have a look for yourself at Sportfondsen.

Let’s get this party started

Whatever your approach or the interest of your little, there are lots of resources at your fingertips right here in Delft – including your fellow Delftians (or is that Delftinars?). Take advantage and reach out. Check websites for up to date details and call or email for confirmation.

Now go forth, have fun, and party on!

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Children & schools in Delft: School options and what to expect


by Lynette Croxford

When arriving in Delft not speaking the language, I spent quite some time worrying about schools for the precious ones. My agitation increased tenfold after speaking to other mamas at the playgroup. The conversations were along the lines of, “WHAT? She’s not on the list yet? You might have to move if you want her to get a place at a decent school”. It never occurred to me to enroll my newborn at a school of my choice. Naturally I then proceeded to contact every school in a 20km radius of my home to make appointments or enquire about open days.

It turns out that the waiting lists for some schools are ridiculously out of touch with anything in the realm of reality, with some as long as 6 years!  However, upon further investigation, I found there are really good schools with no waiting lists or at least lists that are in the span of my lifetime, all within the city limits.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the child-led methods where kids determine their destiny, a stickler for structure and direction or an inbetweener, Delft has it all.

On the Education Inspection website, a regulatory body for the assessment and control of schools, there are 34 primary schools listed in Delft.  The pedagogic principles range from the Mary Poppins school of thought (hard work, discipline, routine) to the more Hogwarts (without the magic) approach (child-led, independent, non-structured). The website has an English page which is helpful to understand the rationale behind the system.  There is a ‘find schools’ option but the search function is only in Dutch with an English explanation of how it should be used.

Depending on your reasons for migrating to Delft and the duration of your stay in the Netherlands, you may choose to keep the kiddos in an English environment. Skipping around in clogs and singing Dutch songs won’t enable their future growth outside of the Netherlands, except for entertainment value or party tricks. The International School in Delft is an authorized school for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which means settling in Delft will be easier since they don’t have to learn a new language. If, like me, you’re in it for the long run and want your kids to integrate into local culture, habits and language, there is a multitude of Dutch schools to choose from, all facilitating clog-skipping and song-singing.

There are 5 pedagogic methods being used in the Dutch schools in Delft at the moment.  Below is a brief explanation on their principles.  If you want more information, Google it.  There is a whole bunch of information readily available. [Note from the editors: we’ve done some work for you! See the short resource list at the end of this article to get you started.]


Freinet

Freinetschool Delft
  • Learning takes place in a context that is meaningful to the children;
  • Class life is organised in a democratic/cooperative way between teachers and children;
  • Learn by experimentation, discovery, doing and discussion;
  • Learning from the experiences of others, adults and cultures;
  • Teachers, children and parents all contribute to an optimal learning climate.

 Montessori

Openbare Montessorischool Jan Vermeer
  • Students are active in a prepared environment;
  • Students are given the opportunity to develop their talents;
  • Let students do a great deal themselves and thereby learning from each other;
  • Teach responsibility by letting students make their own choices and their own plans;
  • Trust the students;
  • A continuous concept throughout the school years.

 Vrije school

Credit: VS Widar
Vrijeschool Widar

(Based on Anthroposophy, a human oriented spiritual philosophy that reflects and speaks to the basic deep spiritual questions of humanity, to our basic artistic needs, to the need to relate to the world out of a scientific attitude of mind, and to the need to develop a relation to the world in complete freedom and based on completely individual judgments and decisions.)

  • Students become rounded individuals and is conscious of daily and yearly rhythms;
  • It doesn’t refer to the freedom of the students but the freedom of the school to work in their own way.

Jenaplan

Jenaplanschool De Oostpoort
  • The subject matter is derived from the living and experiential world of students and important cultural objects from society;
  • Teaching is carried out in educational situations and with pedagogical means;
  • Education is shaped by a rhythmic alternation of the basic activities of conversation, play, work and celebration;
  • Students of different ages and development levels are placed together in tribal groups. This stimulates learning and caring for each other;
  • Independent play and learning are alternated and supplemented by controlled and guided learning. The pupils’ initiative always plays an important role;
  • World orientation occupies a central position with experience, discovery and research as the basis;
  • Behavioral and performance assessment of a pupil takes place as much as possible from the pupil’s own development history, and in consultation with the student.

