Tips to teach kids Dutch

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Introduction

Whether you’re a Dutch family living abroad, or a non-Dutch family (planning to) move to the Netherlands, knowing Dutch is essential for the career of your children in the Netherlands. Children who have a language delay when starting at the elementary school often will never be able to catch up the delay, and in most cases won’t get to the level of getting a bachelor or master degree in their end of there schooltime.

What you do as parent before you bring them to school, is essential for the future of your children. It is critical to expose children to Dutch as early and as often as possible, in multiple ways. Build up the vocabulary of children in a structured way. Be persistent and consistent, embed Dutch in the life of your children before they attend school.

In this article I share some advices to maximize the exposure of the Dutch language to your child.

Watch Dutch videos for kids

There are plenty of Dutch videos available on Youtube and NPO (Dutch television) which are safe and engaging for young children. Our favorite series and video-channels are listed below.

Nijntje

Nijntje is a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. Hundreds of movies and books are available. Most children love them!

Watch Nijntje:

Kikker en zijn vriendjes

Kikker (Frog in English) has become a well-known and loved book character. Together with his friends Pig, Duck and Hare, Frog lives in an animal world. He observes daily events from a childlike perspective, offering children insight into social interactions.

Watch Kikker:

More Dutch videos for kids

Biba boerderij on Youtube and Bol.com

Wielen van de Bus on Youtube and Bol.com

Peppa Pig Dutch on Youtube and Bol.com

Listen to Dutch songs

Listen to Dutch songs. Let your children sing along with fun Dutch songs. Some interesting lists of songs:

Use apps to build vocabulary

There are various apps available that help your child to learn Dutch. We made developed the app Learn Dutch With Amy which helps children ages 2 - 5 years to build-up their vocabulary.

Another app available to try out is Taal en Woordenschat.

Visit a Speech Therapist if there are problems

Are you worried about speaking capabilities of your child? In the Netherlands there is an extensive network of speech therapists available, many of them are specialized in helping children.

Find the Speech Therapist (Logopedist in Dutch) close to you via zorgkaartnederland.nl.

Read Dutch books

Reading Dutch books aloud works very well for vocabulary building. If you don’t speak Dutch, ask VoorleesExpress for help, they have volunteers to read aloud within families in many locations in The Netherlands.

Our top 5 of Dutch books for young kids:

Bobbi boeken on Bol.com

Lang geleden on Bol.com

Dikkie Dik on Bol.com

Kikker en zijn vriendjes on Bol.com

Listen to Dutch audio-books

There are plenty of high-quality Dutch audio-books available, for various ages. They help to learn Dutch, and also helps to introduce into Dutch culture. Moments we found useful with our own family to listen to stories, is on silent saturday / sunday mornings, and during long-distance car-travelling. Some books also introduce some parts of Dutch culture and history.

Our top 5 of Dutch audio-books:

Nijntje CD’s on Bol.com for ages 1-4 years.

Jip en Janneke stories on Bol.com (CD) and Spotify for ages 2-5 years.

Het grote Pim en Pom Luisterboek on Bol.com

Boer Boris: CD on Bol.com and Spotify

Pluk van de Petteflet CD on Bol.com

Dutch daycare / nanny

Hiring a Dutch nanny (or sending your children to Dutch daycare) exposes your children to Dutch for a whole day. Most Dutch adults speak English as well, so instruct your Nanny to speak Dutch to your child, to make sure he is exposed to Dutch.

Having your child at daycare, also connects him to other children who will speak to your children in Dutch.

In the Netherlands use of host families (gastouders or gastgezin in Dutch) to bring your kids to while working, is also very common. You can find a host family on Oppassen.nl

Send kids to a Dutch kindergarten

In most Dutch places there is a Dutch kindergarten (peuterspeelzaal in Dutch). For a daypart children ages 2.5 - 4 years can be there and do fun activities that elaborate language-learning. It is also a way to prepare for the primary school, which start for children at age of 4 years.

Hire a Dutch language tutor

If you have money to spent and would like to have quicker progress, you can hire a language coach. Flowently has Dutch language tutors for children.

Create a plan and keep doing

Getting started is good. But keep doing it over time is essential. Define milestones and create a schedule for each milestone.

Some tips to use as milestones:

Example schedule based on categories of our app.

Theme When Description
Numbers Week 1 Learn numbers zero to then, simple math, learn to count
Clothing Week 2 Clothing for girls, boys, winter-clothing, summer-clothing. Go shopping, buy some clothes
Colors Week 3 Learn all the colors, buy pencils, light colors, dark colors, rainbows
Farm Week 4 Animals at the farm, activities of a farm. Visit a farm with the child
Transportation Week 5 From cars to trucks to airplanes to bikes
Shapes Week 6 From triangle to square to heart. Find shapes back in real-life
Playground Week 7 Name all playground equipment in a playground.
Food & drinks Week 8 Daily name the foot currently eating. Let kids choose what to eat
Zoo Week 9 Animals in the zoo. Which sound do those animals make? Visit a zoo and repeat the words learned while viewing the animals.
Home Week 10 The rooms at home. Machines in the home.
Body Week 11 Recognize all the body parts. For advanced learners: learn the name of each of the fingers
Music Week 12 Learn all about the various music instruments, including the sound they make. Take a proof lesson with the child to play one of the instruments, and learn even more about musical notes.
Sport Week 13 Which sports are available? Try out a sport your kid likes the most.

Put reminders in the agenda to make sure the plan is followed. Is this schedule to hard? Than schedule two weeks for each theme.

Join expat communities

Most large cities in the Netherlands have a vibrating expat-community. For example, there is Expat Sport Lounge Rotterdam and Amsterdam Mamas (for international parents). Meet each other and use each others network to improve Dutch and the social life of your kids and yourself. Search for specific groups on sites like Facebook and Meetup.com. Also take a look at Net In Nederland website which has some good articles about learning Dutch for parents and Children and also explains the Dutch education system.

About the author

This article is written by Kees van Dieren (LinkedIn profile). He is founder of TeachKidsLanguages.com and raises his four children in multiple languages.