Where can I find good free Dutch teaching material to teach my child Dutch? This question is a frequently asked one. My first answer is that there are suitable free teaching materials that you can use to help your child keep up with Dutch or to practice other things they have already learned. Of course, I will share some valuable and fun resources with you in this blog.
Free Dutch teaching material for teaching your child Dutch yourself
Teach your child Dutch yourself: it’s possible! However, do know what you are getting yourself into.
“What a job!”, “Those two hats as parent and teacher drove me crazy!”, “It is not conducive to my relationship with my child.” These are quotes from parents who have tried to teach their child Dutch and parents who have succeeded. One parent, who provided feedback on this over the last seven years guiding Dutch for Children, loved teaching Dutch to her child.
Putting a curriculum together is difficult!
There is plenty of (free) Dutch teaching material to be found. Most parents buy a complete teaching package from one of the providers or purchase a language method and go through it. Both options cost a lot of money, but more importantly, they don’t educate your child. You have to do the teaching yourself. Some parents want to put together the material themselves but are unsure where to find good material or use it properly.
As a language teacher myself, I tutored one of my children for a while, and during another period, I supervised my oldest while preparing for her Dutch state exam. There was no suitable alternative in the place where we lived then. Now I am a teacher, and I have the necessary experience to keep children motivated, but I found it challenging. It’s different when your relationship is “parent-child” first and foremost.
For that reason, my youngest now receives online lessons from a Dutch teacher so that he (in addition to English and Spanish here in our host country) keeps his Dutch up to standard and further develops it. In due course, he can also take the Dutch State Exam if he would like to. This way, he has the same opportunities as his sister. There is peace in the house about those lessons. It is more than worth the investment to us.
What should children learn?
If you are not a teacher, there are other things at play. For example, what a child should learn at what age is unknown to most parents. The Dutch education system works with core objectives drawn up by the ministry that determine what children should learn. Schools and teachers work with those goals as guidelines and have learned how to work and build with them. Still, you can get an idea of what they should be able to do. In any case, this blog gives an excellent first impression. I wrote this article in Dutch for parents who wanted to know what their child is learning and should understand at school.
Yes! There is good free Dutch teaching material.
I’m going back to the original question. Yes, there are many great free online programs to practice Dutch and many good instructional videos. It’s too long to post my entire arsenal here, but I’ve put together some practical and fun selection of resources that will appeal to many children.
Free Dutch teaching material: reading
Learning to read in Dutch is a fun and essential process. Some children already know several sounds and letters. Children are also often highly motivated to learn to read. As a teacher, I find it very tricky when a parent teaches his child to read, but here are some tips.
You must pronounce the letters and sounds as the children hear them. So do not pronounce them as we call them as adults (according to the alphabet). So not: B(ee), but B(uh). Some Dutch sounds or the differences between them are challenging. It can help if you use mnemonics or gestures for this. It’s going too far to explain this here, but you’ll find more information about it if you google this. In addition, it is crucial that reading is and remains enjoyable. It helps the process enormously if reading is part of family life and, above all, seen as relaxation.
Free online Dutch teaching material
- The letters, sounds, and words that children learn to read when they follow the ‘Veilig Leren Lezen’ method can be found here in videos in a row! Attractive, short videos. ‘Leesdas Lettervos’ is a series of stories entirely in line with this and appeals to children.
- Practice from level ‘Start’ is usually used when the children learn to read with ‘Veilig Leren Lezen’.
- Don’t miss the Dutch online library with audiobooks and e-books.
- Booxalive is a beautiful website with reading pleasure for all ages!
- Here you will find digital picture books from the youth library.
- You can download free books at Gratis Kinderboek.nl.
- If your children don’t know what to read, the best solution is this book finder! They can look for a book in their own age category that suits them on this website.
- You might also like to read about getting your child to read in Dutch. This article is in Dutch!
- Read and listen to all kinds of stories for different ages.
