Does tuition give preschoolers a real educational advantage?
More and more parents are looking into preschool tuition for their young children. Will it really help the kids get ahead? Is getting ahead really important? One of our contributors shares her thoughts
Babydoll is turning five this year and as absurd as it sounds, I am already considering to send her for preschool tuition. I know I am not the only overly eager parent. The other moms I know are also giving the same thoughts or have already sent their preschoolers for tuition from English to Mandarin to Math.
While I am giving heavy considerations to do the same, I am also hesitant at the same time. I question myself over and over again if tuition for my five-year-old is really necessary. As I speak to the other moms, some insist it is essential, others scorn at that idea. I can understand both sides of the argument.
Many parents are worried about primary school. They fear that their children would not be able to keep up at primary school or even worse, fall behind their peers. Tuition becomes their solution to tackling their fears.
Having an elder child in primary school, I do think the student must be sufficiently prepared before embarking primary one schooling. She must be able to read and understand fairly well (in both languages). Also, if she is able to grasp simple mathematical concepts (sequencing, more, less), she is well prepared for primary school.
From my experience and observation, as long as the child can do these, it is really not necessary to send her for tuition classes. It is even more unnecessary if the kindergarten already has an outstanding curriculum that more than prepares the preschooler for primary school.
Primary one schooling is not as difficult as most parents think it is. The challenge kicks in only in upper primary levels. I personally think primary one and two syllabus are manageable, even students without tuition should be able to breeze through it. Many parents seem to be over preparing their children, sending their pre-schoolers to tuition for every subject. It is important that we pace our children and be careful that they don't get burnt out. Primary school is a six years journey after-all. I rather we save that sum of money and send them for tuition at upper primary.
I know some parents send their preschoolers for tuition so that they can get a competitive edge over their peers. If you believe that, you will be surprised to know that there are students who emerge tops even without tuition. From what I can see, tuition is not the key to getting a head-start. It depends a lot on the child. As long as she is not motivated or lazy, she will still be outdone by another who has no tuition but is a lot more motivated and earnest. The key to getting that head-start is the child's attitude towards learning.
That said, there are times where it is essential we send our preschoolers for tuition. As I said earlier, the student must be able to read fairly well in order to cope in primary school. If the preschooler is struggling to read or grasp the language by age six, be it English or Mandarin, it may be worth considering sending her for reading classes. Otherwise, you may be facing an uphill battle from there.
Also, if you find yourself hopeless in a subject and your child needs a lot help in that subject, it may be wise to send your child for foundation classes at the least. Like many families, we are quite weak in Mandarin. So, we sent our eldest son for Mandarin tuition when he was in upper kindergarten. Truth be told, it helped him a lot. Although, I do know some of his classmates, who have never attended any tuition, did equally well.
So, if you were to ask me if preschoolers need tuition, I would have to say no. Unless your preschooler is struggling with the basics like reading or unless you are convinced that your child will not be able to keep up with the primary one syllabus.
Tuition or no tuition is a personal choice, no one can tell us if it is right or wrong. We all do it for some reasons, mostly out of love for our children. But we got to play our cards right, sometimes tuition is not the solution, sometimes it is. Sign up for tuition only if it is necessary.
As for me, I have decided to sit out on tuition for now. I am happy enough that my pre-schooler is reading in both languages and her grasp of mathematical concepts is not fantastic but it is acceptable (to me). Moreover, her kindergarten is doing a great job in imparting the knowledge she needs. I'll check in on her again when she turns 6, I hope we can still sit out then!