Delft, like most cities across the Netherlands, plays its part in settling an increasing number of refugees seeking asylum from dangerous situations. To learn how the Delft MaMa community might better reach this group of families, I spoke to Delft-based refugees and a volunteer for the refugee-focused charity DelftseBuurto better understand the story of asylum seekers in Delft. Read more
“Moving to a new country is always an adventure. Choosing the right home for a family makes it even more exciting, but sometimes also more complicated.” Delft MaMa Xenia Gabriel starts off our new blog series with some tips based on her family’s experiences finding their home in Delft.
In See you at DULI, we met easy-going Carolina Nesi of DULI, a place where you can find international/multilingual books for children and adults, as well as workshops and courses aimed at both children and adults. Carolina has a passion for books and it shows in the book-filled interior of the small shop. The centerpiece of the shop, however, is a long table that can seat children and/or adults for courses and workshops. This piece focuses on one series of workshops for parents: the Parents’ Evenings at DULI.
Engaging topics made accessible
Sitting with Carolina over a cup of coffee, she described how she started to feel suffocated by the lack of adult stimulation in the daily grind of raising young children (sound familiar?). This was her biggest motivation in setting up Parents’ Evenings at DULI. Held in the shop after-hours, these evenings create a space for parents to participate in a discussion, usually of a philosophical nature, led by an expert in the field.
Carolina admits that English is not a strong language for her, and she was committed to ensuring the workshops would be accessible to a diverse group. To facilitate the accessibility, group sizes are limited, with an expert giving a presentation to no more than 10 people seated around the table. The presentation is interspersed with opportunities for questions and discussions. In fact, as a deaf person who normally struggles with lipreading and following conversations in a group environment, I found it easy to follow along with everyone in this format.
Starting last spring, the Parents’ Evenings covered topics ranging from happiness to internet safety and international childhood. When asked how she chose the topics, Carolina replied that she simply asked people what they were curious about. She then looked around for experts that best fit the topics. While the coordination of it all can be quite daunting at times, Carolina maintains a ‘learn-by-doing’ attitude as she plans more Parents’ Evenings in the coming months. [From the editor: there’s a sneak peek at the autumn Parents’ Evenings schedule at the end of this article!]
So, what are these Parents’ Evenings like? Last April I joined one; let’s take a look!
A first-hand look at Parents’ Evening at DULI
“Raising a Child of the World”—held at DULI last April—was led by Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold of Ute’s International Lounge. Ute was perfectly suited to lead this talk both personally and professionally. Her research focuses on multilingualism and international families, and she herself grew up as an expat and is raising her expat family in the Netherlands.
The description of her talk referred to “third culture kids” – children who grow up in a country/culture different from that of their parents (first defined by Ruth Hill Useem). I’d read a bit of Pollock and van Reken’s Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, so I was curious to see what Ute would bring to the table (no pun intended).
There were six of us in attendance, all of us representing different nationalities and language backgrounds. After starting with introductions, we learned about collective experiences of international children growing up outside their parents’ home culture.
Ute likened our international kids to plants in pots—a plant in a pot is much more mobile than a plant in the ground. However, it needs special nurturing in order to thrive. Depending where that plant-in-a-pot is located, different kinds of nurturing is needed. When transitioning to a new place, our kids also need different kinds of special nurturing to ensure that they can adjust well and thrive in the new environment.
Throughout Ute’s talk, we had opportunities to ask questions and share our own observations. Ute’s personable approach made us feel that our input was valuable to the discussion. The setting of the talk created a feeling of information-sharing rather than being lectured at by an expert. I left feeling empowered with more tools in my mama toolkit to help my daughter thrive as a multilingual and multicultural child.
Parents’ Evenings at DULI in a nutshell
Parents’ Evenings give us the opportunity to explore engaging topics in an accessible format, and allows us to bring up burning questions with an expert in the field. On top of that, it is a chance to have stimulating and eye-opening conversations with a dynamic group of people. All in all, a fabulous night out.
I look forward to seeing the new talks Carolina arranges next. On my wish list is a talk about balancing personal goals with the responsibilities of parenthood. What kinds of topics are on your wish list?
