A study by the Straits Times and Nexus Link revealed that four in 10 Singaporean families sent their preschoolers for private tuition.
These enrichment classes taught the basics of primary school subjects like English, Chinese and Mathematics.
According to the poll of 500 families with children under seven, at least two hours is spent on extra classes every week – but how useful is primary school tuition for young children?
Primary School tuition could help children excel academically
The biggest reason cited by the parents for sending their children to classes was to keep up with others. Tuition would benefit kids who may be slower and might have difficulties keeping up in primary school.
The extra enrichment classes would help them be on par with their peers and give them more confidence. Sending kids to a primary school tuition centre could also help children achieve better grades in school. Children would be more familiar with school lessons and are able to participate more actively.
Despite the many benefits of primary school tuition for preschoolers, there are some cons to sending young children for tuition that parents should be aware of.
Excessive tuition might send the wrong message to kids
While some tuition classes may be able to help your child in their studies, do ensure that they get some ‘playtime’ as well and that their schedule is not jam-packed with back-to-back tuition.
When our kids’ schedule is filled with primary school tuition, we could be sending the message that grades are prized above everything else. Children should be able to play and have fun while they still can and learn how to keep a good balance between studies and rest time.
Moreover, most primary school tuition centres would require children to do some form of homework, which might result in more stress. Children would also think that school is all about getting good grades, when the focus should be on the learning process. This would result in them being overly obsessed with results and cause them to dislike school.
Tuition might bring stress to the parents as well
Having extra tuition might even put more stress on the parents, as they have to find the right centres and tutors for their children. Parents would also have to monitor their children’s performance and determine if the tutor is indeed helping their child perform better in school.
In addition, tuition does not come cheap, with some ex-MOE teachers charging up to $50 per hour. Thus, having excessive pre-primary school tuition would also add to the family’s financial burden.
Effectiveness of tuition would depend on the child’s learning habits
Children have different learning styles and some may prefer to study alone, so tuition might not be suitable for all. Moreover, there is a shift in emphasis that is leaning towards creativity in school versus academic results.
The change in PSLE grading system in 2021 which will feature a wider scoring band and not releasing the top scorers for national exams is one sign that we are moving away from academic results. Students are now assessed on character, and schools are moving away from judging performance solely on exam results. As such, going for classes might hinder the child’s creative thinking as most tuition centres feature an academic-based curriculum.
Thus, parents should assess their child’s personality and learning habits before deciding if he/she requires tuition before attending primary school.