How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
The Hague is equipped similarly to many large cities in Europe.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The Netherlands does not automatically provide education or daycare for children under the age of 4. There are, however, many childcare facilities for younger children, but these are outside the formal education system. Options in the region include:
- Agencies offering in-home childcare
- Daycare Centers
- SPIL centers (integrated primary education plus play-school and child-care)
Fees are payable tor childcare, but there are Dutch laws in place governing these. The parent signs a contract with the childcare organization and pays the bill, but some (tax-free) reimbursements may be available from employers or the national authorities. To be reimbursed, the childcare organization must be accredited and registered in the region in which you live.
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
In The Netherlands, it is not usual for cyclists to wear a helmet, although sometimes children can be seen wearing one, especially children belonging to international families. Many families will happily cycle along with one child sitting on the back of the bike, another on the front and a small dog in the basket. This can be very alarming to non-Dutch parents. It is more common to see rollerbladers wearing a helmet.
Children in The Netherlands also learn to ride a bike at a young age. It can be difficult to buy stabilizers if your child cannot yet cycle by the time they arrive here.
There is always the risk of falling into a canal, so it is important for young children to be aware of this danger and to learn to swim.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
The Efteling, which opened in 1952, is one of the oldest theme parks in the world and the largest in The Netherlands. Located in Kaatsheuvel close to Tilburg, the Efteling is easily reached from Eindhoven and the surrounding region. Rumored to be the inspiration behind the first Disneyland park, the Efteling mixes fairy tales with rides with the “Fairy Tale Forest” as the oldest section of the park, upgraded since but dating back to the 1952 opening. Open between April and mid-January each year, the park attracts and appeals to both adults and children.
Much more than a model town, you can see all of the Netherlands' major cities and landmarks in miniature at Madurodam in The Hague.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
Most international schools organize activities after school or during lunchtime. Examples of these activities include art, bookmaking and paper craft, dance, drama, tennis, country dancing, football, board games, sewing, clay modeling and chess.
One very important extra-curricular activity (one that is often also arranged through schools) is swimming.
During the summer, there are traveling circuses and fairs to go to. For rainy days, there are the covered playgrounds, such as Ballorig, Play City or Kidz City. These are huge covered areas with an incredible amount of things to do.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are also very popular in Rotterdam. Mostly on Saturday afternoons, activities are arranged for the kids that involve all sorts of learning, interacting and having fun.
Occasionally, this keeps kids occupied over the entire weekend.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
Please note the legal drinking age is 16 (18 for liquors) and the legal age for smoking tobacco is 16.
Also, keep in mind that a coffee shop in Amsterdam is not a place where you can only drink coffee. Marijuana and hash are sold and consumed at such establishments.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
For addresses and telephone numbers of Boy and Girl Scouting and other social groups for young people, please check in the "gemeentegids." Also, schools should be well informed about these organizations.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
teach young people about the local culture?
Every year, Sinterklaas arrives on his steamboat from Spain together with his Zwarte Pieten (helpers) around the middle of November. He celebrates his birthday on December 5 with all children in the Netherlands!
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