Now there are no ex­ams or graded tests in Pri­mary 1 or 2. And this changes ev­ery­thing! Should you in­vest more in tu­ition to en­sure Ju­nior is still learn­ing at the cor­rect pace, or will en­rich­ment classes bring more long-term ben­e­fits? Here's how to find t

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Should you in­vest more in tu­ition, or will en­rich­ment give bet­ter ben­e­fits?

Ayear be­fore her son Ashely was due to start Pri­mary 1, Shazeen Tan, an ac­count man­ager in her 40s, de­cided to en­rol him in a well-known Chi­nese en­rich­ment cen­tre to get him up to speed on the lan­guage.

Af­ter the trial les­son, how­ever, she was told that since Ash­ley’s foun­da­tion in Man­darin was weak and it would be fu­tile to keep him in the pro­gramme with the other Kinder­garten 2 stu­dents as they were all well ahead of him.

“I was dis­ap­pointed and fu­ri­ous at the en­rich­ment cen­tre for turn­ing me down, but then thought that maybe tu­ition was a bet­ter route for Ash­ley since he needed more guid­ance,” Shazeen re­calls.

“So, I put out a mes­sage on Face­book for rec­om­men­da­tions for a Chi­nese tu­tor and found some­one who got Ash­ley ready for Pri­mary 1 in six months.”

Ash­ley ended up scor­ing 70 per cent for mother tongue at the end of Pri­mary 1 last year. His proud mother adds that the now Pri­mary 2 stu­dent scored third high­est in his class re­cently for his term 3 Chi­nese pa­per.

Shazeen is grate­ful that she was able to find a great tu­tor for her son in the nick of time, but also ad­mits it was also a les­son learnt that well-known and ex­pen­sive en­rich­ment cen­tres aren’t al­ways the so­lu­tion to your child’s aca­demic prob­lems. The truth about en­rich­ment In a coun­try where ed­u­ca­tion is seen as the key to suc­cess, Sin­ga­pore par­ents are al­ways on the look­out for the best en­rich­ment or tu­ition classes for their kids to en­sure they have com­pet­i­tive edge over their peers.

Most of them en­gage help be­cause they feel their chil­dren are not cop­ing well in school and need ad­di­tional sup­port, says Ann Tan, a pri­vate tu­tor with 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s done with the best of in­ten­tions, but is it nec­es­sary, es­pe­cially if kids are meant to be learn­ing ev­ery­thing in school?

“We all learn in dif­fer­ent ways and we all have dif­fer­ent strengths and weak­nesses. Schools do a won­der­ful job of try­ing to en­sure ev­ery­one reaches their po­ten­tial but ul­ti­mately there is only so much that a teacher can do when faced with a class of over 30 stu­dents and a cur­ricu­lum that they have to fol­low,” points out Gemma Church, head of Young Learn­ers at the Bri­tish Coun­cil, which of­fers English en­rich­ment and tu­ition classes for pre-school, pri­mary and sec­ondary stu­dents.

Once you’ve de­cided that your child would gen­uinely ben­e­fit from ex­tra help, which route do you take – en­rich­ment or tu­ition?

“I think the en­rich­ment school I tried out with Ash­ley is great for kids from preschool to K2, who are start­ing out, but not for older kids who need more guid­ance,” says Shazeen.

Af­ter her ex­pe­ri­ence with Ash­ley, she started her younger son Kyle with Man­darin en­rich­ment at preschool level.

This could be largely due to the fact that en­rich­ment classes have a big­ger teacher-to-stu­dent ra­tio – any­thing from one teacher to 10 stu­dents or as many as 40 stu­dents per class.

That's a big num­ber com­pared to tu­ition classes, which are con­ducted in small groups of four to five stu­dents or one-to-one with the tu­tor.

The main pur­pose of en­rich­ment, as the name sug­gests, is to “en­rich” your child and not “teach” them, points out Su­mathi Ja­yaram, prin­ci­pal of Ju­lia Gabriel Cen­tre.

“This means that any learn­ing or skills ac­quired will com­pli­ment their growth and de­vel­op­ment as a whole. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for your child to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new with­out the pres­sure of feel­ing they have to ex­cel or achieve a cer­tain re­sult,” Su­mathi adds.