Regulier

Roman Catholic primary school Bernadette Mariaschool

Regular education is the collective term for education that does not address special target groups, such as special and special education. In a regular school there are therefore predominantly children who go through a normal development. These schools might have a religious affinity.


After deciding on the pedagogic method you prefer for your child, the next step is to go and see the schools of your choice and to meet the people. My first call was made with a mental image of a fire-breathing dragon on the end of the line, speaking to me in Dutch and condemning my lack of linguistic ability.  I was pleasantly surprised by polite and friendly people who were more than willing to struggle through a conversation in English.  The appointments were made with little hassle and followed up by email confirmations. I really enjoyed seeing the schools in action and meeting some of the kids and teachers.  Taking your child along is a good idea since they’ll pretty quickly show you how they feel about the place. Some schools have open days to facilitate choices and there is a fair once a year, De Delftse Onderwijs Markt, where all schools in Delft showcase themselves. The exact dates and times are usually advertised in the local papers.

One thing that I didn’t appreciate the full extent of when making a choice was the distance from door to door. In the summer it’s all fun and games getting to school on the bikes or walking, but in the winter, it can be a real challenge if you’re some distance away.  Dragging babies out in the freezing rain to get their siblings to class on time is no fun and can add significant stress to an already frantic time. Although none of the schools have catchment areas (geographical areas served by schools), take a good look at the schools closest to your home. Most schools are close to daycare facilities (kinderopvang) to help (working) parents before, during and after school.  They can pick kids up from school, take them to activities and are open during school term time.

A place in your school of choice will be confirmed with a formal letter inviting the little one to their first day, usually the day after their 4th birthday or in that same week.  Prior to the actual start date, the schools arrange for the newbies to come in and get used to the class and environment (wennen).  Usually it starts off with a couple of mornings and then a full day or two to see how they cope. Depending on the school, parents are sometimes permitted to stay for the first hour if needed.  Some schools are even flexible in the first year of school to have kids for 3 days instead of 5, or a combination of shorter and longer days, since compulsory attendance (legally) only starts when they turn 5 years old.

When your baby puts that little backpack on and runs down the road for the first time you may very well shed a tear or 10.  They grow up exponentially in their first year of school and the baby-ness become kid-ness. It’s a true milestone in their young lives and one that they relish once everyone settles into the routine.

My resources:

*List of primary education providers

*Pedagogic methods (translated by myself)

*Personal experience

*All photos are mine (with the exception of Vrijeschool Widar, the image came from the school website).


Originally from South Africa, Lynette moved to Delft from New Zealand in 2011.  The majority of her time is spent working in Rotterdam in the Healthcare sector, but she also has 2 young daughters, both in school in Delft. Lynette’s background is varied, including creative and people-related experiences. 


Note from the editors:

Want to read more about education in the Netherlands?

To get an overview of the Dutch education system, start with education in the Netherlands from Nuffic: the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education. (There is also information about bilingual schools at the primary and secondary levels, in Dutch.)

To get an overview of the Dutch education system in an international context, read Education Policy Outlook Highlights: Netherlands published by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Delft MaMa’s very own Parenting in Delft: School Age has some general information. The link to a list of schools in Delft no longer works. Use the one listed in this article.

Dutch school types: primary and secondary education – a good summary of the different types (based on pedagogy) of schools in the Netherlands.

Education in the Netherlands: A guide to the Dutch education system – also a good comprehensive guide, the article also contains useful information regarding school fees, holidays, and contacts for more information.

Some other good/fun articles to read:

Dutch schools: What to expect when you go “local” – article published in July 2018 on iamexpat.nl

Are you sending your kids to a Dutch school for the first time in September? Read How to deal with being the new parent at a Dutch school, published this month on iamexpat.nl

The Dutch school system for dummies – a guide from one parent to another – article published in March 2017 on Dutchreview.com

See also past DMM blog posts about education and after school activities:

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Swimming as easy as A,B,C

by Gaelle Fourcade
with Onica King

Mom-1: I heard “Swim Like A Fish” has a really good swim program.

