For the love of enrichment classes

Parents living in Singapore are spoilt  for choice – when it comes to enrichment classes that is. There is enrichment of the arty type, musical type, dance type, performance type, sporty type, language…the list goes on.

Recently, a question popped into mind: Does my child actually need enrichment classes to grow and develop well? 

Now, let me say on the onset that I’m not against enrichment classes. When Vera turned two, I remember having a conversation with the hubby on what classes to go for. Because we chose a mainstream childcare centre that was close to our home, it did not offer much by way of enrichment classes. No gym, no specialty art, no…you know what I mean. So the kiasu Singaporean in me wondered if my daughter was going to “lose out” in any way in the future. (It’s not something I like to acknowledge, but if you poke around my heart deep enough, the fear is there.)

Well, it’s been 14 months since then. Vera has since moved from the childcare centre to a kindergarten, as we wanted brother and sister to spend more time together – you know doing stuff like perfecting the art of snatching toys from each other without mummy yelling and removing the said toys at once.


My point is…Vera is developing well and is like any normal girl her age, without any external classes except for kindy. But can I really conclude that enrichment classes don’t matter that much?

I guess it boils down to personal choice and individual situations. For us, we are blessed to have the grannies around to play with the kids, while mum and dad are away making hay while the sun shines. Now that I’m home two extra weekdays a week, we get to spend time exploring new places, doing simple art and learning activities, reading, singing songs… (Vera enjoys putting on little song / dance items to entertain us too.)

Come weekends, we get to spend extended periods playing, running about at the playground, meeting up with friends, and doing some craft or artwork. I guess, by the grace of God, we haven’t run out of activity ideas for the kids. Yet. (And if one day we really do, there’s always the trip to the playground that will save the day, right?)

But I digress. If you’re considering enrichment classes, maybe it’s good to start with some basic questions:

– What will truly enrich my child’s life? Is it something that I can’t fully provide for at home?

– What is my child inclined to? Does s/he display a gifting in certain areas or preferences for particular types of activities?

– What is his/her learning style? Is the enrichment provider’s teaching style a good match for my child? 

– What are your priorities/goals as a family? eg. For us we’ve identified that the sibling relationship and just being able to play together is foremost right now.

In a social context where usually both parents have formal employment outside the home, enrichment classes can play a supplementary role, and ‘enrich’ the child’s learning experience. Employed effectively, they can encourage and build your child up in an area of gifting, or even in an area of perceived lack (for example, in the Chinese language).

But choose wisely, as time and resources are limited.

So…we’ve chosen to space out enrichment classes for Vera. Now that she’s turned three, we are planning to embark on art workshops (for the first time) during the June holidays. So far we’ve been having fun with simple art activities at home, so I think it would be great to expose her to some art lessons.

Further down the road, we might do a performance related one as well, since Vera loves performing so much. Next year, we might also think about swimming and/or music lessons.

Every parent wants the best for their children. And I see it as my privilege to be able to learn alongside them, encourage them to try new things, and to water their thirst for learning and exploration.

At the same time, my ideal is to be able to do more home-learning activities with them. Some days I may feel inadequate and tight on time, but still every effort should be worth it.

But what do you think? What enrichment classes have you considered for your child? 

Check out this article for home-learning tips and ideas:

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  1. says

    My kids go for tennis classes as I can’t play and they’ve somehow had a fixation on the game. No other classes as we prefer home-learning 😉

    • says

      Hi mama J, that’s true, sports is one area where we usually need professional help unless we are really good at it. I know you prefer home-learning as that’s what you blog most often about, and that’s also why I read your blog! 🙂

      • says

        Thanks, June! I really appreciate the affirmation.

        I too sometimes feel pressure about whether I’m doing enough for my kids. I think Malaysian parents can be quite kiasu too, although judging from my many Singaporean friends the pressure is greater over your side of the causeway ….

        I keep reminding myself parenting is all about building relationships and character training, not about producing a multi-talented child. I don’t want make my kids feel as if the intrinsic worth of a human being lies in his/her performance – which is the feeling I often get from watching other parents compare their kids and brag about what they can do at their age. Our kids are special as they are and there’s no need to make them feel guilty for not being able to play the piano well!

  2. says

    A post with a well balanced view. As a parent, we have a natural inclination towards providing the best for our kids. And in the context of living here in Singapore, there will always be that naggy thought at the back of our minds to some extent if we have done our best and if we are doing enough.

    Though my Dumpling goes for Chinese sessions daily, I had my own “moment” when I saw a K1 child’s work in another blog – the child is already introduced to Chinese spelling (ting xie).

    But I still choose to stick to my guns and limit the weekend “enrichment” to non academic stuff (been attending swimming sessions for a year + and did Arts session for a few terms and we stopped) and just let my Dumping enjoy family time with us for the moment.

    By heading outdoors – farms at Kranji, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, Qian Hu, etc., we enjoy every weekend together and we also have the opportunity to observe, discuss things (“Where did the water puddle go? It was there earlier” to “Mummy, is the Moon a star or a planet?”) and build her general knowledge and develop her critical thinking skills. And yes, like you, I want to be part of that discovery process and witness the sparkle in her eyes and hear the wonderment in her voice when she “works out” how things work in her little mind. 🙂 For that, I am thankful, thankful for having the chance to be just there.

    • says

      Hey Alicia, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I find that despite telling myself I will not compare, will not feel pressured, etc, I still end up feeling fearful and insecure at times! But I don’t want to give in to that fear and start acting / reacting from that position of insecurity.

      Similar to you, I see that there’s so much more to childhood than academic pursuits and learnings ABC’s, Chinese, and phonics. And much of it is through experiencing nature, art, in an up close and personal way. I guess it’s about achieving balance.

      At the end of the day, I would like to see enrichment classes that intentionally involve parents and through this, be able to extend that learning experience into the home as well.

      Btw, I find what you’re doing inspiring. I like the way you organise your learning activities and am sure you guys will reap the fruit of your time and efforts in time to come. Really like your latest Titanic-themed learning too!

  3. says

    June!! I love this! Reminds me of my thoughts when Layla was younger. We held off all enrichment till Layla was 4. After that, we picked “fun” enrichment for a while–dance, gym, swimming. But we had loads of time back then, before Layla entered school at K2. Right now we’ve gone back to free family-and-play time as a priority, so she’s down to one ballet class a week.

    • says

      Hi Evelyn, thanks for sharing that. Fun enrichment sounds pretty good to me. Helps me to think through and prioritize what I really would like Vera to experience too.

      Family and play time…we can never get enough of that can we really? 🙂

  4. CE says

    I sent my kids to pianos and swimming. I hope they could have at least one healthy hobby so that they will not rely too much on electronics games to pass their time when they are older. They are 7 and 5 so could start more ‘serious’ learninhg. Me too, prefer non-academic classes since they are already learning in school. However I do bear in mind to observe their interest in those activities as so not to stress them (and myself hehe…) too much. Like what you’ve said, resources are scared thus have to choose wisely the activities.

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hi CE, thanks for sharing. I also think that developing an interest in sports or music would be more fruitful than electronic games. It’s great that you have this balanced approach towards enrichment activities, and that you let your kids’ interests lead the way. Thanks for leaving me a comment!

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