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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why, Yes. I Send My Kids To Tuition.

Flipping through the newspaper this morning prompted me to write this post where this is a hot topic raised on a national level. More so when I read a letter in the forum section by a mother which read "Tuition not necessary for good grades".

I have valid reasons for sending my children to tuition. If there wasn't any need to, I don't think I want to spend the additional money on extra classes, nor the extra time spent on ferrying/waiting which could have been better spent in quality.

As I go along in this post, I will be extracting certain portions of her letter and share how I personally feel about what was written.

"My elder daughter took her Primary School Leaving Examination last year and was among the top 10 per cent in her cohort." 

Well in this instance, I'm happy for her as a parent, who has a self-motivated and disciplined child that she need not worry about. For all we know, her daughter is just naturally born gifted and if I have children like that, I would be the least worried about her academics. 

My children are not academic ambitious, as much as I would like them to. Though this is not the reason why I send them for extra classes. 

Currently, my son in secondary one has no tuition as he already has a packed schedule with CCAs, coming home about 6pm almost everyday. It would be cruel to take away the precious time he has left to spend at home with the family, play and tackling homework each day. So I am just holding my breath that he will be self-motivated enough soon to be responsible with his revision and hope that he pulls through the weaker subjects. 

"I was shocked when my younger daughter told me recently that she was probably the only one in her class who did not attend tuition classes. Some of her classmates had two tutors for each subject, making it eight teachers for four subjects."

I am equally appalled by the sharing of the second sentence. Now this is absolutely kiasu, I must say. But then again, every child is different. And you may be surprised by how much a child can love tuition this much! No kidding! In fact, I've heard of a minority who thrive on tuition better than in school!

For us, we made the decision to send ours for tuition on their weaker subjects in school. Namely mother tongue which I wrote before on the challenges they face. Mathematics is another core subject they both can tackle however, as it is a difficult subject for me to guide them from home since there are changes to the way problems are being solved, I am not confident on giving advise on the topics as they progress. My husband would help if he is home however, we feel that they need a tutor whom they can tap on with proper resources, lest we give the wrong advice since we are not equipped with the current syllabus. So a tutor comes into the picture. It is not about having a tutor who gives more homework. It is about a tutor who can guide and explain what they do not understand from school and customize their learning journey if necessary. With understanding comes knowledge. When knowledge is applied properly, doesn't everything just fall into place?

"If teachers are doing their job, pupils are attentive in class and parents are doing their best to motivate their children and supervise their schoolwork, then there is no need for tuition to ramp up one's results."

I am very sure our teachers are doing their job. In fact, I think it's a very tough job to have to maintain everyone's undivided attention in class and ensure that every child registers what he/she teaches. In reality, I believe not everyone would. Just like my children who would sometimes let their minds drift away during class. This was what their teachers feedback.

For us, it is not so much to "ramp up one's results".  It is about being given individual attention in a small group tuition setting so that they can ask whatever without feeling the need to be embarrassed, as compared to a class of 40 in school. With this personalized setting to address their specific needs, they will grasp the topic better and would help them tackle the challenges. They still don't score exceedingly well but marked gradual improvements, even if its just by 5-10 marks, do make a difference in the grading system. Key point to note here is "improvement" or the very least, "maintenance". Not about the A stars. Though that would be a bonus!

"More importantly, not attending tuition classes gives my children an invaluable asset - the ability to allocate more time for family bonding."

Absolutely agree. However, as parents, we also cannot feign ignorance if we see our child struggling with a subject in school and recognize that they need the extra help. I feel that any parent will decide what is best for their children so that quality time will not be compromised.  

It is also times like this that I am glad to be a stay-at-home-mom because I am able to schedule their tuition on weekday afternoons without much disruption. I am an advocate of quality time with the family and
determined to give my children a balanced life. Ultimately, what is most important is that we know our own childrens' needs and as parents, we must step in to address them. If we don't, who will? It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation.

Till the next post, have a blessed week!

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  1. Totally agree. As I've previously mentioned, although the growing up years are riddled with rules and regulations and decisions made by parents, I am sure that each parent will understand the needs and abilities of their own children best.

    It is not done to simply generalise and make a sweeping statement based on the performance of our own children as compared to others. This is akin to simply ignoring the fact that each individual's child's need, personality and abilities are different.

    Perhaps her letter will be easier to understand and stomach if let's say we are raising a nation of robots. But I. for one, am adopting a wait and see attitude for the boy. I will not demand that he performs to be in the 10% top cohort in his school - all I want is for him to enjoy learning and preparing himself for adulthood.

    Most importantly, Brian and I will teach him how to adapt to life. Be street smart and able to do what is appropriate when faced with challenges. That is something no amount of academic expectations, tuition or academically focused enrichment classes will be able to provide.

    1. Exactly what we are having towards Brandon - a wait and see attitude on his secondary school journey. And I agree, in the end, as we all already know, working and social life is far beyond what they study in school. So it's all about keeping the balance.

