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The Dutch take a relatively pragmatic view to the issue of school summer holidays, and stagger them across the country. School holidays are set nationally, though some of the dates are only advisory and individual schools can choose their own. But the summer ones are set and differ in the different regions. The country is split into three: North, Middle and South, and their summer holidays start a week later than each other. So the whole country has summer holidays for four weeks, within an eight week period of possible summer holidays. Which region has which slot changes each year or so, and it goes first, first, middle, last, last, middle, first,… so you never jump from first to last and that way it evens out the lengths of the school years.

This spreads out the load on employers, who need to give leave to parents, as well as (hopefully) making the mark-up on holidays during the school break not so high. Though I’m not sure how well that last one works in practice.

For us, it will mean that some years it will be more difficult for us to meet up with English friends and family, as our school holidays won’t overlap with theirs so well. But that’s a minor problem really. If anyone is interested in finding out when we are likely to be on holiday the Dutch school holidays are listed online.

There’s also a builder’s holiday for three weeks over the summer. This is tied into the school holidays in each area, and is a period when all building work should stop. A bit frustrating when you want work done, but gives the builders time off to be with their families and gives the neighbours a break!

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