Mom-2: Yeah, I’ve already registered Katie there.

Mom-3: Isn’t your Katie just 4 years old?

Mom-2: Yes, but there’s a waiting list and I want to make sure she gets a spot on a day we can be there. Your Jacob is turning 4 right, where are you thinking of registering for swim lessons?

Mom-3: Ahhh, um. . .

Sounds familiar?

I first discovered the importance of Dutch swim lessons for children just as I began asking around for information about schools for our eldest daughter. At first, I thought it was a bit early to start thinking about swim lessons, yet alone already registering my 4 year old for swim class. But ongoing conversations and the evident parental stress associated made it seem just as important as choosing a good school.

Out of my depth

You see I’m initially from France. There, schools still provide swim lessons to students. So of course, I had no idea what to look for and what to expect with respect to swim diplomas in the Netherlands.

Diploma A, B, C, badje 1-2-3, colored armbands, etc. I quickly became overloaded and confused with this new vocabulary on swim lessons. Oh, and of course, it‘s all in Dutch — a language I understood very little of at the time. It took me months before I understood ZWEM-ABC (literally SWIM-ABC) referenced the various diploma levels. Diploma A was the first swim diploma that included basic swimming techniques and specific swim distance requirements.  The progression to Diploma B adds more techniques and longer distances. C indicates the most advanced level of the diplomas in this category.

Letters, numbers, colors and more

After a bit of research and experience (we’ll soon be taking my 3rd through the process) I quickly became intimately acquainted with the mysteries of the ‘badjes’ A1 through A6, and its associated color armbands, red, blue, green, yellow orange and bronze. All beginners start in badje A1 with red armbands. As they begin to better coordinate their movements and master the required skills and techniques of each badje, children receive the ‘reward’ of a new colored armband — much to their pleasure and excitement — before progressing to the next badje.

All this culminates in their ability to swim at least 50 meters using both breast and back strokes and swim 3 meters underwater through a large ‘escape’ hole. Those requirements increase to 75 meters and 6 meters under water for the B certificate. The C diploma requires 100 meters of surface swimming with a few additional obstacles.

The NRZ (The National Board of Swimming Safety) publishes a list of requirements (in Dutch) for each diploma.

Time and money

When we decided to inscribe our daughter, we had no clue how long it would take to achieve completion of ZWEM-ABC. It took us almost 4 years!

Ok, we did not attend during summer holidays (which can be a really good way to speed up your diploma). Our daughter also had ear tubes, so she suffered intermittent ear infections. Either way, I shudder to calculate how much her diplomas cost in total. However, be prepared to invest some time and money. The swim school we attended suggests, “the average duration to obtain the A-diploma is 50 hours, for B- diplomas it’s 10-15 hours and for C-diploma it’s 12-15 hours.” DMM’s recent “Get Out!” blog lists the various swim schools in Delft. Check around to find out more about various types, times and costs of swim programs.

A tropical oasis

So every Thursday afternoon we gathered the swim gear, our daughter and her little brother to head to the swimming pool.

Now that’s some heat and humidity for you. It is literally like entering a sauna!

During the winter, you have to remember to dress in layers, and then proceed to unload yourself of those endless layers as you enter the tropical environment that is the swim school. Then in the summer, you observe the children with envy wishing you too were able to spring in the water to cool off just a bit.

Oh, and let us not forget the entire pre- and post-preparation and seating to contend with. Parents and children alike converge upon the changing room entrance 5 minutes before class time in anticipation. Once the green light flickers to ‘signal go’, everyone enters to help their little 4, 5 and 6 year olds change into their respective swim clothing. Should your session start as another ends (or vice-versa), that means there’ll be as many as 30 – 60 little swimmers and their parents — some like me with younger children in tow — trying to find a corner to maneuver.

Finally, after 5 minutes of rushing to get little arms and legs in and out of clothing, you emerge (more often than not, sweating) from the changing rooms in search of a place to sit and observe your budding swim aficionado, while in my case — also entertaining another toddler. Thank goodness for the well-positioned contained play areas on offer at most of Delft’s swim schools, provided specifically for the welcomed distraction of non-swimming little siblings.

