Ukraine and the war discussed at school: do you do that? ”At Dutch for Children, you teach online lessons tailored to each child who wants to learn the Dutch language and soak up more of the Dutch culture, right?”

Yes, and precisely because we provide tailor-made lessons, we respond to what is happening in the perception of the children, among other things. Then we can’t ignore the war between Ukraine and Russia.

But, it is also certainly not the case that we cover the war in Ukraine by default in the lesson. Every child is different. Also, you don’t just know if this is a permissible topic for parents.

When kids don’t come up with it, but we think a certain news item or reading comprehension text is a good fit at this time, we consult with parents, “Are you okay with this? Or rather not.’

How do you talk to children about the war in Ukraine?

How you talk to children about the war obviously depends on the age and also the extent to which it plays out in the child. Because we at Dutch for Children teach one-on-one we can take this into account.

With young children, it rarely comes up spontaneously, although you should not underestimate toddlers in what they can ask you.

The advice to our teachers and to parents towards younger children when it comes up: keep it simple, factual, and honest. Relate it to their own world of experience, for example by referring to arguments between friends or between animals.

With older children, the advice remains to keep it factual and honest.

You can make it more ‘factual’ by discussing things like:

  • Where exactly are these countries? Use an (online) map, look at where the countries are located, and discuss for example a small piece of information (history, geography) of each country.
  • How far is it from the Netherlands and the country the student lives in?
  • Use the map again and calculate for example how long it is to drive or fly to those countries? In this way, you can also reduce any anxiety by indicating that it is not literally around the corner.

If you want to have more depth of conversation with children who are ready for this, you can ask together things like:

  • Why are these two countries fighting?
  • What needs to happen now?
  • How can we help?
  • What is the war meaning for children who are in Ukraine now?

The Youth News – het Jeugdjournaal (in Dutch) has several useful videos that can help discuss this.

Questions after a video can be:

  • What struck you most in the video?
  • How would you feel if…?
  • What would you want to do for these children?

Ukrainian children in the Netherlands

Some Ukrainian children still live in Ukraine and others have fled. In the Netherlands, refuge centers and schools try to give these children a warm welcome. You can also find and follow a lot of information about this with children. The youth news, Kidsweek, and local newspapers pay a lot of attention to this. You can ask the same kind of questions as above.

The Netherlands and its history with war

Sometimes Dutch grandparents tell stories about the Second World War. You can tackle this as a teacher, always in consultation with parents, to bring up a piece of that Dutch history in the lessons.

The WO2- portal offers free online lessons for students in primary education, secondary education, and vocational training.

If you as a parent want to do something with this, or are asked about it, Schooltv can help with various videos. You can choose the videos by age.

If you want to read more about discussing the war in Ukraine with children


Would you like more advice on this subject? For your children or students. Please contact us here.