Homeschooling Adventures in the Netherlands, Part 6 – Month 5 of Learning at Home

Washed out Gouda Cheese Market

The famous Gouda cheese market was washed out and as a result the whole day was washed out for me. I was bitterly disappointed that an hour’s drive and expensive parking had resulted in 15 minutes looking at dishevelled horses, heavy tarpaulins instead of famous yellow cheeses and the fact there were no traditionally dressed porters in sight. All I heard were remonstrations from the kids to “Please go home!” especially after we tried the traditional warm syrup waffles, to try and defrost our hands, only for the kids to feel sick! Great! i am not good at handling disappointment, as Hubbie pointed out to me as my grumps went on throughout the afternoon. I must be a better role model! It hasn’t been the only unsuccessful trip this holiday but fortunately the sun came out for us a couple of days later for our visit to one of the main tourist spots in the Netherlands, Zaanse Schans. It is a really touristy place. It was developed for tourists. Even the nearby town of Zaanse is picture-postcard perfect.

Pretty Zaanse Schans windmills

But Zaanse Schans is the only place in the Netherlands where you can still see working windmills, which were brought from around the Netherlands to continue milling amongst other things oil, mustard, spices and flour. Workshops continue traditional skills such a clog, cheese and pewter making. The last of these I found hugely nostalgic. I remember my father lovingly showing us his small collection of, I think, huge German pewter beer mugs which he had collected from his own travels, despite not being a big beer drinker. My brother and I got terribly excited, when we were little, when he allowed us to have a drink of Coke from them from time to time. I also remember pewter spoons with designs on them showing the places from where they’d been bought and I couldn’t resist buying the kids a couple with windmills and a typical Dutch landscape, purely from nostalgia, despite the fact we don’t have a sugar pot to put them in!

Red hot liquid pewter

Partly because of this nostalgia, I was far more excited than the kids to see liquid pewter and see how it was poured into the spoon moulds. I asked loads of questions! The demonstrator seemed suitably pleased for her work to be appreciated. In fact, just about anyone demonstrating anything to me gets asked a bunch of questions which of course always delights them.

After visiting Zaanse Schans, I felt my duty to the Netherlands had been done. I had shown the kids clogs (we even had our photo snapped all wearing a pair), cheese, windmills (working ones even) and traditional country Dutch architecture. The kids milked a plastic Dutch cow with rubber udders and got their hands on some of those great round Dutch cheeses that had been under wraps in Gouda. And we even visited with a Dutch friend who stamped the whole experience with the hallmark of authenticity. I thought it was rather lovely that she didn’t seem at all bored, despite it not being her first visit to Zaanse Schans. Of course, as usual, we didn’t get to see everything I had hoped to. We didn’t get to visit any of the fascinating museums. I would like to have spent more time just soaking all the Dutch-ness up! But we quit whilst we were ahead and spent the lovely sunny summer afternoon feeding the ducks back at the holiday park cottage.

Traditional wooden clog making


Clogs – they don’t look comfortable! I wasn’t tempted to buy any to actually wear!

Pretty Dutch country architecture

Petra milking the rubber teats of a plastic Dutch cow – lots of fun!

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!

Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster  – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you! 



About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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2 Responses to Homeschooling Adventures in the Netherlands, Part 6 – Month 5 of Learning at Home

  1. Jane says:

    I like your honesty! I think it is good for the kids to see that you are human too. As long as you explain how you are feeling and why and apologise afterwards I am sure it is still good role modelling! Sounds as though you have had a a fantastic time and done heaps. How will it be going back to Bahrain?

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