Toddlerhood is another challenging phase for most parents. These kids have so much energy and their brain are like sponges that will soak up any information they see/hear/do. It is important to choose wisely the activities we introduce in their routines for it will slowly form their character and personality.
Exhausted parents (either working or staying at home) have been constantly looking for ways to entertain their toddlers. There are a lot of things a parent can do but there are places where you can bring your toddler to expel those bursts of energy and learn at the same time.
We are living in Almere, yet most of the information I gathered are from Amsterdam. If you are a parent in Almere, I got you covered with toddler activities. Here are the list of organizations/groups where you can go.
For Babies (up until 2.5yo):
They were a newly opened organization in Poort and the closest in our area. They do weekend sessions and more of a parent and kid activity. Classes are in Dutch, but sometimes they translates in English for families who doesn’t understand any Dutch yet. They were very friendly and my son enjoyed his time there. We continued going there until my son was accepted to peuterspeelzaal/voorschool.
They are 13 lessons for $135, sessions are for 1 hour on Saturdays. More information can be found on their website.
They are the playgroup that is more established in Almere, yet can only accomodate few children due to location restrictions. This is also more of a parent-kid playgroup. The group was very warm and friendly. This is where I met a fellow Filipina! They have a routine which is in Dutch, which is perfect if you are trying to learn the language.
They have their lessons for 3 hours/session for $3 per session. They also have a stripcard 10 sessions for $25. You get a cup of coffee and you have to bring a fruit every session to share with other children.You can message them directly via their Facebook page.
English Playgroup in Literaturwijk (Buurtcentrum Het Boegbeeld)
Same concept as ABCDE with an English approach. They were quite new when we joined, and had stopped coming when Daxton went to peuterspeelzaal. It was arranged by mamas in the buurt, and with an inloop approach. It was $0.50 cent per session every Thursday morning.
To fill in activities for the week, I check the agenda of the public library in Almere. They have several activities lined up for children. What we usually go to were the English readings (both in Poort and Stad library). You can check the activities in their website.
For Peuters/Toddlers (from 2.5yo and older)
Aside from the activities above, we also went to several places whenever there are ongoing activities. When Daxton turned 2, we enlisted him for peuterspeelzaal. Since peuterspeelzaal starts at 2.5yo, we attended the following activities below.
De Schoor is an organization helping the youth in the neighborhood get aquatinted with after school activities. It was beneficial to both parents and kids because mischief in the neighborhood is prevented because children have activities they can look forward to. You can check their ongoing activities all over Almere in their website.
In Almere, Arno Splinter Peutervoetball is the organization that handles football activities for tiny children. Football is a big sport in Europe, and there are a lot of clubs and organization that one can join in. However, the youngest that one can join is around 7-8 years old.
With Arno Splinter Voetball, your kid can start as young as 3 years old. Their classes help children get used to the training routine, and help develop their motor skills as well. You can get more information on their website.
Dance Studios / Theater Classes
For the creative children, there are dance classes and theater classes available. There are four dance studios in Almere Poort that I am aware of namely:
I am not the most creative mom, so I have not signed my son yet to their classes. Once I see an interest, then I can let him give a try.
If speaking in Dutch is a bit daunting for you and you want a more expat-friendly (aka english speaking) activities, I have compiled some groups/activities here from Amsterdam, if travelling is not an issue:
Jacaranda Montessori School is quite famous in Amsterdam for its Montessori teaching methods. Their waiting list is quite long so you need to register as early as you can. Do not fret because with a bit of patience, you can get a spot. This is a more parent and child montessori activities. The center is quite pretty and interactive.
They have different classes for different age groups. One Term is around $293 for 13 weeks with 1-1.5hr class. You can head to their website for more info on rates and schedules.
I was quite anxious to get a spot back then. Good thing I was able to have the chance to try a session and enjoyed it a lot. It was unfortunate that the school is a bit far from our house and travel via public transpo (as parking spaces as well) is a bit of a stretch for me with the Netherlands weather. While waiting for a spot, you can buy Simone’s book as starters to orient oneself with Montessori methods.
This is similar to MyLittleGym as it is more on enhancing Gross Motor skills for your child. We went to their open day to experience the center and a bit of activities. Their center is a bit small but boasts nice furniture to help enhance gross motor skills.
One term is around $200 with 10 sessions and 45mins per session. Again, this is too far logistic wise for us.
Those are two of the classes we tried in Amsterdam. There were a lot more activities in Amsterdam that are English based. Below are some that I have found in the internet (check their website for more information):
Our first year in the Netherlands, I had that fascination with Amsterdam. So I joined the Amsterdam Mamas group to get to know the everyday life (and struggles) of families here in the Netherlands. As the group implied, it was more on Amsterdam activities and there were several subgroup for different areas (Almere, Hoofddorp, Haarlem, etc…)
Amsterdam was not that far from Almere. It is only a 30 min train ride and 20 min drive. The only thing that turned me off was traveling by public transportation under Dutch weather conditions. The Dutch weather is pretty famous, and known to have the same mood as a hormonal woman (I hope I get my metaphor right).
After my son started in peuterspeelzaal, we stopped doing more activities for him and traveling to Amsterdam for it. I was more inclined to do activities that are within our neighborhood. Also, I observed that children here are not pressured to do more aside from playing. In our Asian culture, children are molded early to learn the basics like reading and writing.
What activities does your kid enjoy? How do you manage a toddler’s energy?