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Preschool system in Belgium


We are moving to Brussels in a couple of months. My son would be 1.5 years old by then. I am curious to know about the education system over there. We are likely to live in Etterbeek area.
Could you please let me know generally by what age do kids start school and preschool? And what is the procedure. Is admission a battle or isn't a problem usually?
We speak English and very less french.
Thanks for your help.


He must be born in early 2013?

He can start 1st maternelle/kleuterklass in September 2016 when he is nearly 3.
There are 3 years of Maternelle. These are not compulsory, but most kids attend full time from quite early on.

He may be able to start after Easter 2016, depending on his exact age and possibly being out of nappies during the day.

He will start 1st primary in 2019. This is compulsory for all kids with a birth year of 2013. But that's not your question, so I won't dwell.

Admission is pot-luck, depending on the school. There is a lot of pressure on places for some schools. Your best bet is to ring the schools of your choice and ask.
Your main choice is going to be language (French or Dutch), and governance (to over-simplify, local commune or denominational).
Most primary schools with a Maternelle give those kids priority for their primary places.

If you work (or intend to), then an important factor is the Garderie, or before-and-after school club. It's basically affordable childcare for most people.

Apr 1, 2014 13:32

Thanks for explaining.
This is interesting. So main school starts at the age of 6? And anything before that is not a mandate?
I come from India and kids by the age of 2 here go to play school for a couple of hours every day (where there is play as well as learning) and by the age of 3 start nursery. I was more keen to know if something of that sort exists? Like for him to join when he turns 2?

Apr 2, 2014 09:27

Formal kindergarten is from age 2.5 or 3, depending on the school.
You can pay for private childcare before that.

You might want to look at what the BCT has on offer for mums with young children.

Apr 2, 2014 12:42

you' ll need to register on time as stated here all depends on the date of birth.
But as you said you speak just little french, your child can catch up.

Apr 3, 2014 12:59

Hi Raj,

If you want I could recommend you a school not to far from Waterloo... It is for English/French speaking children... Don't hesitate to contact me for further info

May 10, 2014 14:20

This post is very helpful. May i ask also as i am moving from Egypt to Belgium and my daughter is in an International school - English system . she is in grade 6 now. so how does this work? the transfer and all? any clue?

Aug 28, 2014 15:53