Read in: Nederlands
The Zuidas area in Amsterdam is an inspiring environment undergoing rapid development. People work here, people live here and children go to school here. Kindercampus Zuidas is an integral education centre offering child care, elementary education and after-school care services.
Zuidas, Antonio Vivaldistraat, 2.15 p.m. The doors of the beautiful building with wooden cladding fly open. Kids are screaming and running around. School’s out, after-school care starts at Kindercampus Zuidas, a children centre that opened three years ago.
Principal Miriam Heijster explains. “Kindercampus Zuidas is an education centre for children aged 0 to 13. First they go to daycare or pre-school, and then they make the step to elementary education.” The campus also offers after-school care services.
According to Miriam Heijster, having daycare, pre-school and elementary school under one roof has big advantages. “First of all, for the children. Right from the youngest age groups we start with our way of guiding children, with the on broad development.”
“The youngest ones start exploring when they’re playing with sand in the playground. Throughout their time here we encourage the children to explore but all’s done in a playful manner”, she says.
In the school auditorium a few children have ‘robot class’. They’re playing with small robots under the guidance of an educational staff member. “This is their first experience with programming”, Miriam explains.
The campus offers some advantages to parents as well: being able to drop off children of different ages in the same location saves them a lot of time. “But more importantly, it is good for the children”, Miriam adds. “Right from the beginning, the smallest ones get familiar with ‘normal school life’ and later on this is going to make the step to elementary school a lot easier for them.”
‘We encourage the children to explore and learn while playing’
Another important aspect is the fact that lessons at Kindercampus Zuidas are partly in English. “There are 26 different nationalities at our school and around 35% of the children here have an international background. Many children speak English as a first or second language. We offer bilingual education so the non-native English speakers learn to communicate in another language and this helps them to broaden their horizon. They don’t get extra English lessons but some classes, such as music and PE, are taught in English.”
Still, Dutch is the main language at Kindercampus Zuidas. “According to the law we’re allowed to teach a maximum of 35% of our classes in another language, otherwise we’re no longer considered a Dutch school. We think it’s important for expat children to learn proper Dutch so we’re fine with it!” Miriam says.
And this is what their parents want. “Traditionally, expats only stayed here for three or four years and then moved to another country. Their children would go to an English-language international school. Nowadays, employees from abroad stay longer and they want to prepare their children for secondary education in the Netherlands. That’s why we want to remain a Dutch school.”
What about those children: do they all live in the area? “Most of the children at the daycare centre live a bit further away but the ones in elementary school mostly live nearby. There’s more to the Zuidas than just office buildings”, she smiles.
Kindercampus Zuidas: Playful learning
There’s plenty of building work going on all around the Zuidas. “From May until summer the learning theme is ‘building’. We let the children think about issues such as: How do you build up a neighbourhood? How important is green space in a residential area? We take the smallest ones to a building site – there are plenty of those around here – and for them that’s impressive as it is. But the older ones need to think about what you need to build a house and how to get all the materials on site. Still, the underlying idea is playful learning.”
Local project developers and architects are happy to lend the school a helping hand. “They all like taking a group of school children on a tour so there are a lot of excursions for our pupils!”
Go out and explore
‘There’s more to the Zuidas than just office buildings’
The campus built its own garden, right next to the school building. It has a well pump and in summer the children can paddle their feet in the adjoining canal, the Boelgracht. They learn about nature and how things grow. “But again the main thing is: they go out and explore, encouraged by the tasks and assignments given to them by their teacher.”
The message is clear: Kindercampus Zuidas is not about learning by rote. “We really want to prepare these children well so they’ll be ready to participate in society later on. We’re inspired by the ideas of Professor Gert Biesta who discerns three goals of education: qualification, socialization and subjectification. Qualification is transfer of information: language and maths. Socialization means letting children experience other cultures. Subjectification addresses the question ‘Who am I and how do I fit into society?’ We’re looking for a balance between these three focal points and offer a different mix, depending on age groups and individual needs.”
Antonio Vivaldistraat 15
T 020 723 0788
Read in: Nederlands