(Ages 4-12 years)
Children can start school at age 4 and must attend by the time they are 5 years old. The standard school year runs from mid-August until the end of June with vacations in the fall, winter and spring. Summer vacation typically lasts about six weeks.
Children start school when they turn four – whenever this might happen during the school year. If your child turns four (or five) in the summer, they will start as soon as school goes back into session. School hours begin between 8-9:00 and end between 15-16:00, with one half-day per week (usually Wednesday and/or Friday). It is not unusual for children to bike to school with friends when they are six – noted, the school has to be very close to their home!
Picking a school – there are a large number of primary school education options in Delft and the surrounding area. Many of the schools have waiting lists (especially in the city centre), so you should visit several and apply as soon as possible. Primary schools organize “open dagen” where you can visit the school, have a tour and get all of the information you need. If you cannot attend an open day, it is also possible to schedule a private tour.
In Delft there are public (“publiek” as in non-private), Christian (christelijk) , Catholic (katholiek), and “liberal” (vrijeschool, Dalton Plan, Jena Plan, Montessori and Freinet) educational styles at the primary school level.
Dutch schools tend to let children make more decisions about the content of their day than in other countries. Take the time to visit schools and ask questions to find out which schools match your parenting values.
The sort of questions you might ask after a school tour could be:
- – Is there open communication between teachers and the school director?
- – If a child complains about being bullied what steps are taken?
- – Are learning difficulties spotted rapidly, and when they are, what actions does the school take?
- – Is there any tutoring for children who need to catch up with Dutch language or other subjects?
- – How does the school encourage parents’ involvement?
- – How much freedom do the children have to select their own activities?
- – Do children learn another language or how to use computers?
- – Do children have to come home for lunch or is there a service of eating there bringing their own lunch and being helped by staff?
- – Which sports facilities are available at the school or nearby gym?
- – What school hours should I expect for my child?
- – If I need after school care, by when do I need to arrange it and where?
For the official city of Delft list, click here.
If you need help caring for your school-aged children before or after school hours, “naschoolse opvang” or “buitenschoolse opvang (BSO)” are a great option. These programmes provide care generally from 15:15 (when the school’s out) till 18:00 on weekdays, and include care during school holidays from 7:30 to 18:30 (times may vary).
Organisers entertain the children with various activities (going to the nearest kinderboerderij or waterspeeltuin in the summer is normal) and offer a snack to eat. Activities can include music, sports, art, theatre and many other options and children can pick the ones that interest them the most.