  2. The points that were highlighted from her letter are rather one-sided. Frankly I don't see anything wrong with tuition, esp when the child finds it hard to catch up. There are still many children who need tuition just to help them get a reasonable grade. Like you said, she could have brilliant kids, with super attention spans and memory and so can remember everything the teacher teach in class.

    How about under achievers in over-achieving schools - when you have the school syllabus that is catered to the smart kids who are the majority in class, then the child who is under-achieving will definitely need help from tuition just to catch up with the rest.

    Unfortunately her remarks sound so much like a typical sweeping statement and only reflects her attitudes as a parent specific to the learning capabilities of her own kids, but not taking into account the differences tat other parents might have with their kids. Now, I then wonder what was the objective of writing her piece; was it to convince others that she thinks tuition is not needed if you have smart kids like hers, or that all other parents who send their kids to tuition are just being kia-su?

    1. It was my first thought too - the letter seemed one sided. There are indeed children who needs some form of guidance to be in the same rat race as their peers. It doesn't mean that tuition would help them ace high scores. It is sometimes just so that a pass can be achieved. What a difference a 1 mark can make sometimes!

  3. "If teachers are doing their job..."!!!! What audacity for her to even insinuate that teachers aren't doing theirs. Excuse me, we're still talking about mass education here where our system adopts a one size fits all approach and clearly, we will have 38-44 kids in one class who have different needs and abilities. Tuition helps to personalize their learning in many ways.

    So miffed at her nose which is high up in the air. I'd like to see her teach a class for a term and show me some results.

    Agree with all that you mentioned!

  4. A lot of things are always easier said than done. Regretfully, her letter did not go down very well with some of us here. But chin up! Am sure the majority of us appreciate what our teachers did for us, and now for our children.

  5. One way to get your kids interested in study is to 'surround' them with books from the library from as young an age as possible. This helps to arouse their interests in what you can find in books. Provide books from a diverse range of topics guided by what you think they should be exposed to and of course be sensitive to their personal interest. Very important too is to read to them regularly. You would be surprised that some kids has photographic memories and are able to recite a whole story, word for word, before they have learned to read! The books should be age-appropriate, but do not rule out contents that may seem ahead of their chronological age esp. when they has shown the ability to understand and grasp the topic. We have a daughter (we have two) who as a very young primary school student was able to refer to butterflies and orchids by their scientific names because she has a natural interest in them. With her mum's help she has grown butterflies at home in a plastic container from egg to when they emerged from their pupal stage as young butterflies! This can be vey exciting and stimulating. (She is profoundly and severely hearing impaired from birth but was taught to speak and read by my wife with the help of a free correspondence course offered by a philanthropic organisation for the hearing impaired in the US, the John Tracy Clinic. She attended mainstream schools run by the MOE.)

    Generally, we encourage our kids educationally in whatever they are interested in. No forcing them into our mould of what they should be reading or be interest in including outside activities. Always be positive with them.

    Like most kids school can be a drag sometimes, but no outside tuition. We only ask that they do their best in class and in exams and left it at that. My wife tutored them only when they have difficulties which is more often the exception than the rule.

    Perhaps another important point to note is not to encourage over indulgence in TV watching and encourage them to watch good nature documentaries. There have been many pretty good ones on Mediacorp previously, in particular the those hosted by David Attenborough. Constantly encourage the reading habit - books, newspapers, magazines even comics! Yes, also do indulged them in electronic toys/games where kids could be seen spending hours on tiny gadgets punching buttons! Watch it, for it can potentially dull their minds.

    Our two 'kids' are now in university.

    1. Thank you very much for dropping and and taking the time to comment on my post. I do understand where you are coming from and it would have been easier if I had started it when they are very much younger.

      But really that said, all kids have different personalities/goals. While some ace through without difficulty, some don't. Mine falls in between. Needs plenty of pushing just to deliver average results. I guess you got your footing right, from the beginning, so it was a breeze for your family. :)

      great to know your kids are in university! It is our hope for our children too.

  6. typo error! in following para of my comments:
    " Yes, also do indulged them in electronic toys/games where kids could be seen spending hours on tiny gadgets punching buttons! Watch it, for it can potentially dull their minds. "

    It should be: " Yes, also do NOT indulged them in..."

  7. It's never a breeze although it may sound that way in my telling. My kids are just like most other kids they have their individual personalities, likes, dislikes, different temperaments and so on. They are also very exposed to their peers in school, relatives, cousins, etc. It is very true that the first few years of life (the foundation years) are indeed crucial and that is when parents must come in in a rather big way to mould and shape their children. One must also learn to note and be aware whether certain traits or behaviour come from the gene. In terms of personalities for instant my two kids are very different is a number of areas. It is important to bear that in mind. Also at all times treat them equally. Be scrupulously fair. Kids are sensitive to being given unequal treatment. And as much as possible be transparent.


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