Can my child participate in early childhood education?

Did you as a parent hear about early childhood education? And do you feel it might be relevant for your child? Or did your child receive a referral for early childhood education? This page offers information on the way towards early childhood education and how to enrol your child.

Who is early childhood education intended for?

Each child develops at its own speed and in its own way. Some two-year-old children will already chatter a lot and make quite long sentences. Other children will only start talking much later. Those differences between children also exist in other areas of development. A small language deficiency at toddler age is not necessarily a problem. But it is important that it will not hinder your child at a later stage. This is why early childhood education (in Dutch: voor- en vroegschoolse educatie = vve) was developed. There are two stages in vve. Preschool education is for preschool age children, early education for children in the first two years of primary school.  

Vve aims at the overall development of children, with extra attention paid to language. Children whose language development proceeds less smoothly, receive additional encouragement. Children learn all kinds of skills through play. For instance, how to engage with each other and how to play together. They learn new words and numbers, and recognize colours and shapes. Vve helps your child to better understand and speak Dutch, which will help in keeping up in primary school.

Only in Dutch: Read more about your toddler's development

Who counsels preschool education?

If your child could benefit from additional support in order to make a good start in primary school, in most municipalities the child health centre (in Dutch: consultatiebureau) will refer to preschool education. This referral advises you to enlist your toddler in preschool. You are not obliged to do so.

Every municipality has one or more child health centres or Centres for Youth and Families (in Dutch: Centra voor Jeugd en Gezin = CJG's). They monitor all children from birth until eighteen years old. The child health centre physician will check your child's development, starting  when your child is eleven months old. For a referral, the physician will also include the environment in which the child is growing up.

Only in Dutch: Read more about early childhood education

As a parent can I apply for a preschool advice?

Do you think it would benefit your child to participate in a preschool education programme? Then you may apply at the child health centre for a preschool referral. If the child health centre does not provide a referral for your child, your child will probably also be able to participate in preschool education. But in this case the costs will not be reimbursed by the municipality.

Who pays for preschool education?

Did your child receive a preschool referral from the child health centre? Then the municipality will pay the greater part of the costs. Parents pay a parental contribution. The height of this contribution differs per municipality.

If your child did not receive a preschool referral, but does participate in preschool education, you will most likely not be entitled to a contribution from the municipality. But you might be entitled to child care benefits. Municipalities are free to decide how they do this. So it may differ per municipality.

More information on the costs for parents can be found on the website, in Dutch, of association BOinK.

Who counsels on early education?

Schools are responsible for early education. Early education can be compared to preschool education, but for children in the first two years of primary education. Early education is also intended for children with developmental delays or who are at risk of being developmentally challenged. During a special programme in which children can participate during school hours, they develop all kinds of skills in the field of language, math, mobility and interacting while playing with each other. 

How can I encourage my child's development at home?

Preschool education is not the only way to encourage your child's development. There are lots of things you can do at home. Find more information and suggestions, only in Dutch, here: Prepare your child for primary education.