Relocating to a new country is a significant change, we know ensuring the well-being and success of your children is of the utmost importance. If you are planning to move to the Netherlands, understanding the local education system and after-school activities can help to smooth the transition for your family. This article will provide an overview of a few aspects related to schooling to help you prepare.


Education in the Netherlands

Public schooling in the Netherlands is known for maintaining high standards and ensuring quality education for all children, regardless of their chosen school. Students benefit from a uniform curriculum that prepares them well for future academic pursuits, supported by experienced teachers who foster critical thinking and academic growth. Many schools also offer English as a language subject to prepare students for a globalized society.


Costs of Education

The Dutch government funds primary and secondary education, making it essentially free. However, schools often request a voluntary contribution, known as “ouderbijdrage,” from parents to cover extracurricular activities. This contribution can range from 25 to 600 euros per year, averaging around 50 euros. Higher education, on the other hand, requires tuition fees. EU/EEA students pay government-set fees, while non-EU/EEA students face higher tuition costs, which vary by institution and program.


Daycare and Preschool Options

Daycare centres (kinderdagverblijf) in the Netherlands cater to children from infancy to age four, providing a safe environment with trained staff. These centres operate Monday to Friday with flexible hours and are regulated by the government. The hourly rates for daycare are determined annually by childcare organizations and can be partially covered by government childcare allowances, although parents may need to cover any excess costs.

Playgroups (speelgroep) are another option for children aged two to four. These informal gatherings allow young children to play and interact in a less structured environment. Parents or community groups generally organize playgroups and offer a more affordable alternative to daycare centres.


Primary and Secundary Education

Primary education (basisonderwijs) is compulsory for children between the ages of five and twelve and includes eight grades. The curriculum focuses on essential subjects such as Dutch, mathematics, science , social studies, and physical education. Newcomer classes (Opvang Onderwijs Nieuwkomers) are available for children who don’t speak Dutch yet, offering intensive language support to help them integrate into the regular education system. These classes also include lessons in other subjects to ensure that students don’t fall behind. Typically, within a year, children reach a sufficient level of Dutch to transition into regular classes.

Secondary education (voortgezet onderwijs) follows primary education and is divided into several tracks, including practical education (praktijkonderwijs), pre-vocational education (VMBO), higher general secondary education (HAVO), and pre-university education (VWO).


After-School Activities and Traditions

The Netherlands offers a wide range of after-school activities to keep children engaged and active. Here are some popular options:
Swimming Lessons: Given the abundance of water in the Netherlands, swimming lessons are highly recommended and often considered essential.
Sports: Various sports clubs and associations offer activities ranging from football and hockey to gymnastics and martial arts.

Dutch culture also includes numerous festivities for children to enjoy, such as Sinterklaas and King’s Day, which provide fun experiences for children. It is also common for children to take a “traktatie” (treat) to school to share with their classmates on their birthdays.


Cycling and Road Safety for Kids

In the Netherlands, cycling and road safety are integrated into children’s daily lives and schooling. Dutch children begin learning to ride bikes at a young age, and they even undergo a cycling exam in primary school to ensure they’ve mastered essential skills for safe cycling. This helps them gain independence and teaches them how to stay safe on the roads. Once they are old enough, the majority of children bike to school on their own . Well-maintained bike lanes and clear rules ensure that cycling is both safe and convenient for young cyclists. For parents moving to the Netherlands with children, expect your kids to enjoy the benefits of cycling as part of their everyday routine.


Expert Guidance from Relocation Consultants

Navigating the educational landscape in a new country can be challenging, but our relocation consultants are here to help. Our team has years of experience assisting families with school searches and are able to offer you the best advice for your child’s needs and circumstances.

The well-being and academic success of children significantly influence the overall success of a family’s relocation. Ensuring children settle comfortably into their new environment is a top priority for us. By providing support and guidance tailored to your family’s needs, we aim to make sure that children will thrive in their new home.