Apr 24, 2018

New kid on the block? Where to go with your little ones...

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Edited: Apr 24, 2018



When you land in a new place and you want to go out with your children but are clueless as to what's recommended - all you need is to check out our handy little guide below. This was lovingly put together by one of our Mums, who went through the same thing when she arrived... this will keep you going for weeks ;-) Enjoy!






Aug 24

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  • esphaarlemgroup
    Jun 11

    Hi there, I'm Amy! I moved to Haarlem from the U.S just about a year ago with my husband, Joe, and my son, also named Joe (it's easier that way- I just have to scream out "JOE!" and they both come running). Little Joe just turned five, so we're always on the lookout for fun things to do as a family. Between the Museumkaart and of the amazing natural beauty in this area, there never seems to be a shortage of really interesting things to do. Despite this, we were a little bit sad to say goodbye to some of our favourite American pastimes when we moved. Coming from Chicago, and having long family history as Cubs fans, we were particularly sad to say goodbye to baseball. Well, being the researcher that I am, I googled “baseball in the Netherlands” before we moved. I was surprised when something called “Honkbal” popped up as a result. I thought it might be some kind of goose competition? With a little more clicking around, I found that honkbal literally translates to baseball- and hooray!- it’s somewhat popular. Not like, Ajax Football popular, but still, it exists! We were even more pleased to find that Haarlem itself has a pretty active honkbal scene. It even hosts an international Honkbal Week , every other year at a stadium just blocks from our home. Pim Mulier Stadium isn’t quite Wrigley Field, but it’s comforting to still see stadium lights from our living room windows during baseball season. It took some time to get around to it, but the Joe’s finally went to their first honkbal game last weekend. They were accompanied by our very kind neighbour, who also happens to be an enthusiastic honkbal fan and coach. If you’re wondering, I stayed home enjoying some wine while cleaning out the shed (cause that qualifies as “fun” in your 30s). Believe it or not, there are actually a few different honkbal leagues and teams to choose from, even right here in Haarlem. I really have no clue as to the differences, and I won’t pretend I do. In this case, the Joe’s saw the Kinheim team play. They actually managed to stay the entire game, and even though Haarlem lost (Cubs fans aren’t known to bring good luck), fun was had by all. If you’re interested in going to a game yourself, particularly if you’re an American looking to fill the baseball void, check it out! Important things to know: · What/Where : Kinheim Honkbal, Pim Mulier Stadium Jaap Edenlaan 6, 2024 BW Haarlem · How much will it cost? Free entrance! Really, it’s €0 to see a game. · Is there food? Will my kid(s) eat it? Yes! There is an inexpensive cafe with snacks, ice cream, and beer. Also, unlike MLB parks, you can BYO everything. So really, it can be a €0 day out with the family. · What can kids do? Maybe your kid will watch the game? Joe watched a few innings. Then he ate ice cream, watched the NS train pass by, explored the entire stadium, played FREE foosball in the cafe, and even got to go out on the field and in the dugout after the game. · What can parents do? Watch the game! Drink beer! Enjoy spending €0! So there you have it! The first of my “Things to do with your kid” recommendations. If you do decide to go, let me know what you think! Actually, let me know before you go and I’ll go with you. It’s probably better than staying at home to clean out my shed. >>> Amy Lawrence is an expat mom and teacher originally from the U.S. She enjoys reading, gardening, and exploring everything the Netherlands has to offer. She also enjoys blogging about these things! Check her out at This Place is Nice.
  • esphaarlemgroup
    Jun 5

