Home Living in the Netherlands Family & Pets Dutch daycare: Preparing expat kids for school
Last update on May 20, 2020

For expat parents in the Netherlands, sending your children to a Dutch daycare can be a great solution to prepare them for better integration, especially when it comes to learning Dutch before the school years.

Raising children in a culture, country and language other than your own brings extra challenges—and also of course advantages. Dutch daycare in the early years can be invaluable in preparing children to start school. As a working parent, childcare is a necessity. And as a stay-at-home-parent, your child’s integration and socialization are equally important – but so are your own.

This guide provided by Partou Daycare explains the advantages of Dutch daycare on your child’s physical, social and emotional development, and especially, their language-learning skills: everything to get them ready for the big school.

Partou Daycare

Running around 300 centers with more than 3,800 employees,  Partou is one of the largest childcare organisations in the Netherlands. They invest in quality, development and innovation to maintain the high quality level of their care, while keeping each Partou centre small, cosy and welcoming for both parents and children. Their employees speak English and they are very popular with expat families.

Dutch daycare: the perfect transition to Dutch school

As children in the Netherlands begin primary school immediately after their fourth birthday, there is not a lot of time to focus on the language and social development required for success in the local school system. Enrolling your child in Dutch pre-school makes the transition smoother, for the child and parent.

Such care is popular in the Netherlands, with the Dutch topping EU tables in terms of percentage of children accessing childcare. Dutch daycare centers (kinderdagverblijven) offer parents professional care and learning for children aged 0-4 years, giving your child several advantages, developmentally, socially, and linguistically.

“Children develop very rapidly,” says Evelien van Holten, communication adviser at Partou daycare. “Everything is about discovering the world. They are encouraged if their personality and talents are seen in every situation. That helps children to develop as smoothly as possible and prepare them for global adventures.”

Social integration in Dutch daycare

Expat life is both exciting and complicated, and the stakes get higher when you choose to have children in your newly adopted country. Parenthood gives an expat the challenge to break away from the purely expat realm, whether you intend to raise your children as locals rather than second- or third-culture kids or as international citizens. Depending on the daycare you choose—local or international—you child will be enriched with (multi) cultural experiences to help prepare them for school and beyond.

Dutch daycare

Starting your expat children in a local rather than international school is a big step. Beyond language acquisition, becoming a part of the local community and understanding the social norms and traditions is key. Daycare provides the ideal opportunity for children and their parents to become better acclimated and integrated into your neighborhood and community.

Social interaction is essential to childhood development, and daycare centers provide the ideal environment for children to feel welcomed and connected to their environment. Culturally, children also have an opportunity to understand and partake in traditions that are valued by the country in which they live. Engaging in play, celebrating birthdays and other holidays, all enrich the experience of children and make them feel a part of their society.

Learning Dutch at daycare: the importance of language acquisition 

Raising children to live in a country in which a language other than that spoken at home presents a new set of challenges, and can lead to insecurities in parents who are unsure whether they have properly prepared their children to participate in local school systems. Learning a new language among your peers—developing the language of play, of assertiveness, and education is key to a child’s future success. A daycare center ensures that your child will have proper attention, engagement, and socialization in the language in which they will live. And if you are unsure whether you will remain permanently in the Netherlands, international daycare centers can provide care and instruction in both the local and your native language.

Parents benefit from daycare

The importance of home and school connections with children has been supported by much research, and as expat parents becoming involved in the social and educational lives of your children from the onset is an ideal way to ensure your children feel you are invested and connected to their lives.

Dutch daycare

And as children reach basisschool age, will have already formed bonds with other local children who will attend the same school, giving your children the advantage of friendship and security as they enter a new phase educationally.

Enrolling your children in a Dutch daycare will open doors to other parents and children outside of your expat sphere. It can also help you feel more integrated, developing relationships with teachers and other parents who will have an influence on you and your child.

Financial support with Dutch daycare

Daycare in the Netherlands exists in many forms: peuteropvang, kindergarten and after-school care. In most cases, depending on your income and working situation, daycare and after school care are subsidized via the Kinderopvangtoeslag, for which you can apply at the tax office (Belastingdienst).