Dutch childcare speaks out against government’s plan to introduce curriculum

Dutch childcare speaks out against government’s plan to introduce curriculum

As the Dutch government looks to develop a new curriculum to implement in childcare in the Netherlands in order to combat the country’s stalling educational objectives, the national Childcare Organisation Branch (BK) has spoken out against plans, arguing that children under the age of six should be allowed to play.

Children in the Netherlands lack basic language and arithmetic skills

For the second year in a row, the Education Inspectorate has found that an increasing number of children and teenagers in the Netherlands leave school without basic language and arithmetic skills. According to De Staat van het Onderwijs 2022 report, the government must combat the current failings in the Dutch education system over the course of the next two years. 

Facing a national backlog in education, various political parties have made it clear that they’re hoping to introduce new industry standards in childcare, similar to those that currently exist for Dutch primary and secondary schools. They believe introducing a curriculum with learning objectives for young children will help to better prepare them for starting school. 

Dutch childcare argues against learning objectives: “Playing is learning”

With the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) set to debate the national childcare system next week, the Dutch Childcare Organisation Branch has made it clear that a childcare curriculum would be a bad idea. “Playing is learning,” BK director Emmeline Bijlsma explains to the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. “Children learn by having fun, not through assessments.” 

In a statement on the BK website, the organisation defends the current childcare policy, stating that young children need space to play - and that many experts in the field of childcare agree. “Colouring outside the lines, surprising a classmate with a water pistol, falling from a tree, negotiating with rock-paper-scissors: playing is serious business,” BK writes.

Bijlsma also argues that children under the age of six learn key skills through playing and working together with fellow classmates, which lays the foundation they need before starting primary school: “They're going to play… with other kids, learn to listen to others and tune in - those are all skills you need in school.”

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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