DULI Delft (www.dulidelft.nl) is located at Nieuwe Langedijk, 13, just off Markt in Delft. Check their website for opening hours, and check out this blog post introducing us to DULI.
Ute’s International Lounge – The homepage of Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold, showcasing her work and current offerings—including, consultancy, book club meetings, and courses.
Third Culture Kids: Growing up among worlds, written by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken (sends you to Amazon.de page)
From the editor:
Curious about upcoming Parents’ Evenings at DULI?
Thursday, 13 September | Elegance of Living – Introduction to Access Bars. Aimed at creating a world of consciousness and oneness, where everything exists and nothing is judged, Access Bars is a gentle hands-on technique that quiets the mind.
Thursday, 18 October | The Science of Happiness—led by Mrs. Anna Blasiak—introduces us to scientific facts about happiness; and we discuss the role of our actions and attitude on attaining happiness.
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.]
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
*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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Picture the scene; it’s 5:10am, a small, shrill voice punctuates your deep, dream filled sleep. “Maaaaaaammy”. For a moment you lie utterly still hoping it was your imagination. One, two, three, fou. . . “MAAAAMMY”. Imagination 0, Reality 1. Read more
Ten years ago together with some of the Delft MaMa’s original board members, I signed a notarial act officializing Stichting Delft MaMa (The Delft Maternity And Motherhood Assistance Foundation) to serve the Delft international community of pregnant women and mothers of babies.
As my own son who is born in 2003 grew up, Delft MaMa gradually expanded to mothers of children up to the standard age of the end of primary school in The Netherlands, ie 12 years. Our goal has been to promote the well-being and participation/ integration of international mothers (-to-be) by sharing information about the local system related to healthcare, daycare, education and service providers to make you feel at home and empowered. Another very important concept has been to bring mothers together to share their experiences and doubts in a safe and open-minded way. Parenting is not easy, especially when you no longer have your relatives and long time friends around.
Delft MaMa has grown into a very dynamic and supportive community, with so many cultures and languages. Facebook and email newsletters have replaced our original email messages and magazine in PDF thanks to Vanessa Later. Information fairs are no longer needed as other organizations in Delft ended up taking them over. In our first year, we received funding for what was innovative at a time : an information fair about prenatal and postnatal care (two thirds in Dutch and one third in English with over 30 participating organizations and service providers). Three months later, we were organizing a multicultural baby festival at our then new public library DOK at Vesteplein 100. We had amateur artists from several countries who lived in Delft show off their artwork about maternity using various media for three weeks. This was a partnership with Stichting Kunzt and artistic Delft mamas. The opening had live lullabies from classic music to folk songs. A representative of Indonesian museum Nusantara came to tell us about traditions when a baby is born and how to protect him/her form evil spirits. Several Delft mothers created large posters with texts and pictures about what the original traditions of welcoming a child into this world are like in their countries. It was very well received by DOK visitors and staff.
This could not have happened without Sjoerd from the Delft volunteer office, Irina Thio from Foundation Voor Delft, top trainer El batoul Zembib and Hafida Azouagh coordinator of the Gemeente Delft leadership programme Stuurvrouwen for highly educated women born outside of the Netherlands who wanted to become board members of local non-profits, associations and political parties. Brenda Kooy-Grootscholten from Bedrijf en Samenleving Delft was later an important supporter of Delft MaMa, just like Elinor Abramson, Tonya Tolmeijer, Myra Hillebrink, Bianca Blaak and Sephine Laros. A special thank you to our original board members Suchandana Roy, Nushaba Mirzazade, Grace Akebe, Shenandoah Evans and Renee Veldman-Tentori.
Foundation 1818 and the municipality of Delft were crucial financial supporters of our yearly city wide events. Delft MaMa would also not have been possible without the involvement of many volunteers from workshops to board meetings, to fairs and second-hand markets we have organized for the last ten years. I no longer have to convince institutions that any parent Dutch or international finds it nice and useful to get information not only about products but about knowledge and finding experts when things become more complicated, whether it is picking a primary school or a special needs specialist. With the recent makeover of our beautiful website we share a lot of practical information on web pages, an online calendar and the very popular blog expert. Our newsletter still highlights fun things to do or useful things to know about what is going on in Delft and becoming an active Delftenaar.
