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I am Spanish and have lived in the Netherlands for two years. I came with my husband and my three children, 4, 6 and 8 years old.
Me experience in the dutch school has been great and I have found some very significant differences with the Spanish education system that I would like to share with other mothers. I believe that school in Holland is better and it would be good if we took note of some things, since in Spain there are very good intentions, but very little realism when teaching; I think that the fundamental failure in Spanish teaching is wanting to go too far when, as my grandmother used to say, “the best is the enemy of the good”.
- I knowstarts much later, there is no stipulated age to learn something, but when the child is mentally prepared, theteaching is more personalized and work is done more than is explained within the class.
In the Netherlands children work in amore individuall. They form groups of children with the same level, and most of the time is spent with the children working while the teacher goes one by one, or group by group, reviewing what each one does. It is also explained in class, but not all the time.
Groups are not closedInstead, children move from one to another as they improve, which motivates them to strive and do better each time.
Theteachers have many opportunities to see how each child works, without having to ask them in front of the whole class, just sitting next to them and watching how they work.
In my 8-year-old daughter's class, there aremothers who come to read with the children who have difficulties for it; and on the other hand they have a continuous activity for several years, which is called "nieuws bregrip" (understand the news) whereanalyze current news and do tests on the news analyzed, fulfilling the objective of understanding reading and introducing children to the present time and the taste for reading newspapers.
Within my 6-year-old daughter's class, they havethree groups of children, according to level they have. The more advanced are given extra work if they have already finished the class, and their teaching is more advanced, while the group that is below the average class level, do what they can with the help of the teachers, and sometimesparent volunteers. There is no problem if the students who have more difficulties have to stay in the same course for another year,there is nothing denigrating about it, As you will be able to move forward when you are ready and get back to the normal pace of the course. In this way, it is also address the existence of gaps in teaching, which later are very difficult to "correct". This is one of the main reasons why I think the school in the Netherlands is better.
- Thevacations are less long, is it somore spaced and there are manymore facilities for family conciliation
Children have6 weeks vacation in summer, but there is also between a week or two more holidays every two months, throughout the year. This, which might seem like a disadvantage, is for me a very great advantage.
These 6 weeks are more than enough to enjoy the summer without getting tired but it helps not to lose the rhythm and the bond with the school, and this way of organizing makes working hours very different, always supporting work-life balance.
In Holland there is more labor flexibilityAlong with traditional 40-hour jobs five days a week, there are plenty of jobs of 15, 20, 30, .. weekly hours, depending on the job. Those hours can be distribute on one or more days a week; With what there are couples in which one works three days and the other two, and they organize themselves so that one of the two is always at home, so imagine the number of possible combinations.
Another aid to conciliation is the BSO (Buitenschoolse Opvang), which are companies that do activities with children, crafts, games, ... and have caregivers who watch over children, for one or two days a week. And you will tell me, this also exists in Spain! The difference is that in Spain it is very expensive, while in Holland, if both parents work, very little is paid per child and depends on income of the couple. For children this time is more a place for games than an obligation, and for parents, more a rest than a parking lot.
Laura Fernandez - Spanish mother in Holland
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