Oh the pomp and circumstance

“Afzwemmen” another Dutch word one becomes well acquainted with in the journey towards ZWEM-ABC completion.  Once your child progresses through their respective swim lessons, they are then invited to ‘pass’ for their diploma. Time for them to demonstrate their newly acquired swim prowess before receiving each of their swim diplomas. It’s also time for fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings and the entire list of proud friends and family members to come together in a hot, humid swim school to celebrate the accomplishment (and let’s not forget freedom) of completing a swim diploma.

The whole event is actually a bit of a show. By the time your little swimmer gets cleared for afzwemmen, they have already passed everything necessary in the lessons. Afzwemmen just serves as a final step to acknowledge the investment made by all.

Respect 👊

To be honest, despite the sarcasm and slight inconvenience, I have been impressed by the way my children learned and mastered different swimming techniques at their individual pace. The instructors were nice, some very funny and popular. They always had a little time of “grappig” (fun and laughter) during the lesson, and they knew our kids well. I could always ask information about their level and their competencies.

I admire the kids being so strong and courageous for such an intensive hour, and I am so pleased that they learnt to swim in clothes, which in this country — maybe more than others — makes absolute sense!

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At DULI

See you at DULI

by Natalia Moreno

Last weekend I sat down for tea with Carolina Nesi, the easy-going Brazilian woman who started up DULI. For those who haven’t discovered it already, DULI is a unique concept, and a gem for expat families in the heart of Delft. Part international bookstore and part birthday party venue, the English-language workshops — for both kids and adults — sit at the heart and soul of DULI. In this article, I share the fruits of my conversation with Carolina: what DULI is and how it was created.

What is DULI

DULI is part bookstore, part birthday party venue, and focuses on fun workshops for kids and adults in English. What makes it so unique in Delft is that it offers engaging after-school activities for expat kids who have not (yet) mastered the Dutch language. It also offers an easy way for expats to enlarge their expat social circle.

Bookstore

The bookstore is full of fun and educational books in several languages. While browsing, you can enjoy a cup of tea or Brazilian coffee. Bookstore hours are:

Monday-Wednesday 13:30-17:30
Thursday-Friday 10:00-17:30
Saturday 10:30-15:00

Birthday parties

DULI rents out the space for 2-hour birthday parties. The price starts at €120 and includes a workshop for 10 people, including invitations. Food is allowed but must be provided by the host.

Workshops

Regularly-scheduled workshops

DULI offers a host of fun workshops and activities for kids in English. These range from crafts to science to sports. They are offered as an 8-class package over 8 weeks (one class per week) for €80. Individual classes can also be attended for €12 on a drop-in basis. The full list of workshops on offer can be found on their website: http://www.dulidelft.com/childrens-workshops/.

One-day workshops

DULI also offers one-day workshops that do not require any registration. For example, looking for a fun activity on a Saturday and up for some creativity, try a Delft Blue tile painting workshop for kids and adults, taught by Carolina herself.

Adult workshops

DULI offers workshops and talks for adults on Thursdays from 20:00-21:30. They are given by a specialist on a selected topic, usually related to education and child behavior.

Requested workshops

If you have an idea for a (kid or adult) workshop, or are looking for one that is not on offer, Carolina is enthusiastic about discussing requests and ideas.

Workshop location

Depending on the needs of the workshop, the location can be on-site at the DULI bookstore, or at a nearby local school.

The story of DULI’s creation

Carolina’s story

Carolina had always been crazy about books. But the impetus to start DULI was born out of necessity. Together with her husband and two kids, Carolina moved to the Netherlands for work in 2015. They enrolled their kids in the International School, but quickly realized that after-school activities were offered predominantly in Dutch. This left them without a lot of appealing options for stimulating and dynamic after-school activities.

Carolina used her social and business skills to create a network of parents and teachers who were able to teach fun workshops in English to kids of different ages. She rented a classroom at the International School in Delft and organized a variety of eight-week workshops in the afternoon. Carolina was always in search of ways to combine her passion for child development and literature with her business skills. By the beginning of 2017 when her work contract was ending, she decided to take the dive, and in March 2018 she realized her long-term dream – opening DULI.

