Does tuition have a place in childhood?

Childhood is precious. What do you remember about yours?

I remember playing marbles, hopscotch, running about with the neighbourhood kids, and getting up to all sorts of mischief with my brother.

Kids today seem to be growing up to a different beat, a more competitive one. The ages of kids attending tuition classes are getting younger. The number of enrichment courses and tuition classes continue to climb, with some programmes even catering to infants as young as six months old.

I spoke to some of my peers and one of them made an insightful remark. She thinks that only a handful of parents in Singapore are truly and deeply “kiasu” (fear losing out); the rest of us are pressured to follow suit because we see everyone else do the same, and we start to worry that our kids will not be able to keep up.

At the end of the day, we just want what is best for our kids. But is tuition and enrichment really the best way to go?

Join me at World Moms Blog today as we ask the question: How do we say yes to the best, and no to the rest?

 

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.

Ahem.

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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