Gifted kids and Dutch education
Dutch education is characterised by a range of philosophies that inform parents’ school options. These vary from Montessori, Dalton and Steiner-Waldorf to regular schools. My younger kids attend a Montessori school in the city.
In the Dutch primary system, kids are tested twice yearly using national standardised tests which focus on maths, Dutch language, and spelling and reading comprehension. The tests are usually rolled out by an organisation called Cito and quite a few parents have opinions on the merits or otherwise of the Cito tests / Cito toets - some kids do great on the tests and others not so good.
In my experience, having my kid's IQ and learning style assessed by an educational psychologist helped orient us towards the learning options available.
Common beliefs about gifted people
It’s a common belief that high IQ kids find everything easy and don’t need any explanation, but that’s not necessarily the case. They typically learn very easily, fast, can master difficult topics with ease and ask complex, philosophical questions to seek to understand.
But of course, they will come across a stumbling block at some point and how this is dealt with by teachers and parents is key. Sometimes, they are left alone to figure it out because they are seen as very smart and therefore don't require much input. However, test anxiety and under-performance are not uncommon issues for gifted kids.
Montessori kids plan their own work and are encouraged to be independent learners. In our case, maths was eschewed in favour of reading and creative projects. A strong plus and potential negative of Montessori schools, in my opinion, is that kids can set their own individual work for the week, and largely decide on the order in which they do maths, language, projects and so on.
So, a couple of years later, when my kid's maths scores dipped sharply, this and a few other factors galvanised me to search for an explanation.
Research your options
I looked into a programme called DeDNKRS, run by gifted teaching specialists. Socially, emotionally and intellectually, hoogbegaafde kids may do better when in a different space where they can be academically challenged and learn “how to learn”, at least for some of the week.
In the DeDNKRS class, children work on projects, smart games, puzzles and creative and analytical projects. They learn how to consider their own feelings and others’, to collaborate and understand that it’s fine to make mistakes because that’s how you truly learn and grow. This is such an important mindset to have and is based on Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset.
Now, we have a spot at the Day a Week school, which is an excellent programme aimed at high achievers and children who require more challenging and creative material.
Options for gifted kids in Amsterdam
Listed below are the current options for gifted kids in Amsterdam:
There are four full-time Amos-Uniq hoogbegaafde classrooms in Amsterdam, each located within a regular primary school. Applications require an IQ of 130+ and involve an interview process. So, it’s possible to move your child from their current school to a full-time public hoogbegaafde classroom.
The Horizon Dalton School
The Horizon Dalton school offers specific classrooms for gifted kids. Children from all over Amsterdam can apply. Requirements include an IQ of 130+, a specialist report and intake. The Burgemeester school in Badhoevedorp also has specific gifted classrooms, similar to De Horizon.
Day a Week school
Another option is staying at the current school and attending the Day a Week school and / or attending regular school and having a differentiated curriculum or accelerating the child into a year ahead.
Some schools provide an internal enrichment class / plusklas for kids who need an extra challenge.
Phi Science Lab
It is also possible for your gifted child to attend Saturday class "Phi Science Lab" in Amsterdam.
If you are looking for something during the school week (which requires the school’s permission), there is DeDnkrs, located in Amstelveen and open to kids from the Amsterdam region.
The latter two options listed are private, which means that they are relatively expensive options for parents. The Day A Week is publicly funded, and kids are sent there via school. None of these require an IQ score for admission but it will become quickly apparent if the programme does not suit the child.
All options facilitate creative thinking and are logic and reasoning based. They provoke philosophical thinking and discussion with a strong focus on “learning to learn”.
All of the above options are aimed at kids attending Dutch schools. International schools vary in enrichment options for English-language kids.
Do you have a gifted child? Does your child attend any of the above options? Let us know and leave a comment!