What does the name mean

From a combination of Duda and Lipe, the nicknames of Carolina’s two children Maria Eduarda and Felipe, the name DULI emerged.

So there you have it. DULI — a great find that offers educational activities for expat adults and kids, in creative, flexible environments right here in Delft.

Enjoy! Genieten! Aproveite!

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How to choose early-stage age-appropriate musical toys

by Zdenka Prochazkova

Success of the “Muziek op schoot” workshop, initially hosted by DelftMama in March, convinced me yet again that music is a universal language — a cross-point where mothers and children from all around the world can meet, sing and make music together. How great that was, proving that no barrier, not even language, can stand in the way of musical play.

Thus, the purpose for this article, an opportunity to offer some basic information about age appropriate musical instruments to help you and your child embrace the joy of that universal language.

About me

My name is Zdenka Prochazkova and I come from the Czech Republic. Ten years ago, after finishing my music studies there, I came to the Netherlands to continue with a specialization in early music in Utrecht.

A couple years ago, I then decided to enroll in a postgraduate program to become a “Muziek op schoot” teacher. Literally translated to “music on your lap”, Muziek op Schoot is a foundation for early childhood music education in the Netherlands. I currently give lessons in Delfgauw, Spijkenisse, and teach regularly at daycares in Delft and Delfgauw. I am also a member of Krulmuziek  — an ensemble dedicated to bringing classical music to children of early ages.

The importance of music to our children

Experience as a teacher and as a parent of two young children has shown me firsthand the positive influence singing and musical play has on child development. Not to mention the simple joy it brings to their daily lives.

The songs we sing to our children at bedtime are part of the transitional space where parent and child are present together. A moment where children feel safe and can overcome fear and anxiety. Through songs and musical play, we can also turn chores and everyday activities such as getting dressed, tidying up, eating, or even brushing one’s teeth into play.

Age-appropriate musical toys

The first, and probably the best, source of rhythm, melody and musical feeling that children encounter is the human body. In fact, children experience music best through hands on engagement with their parents and care givers. Our heart beats in the most wonderful rhythm; our voices can both soothe and entertain, while bodily sounds like clapping, snapping or whistling always seem to catch children’s attention.

The child’s body develops as a unit; it is therefore important for children of all ages to use both of their hands simultaneously, such as clapping and using shakers and jingle bells in each hand.

Consider sound quality and the ease of producing that sound when introducing an instrument to your child. Children should be able to use and bring out sounds from the musical toy; otherwise, it would be hard to hold their attention. For instance, if you give a xylophone and a mallet to a 1-year-old, the child at that age would not have the precision to hit the bars. The instrument would not make noise, and the child would soon lose interest in it.

Toy stores offer various sound/musical toys to entertain children. However, if they have a low-quality sound, are monotonous or lack dynamic possibilities, they do not contribute much to the musical development of the child. Offering varied good quality sounds enrich the child’s experience and even prevents negative reactions to encountering new sounds in their surroundings.

  • 0 to 1 year old: Discovering the world through multiple senses

    Safety and quality are essential when identifying appropriate toys for children this age. Another consideration is the ability to stimulate different senses at the same time. A soft, colorful ball with a bell inside is an ideal tool for a musical ‘massage’. A pleasant-sounding rattle stimulates children’s senses as they try to locate the origins of the rattling sounds and begin to train their prowess of concentration.

    Singing, along with various other uses of the voice (varying between high and low pitches, different volume, “glissando”), dancing and bodily sounds also occupy a central place during this period. At this age, children follow singing for a longer time than speech. They also have very limited or no control over their movements at this stage. It’s therefore important to choose instruments that are easy to manipulate.

    Choose from shakers (e.g. egg-shakers) and maracas to various kinds of ‘jingle’ bells that attach to fingers, wrists, or even favorite toys and sticks. Homemade shakers like these music bottles can also bring a lot of fun and extra visual or thematic stimulation. Bottles with child-safe closures are available to order from Kijk op spel.

  • 1 to 2 years old: Rapid gross motor development during which children learn to sit, walk and run.

