Gifted kids and Dutch Education

Dutch school education is characterised by a range of philosophies that inform parents’ school options. It ranges from Montessori, Dalton to Steiner-Waldorf to regular schools. My younger kids attend Montessori in the city. In the Dutch primary system, kids are tested twice yearly using national standardised tests which focus on maths, dutch language, 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 citotests/citotoets–some kids do great on tests and some not so good. If a kid doesn’t show their capabilities on the Citotests, this can have implications for their high-school advies. (See previous blogposts about the highschool process). Which quickly brings me to my hoogbegaafde kid.


We had IQ and learning style assessed by an educational psychologist and used an agency suggested by school. I began to look into a day gifted program called deDNKRS, run by gifted teaching specialists. A place was secured and school permission was required. After some back and forth emails and frustrating meetings with the parent-teacher mediator/IBer and her teacher, permission was secured for the gifted program. Socially, emotionally and intellectually, hoogbegaafde kids often need to be in a different space to be challenged and learn ‘how to learn’ and be with peers, at least for some of the week.

It’s a common belief that high IQ kids find everything easy and don’t need any explanations but that’s not necessarily the case. They typically learn very easily and fast and 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 and how this is dealt with by teachers and parents, is key. Test anxiety, under-performance and distractability are not uncommon issues for gifted kids. Luckily, anxiety isn’t an issue but blocking can happen when maths is hard. We are working on changing this to a ‘can’t do it…yet’ mindset and it’s coming along well.

A maths gap seems to have started in Group 3 ( aged 6 ) when my kid was busy with the weekly planning ( Montessori kids plan their own work and are encouraged to be independent learners ) and eschewed maths for favourite subjects, like reading Dutch and English books and coming up with creative projects. The maths deficit is being closed quickly with a weekly tutor/bijles which began a month ago. A strong plus and potential negative of Montessorischools in my opinion, is that kids can plan their own individual work for the week/planning and largely decide in which order they do maths, language, projects and so on. Maths came in as the least favourite activity and so it seems like less time was spent on it.

In the deDNKRS class, they work on projects, smart games, puzzles, creative and analytical projects. They learn to collaborate and understand that it’s just fine to make mistakes because that’s how you truly learn and grow. This is a such an important mindset to have and one I wish I had learned when I was young. It’s based on Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. We have decided not to pursue the full-time hoogbagaafde school option as the preference of all of us is to stay in the current school.

Listed below are the current options for gifted kids in Amsterdam

  • There are four full-time hoogbegaafde classrooms in Amsterdam, each located within a regular primary school, called Amos-Uniq classes. Applications require a Total IQ of 130+ and an interview process. So, it’s possible to move your child from their current school to a full-time public hoogbegaafde classroom.
  • Another option is staying in the current school and attending the Day A Week school for one day. Or attending regular school and having a differentiated curriculum and/or accelerate the child into one year ahead.
  • Some schools provide an internal enrichment class/plusklas for kids who need extra challenge.
  • Saturday class in the city called Phi Science Lab.
  • If you are looking for something during the schoolweek ( which requires the school’s permission ), there is DeDnkrs, located in Amstelveen and open to kids from the Amsterdam region.

All the above are facilitated through the dutch language and are aimed at kids attending Dutch schools. International schools vary in enrichment options for english-language kids. The latter two options listed are private so 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 apparent quickly if the program does not suit a child. They all facilitate out-of-the-box thinking and are logic and reasoning based and require creative thinking. They provoke philosophical thinking and discussion with a strong focus on ‘learning to learn’ and what to do when things are difficult. I’ve added some links to organisations and groups that may be useful to other parents navigating this path in and around Amsterdam. Some links are also not location specific so are relevant to all parents and google chrome does a good job of translating the dutch websites, some of which have interesting content.

My takeaway from the last 6 months: if in doubt, check it out and be persistent!

International links Irish website offering advice and resources for gifted kids. American-based organisation American organisation for gifted children

Dutch links Centre of expertise for parents and their gifted children in NL National Organisation for gifted children and their families Amstelveen based organisation offering educational programs for kids and coaching for schools Advice bureau offering coaching and guidance for gifted kids and parents Psychological practice offering diagnostics and treatment specialising in giftedness (Utrecht area) Training centre for teachers concerned with talent development and teaching gifted kids Amsterdam based specialist Marion Franc who works in English and French Amsterdam based platform Advice/coaching for parents

Amsterdam diagnostic and support agencies

Hester Monster, Gifted Specialist —

Amsterdam Gifted classes

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Besiana says:

    Hi Margaret ,
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Your daughter sounds a lot like my son , he is 7 now … having a bit of problems with math especially since they started learning tables ! I am in doubt and the school has put him in a extra curriculum program that they call Blauwe map , he does it 2 time a week. Otherwise they dont mention anything about testing , im not sure of i should say it or not !
    The teacher tells me that he is different from the class , his brain works faster than his calssmates and this has brought a lot of problems even bulling !
    I dont know if i should look elsewere or wait for them to say the word!
    I am sorry for the long post!


    1. Margaret says:

      Hi Besiana, Thanks for the comment. It’s good the school has recognised he needs more, especially if they work on topics and strategies he doesn’t get in regular class time. My kids have done/do Rekentijgers which is a maths related extra that involves logic, puzzles, creative thinking to stretch them. At the same time, my daughter needs to get her maths basics right as she skipped over them! Including the times-tables. It’s generally seen as best to test between the ages of 7 and 9 so you could start either broaching it with school now and/or looking into paying for assessment yourself which will be a quicker method, although expect to pay circa E550 minimum. Having such a fast little brain means they are certainly different from most kids and bullying needs to be nipped in the bud asap.
      I would start talking about his emotional experiences first with his teacher and knowing he is being bullied will likely spur them into action. They also may be more open to paying for testing if you can give them a more holistic picture of his development although in my experience, many schools don’t have a budget for this unless there are very clear needs, like Autism or ADHD. Advocacy is very important so my advice is definitely ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns. It will be the first in a series of meetings so don’t delay! Once the assessment is done, the school will act faster. And good luck.


      1. Besiana says:

        Thank you so much for gettinf back at me!


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