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/IB–er 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!
http://www.giftedkids.ie Irish website offering advice and resources for gifted kids.
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org American-based organisation
https://www.nagc.org American organisation for gifted children
http://www.cbo-nijmegen.nl Centre of expertise for parents and their gifted children in NL
http://www.pharosnl.nl National Organisation for gifted children and their families
http://www.dednkrs.nl Amstelveen based organisation offering educational programs for kids and coaching for schools
http://www.ieku.nl Advice bureau offering coaching and guidance for gifted kids and parents
http://www.edu-en-ik.nl Psychological practice offering diagnostics and treatment specialising in giftedness (Utrecht area)
http://www.navilo.nl Training centre for teachers concerned with talent development and teaching gifted kids
http://www.caringforthegiftedchild.com Amsterdam based specialist Marion Franc who works in English and French
http://www.hb020.nl Amsterdam based platform
http://www.hobega.nl Advice/coaching for parents
Amsterdam diagnostic and support agencies
Hester Monster, Gifted Specialist — email@example.com
Amsterdam Gifted classes