Living in The Netherlands

Civic integration examination: Upbringing and education

Upbringing and education

The upbringing of children is the responsibility of the parents, not of the schools or the state. Parents are responsible for what their children do - also for what they do on school and outside the house - until the children are 18 years old. When children are 18 they officially become adults, and they can make their own decisions. Children usually leave home when they are between 17 and 22 and start their own household, even if they are not married.

Families are usually small: A couple with a few children, a couple without children, or a single parent with children. There are also many people who live alone. There are usually no other adults living with the family: Grandparents and unmarried aunts and uncles live on their own.

All children between 5 and 18 are required to go to school. Most children start school when they are 4 years old. From 4 to 12 years old they go to a primary school (basisschool). After that they go to a school for continued education (voortgezet onderwijs). There are two types of voortgezet onderwijs schools: General and vocational.

Parents are free to choose a school for their children, but the choice may be limited because some schools have a waiting list, and some schools only accept children from a specific religion. Education at a basisschool or voortgezet onderwijs school is basically free, but there will be charges for e.g. books or school outings. There are no school uniforms in The Netherlands. School classes are mixed: There are no separate classes for boys and girls.

Computers play an important role in schools. Children learn computer skills from a young age, and they often have to use the computer for their homework.

Parents are expected to follow the school progress of their children. You will usually be invited from time to time to discuss your children's progress with their teachers. Parents often play an active role at schools, and are expected to help out with all kinds of things.

If you already have children when you come to The Netherlands it is a good idea to watch Dutch television together with your children: That will help both you and your children to learn Dutch. Children also learn by playing. Your children will learn Dutch a lot faster if they play with Dutch children.

Sample question

Question: Wie is verantwoordelijk voor wat kinderen doen: de school of de ouders? (Who is responsible for what the children do, the school or the parents?)

You answer: de ouders (the parents)

Explanation: Parents are responsible for their children until the children are 18. This also means that the parents (and not the school, or the children themselves) are responsible for what the children do, both inside and outside the house, and even at school.


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