How to help your child settle in the Netherlands by building new friendships

How to help your child settle in the Netherlands by building new friendships

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The ISH employs the PATHS programme, which helps your child make quality friends to support their transition into their new home in the Netherlands. [Contributed by The International School of The Hague]

When you and your family are moving to the Netherlands, you may be worried about how they will settle into their new schools and environments. The International School of The Hague, Primary (ISH) would like to help support your children through this transition process. Through the PATHS social-emotional programme, we create an inclusive, nurturing school setting that helps them develop the tools they need to make and sustain quality friendships. Your child’s well-being is at the center of our social-emotional programmes. The current educational research suggests that: 

“The best SEL programs were implemented throughout each year of schooling. They shaped the entire school climate, and they used developmentally appropriately appropriate lessons. They also taught children specific social-emotional skills like self-awareness, self-management, empathy, perspective taking, and cooperation. In short, they were lessons in emotional intelligence.” (Goleman, 2004: vii) 

Adoption of the PATHS programme (Promoting Alternative Thinking Skills)

Through the years, the ISH has worked hard to develop a strong social-emotional ethos to strengthen our daily practice. To take our practice to the next level, we decided our students would benefit from having even more opportunities to enrich their social skills each school year. Consistent practice across the school and the explicit teaching of skills, like self-control and emotional understanding, would allow our students to reach greater independence in negotiating real life situations at ISH and beyond. 

An extensive, worldwide search was conducted to find the ‘best fit’ social emotional programme to skill-build our ISH philosophy. Our criteria was multifold and required evidence from curriculum samples to ensure a quality selection. The American programme PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Skills) consistently met our school-wide expectations. 

The PATHS programme: 

  • reinforces the ISH behaviour ethos and the programme goals of SquISH, STOP-THINK-DO and the Golden Rules;
  • contains explicit teaching of social emotional skills like self-control, emotional understanding, positive self-esteem, the of building relationships and interpersonal problem solving skills;
  • develops a progression of key skills across overarching units of work like: friendships, managing anger, promoting responsibility and caring for others, feeling identification and problem solving; 
  • was created by academics in the field, research-driven and analysed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, Emotional Learning (CASEL) as having positive pro-social impacts in numerous school settings. 


Teachers began the PATHS programme trial in their classrooms from January 2016. In lieu of this new step, they were provided with trainings on the following content areas: 

  • the theoretical underpinnings and strengths of the PATHS programme,
  • the importance of social-emotional intelligence in academic settings,
  • and practical programme training and lesson demonstrations.

We present our current vision below, demonstrating how PATHS will be used to resource all our behaviour approaches at ISH

Teachers were asked to share some of the ways they had been working with PATHS in their classroom setting, adapting their lessons successfully to fit their personal, classroom contexts. Their contributions below show that PATHS is indeed positively adding to the evolving social-emotional ethos of ISH. Though it will take more time to embed the PATHS programme into our daily practice, the careful steps we took in our planning stages, to match a skill-building programme to our school needs, are making tangible gains for our students. 

This is an interactive ‘Feelings Thermometer’ display in Y2, where children are allowed
to flexibly record how they are feeling throughout the school week. 

Feeling Identification Lessons in Year 2

In addition to the Feeling Thermometer in Year 3, children have also begun to make classroom goals, called ‘Promise Keepers’, that link to social-emotional behaviour. For example, a child may want to become more confident and speak up more in class. 

This is an example of a Year 5 classroom meeting box, where children may leave compliments for one another or anonymous problems to role play and solve. 

Student feedback from Year 5–6 students 

“We’ve been doing a lot of PSHE lessons, ‘cause we are learning about, well ‘cause our teacher cares about us not getting hurt and choosing the wrong way.” 

“We’ve been learning about reading other people’s faces to see how they are feeling, so that for example, if someone is doing a sad face, maybe we can help them. And if they are doing an angry face, we can just leave them alone and let them be with themselves for a minute.” 

“We are learning about how to calm ourselves down and a really good way is to do deep breathing in your nose and out your mouth and or count to ten which might make you relax.” 

“When you see a friend doing something wrong you can help them, by telling them to stop…and if they didn’t stop, I can tell the teacher.” 

Contacting the ISH

If you are interested in finding out more about ISH programmes or would like to visit our school to see our programmes in action, we warmly encourage you to contact us:

Admissions Department
The International School of The Hague
Wijndaelerduin 1
2554 BX The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)70 328 1450
Fax: +31 (0)70 328 2049


Greenburg, Mark T. and Carol A. Kusché. 2011. An Introduction to the PATHS Curriculum, Channing-Bete Company, South Deerfield, Massachusetts, USA. 

International School of the Hague Primary Policy Documents. 2016. International School of the Hague, NL. 

ISH Primary Students Year 5-6. 2016. International School of the Hague, NL. 

ISH Primary Teachers. 2016. International School of the Hague, NL. 

Zins, Joseph E. et al. 2004. Building Academic Success on Social Emotional Learning: What does the research say? Teacher College Press,Teachers College, Columbia University New York and London. pp vii-3. 


Contributed by The International School of The Hague

The International School of the Hague

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