Together we are happier, more in balance and have more fun! All your contributions through donating your time, ideas and occasionally funds has made this exciting community a reality, and I keep marvelling at all your strength, resilience, creativity and being honest and vulnerable too.
When I moved to Delft on January 1st 2003 and became pregnant within 3 months, no one ever told me about resources for international parents in the region. I made friends with local mothers, then with international mothers who had traumatizing experiences, and once my son turned one and a half I launched what became a year later Stichting Delft MaMa meeting hundreds of mothers every year first in person and now mostly online as a moderator now that my son is almost 14. Delft as a city has much to offer to us: low criminality and many intellectually interesting things to do, sports, jobs and beautiful architecture where riding a bike is made easy. Looking back, I can only be proud of this wonderful experience that I hope we will all keep maintaining and adjusting for many years to come. This year we have special activities such as our upcoming mosaic and barbecue and can’t wait to see you there!
American mosaic artist living in Delft, Nan Deardorff McClain, greets me by the door of the building where her atelier is located. Eight to ten women have RSVP’d to her mosaic workshop during this particularly different Delft MaMa night out. It has been raining throughout the day and she’s hoping people will show up despite the weather. As a matter of fact, when the weather is scruffy, there’s no better way to spend some time relaxing than creating something new, Nan points out.
Altogether seven moms show up. The table is full of snacks and drinks generously provided by the attendees; asparagus wraps, deviled eggs, chocolate, grapes, strawberries, nuts and all sorts of wines. This is shaping up to be an especially good moms’ night out, I’ll say!
Nan introduces us to her workroom. It’s filled with different mosaics, big and small, finished and unfinished, glued and those waiting to be grouted. My eyes are drawn to a Delft Blue vase, but unfortunately those are out of the question for an outdoor mosaic. The tiles for outdoors are different: they are harder to work with and has no pours to prevent them from sucking up moisture and possible cracking when freezing.
The room next door is already set up for the workshop. The collection of different colored tiles is in small plastic containers. Nan says we can start with making mosaic flowers, because those are easy to utilize in multiple projects. Many moms whip out their phones to google flowers they want to trace on a piece of paper, but some moms simply work with the shape of tiles, letting them speak for the look of the flower.
The styles in the room are as versatile as the moms attending, but a few things they have undoubtedly in common: there is a lot of use of color, everyone seems to be staying true to their own point of view and they are all shaping up to look like real mosaics!
Two hours go swiftly by. We barely remember to drink and eat, which tells how much everyone has seemingly enjoyed creating something. “People need to create to feel accomplished”, says one of the mothers at the end of the class and everyone agrees.
I never knew I enjoyed arranging tiles to a particular shape until Tuesday when I tried it for the first time. The workshop was such a success that in the future Nan is planning to organize the remaining Delft MaMa mosaic workshops the same way. Personally, I cannot recommend it highly enough! Hope to see you there!
The big piece of art Delft MaMa is planning to put up on a wall in the Achtertuin playground will need all levels of support to get finished. You can start by sharing information about this with your friends, roll up your sleeves yourself and take part – or you can show your support to us here, and below is a video of what the workshop looks like in real life 🙂
The Delft MaMa blog is celebrating its first anniversary this April. Agnès Batllori Benet and I started this blog with lots of plans and even some structure, but most of all we learned most valuable lessons on the way. Agnès is moving onto other challenges while Marie Kummerlowe will take her position as one of the blog leaders.
During this past year, we have been lucky to have such great diversity of writers joining us regularly and temporarily and this is something we’re very much looking keeping this up in the future as well. Tuesdays blog posts will be published on Fridays from now on biweekly alternating with the mom of the week, which will have a bigger team of writers behind it as well.
