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For foreign-language children, it is important that they learn Dutch quickly to be able to function in regular primary and secondary education. Read in this dossier where and how children can learn the Dutch language.

New in the Netherlands as a child
If you only recently came to live in the Netherlands and you have children, you must arrange things not only for yourself, but also for your children. For example, you must register your children with the municipality and in a school. In addition, it is important to think carefully about how your children can learn Dutch as quickly as possible, so that they can fully participate in school. In the brochure ‘Nieuw in Nederland’ (New in the Netherlands) from the Dutch government, you will find more advice on things to think about when you have children.


Read more about everything you must do if you are new to the Netherlands in the dossier ‘Naar Nederland’ >


Rights and duties of children
Like adults, children also have both rights and duties.


Integration exam (Inburgeringsexamen)
Children do not have to take an integration exam because they go to school in the Netherlands. They will earn regular school diplomas and do not have to take an official Dutch language proficiency exam. For children under the age of 18, naturalization may be requested. Usually parents do this at the same time as applying for their own naturalization. On the website of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, IND), you can read more about the process of naturalization and the conditions that are set for it.


Compulsory education
Under international treaties, all children under the age of 18 have a right to education. In the Netherlands, there is even compulsory education for all children between the ages of 5 and 16, regardless of their status of residence. Even children who are illegally in the Netherlands are thus required to go to school. Foreign-language children must go to school so that they can prepare themselves for society and the labour market.


Read more on the Dutch government website >

In the Netherlands, there is compulsory education for all children between the ages of 5 and 16.

Going to a Dutch school for the first time
From 4 years, children in the Netherlands can go to primary school, which lasts until they are about 12 years old. If children have only been in the Netherlands for a short time and do not yet speak Dutch, they often go first to a special transition class at the primary school, where they can learn the language. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 usually go to high school. If they do not yet speak the language (well), they will first go to an International Transition Class (Internationale Schakelklas, ISK). As soon as they sufficiently master the Dutch language, they transfer into regular secondary education.

Read more

Are your children (soon) going to a Dutch school? And do you wonder exactly how the Dutch school system works? Read more about the Dutch educational system on the page ‘To school in the Netherlands’ (‘Naar school in Nederland’).

Read more