Back to school: some tips and hints

Some children here in Holland have already returned to school for the new term, while the rest will follow in the days and weeks ahead.

Starting a new school year can be exciting at times, yet challenging at others, for both the students AND  the parents. A new school will usually require a pre-requisite visit with your child to learn about such things as the “dress code”. Children rarely want to stand out from the crowd and fitting in will sometimes take precendence over practicality, comfort and common sense, especially when dealing with older children. Wearing the right clothes and carrying the right backpack is beyond important!

All schools provide newly arriving families with a list of items each child will need depending on the year group. Some will require Wellingtons (rain boots), some lunch boxes and just about all will need lots of various supplies. International schools requiring uniforms or other items specific to the school will usually have its own school store or one which acts as an exclusive supplier somewhere nearby. Non-school specific supplies will usually need to be found on your own. Make sure to ask what your child needs the first day in school.

If you are new in The Hague area, there are several department stores and shopping malls where you can find the majority of what you need. You can also look for those retailers who specialize in school supplies.

If you end up being challenged to find an item, because you don’t know what the Dutch word is for it, here is a helpful list of common supplies and school-related items translated from English to Dutch:



adhesive tape plakband
ballpoint pen (red and blue) rode en blauwe balpen
case etui
coloured pencils kleurpotloden
eraser gum
folder elastomap
fountain pen vulpen
gluestick plakstift
lunchbox broodtrommel
PE gear gymspullen
pencil (grey) grijs potlood
pens stiften
raincoat regenjas
ruler liniaal
scissors schaar
set square geodriehoek
sharpener puntenslijper
wellington boots regen laarzen

Don’t forget to label everything. It will save you money by increasing chances you can find it in the lost property box.

Other tips:

– Encourage your child to prepare the school bag the previous evening.

– Do not be late the first days of school (many children find it easier to settle in by being there before others).

– Accompanying younger children to school is common, but beware of trying to do this with older kids (for them, being seen with mom or dad at the school gate is a huge NO!)

– The first weeks or months will often be an emotional roller coaster. Expect it, this is not uncommon.

– Be flexible. A new school/school year means the testing of new friendships, changes of routines from the prior year, etc.


My last words of advice – let them go and do their own thing. Try not to intervene too much, but be there for them if things don’t work out as they planned.


I wish you and your child(ren) good luck and a happy start to the new school year!


©Ute’s Expat Lounge & expatsincebirth