    I only learned to swim when I turned 30, but I won't let that happen to my son Daniel. Being born in the Netherlands, he should know how to swim as early as possible. Before it's time for Diploma ABC, we thought it would be useful that he gains some confidence in the water. As soon as we survived the first intense month of becoming new parents, we looked for a pool where we could take Daniel. He is now almost 1 and here are the places that we have visited in and around the centre of Haarlem: Boerhaavebad We used to go swimming at Boerhaavebad, up until the last month of my pregnancy. As we knew the facilities well, it seemed logical to take our newborn there for his first swim. There is an ankle-deep pool in which the little kids can sit up and play safely. However, the water is cold. As Daniel was just a couple of months old, we didn't think he would enjoy it. We took him to the big kid pool instead. He threw up some milk as soon as we got down the steps. After a quick retreat, some cleaning and many hugs, we attempted the water the second time. He cried a bit more, clung tightly onto his dad for half an hour before starting to relax. When it was time to leave, we started to see some of the shortcomings of the place. It is a long way from the pools to the shower and the changing rooms. With a stop at the locker, it would get even colder for the little ones. If your kids are older, say six and above, or more used to the water, they are more likely to enjoy the facilities at Boerhaavebad like slides, water fountains and jacuzzi. The cold water and the long way to the changing rooms might not be such a big deal then. With our newborn, however, we found it fun but rather tiresome. The entry fee is 5.50 euros and you need an extra 20 cent for the locker. When there are two of you using two lockers, it is 12,40 euros per visit. The pool is near the Spaarne Gasthuis in the south, with several buses stops five minutes away on foot. Good points: ● Open at weekends ● Fun stuff for bigger kids or kids with some confidence in the water ● Hot snacks available after swimming Zwemschool t’ Spaarne Huys The second place we tried is a swim school by Het Spaarne river. It is in a beautiful old building with big stones and a labyrinth of stairs and doors. There is only one small pool, which I find rather gezelig! The water is reasonably warm, and there are some toys for the little ones. Once you get out of the water, you can go straight into a shower area. However, there is only one shower head so you might have to queue. After the shower, you can go out into a small corridor, then back into the reception area. Here, there is a big changing table with a few toys. If there is only one parent with one child, it is probably the most convenient to dress the child on that table. As there are not often many parents, you can even get changed at the reception instead of going down one floor to the big changing room. You will notice that there are no separate areas for men and women. You can either go to Zwemschool t' Spaarne Huys for free parent-child swimming sessions or taking swim lessons with an instructor. There are quite a few time slots during the week. The school is, however, not open during the weekend. It is 8 euros per lesson, or you can pay 27,50 euros to go twice a week for the whole month. Free swimming mornings last for two hours, and you pay 4 euros. There is not much space right outside the school for leaving your bikes or inside for big strollers. However, it is next to a parking lot if you drive. Good points: ● Plenty of options for both free swimming and swim lessons ● The gezelig feeling of being back in time. ● Quiet to the point of having the whole pool for yourself Kenamju Sports Centre So far, Kenamju has been my favourite. The facilities are excellent: warm, chlorine-free water, clean, separate changing rooms adjacent to the pool. There's also a kids corner where your little ones can play with each other, and you can have a drink with other mamas and papas after a lesson. For children under four, you can opt for a private course or lessons with other kids and their parents. There are now weekly group sessions both in English and Dutch. The instructor sings a series of songs while parents do activities with their kids to help them gain confidence and feel at ease in the water. My little one has learned to jump into the pool from the edge and dive. He has also had a lot of fun. Each group lesson lasts for 30 minutes with an extra 15 minutes to play both before and after. We paid 5.50 euro for a single visit and 40 euros for a card of 8 lessons. They are going to increase the charges to 7.50 and 55 in the coming month, though. The sports centre is about 7 minutes walk from the train station. There is also plenty of room for parking your bike just outside the building. Good points: ● Warm, chlorine-free water and clean changing rooms ● Great facilities with a kids corner and a creche ● Interactive lessons in English or Dutch In conclusion, swimming with your newborn can be a lot of work but it is also enjoyable. Being in The Netherlands, it is also essential that your child is not scared of water and becomes a confident swimmer as soon as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of good pools and classes where your newborns and toddlers can begin their journey with water. >>> Quynh Nguyen is a full-time mother and part-time copywriter. She enjoys the Dutch way of cycling everywhere, prioritising work-life balance and having a "borrel". You can check out her works at
  • esphaarlemgroup
    Oct 24

    The Inburgering (integration) diploma is needed for some nationals to have the right to live and work in the Netherlands, to obtain a permanent residence permit and to apply for a Dutch passport. There are exceptions and exemptions, in order to check whether you are inburgeringsplichtig, consult Mijn Inburgering . The Inburgering exam consists of several parts: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Knowledge of Dutch Society (KNM), Orientation to the Dutch Labour Market (ONA) for those who came to the Netherlands after 1 January 2013 and Participatieverklaring for those who came to the Netherlands after October 2017. Those who work at least 48 hours per month for at least 6 months are exempt from ONA (since April 2019 – read more on the official site. ). When should I take the exams? I would recommend you do it as soon as possible, as now it is on A2 level and from January 2020 it will be B1, which is considerably higher. Also, you never know how busy you may get when the time approaches, so it’s better to have it in the bag and avoid unnecessary stress and hassle in the future. What if I don’t pass the Inburgering exam on time? If you’re inburgeringsplichtig – obliged to pass the Inburgering exam – and fail to do it before the allocated time, you’re going to get a fee (boete) which can get as high as over a thousand Euro. The amount depends on your situation. That’s another reason not to put it off for too long. I’m not sure my Dutch is good enough to pass the exams. We were also not sure but we passed with marks 8, 9 and 10 out of 10 – and to find out how read another of Julia’s articles in the knowledge section of this site: how to learn Dutch for almost free! What does the test location look like? The exam centre, located in Old West of Amsterdam (the exact location you receive by post after applying for an exam), is easy to find, it’s next to metro and train stations and there’s plenty of parking spaces around. Next to the examination centre, there’s an interesting cafe, with plenty of books, some light food and drinks. It’s important you arrive in advance – you’ll need some time to register, leave all your things in a locker, go to the toilet, after all. If you’re late for your allocated time, you are not allowed to take the exam and the money is not returned. Preparing for the exam There are plenty of resources available on the internet which will help you to prepare and determine if your level is enough. The most important is the official site . The tasks here look exactly the same as at the real exam (the questions differ, of course). It also gives you the score at the end. This site was very helpful in our preparation. Listening and Speaking: in addition to the above-mentioned site, you can also practise with the methods listed here . Reading : with the love of the Dutch to the paper post, you’re sure to have enough of reading practice. A dictionary will help to get through it. Writing: it’s good to check some examples of the written assignments before the tests: Brief, email, kaartje KNM : check if there is a KNM course offered locally, read a KNM book, use the following resources that we found helpful: KNM topics overview , Dutch education system (very complicated, this detailed scheme helps to understand it a little bit better). You’ll need to know the country’s geography too. A nice way to learn it is to use these puzzles . It is also a great way to combine your own learning with playing with your child(ren). The results The listening, reading and KNM results don’t take long, probably within a week. Writing and speaking are human-checked, so prepare to wait for about 6 weeks. The maximum time of waiting for the results is 8 weeks. Julia Smile is an expat mother who is passionate about travelling with her family. Her other passions include reading and dancing salsa. Having lived in 3 countries and visited 3 continents, Julia shares her family's exciting experiences in her blog , Facebook Page and Instagram frogsinthebox_travel_family
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