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Enrichment classes – Yes or No for your kid?

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Enrichment classes form an integral part of the learning of today’s kids. However, are they worth the fees? Read on to find out.

Even before the baby turns six months old, parents are seen collecting brochures of enrichment classes, which offer varied and interesting opportunities for children of all ages. This is a common sight, especially among those parents who want their baby to develop certain skills even before they enter school.

While these parents think that enrichment classes are a ‘must’, there are a few on the other end of the spectrum who think that children should not be rushed. So are enrichment classes important or are they expendable? Let’s find out.

How do these classes ‘enrich’ your child?

The range of activities and courses that enrichment classes offer are wide – in short, there’s something for everyone. The range of ages is wide too – from six months to even 15 years.

The most common offering is language and mathematics learning. For pre-schoolers, it is pre-words, pre-numerals, pronunciations, and interaction in the language of your choice. There are pure English, pure Mandarin as well as bilingual classes. Many parents are also seen opting for Japanese, making these classes trilingual.

In fact, studies have shown that bilingual children have better socio-cognitive development than monolingual kids1. Bilingual children achieve higher scores than monolinguals on a number of tests of cognitive ability, including mental flexibility, non-verbal problem-solving tasks, and a finer understanding of the grammar and use of a language.

So if your baby is enrolled in a class that helps her learn more than just your own language, it is better for her as she grows up. In addition, if she is exposed to STEM workshops early on, her analytical skills would be better developed than those who are not exposed. Add activities like swimming, crafts, and fun learning, and your kid’s time would be well spent right from the start.

But is it not better to let kids be kids?

Another school of thought is to let the children develop at their own pace. An extreme of this ideology is free-range parenting. Here, the child is not rushed into any form of development and learns from her interaction with the surrounding.

The proponents of this theory believe that rushing a child into learning when she is not yet ready does more harm than good. The children grow up to be more independent, less risk-averse and overall, a bit more inquisitive than other children2. However, this style of parenting has yet to catch on.

Many parents who don’t attach themselves to certain styles of parenting, just are not too inclined to enrol their children in an enrichment centre till they start going to school. For them, learning should begin at a proper age, and that age is not pre-school. They let children play around, developing at their own pace till they are ready to go to school. The formal education when the time comes, according to them, is enough.

One of the other factors that come into play is the cost of this education. A recent assessment shows that in Singapore, the cost of enrichment classes throughout the six years of just pre-school comes to about S$68,376! This is quite substantial for something that parents may see as an optional undertaking.

 

Sources
1Statistics on Infant Care Services for Jan 2015, Early Childhood Development Agency
2Statistics on Child Care Services for Jan 2015, Early Childhood Development Agency
3Source: PAP Community Foundation (PCF)

Average Cost of Preschool Stage
Infant Care over 1 year $17,004
Childcare over 2 years $23,832
Kindergarten fee over 3 years $5,940
1 supplement over 5 years $21,600
Total for 6 years of Preschool $68,376
*Figures are estimates

Verdict?

There is no strong evidence against enrichment classes in particular, and as for early education in general, Nobel laureate economist James Heckman3 concluded in a study that the children who received good quality pre-school developmental education ended up doing better in life.

They were more likely to complete their high school education, less likely to commit a crime, would have better hygiene and would have higher IQs than their counterparts that either did not take part in such programmes or were enrolled in low-quality programmes.

That said, parents should not feel pressured into enrolling their children in these classes. Parents know their children best and are in the best position to gauge their readiness. So if you feel that your child needs that additional bit of encouragement, but you are worried about managing your finances, don’t worry. For a complimentary financial assessment and planning for your child’s future, visit POSB. And POSB is offering a cash reward starting from S$400* when you sign up for any education endowment plans today!

*Terms & Conditions apply.

 

References:

  1. Second Language/Bilingualism at An Early Age with Emphasis on Its Impact on Early Socio-Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Development, Elena Nicoladis, PhD, Monique Charbonnier, PhD, Anamaria Popescu, PhD Student, University of Alberta, Canada, University of Padova, Italy. October 2016, Rev. ed.
  2. From tiger to free-range parents – what research says about pros and cons of popular parenting styles
  3. A Nobel Prize winner says public preschool programs should start at birth

 

Preschooler Development