Currently most children are enjoying their May holidays, which include the celebration of King’s Day. The toddler playgroups on Tuesdays and Fridays will go on normally during the holiday weeks, so if you’re looking for a few hours of downtime with other parents while kids are getting to know each other, that’s your place to go. If your plans aren’t still locked down, but you find yourself in the need of a day trip idea within the Netherlands, check out the DMM Pinterest page made just for this. For crafty parents (any skill level) the 2nd of May DMM is organizing a mosaic workshop. Also, don’t forget DelftMaMa Cinema Club is always open on Facebook for new and familiar faces! More ideas on what to do throughout the year, subscribe for the Delft MaMa newsletter at the bottom of this page!
This Saturday Delft MaMa is taking a head start on King’s Day by organizing a Children and Maternity Clothing Swap at the playgroup location KDV de Vlinderstruik in Delft on Lodewijk van Deysselhof 165. It’s a well-organized and an easy way to be kind to the environment and to our wallets by joining our efforts together.
“If one million people bought their next item of clothing secondhand instead new, we would save SIX million kilograms of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere.” 
What to bring? Good quality clothing in all sizes for children and expecting mothers that no longer serve you. The seasons change and you just might find yourself staring at your child’s closet trying to find out if any of the last years shorts fit them. Or perhaps your maternity pants are only hogging the space and you’d much more benefit swapping those elastic jeans to a pair of sandals and rubber boots for your toddler. Whatever the case may be, everyone’s welcome!
How much do the items cost? The short answer is zero. Many of us don’t have families close by and find ourselves lacking the otherwise natural circles of clothes swapping with relatives. Swapping with cousins rarely cost anything and neither does this. We encourage people to bring what no longer serve them and hopefully find the pieces that will be just right for them as well. Pieces aren’t counted, so swap will be strictly based on taking whatever serves your purposes. You’ll simply pick what you need!
The items that are left in the end you’re free to bring back home or you can choose to donate to the Delft MaMa King’s Day Sale.
More information about the swap is available here.
Last year Anna Kõvári of Delft MaMa organized the first King’s Day Sale all by herself.
“I just cleared a bit our house and sold the items. It was more like an experiment for me to see how I would deal with selling things to strangers. I was completely surprised by myself; I did not know that I love bargaining and selling,” Kõvári says.
It took a few hours, Kõvári made some money, which she then decided to donate to Delft MaMa. Call it a success? Absolutely!
This year DMM decided to turn on the big gear and start preparing well in advance. Tatjana Lisjak has taken an excellent lead in the project and gotten people to dig through their closets in order to support the organization. Want to learn how to donate items and more? Click here.
On King’s Day you’ll find Delft MaMa in two locations: Nieuwe Langedijk and another to be announced spot. You can drop by to see the variety of books, beautiful dresses, clothing, toys and the rest that are available for small change at these two stalls. You will also find a Delft mama volunteer on the spot with coloring sheets, boxes of raisins and other wonderful things for your little ones. If you already have everything you could ever desire for, but you feel like supporting some of our projects, there will be a box for money donations purely for the upcoming mosaic project.
What’s the gist? Delft MaMa is turning 10 years in 2017. To celebrate, the organization wants to treat the city on our birthday much like the Dutch people treat their family, friends and colleagues in the form of “traktatie”. The current Delft MaMa substitute chairwoman Ildikó Wooning explains further: “We are taking a wall that is tagged with graffiti and make it a lot nicer. The location we chose is a playground, so it connects nicely to the spirit of Delft MaMa. The design is a picture of a bridge, children, a mother and ducks and it embodies the feeling of bridging the gaps.”
Delft MaMa has asked funds from the city and various other charity foundations, but most of all we are relying on donations. You can contribute by donating your time, money or materials. 
Nan Deardorff McClain, well-acclaimed mosaic artist in Delft, will be leading this project with the help of volunteers. There will be five mosaic workshops available for the Delft mamas in May. It will be an exchange of talents, time and materials, according toWooning: “We give the materials and the volunteers give us their handiwork. Those pieces will go on the wall.” The first workshop will take place on 2nd of May. You can find more information here.