    Little ones this age enjoy exploration and relative independence as long as parents remain at an easily reachable distance. They enjoy playing on parent or caregiver’s laps, can combine different movements while clapping to songs, and seemingly have the ability to absorb a fundamental sense of rhythm. Children at this age spontaneously find objects such as tables and chairs for impromptu drum sessions. Give them even more opportunities to explore those percussion talents. Provide toys already on hand such as wooden blocks, boxes, or objects from nature (chestnuts or walnuts for example) for use as sound-making toys.

    Fill a bottle with sand, rice, lentils, beans, wooden pieces, stones, and even feathers to offer a large spectrum of rattling sounds. Suitable instruments are shakers, jingle bells, rhythm sticks, and rainmaker tubes. The harmonica is ideal for this period as a stimulant for voice development. Children this age also really enjoy dancing with some material in their hand.

    Language skills are also fast developing and any musical play and songs with language forming texts are very suitable. Let children listen to different genres of music and you will soon notice them developing a musical taste. Similar to hiding and revealing objects, pausing and resuming music can also be very entertaining. This principle keeps the child’s attention and teaches them to react to the music.

  • 2 to 4 years old: The start of vivid imaginations

    Musical instruments that trigger fantasy are very appropriate. Offer different types of drums, xylophones, metallophones. They stimulate hand-eye coordination, which is important for writing. Toddlers are interested in different aspects of music such as piano/forte (soft/loud) or slow/fast (speed). As a result, they can learn basic principles of music making.

    Choose music and instruments that offer dynamic possibilities at this age. There are various songs, which incorporate the contrast of slow-and-fast or loud-and-soft. Integrate these elements when playing with instruments as well as in singing, dancing (with or without material) and parent-child lap play. Additionally, for stimulating the development of the larynx, kazoos, ocarinas, and slide-flutes are ideal.

DelftMama music workshops

Music workshops within the DelftMama group has been a great initiative of Ildigo Wooning, Marie Kummerlowe and Tatjana Lisjak. The first series drew many participants and proved a big success. During the sessions, we exposed children to hearing and trying the violin, viola, guitar and melodica, as well as egg-shakers, tambourines, metallophones or bells for themselves. The theme of the first workshop series was spring. The current series, which started on May 28th, has a summer flair.

While the general language used in the workshops is English, participants will be exposed to many songs in Dutch (many of which children already hear at daycares). The sessions are a perfect opportunity to enjoy fun time together with your little ones, learn new songs and get some ideas for music making at home.

Not able to make the current series of workshops? Fear not, we’ve already begun exploring options for scheduling additional sessions after the summer holidays.

Embrace the joy of music

When you make music with your littles, it’s a great joy for you both. The interaction makes you learn about each other and the positive effects of music — stimulation of concentration, motor skills, emotional and social development — turn the learning process of children into play.

I wish you many beautiful (musical) moments with your little ones.

For any questions and more information, please feel free to contact me via muziekopschootdelft@gmail.com or www.muziekvriendjes.nl

Useful links:

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The SpeelOké Toy Library: toys for fun and development

Welcome to our first article in a series about toys and play. Is your little one bored with his or her mountain of toys, or are you looking to reduce that mountain without sacrificing variety and quality? Perhaps you are looking to try different types of toys before buying? The SpeelOké toy library in Delft allows your little one to BORROW toys. Read on as Erna Bekink, the chairwoman of the SpeelOké toy library describes what the library is all about.

By: Erna Bekink, SpeelOké toy library

SpeelOké is a toy library in Delft, founded by volunteers to promote playing with all sorts of toys so children can have fun and develop on several dimensions: moving, sensing, developing creativity and fantasy, building and constructing, puzzles, language and thinking games and so on…

Playing is learning

At our library, parents can borrow toys suitable for children from 0 to 12 years old for three weeks. Every three weeks you and your children can select other toys, which allows them to play and have fun with a regularly rotating selection of toys targeting different dimensions of their development.

If you have any questions, ask our volunteers. They are happy to recommend toys that are suitable for your child following the “toy circle,” which we describe briefly below. Our volunteers know what is in stock for each age group and which development phase those toys are suitable.

Toy circle

Description of suitable toys for different developmental areas for children. Source: speelotheken.nl

We make use of the “toy circle” (see figure to the right), a handy guide for choosing toys in all the different development areas: such as movement material, sensory material, fantasy material, etc.

