Expat Schooling: What We Are Doing
One of the most common questions we are asked about moving abroad is what we are doing about schooling for the boys. Our boys are in our Dutch neighborhood schools. They are at separate schools located right next to each other. (I love Dutch efficiency!)
Our middle kid, little O is 2 years old and is at Peuterspeelzaal two mornings per week. The school is just like preschool and focuses on his Dutch language skills.
Our big kid, little H is 4 years old and has been in Group 1 since he turned four. His school is completely taught in Dutch and he is one of the only English speaking kids at the school. His first day of full day school was literally on his fourth birthday. This is standard practice in Holland. Despite language differences, H is still invited to tons of playdates and after school events.
Our littlest guy is, of course, still cooking in my belly for a few more weeks.
We love that the kids are learning Dutch. They are super adaptable and it means that we can do activities with the kids in our neighborhood and we do not always have to search for English classes. H loves his swimming lessons, taught entirely in Dutch. O is in a kindergym class at the neighborhood community center that is taught in Dutch. We love that they have Dutch speaking friends in addition to our English speaking expat friends. They can literally go to any playground and find someone to play with.
The only issue is that I do not want the kids to fall behind in their English skills. I do a bit of “homeschooling” with the boys to keep up their English reading skills.
Letter of the Week.
H did a letter of the week program with some friends of ours while we lived in Colorado. I’m mimicking that again this year with the boys. O is focused on letter sounds, formation and recognition. H is focusing on the sounds and then some sight words.
We are not going in ABC order, instead we have really done letters that have been thematically appropriate to our travels and holidays.
Each week we (try to) read a book relating to that letter, form the letter in a fun way, do a craft and do a field trip. At the end of each week the boys help me make a page in our photo book on Shutterfly for that letter.
When we started this overseas adventure I cheated a little and used the capital letter kit from Oriental Trading for the letter crafts. It just makes everything easier!
A wonderful resource for letter learning is the Letter of the Week series on the Measured Mom. She has suggestions for books and letter crafts all organized and easy to access.
I also really love the Letter of the Week curriculum from the Crafty Classroom. This is a curriculum you can purchase. I’ve been using her alphabet book to supplement with my 4 year old.
When we are traveling I love the Brain Quest Cards. The kids love doing them and they are so convenient to pack. We are currently using the “My First” set with O and the Kindergarten set with H. They are perfect for waiting just about anywhere, so I tend to keep a set in my purse.
I’m a huge fan of the Endless Learning Academy app for both kids. The app has math and reading focused sections. The kids both love doing the activities and have picked up letter sounds and words quickly from the app.
I also really like the Tiny Hands apps for my 2 year old. The levels vary based on the specific app but they teach skills like sorting and numbers. They keep my 2 year old entertained and he does not need a lot of assistance which makes it great for when he is tagging along to an appointment or I need to focus on something with the older one.
Neither my husband or I speak Dutch so finding resources we can use with the kids is a bit more challenging. We’ve found a few though that reinforce what the kids are learning in school and help us all be exposed to the language at home.
We got the DinoLingo set before we arrived just to introduce the kids to the language. The set is pretty inclusive and comes with a schedule to follow. I find the DVDs to be incredibly strange, but effective. The kids love them, but to me it looks like random pictures dancing around and saying the Dutch words. It is a nice way to reinforce the vocabulary.
The Nighty Night App on the iPad (also available for Android) was one of my favorites before we even knew we were moving here. When I discovered I could change the language on the app to Dutch it rocketed to one of my absolute favorites. The kids love to play the game and it reads the book in Dutch.
I found a few printable resources on Teachers Pay Teachers that have helped. This printable Dutch flashcard set was incredibly helpful. I printed the sheets out two to a page to make the cards a bit smaller and used them to label some of the things around the house. I also really love this Netherlands country study, which is less about the language and more about the country, but really fun to do with the kids.
Pinterest is also full of good ideas. Our local moms group has collected quite a few activities on their “Dutch Language Resource” pin board, making that a great place to start.
Do you have a great language resource you are using? Please share them with us!