Important facts for the first step to elementary school (Photo: Leóny Lasschuit)

Important facts for the first step to elementary school


(Photo: Leóny Lasschuit)

Important facts for the first step to elementary school (Photo: Leóny Lasschuit)

(Photo: Leóny Lasschuit)

  In this article I focus on the first step towards the (regular) education:

Elementary School

Where should I start picking a good elementary school?

Once your child is 4, it’s time to attend school. But before the 4th anniversary you may already have a lot of questions. Most children go to school from their fourth birthday, voluntary! For many preschoolers a day at school takes a lot of energy; they have to deal with many new impressions. For this reason, four-year-olds are not yet obliged to go to school all day. Compulsory education starts from the first day of the month after a child becomes 5 years old. It is recommendable that you register in an early stage, especially since a lot of schools have a waiting list. If you are interested in a particular school and want to make sure that your child will be accepted as a pupil, the advice is to contact this school and get information about the conditions of entry when your child is between 1.5 and 2 years old.

Dutch education has several types of schools: public and private schools & schools with a certain special and pedagogical concept.

Within the bounds of the law, schools are allowed to determine how they teach. They will indicate their views and practices in their school guide and often also on their website. In addition, most schools provide information evenings or show parents around during school hours. If you sign up your child in time at the public school in the district, placement will not be a problem.


(Photo: Leóny Lasschuit)

In case you have a (non) public school in another district in mind, then it is possible that the school refuses your child.

Some schools in Haarlem are specialized/certificated to provide a particular type of education, for example; Dalton, Montessori, Jenaplan or the Vrije School.

If you as parents prefer a school like the aforementioned, then maybe you should go look for this in another area in the city. But then again, placement is not guaranteed. The school management can inform you what the conditions are. A non-public school may also refuse your child. That is, if you do not identify with the religious or philosophical directions of the school. But in case there is no public school in the neighbourhood, then the particular school should allow your child. However, it is always important to register your child in time.

My child barely speaks Dutch, what effect will this have?

Expat children (or bilingual children) follow the regular program in the classroom. In addition, they are monitored by the Internal Supervisor to identify potential problems and to provide care in order to avoid learning with regard to the linguistic abilities of the children. Children are learning Dutch from each other and preferably playfully. Scouting is a good way to contribute to the (Dutch) language development of your child. All schools will contribute to the optimal development of your child. Several expat children at a school allow for more specialization. So ask for the presence of Expat children.

The most important aspects when choosing an elementary school

Finally, the atmosphere is decisive. So visit some different schools, look around and pay attention to the feeling the school gives you! And… make sure your child is potty trained, this is a mandatory condition!

Practical tips

For elementary schools in the centre of Haarlem you can check this website. If you want more information about the possibilities regarding the education at a Dutch international school, check this website.



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