How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Enrichment?

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How Do You Know If Your Child Needs Enrichment2

I often tell students that it is terribly cliched to start an essay with a dictionary definition. But I’m going to go against my own advice here, and do just that:

This definition can be used to weigh the billion dollar tuition industry. Will sending your child for enrichment classes improve or enhance him/her in some way?

Enrichment classes can cover a whole host of subjects, even sports and music. And those ballet, violin, football and swimming lessons can teach your child teamwork, improve his/her hand-eye coordination and sense of rhythm and memory. But for the purpose of this article, let's focus on the academic enrichment classes, the math, science or language tuition that 7 in 10 students in Singapore go for.

Before letting your child join the ranks of those students, think about why you want to do so. Then, weigh the pros and cons of your tuition agency of choice.


Consider your motives

Sending your child to activities after school is a big commitment because of time and money. It’s important, then, that you drill down into the reasons why you are planning to do so. Here are some questions to help you figure out why you want to send your child for enrichment and if it is necessary.

  • They are behind in certain subjects at school

      • Have you spoken to their class teacher about this?

      • Are other class teachers having more success with teaching your child? Could they pass on some tips?

      • Is there anything that you can do at home to help? Can your child’s teacher suggest any resources that might help you to do this?

  • You want your child to communicate more or grow in confidence

      • Is paying for an academic course the best bet then? Think about your child’s hobbies and interests and cater to these

      • If you do decide on an enrichment course, find out about their methodology: Are collaboration/group work and speech big parts of the teaching style there?

  • The other children are attending enrichment classes

      • This is a completely normal and rational concern, but try not to let it be the biggest driving factor in your decision. As long as your child is healthy, happy and trying their best then this is enough!

Choosing the 'right' tuition centre

In Singapore, there are more than 800 registered tuition centres, excluding those with fewer than 10 studentsFinding the right one can be a daunting task! If you decide that you are going to go down the enrichment route, then here are some tricks to help you find the right one:Education In The 22nd Century
  • Ask about their pedagogy: What approach do they take to teaching? It’s always a good sign when critical thinking, teamwork and fun are part of the equation!

  • Look at the classroom set-up: Are the tables laid out in such a way to encourage group work? Do you really want to pay for your child to sit and listen to the teacher talk for the duration of their lesson? Children aren’t passive receptacle’ waiting to be filled with knowledge - they are enquirers who should be encouraged to think and ask questions

  • Ask to see examples of workbooks/materials. I'd advise you to avoid worksheet-heavy centres like the plague because you can buy an assessment book for that sort of rote learning

  • Ask around — there are many forums online where other parents talk about their tuition centre experiences, try and get a feel for the centre

  • Ask to attend a trial lesson — avoid doing this on open house days where the best teachers are often drafted in. Ask whether your child can attend a normal timetabled lesson, preferably in the time slot you are interested in

  • If your child does attend a trial lesson, ask them about it! Avoid the, 'What did you learn?' question which requires a whole host of complex thinking skills to answer, but ask them, 'What did you do?' and, 'Tell me what you enjoyed/didn’t enjoy?'

I hope this post can help you make a decision if you are considering enrichment. Meanwhile, I’d like to leave you with two things I believe are the most important:

First, don’t feel pressured into sending your child to tuition. You know your child best, so do what feels right and not what everyone is doing.

Second, avoid cram centres. Students can do this sort of work at home and a key thing to consider is that we don’t want to harm a child’s view of education. If they are to grow into life-long learners, then they need to love education and flourish within it.

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