Ju­lia Gabriel’s read­ers and writ­ers pro­gramme and

En­rich­ment al­lows your kid to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new with­out the pres­sure of ex­celling.

speech and drama classes use word games, art ac­tiv­i­ties, mu­sic, rhythm, role-play and other vis­ual me­dia to en­gage, stim­u­late, mo­ti­vate and in­spire their stu­dents.

En­rich­ment classes are also great if you have a lit­tle so­cial but­ter­fly who thrives on in­ter­act­ing with oth­ers in a group set­ting and who has no learn­ing is­sues.

At the Bri­tish Coun­cil, en­rich­ment classes al­low early learn­ers to pick up English while nur­tur­ing their cre­ativ­ity, crit­i­cal think­ing and so­cial skills. Older stu­dents get ex­posed to read­ing and pub­lic speak­ing to boost their con­fi­dence.

It’s all in line with what par­ents are look­ing for, says Gemma. “Some are look­ing for their chil­dren to im­prove in their per­for­mance in school or ex­cel in ex­am­i­na­tions.

“Oth­ers want their child to learn some­thing that is not taught in school, to ex­pose them to new ex­pe­ri­ences, pick up a skill or ex­plore an area of in­ter­est,” she adds.

This en­vi­ron­ment is also best for kids who have a cer­tain level of un­der­stand­ing of the sub­ject says psy­chol­o­gist Daniel Koh. Other­wise, your child may feel lost when they can’t keep up with the classes and if they don’t re­spond to the teach­ing method.

“En­rich­ment is for those who want to learn more about a sub­ject and ex­plore ways to ap­ply what they have learnt in a wider scope,” Daniel adds.

“Tu­ition ben­e­fits those who re­quire their own pace of learn­ing, or who need prac­tice, guid­ance and re­in­force­ment on what has been taught in school, plus help with home­work.”

Why opt for tu­ition?

In­deed, pri­vate tu­ition, ei­ther in small groups or one-onone, is a great way to ad­dress the spe­cific needs of a child.

If you opt for a small group set­ting, it’s best that all stu­dents are on the same learn­ing curve, so no­body is left be­hind. Group tu­ition classes foster dis­cus­sion and so­cial skills such as tak­ing turns to speak, and knowl­edge build­ing through shar­ing of ideas, Gemma says.

How­ever, if your child has spe­cific learn­ing needs – poor con­cen­tra­tion or gets eas­ily dis­tracted or bored – a oneon-one ap­proach will be more ben­e­fi­cial. This is be­cause tu­tors can tai­lor their teach­ing to your child’s learn­ing style.

“In­di­vid­ual tu­ition will keep stu­dents fo­cused as the tu­tor un­der­stands ex­actly how to teach the child to man­age their spe­cific is­sues. They will help a child to learn and process in­for­ma­tion suc­cess­fully,” adds Ann, who teaches both pri­mary and sec­ondary level stu­dents, and also pro­vides cus­tomised on­line tu­tor­ing.

“Also, for chil­dren who are strug­gling with cer­tain ed­u­ca­tional as­pects, these can be ad­dressed more eas­ily than in a group set­ting.”

Should you de­cide to go down the tu­ition route, ex­pect to fork out about $80 an hour for a highly-qual­i­fied pri­vate tu­tor and $30 an hour if you choose a group class.

How­ever, don’t de­cide just based on the price – a more ex­pen­sive tu­tor may not al­ways be the best fit.

There are other things to keep in mind be­fore de­cid­ing on the per­fect tu­tor for your child (see Find the Right Tu­tor).

Then there are also the ad­di­tional value-add re­quire­ments you might need ac­cord­ing to your in­di­vid­ual needs.

In Shazeen’s case, since Ash­ley had a lim­ited Chi­ne­ses­peak­ing back­ground, she needed a tu­tor who could also speak English in or­der to con­nect with her son and help him through the ini­tial steep learn­ing curve.

She ad­mits that it made a big dif­fer­ence to Ash­ley’s suc­cess in pick­ing up Man­darin as fast as he did and ex­celling in it.

“She re­ally was a god­send and kept to her prom­ise of get­ting Ash­ley ready for Pri­mary 1 in six months, which was all the time he had,” adds Shazeen.

“Af­ter that, I got over my dis­ap­point­ment with the en­rich­ment cen­tre and re­alised this was the best route for my son.”

Tu­ition ben­e­fits those who re­quire their own pace of learn­ing, or who need prac­tice, guid­ance and re­in­force­ment.

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