In groups 2 and 3, your child starts learning to read. It is mainly about technical reading, but the first foundations for reading comprehension will already be laid if all goes well. You can ask questions like, “What does the word you read mean? And then “what does the sentence mean?” And then “what happens in the story? What do you like? What not?” Etc.
Your child should read and understand simple texts in the first groups from group 4. It is essential to pay a lot of attention to making connections together. Your child must learn to draw conclusions from the text and make predictions about the further course.
As they get older, the lyrics and words used should become more and more difficult. The best thing is always to offer your child a higher level. Your child must increasingly see the connection between the sentences and the paragraphs, make connections and think critically about the texts.
In this phase, it is also vital that your child learns to look critically at himself as a reader: have I read with sufficient attention, do I understand everything I have read, and if not, why and how do I solve it?
How do you learn (better) reading comprehension?
- By regularly (together) critical reading
- By teaching and practicing reading strategies
- Following a step-by-step plan helps many children
- Practice with different types of texts that appeal to your child(ren)
- Read a lot
Junior Einstein has a separate section for the vital reading comprehension section. This website offers several free and paid exercises. The website of Juf Jolien provides a different kinds of texts, which children also like very much.
Spelling starts in group 3, and after that, the different spelling categories are explained and practiced step by step. Juf Melis en Junior Einstein follows these categories.
The Juf Melis website offers several free and paid exercises. The free material is more than sufficient for basic instruction and practice. This section of Junior Einstein provides exercises for learning spelling and grammar. Via the start menu, you can choose the group and the language, such as spelling.
Do you write the verb with a -t or a -d? Or with -dde or -de? Familiar questions and a subject that many children and adults find difficult. Verb spelling is a big part of learning or developing Dutch. They learn that every sentence contains at least one verb. When explaining the verb spelling, you must define the basics well.
Juf Melis offers explicit instruction and exercises per part. This is really a godsend. Here you will find a short refresher course for older students.
Grammar is about sentence formation, sentence decomposition, and parts of speech. Part of Junior Einstein provides explanations and exercises on spelling and grammar. Via the start menu, you can choose the group and the language, such as grammar. Your child can learn more about sentence analysis through this part of Juf Melis.
Other free valuable resources to teach your child Dutch yourself
- Schooltv offers educational and informative videos by age group! A separate part of Schooltv is the Schooltv Image Bank. This Image Bank is a database with over 2500 free short educational clips, ranging in subject from the mating behavior of aphids to the functioning of Dutch democracy.
- The youth news offers short items, articles, and missed broadcasts. You will find information for the youth.
- Het Klokhuis has great videos that Dutch for Children often uses.
- Discover how the world works at NEMO. Very valuable, especially if your child likes ‘facts.’
- Another great source of Dutch documentaries is the theme channels 2Doc, Science24, and History24, for older children.
- And don’t forget the starting Dutch for Children YouTube channel with free online Dutch lessons that will be expanded this year and next
- And last but not least: playing with language. All our students love these language games!
What will the future bring?
Why do you think it is essential that your child learns or keeps up with the Dutch language?
There are different motives for every parent to learn Dutch or not to learn Dutch or engage a teacher. For example, as I wrote in my blog about keeping children motivated, many parents are hesitant that Dutch lessons via an online school are too much, on top of the already intensive school days in the host country.
Other motives are the plans for the Netherlands. Have you permanently emigrated as a family, or are you expats with a defined contract? In the latter case, you often know when you will return as a family, and your children will rejoin the Dutch education system.
Families whose children continue to receive international education after returning to the Netherlands need extra guidance with their Dutch. For example, in that case, the Dutch language is more important on a communicative level than on an academic level. Every parent makes their own choice in this regard.
May I invite you?
If you find the sources and the free Dutch teaching helpful material but don’t know how to use them, I invite you to exchange ideas about this without obligation via Skype or Zoom. I can give you tailor-made advice.
Or, if you are not sure whether it is the right step for you to do this all by yourself, I invite your child for a non-binding trial lesson.
Feel free to contact me! I am looking forward to hearing from you.
The article is also available in Dutch for our Dutch-speaking parents.