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Homeschooling in the Netherlands

by David Engle | Nov 15, 2022 | 5 min read

Just like any other type of schooling, homeschooling is an international endeavor. Millions of families decided to take their child’s education into their own hands, especially during and after COVID-19. And, like the United States, every country has its own opinions, philosophies, and laws surrounding homeschooling.

In this monthly series, we’ll take a look at different countries and how they view homeschooling as well as the types of laws (if any) those countries have to govern homeschooling. The first country we visited was the second-largest country in the world, and the northern neighbor to the United States–Canada. Then we went island hopping to the Philippines and Puerto Rico before cruising on over to South Africa. We headed back to the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic, traveled all the way to Thailand, made our way back to Mexico, and then journeyed to the Middle East to explore homeschooling in Qatar and Saudi Arabia!

After our first venture into Europe to look at Spain, we headed back to Asia to review homeschooling in India, then back West to the United Kingdom and then back to Asia to explore homeschooling in China before shifting back to Europe to learn about homeschooling in Romania and Italy. Then we headed back to Africa to visit Nigeria–now we’ll jump back to Europe to learn about homeschooling in the Netherlands!

The Netherlands is full of interesting facts and figures:

  • Many people use Holland and the Netherlands interchangeably; however, Holland is just one area that comprises two provinces (North Holland and South Holland) in the Netherlands. Overall, there are 12 provinces in the country.
  • The Netherlands is the lowest-lying country in Europe. In fact, more than 25% of the country actually sits below sea level. Not surprising, considering the Netherlands translates to “lower countries.”
  • The total population of the Netherlands is approximately 17,652,000, ranking it number 72 in the world. Despite the relatively small size of the country, the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
  • The Dutch are the world’s tallest people–the average Dutch person stands at around 5’7-½”. Dutch men, also the tallest in the world, average just under 5’10” in height.
  • There are more bicycles in the Netherlands than humans. More than 22 million bikes for just over 17 million residents. Go figure.
  • Around 20% of the country’s residents are of a non-Dutch background. More than half of the country’s immigrants come from places like Turkey, Suriname, Morocco, Antilles, and Aruba.
  • The Netherlands doesn’t have a single city with a population of 1 million people. Amsterdam is the largest at around 918,000, followed by Rotterdam (approximately 650,000) and The Hague (550,000).
  • The country is very tech-savvy and is responsible for the inventions of the cassette in 1963, the compact disc (CD) around 20 years later, and the DVD in 1997 (which evolved into Blu-ray). Electronics giant Philips, a Dutch company, is to be credited for advancing physical media throughout the world–not to mention other home appliances and electronics.


Rules and Requirements for Homeschooling in the Netherlands

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), homeschooling is not explicitly recognized by Dutch law. Locally, the Municipal Executive Council checks whether pupils subject to compulsory education are attending schools in their municipalities. Each municipality requires at least one compulsory education officer.

Compulsory attendance is from ages 5 to 16; part-time attendance is allowed for students 16 to 18 years old in a work-study combination program. Parents who withhold their children from official school education are legally liable to punishment based on the Compulsory Education Act, which states that school attendance is mandatory. Many families, however, can obtain a religious exemption to compulsory education. In 2021, the number of children educated by their parents at home for religious reasons increased by 21 percent. While this continues the trend of a growing number of homeschoolers, the country had never seen an increase so quickly.

There is also an exception in the law from the mandatory schooling requirement in situations where parents are not satisfied with the available neighborhood schools, and there are not enough parents locally with the same concerns to justify starting a new school. This legal exception allows approximately 100 families (around 200 children) to enjoy homeschooling in the Netherlands each year, but most choose to do so for religious reasons.

If you decide to homeschool in the Netherlands, and are granted a legal exception, a few groups and organizations can help answer your questions about home education in the country.

The Netherlands offers its residents as well as visitors a stunning array of sights and attractions–perfect for homeschool field trips! These include the canals of Amsterdam, the Royal Palace, the Cube House in Rotterdam, Museum Square, the NEMO Science Museum, Markthal Arch Market, Inner Court & The Hall of the Knights, Kasteel De Haar, The Hague, Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House Museum, Micropia, the Van Gogh Museum, Giethoorn, Dam Square, Anne Frank’s House, Volendam, and of course the famous tulip fields of Holland–just to name a few!


The Netherlands’ School System

The Inspectorate of Education, which has the power to close schools or to encourage them to modify their curriculum, oversees the education system in the Netherlands. There are three main types of schools:

  • Public schools
  • Special schools (religious)
  • General schools

There are also Islamic schools and a small number of private schools, including approximately 150 international schools.

The education system in the Netherlands begins with kindergarten, followed by Stage 1 (elementary school), where students will spend the next seven to eight years. Next are three types of secondary schools:

  • VMBO schools, which provide pre-vocational education. The majority of Dutch students will attend a VMBO for four years and study arts and sciences, languages, math, and history.
  • HAVO schools, which students attend for five years in preparation for applying to universities of applied sciences.
  • VWO schools, which students attend for six years. A VWO diploma qualifies as acceptance into a research university.

In general, education in the Netherlands is quite good. The 2023U.S. News & World Report Best Countries for Education ranked the Netherlands as number 11 in the world. And the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Education GPS, which uses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to assess the reading, science, and math skills of 15-year-old students every three years, reported these statistics for students in the Netherlands, which back up the country’s #11 world ranking–particularly in math and science:

  • In reading, students in the Netherlands averaged a 485 score, just a tick below the OECD country mean of 487.
  • In math, students in the Netherlands scored 519, significantly higher than the OECD country mean (489).
  • In science, students in the Netherlands scored 503, also well above the OECD country mean of 489.

The general education climate in the Netherlands is rather positive. But many parents still look to provide their children with the best education possible. One centered around their schedules, beliefs, and way of life. And they choose to do so through homeschooling.


Bridgeway in the Netherlands

If you live or plan to live in the Netherlands, Bridgeway Academy is ready to be your homeschool partner. Bridgeway Academy offers plenty of amazing homeschool programs–plus accreditation, record-keeping, and support–that can be used anywhere in the world! And, don’t forget to look up fellow Bridgeway Academy families. The Bridgeway Academy community is a strong one, found in nearly two dozen countries!

Download our free PDF about homeschooling with a U.S. based program. Then contact our admissions team at (800) 863-1474 to start your homeschool adventure. Stay tuned–we’ll be bringing you homeschooling info from another international location soon!

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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