Each category of toys (see the colors in the circle) makes a different contribution to the development of a child. Ask yourself with which category of toys your child plays with regularly, and then choose toys from another category. For example: if you want to stimulate your child’s creativity and fantasy, you can borrow dress-up clothes, Playmobil, a doctor’s set or a doll’s house. These kinds of toys stimulate the imagination of a child.

Subscription

The subscription fee is €10 per year for one family. The administration fee for new subscribers is €3,50.

With one subscription you can borrow three toys every three weeks. You also pay a small amount for every borrowed toy (€0,50, €1 or €1,50 – depending on the value of the toy).

  • Location
    SpeelOké is located at Van Kinschotstraat 21 in Delft.
  • Opening hours
    SpeelOké is open every Saturday morning from 10.00 till 12.00. We are closed during school holidays. Check our opening hours here.

Become a volunteer!

Volunteers spend 3 hours a month helping out at our toy library. Why don’t you join us?

If your children start borrowing toys at SpeelOké, there is a possibility for parents to volunteer–our foundation is run by enthusiastic volunteers who spend around 3 hours per month on a Saturday morning in the SpeelOké toy library.

As a volunteer, you can also take part in other activities such as the PR commission or the toy selection and purchasing commission.

Are you interested in meeting new people and being part of an enthusiastic, cheerful team of volunteers? Don’t hesitate to come by and take a look at our toy library or phone our chairwoman for more information: Erna Bekink at 06-242 06 378 – We would love to meet you!

Notes from the editors:

The editors want to thank Annemarie Laan-Oorthuizen of Bloei for the use of her photos in the article (see her article about the SpeelOké library in Dutch here). Bloei is an extensive online resource with guides and blogs in Dutch for parents of children aged 0-12 living in the Delft area. On Bloei you’ll also find an interactive calendar with a short description of fun kid-friendly activities. Looking for something offered in languages other than Dutch? Check this page regularly for classes, activities, services and relevant websites available in other languages.

Next up in this series, Delft Mama Zdenka Prochazkova talks about using music to help your young child’s development, and how to choose the right musical toys for your little one’s age level. In the meantime, play on!

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GET OUT!

Get Littles Up And Out With Fun Activities Around Delft

Recently relocated to Delft and in search of something to keep your littles active? Or perhaps Lynette Croxford’s recent “How to Delft” blog has inspired you to explore what’s on offer for your primary schoolers outside the classroom. Well thankfully, Delft has a host of activities to keep most children entertained and interested, with the added benefit of helping them integrate into their new surroundings.

But where to start?

To help you coordinate your little’s free time like a native, the Delft Mama blog editing team rounded up a list of fun activities and resources that you and your children can enjoy to make their experience in Delft fun, productive and worthwhile.

So here you go, 6 ways to help your primary school kids GET OUT in Delft.

Get physical with sports

Sports can teach children important lessons in teamwork, patience, and perseverance. It keeps them physically fit as well as teaches them the importance of success through hard work and the acceptance of failure while striving to improve. There are all sorts of sports programs offered by schools and organizations in Delft. Here are just a few.

Express the artist within

Do you have a young Brando, a musical Streisand, a budding Picasso or an impressive Baryshnikov at home? Then check out Delft’s various venues that help nurture little creatives.

From art to theatre, music and dance, the VAK is a one-stop shop for most forms of artistic self-expression. But creative exploration doesn’t stop there. Delft offers a range of artistic venues and associated professionals eager to foster your young one’s inner artist.

Take it to the extreme

Extreme sport that is.

Does your little trendsetter prefer riding their skateboard or cruising around on their BMX over dealing with the structure of soccer practice or swim lessons? Then perhaps it’s time to consider a more ‘extreme sport’ for your little rebel. There seems to be an increasing attraction to the individuality and athletic self-expression that hallmarks extreme sports.  Here are just some ways kids go extreme in Delft.

Okay, these next three officially aren’t IN Delft, but they’re rather close by and worth the honorary mention.

