Elementary Education

Between the ages of four to twelve, children attend elementary school (basisschool; literally, "basic school"). This school has eight grades, called groep 1 (group 1) through groep 8. School attendance is not compulsory until group 2 (at age five), but almost all children commence school at age four (in group 1). Groups 1 and 2 used to be held in a separate institution akin to kindergarten (kleuterschool; literally, "toddler's school"), until it was merged with elementary schools in 1985.

From group 3 on, children learn how to read, write and do arithmetics. Most schools teach English in groups 7 and 8, but some start as early as group 4. In group 8 the vast majority of schools administer an aptitude test called the Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs (literally, "Cito final test primary education", often abbreviated to Citotoets (Cito test), developed by the Centraal instituut voor toetsontwikkeling (Central Institute for Test Development)), which is designed to recommend the type of secondary education best suited for a pupil. In recent years, this test has gained authority, but the recommendation of the group 8 teacher along with the opinion of the pupil and his/her parents remains a crucial factor in choosing the right form of secondary education.

The Cito test is not mandatory; some schools instead administer the Nederlandse Intelligentietest voor Onderwijsniveau ("Dutch intelligence test for educational level", usually abbreviated to NIO-toets) or the Schooleindonderzoek ("School final test").

A considerable number of elementary schools are based on a particular educational philosophy, for instance the Montessori Method, Pestalozzi Plan, Dalton Plan, Jena Plan, or Freinet. Most of these are public schools, but some special schools also base themselves on one of these educational philosophies.