Home in Leiden

Croatian, Za vise informacija na hrvatskom jeziku, molimo kontaktirajte Tamaru,

German, Wenn Du weitere Informationen auf Deutsch brauchst, wende Dich bitte an Dorothea,

Danish, For mere information paa Dansk kan De kontakte Heidi.



Czech, Pro více informací v ceském jazyce kontaktujte prosím


French, Pour plus d'informations en français, vous pouvez contacter Claire Caron sur

Polish, Po dodatkowe informacje w jezyku polskim kontakt or

Spanish, Si quieres más información en castellano, no dudes en ponerte en contacto conmigo, Laura

Indian, Please contact Rippy at if you'd like help in Hindi or Punjabi.

Diana Jekina,


About us
Pregnancy and Birth
Childrens Health
Learning Dutch
Previous Homepages
FAQ: Moving to Leiden


Cafes and Restaurants
Getting around
Hotels and B&Bs
The library


I am happy to report that (like so many things involving children) it really does get easier after the first week at school. Things are at least close to their proper places, everyone is a little more used to early rising and - if your brood have started at a new school, like mine - thank goodness, the tender buds of friendship are opening and choruses of mag ik afspreken? resound after school!

As I said last time, the first bit of this homepage is going to be rather child-focused. Some new information, and some pointers as to where you can find information on this site or elsewhere.
Old hands in the Netherlands and those without children, please feel free to scroll down a bit!

How the system works here for children

  • Under-fours and peuterspeelzalen (playgroups)
    Until the age of four, the State doesn't interfere much with your child apart from vaccination and preventative healthcare, which of course you can read all about in the Children's Health. The major exception is the presence of peuterspeelzalen , the subsidised state-run preschool playgroups. Note that these do not offer full daycare so that you can work; that is called kinderopvang , see below. Peuterspeelzalen provide structured play supervised by qualified staff (parents do not stay with the child), and are not as a rule overtly (formally) educational. Your child will have a lovely time with sand play, water, building, make-believe and picture
    books, will produce marvellous painted Creations and learn plenty of Dutch rhymes and games, but will not normally learn his alphabet and how to count to ten.

    There are at least twenty peuterspeelzalen all over Leiden; they are generally wonderful places and are very moderately priced, with the parental contribution depending on income and 50% reduced for a second child. Read all about them here, where I have updated the names and addresses.

    Childcare (dagopvang) in daycare centres / day nurseries / crèches / kinderdagverblijven
    (all terms meaning exactly the same thing!), or with childminders or nannies is described in the Childcare section.

    Image of children playing with water
  • Over-fours, schools and leerplicht - or what you must do with your child
    From the age of four your child may go to school - the next school day after her fourth birthday, normally - and from the age of five she must be acquiring formal learning. This does not mean school is compulsory (that would be schoolplicht ); homeschooling is
    permitted in this country but extremely rare. Read more about homeschooling and how you can arrange it here.

    The Dutch school system is covered in the excellent and comprehensive Schools section of the site (thank you Jessica!), where the only thing a little thin on the ground is reviews. Now that the pace of parental life has slackened slightly, why not send us a quick email to telling us what you think of the school your children attend? Personal input is really helpful; we look forward to hearing from you.

    and . Something they never mention beforehand about school .

    After five years as a school mother I now really can't ignore the fact that schools here all basically, fundamentally seem really big on Parental Participation in one way or another. Whether it's different in other countries I can't say (it was certainly different when I was
    little in England, but then the past is another country; they do things differently there ), but mucking in and doing your bit is unavoidable here. It can seem to the jaundiced working parent that - above and beyond one-off activities like helping out with Sports Day or with
    the annual fête - the staff constantly use parents essentially as unpaid assistants ... and I
    know there have been times that I have felt awkward / irritated / resentful about it, because
    I haven't been able to or - being honest here - haven't wanted to help!

    There are two basic messages here. One is that all schools do it, and you can't get round it even it you wanted to, but you can be upfront about when you are and aren't available, eg. that weekdays are right out but evenings or Saturdays would be fine. Tell your child's class teacher and the klassenouder when you can help! Second is that actually all the obligatory gezelligheid can turn out to be great fun, and it's an excellent way to get to know your

Upcoming events in Leiden

To all those new or soon-to-be parents out there who are despairingly contemplating yet another solitary day looking at the rain: Bumps and Babies is back! Congratulations to Christina on her new daughter, and this is what she says:

Bumps & Babies is a weekly gathering for international and Dutch mothers-to-be and mothers of small babies (as long as they enjoy being seated in a café). The idea is to get to know other mothers, exchange valuable information and, most important, just to have a nice time together. We will meet on Mondays from 14h to 15h30 at the cafe upstairs at the V&D on the 4th floor. The first meeting takes place on Monday the 12th of September. Just pass by and look for bumps & babies! If you have any questions just drop Christina a line at .

And - remember the Wednesday group at Vogelwijk playground; it's there for children of all ages, even teeny babies whose mothers need a change of scene ...

Book Launch!


HomeinLeiden's very own Harriet Impey has recently published a wonderful children's book,
called A Bowlful of Happiness. Silvester, the marvellous children's bookshop on the Rapenburg
( is hosting a signing on Sunday 11th September between 2-5pm. Why not
come along and find out more, and take the chance to browse in one of the best independent
booksellers I know?

These and others are on the What's On calendar, top right on the site.

New regular features

Because I often hear about interesting things and places around Leiden which are new to me and
which I think are worth telling people about, I'm starting up two new regular spots on the
homepage: one called Something for the Children - a place or an activity , and a parallel one which I'm calling Something for the Grown-Ups until I can think of a better name! Both of
these are to be filled with your input, so thank you to the people who've already contacted me with ideas, and to the rest of you: I look forward to your emails. is waiting
to hear about your favourites!



Baby/Toddler Groups
Vogelwijk Playgroup
Oegstgeest Family Life
Classes and Sports
Photo Gallery
Vrouw Kind Centrum


Find a Babysitter
Dutch Etiquette, Festivals and Traditions
Greener Leiden Living
HIL Top Tips
Expat Centre Leiden
Useful Links

Recent changes:
The complete text of childcare has been modified.

A new section under the Pregnancy section: Miscarriage.