Nine things non-Dutch children love about living in Holland

Surveys by the United Nations and others repeatedly show that Dutch children are among the happiest in the world. So what do children who move here like best about the Dutch way of doing things? Here’s some of the things kids we know have picked up on.

Top of nearly everyone’s list.  Dutch pannekoeken, or pancakes, preferably with syrup and icing sugar, possibly banana and chocolate sauce, bacon and apple… you name it, you can have it on a pancake.


Who needs a helmet?

Who needs a helmet?

From about the age of four, Dutch kids can be seen riding their own bicycles, without training wheels, around the neighbourhood. Were they born this way?  Non-Dutch kids are soon addicted to the freedom a bike allows and – thanks to the cycle paths – as a parent you feel relaxed that your offspring are safe cycling to school or to friends’ houses. Not that you will manage to force them into a bike helmet of course. And as soon as they turn 15, they will start muttering about wanting a scooter.

Hagelslag and other things on bread
Chocolate sprinkles on your sandwiches – not difficult to see why kids like this, or why becoming a dentist is something you should encourage your children to aim for.  Hagelslag, chocolate paste, speculaas cookies, and muisjes – all sweet and delicious on soft, white bread! As an expat mother, your house may be boycotted by your children’s friends unless you have hagelslag in the cupboard.

No uniforms and almost no homework!  If your kids have gone to school in almost any other country other than the Netherlands, attending a Dutch school, once they have tackled the language, is going to be a breeze.  The no uniform policy is particularly loved by teenage girls, who grab the opportunity to dress up and perfect their makeup before cycling off to chemistry class.

Amusement Parks

Your kids will love it

Your kids will love it

The Dutch love them – one of the most famous rollercoaster makers in the world is Dutch company. Be prepared to hand over a large heap of cash and spent a lot of time waiting in queues but Walibi, Efteling, Linnaeshof, Duinrell, Drievelt, Slagharen and Hellendoorn among others are waiting for you.


No holding her back

No holding her back

Like with bikes, Dutch kids have been forced onto skates as soon as they can walk, so your expat kids will probably have some catching up to do. But if there is a big freeze, there will be no holding them back. Outdoor skating also means great pics to post on Facebook for admiring friends and relations. See also five things you need to know about skating outdoors.

Forget school sports – in the Netherlands its all about club competitions and six and seven year old fanatical football players and hockey starts will find themselves whisked off to matches all over the place. Hockey clubs in particular appeal to teenage girls because they get to dress up in short skirts and have attitude at the same time. And don’t forget the parties. Lots of parties.

The egalitarian Dutch custom of ensuring no-one gets left out means your children will soon come to associate every birthday with a little gift, whether or not it is their own. As a parent, you will be driven insane by having to come up with something clever and imaginative to eat. See also five rules for dealing with Dutch birthdays.

So this is the one they don’t talk about – but expat teens are secretly thrilled at the extra layer of cool living in the sex and drugs-riddled Netherlands gives them among their friends in other places. But parents don’t need to worry. Dutch kids have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world and are much less likely to abuse drugs than their peers in other countries. The UN says so.


12 thoughts on “Nine things non-Dutch children love about living in Holland

  1. Joopht

    I don’t know what kind of school you are talking about, but just about any person who has gone to a Dutch school will tell you that your point about almost no homework is not accurate. Your point even suggests the quality of the Dutch schools is relatively poor, which is also not true.

    1. Fenna

      I say shit all the time, hahahaha, my son, says “poop” and then it’s not a bad word?? Strange isn’t it?? We live in the States so he had to learn that he could’nt say shit! So poop is a nice alternative!!!!!!

  2. D.T.D.

    I went to a Dutch secondary school for four years and it was hard, hard work ( and I am fluent in the language). LOTS of homework. Perhaps the article is talking about elementary school.

  3. Paul de Kort

    Children in elementary don’t get homework. Maybe once or twice in the last year of elementary school, to make the children aware that they will get homework in high school. But, the dutch education system is moving towards less actual homework (as in schoolwork that has to be made outside of school). High school students get assignments, but they are also gvien time to work on it during the schoolday. At school, students can use facilities like a computer with internet, a copy machine, a printer, maybe a dvdplayer on which they can watch a certain educational movie.etc etc Furthermore they can get aid from different teachers and teaching-assistents and fellow students. when they are working on their assignments.

    This method of education is proving to be more efficient than just giving students homework. Students learn to work by themselves, and in a group, they learn to make and work by their own work-plan and the teachers can easier check if the student is actually working on his or her assignment. I, as a teacher, do very much approve this sytem compared to the more conventional system of actual homework

    ps, sorry for the bad spelling, I teach dutch, not english 😉

    1. Ency

      Like most people writing English as a foreign language, your spelling is better than that of a lot of people from England or America. (The are one or two forgivable errors.) Maybe an indication of the quality of education provided in the Netherlands?

  4. Isah van Helten

    The -almost no homework- part is indeed not true. When I was in elementary school I already got homework, and it just gets more and more. The other things on this page are pretty much true, I cycle almost every day and I love pancakes ;).
    By the way: I am a 14 year old Dutch girl (almost 15), I am in secondary school. I am doing Bilingual education so my English already is way better than most kids of my age and even adults. Still it is not perfect though, I am working on it :).

  5. Mavadelo

    there is clearly some controversy about the homework here I see. Basically it kind of depends on what type of elementary school system your kids go to. Schools based on a certain religion (protestant, catholic and reformed) tend to get more homework than kids that go to a “openbare school” (public school) and those in turn tend to get more homework than kids that go to the so called “vrije school” (free school) in the last category you got the Dalton school, the Jenaplan school, freinet school and even a “steve jobsschool”

  6. Faith

    I guess it’s all relative and depends on where you live. Here in Australia homework for primary schools is recognised as being not beneficial, certainly my son’s government primary school has a no homework policy. At our school about 60-70% of kids walk or ride to school and the freedom to move around independently by bike is exercised by lots of primary school kids, although it’s not the same in other suburbs here I know. There’s no uniform at our primary school and none at the high school either, doesn’t everyone eat pancakes?

  7. Casey

    Nor sure of no home work I went to school in the Netherlands in the 60 and 70 and we had home work everyday for at least a hour


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