Observe Delft’s nature & wildlife

Head outdoors for some fresh air in the local Delft woods. Delft and the surrounding area has numerous lakes, beaches, old windmills, and playgrounds. Use this wealth of outdoor space to introduce your littles to scouting, gardening or plain old outdoor fun.

If scouting camps aren’t your kid’s jam, Delft also offers a couple other interesting outdoor alternatives.

Unleash the mind

Help your littles improve their learning, thinking, analytical, strategic and decision-making abilities with frequent mental exercise.  As a university town, Delft offers quite a few options that allow children to expand their learning in fun new environments. In addition to the DOK (Delft’s libraries), here are a few options to help them further stimulate that gray matter.

Take a trip to a Museum

The Netherlands is home to a number of fantastic museums and as luck would have it, some of them can be found right here in Delft. Here’s a list of just a few.

Get started and GET OUT!

There you have it, a few fun activities and resources for keeping your primary school children  (and perhaps even you) occupied and engaged outside of the classroom.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, we’d like to make this a ‘living document’ with annual or bi-annual updates through inputs from you. So let us know in the comments if you have recommendations for other after-school activities available here in Delft.

For now, this list offers a good start with a wealth of options for your littles to GET OUT in Delft.

 

 

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Memories and Blackberries

Blackberries and Memories

Yesterday, I took my daughters blackberry picking. To someone else this may sound like just another day out, but for me it was special. It was special because it enabled me to re-live one of my favourite childhood memories and to share it with my own children.

When I think of it now, it seems a little strange, a teenage girl voluntarily taking her little brother out to pick blackberries. Remember though that this was in the time before iPads, and we had two months of summer holidays to fill!

This particular memory takes place towards the end of the summer break when we had already spent days at the beach, in the park, hung out with friends, set out crab traps, wandered around the house doing nothing in particular and were feeling rested, relaxed, and superbly content. Suddenly it was the end of August, and what had started as an endless vacation was *gasp* almost over. The race was on to make the most of those last sun filled days. I grabbed a few buckets and shouted to my little brother, “come on! We are going blackberry picking.”

Vancouver Island, where we lived, is a magical island of spectacular natural beauty (but that’s another story). It is also covered with wild blackberry bushes that ripen in late summer. Out we walked into the hot sun carrying our buckets like little soldiers on a mission to the nearest patch. After sizing up the bushes to find the juiciest specimens we dropped our buckets and started picking. We worked in companionable silence broken only by the occasional “ouch!” as one of us scratched ourselves or ‘mmmm’ when we were unable to resist a taste. Occasionally, disaster would strike in the form of accidentally kicking over a nearly full bucket or, particularly painful, falling into the bushes. Much to the hilarity of the other sibling.

If I let my mind travel back there now I can still smell the warm, ripe berry smell, part fermented fruit and part earthy leaves that would soon be turning brown. The hot sun burning the back of my neck, the scratches on my hands and the relaxing monotony of picking. Concentrated as we were on our efforts to find the biggest, juiciest berries, we lost all track of time.

Buckets finally full we trudged home with the fruits of our labour. Tired and hot we competed to see who had the most scratches or whose fingers were the purplest, stained from the dark juice.

Back in the kitchen, I made the pastry and, together with my little brother, we rolled it out to fit the pie tins. Then we cooked the berries, adding lots and lots of sugar. By the time we’d assembled the pies and baked them in the oven, the kitchen was a disaster of flour and squashed berries. At about this time, my Mum arrived home from work to find two children who had made a disaster of her kitchen proudly displaying fresh blackberry pies.

The childhood experiences that my daughters have in Holland are very different from my own back in rural Canada. Sometimes this is part of the fun. We get to experience things for the first time together. But other times it can make it hard to relate to each other. Memories that friends back home hold on to because they are triggered by their familiar surroundings have faded into the recesses of my memory. It’s amazing how a simple activity like this can bring those memories rushing back, filling my heart with a warm glow.

Vancouver Island is too far and too expensive to travel back to regularly. However, I am doing my best to bring a little bit of my life in Canada here to share with my family. When I do and when it works, the distance between here and home closes just a little and the effort is so very worth it.

I would love to hear about traditions from home that you are sharing here with your children?

And of course about any good spots for blackberry picking!

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