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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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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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