I know this topic on tuition is going to have 2 camps on it. Hence I need to put a disclaimer that this is not a post to say having tuition is a bad thing but what I feel how a child’s precious life should be. If needed, I may send my kids to tuition, but, it must meet some consideration criteria before I will do that. I will address my take on this later.

My eldest, Missy 10 is in P4 and No. 2, Master 8 in P2 and No. 3, Master 3 going to pre-school soon. From birth till now, all 3 of them have not had any enrichment classes and I hope to keep it this way for as long as it is possible.

There are many parents who send their children for tuition or enrichment classes at a tender age. There is no right or wrong. These parents usually want their children to have a head start in life and be high achievers in their adult life. It may be for the reason of learning things ahead of other peers. It may be due to some children need tuition for extra academic assistance or just want to be ahead in the syllabus than others. And it could be due to the reason that some parents do not want to leave to chance and cannot imagine failure to happen to their children.

For me, I feel that a child’s life, which I am defining here as the category of zero to 16 age of life, is too precious to spend too many waking hours on academic stuff. Formal education can last for about 16 years from P1 to University. Some spent 20 years of their life in academic. Our Missy 10 spends about 6 academic hours in school + 2 hours of extra academic classes which totals to 8 hours on studying, and I have not added the time she spends on homework and assessment. If a child goes for tuition after school, that would mean spending another 2 more hours, not inclusive of the school homework and tuition homework that a child will need to do when he / she gets home. Oh, and the travelling time. Nowadays academic pressure is everywhere and our poor children are subjected to all these stresses at a tender age. They should be enjoying their rightful childhood, doing simple things like play. I wonder how these children will look back in life with not much memories of being a child except going for tuition and studying.

5 reasons that I am putting off tuition for as long as possible.

1. Over-reliance on tuition assistance instead of trying to do one’s best by himself
I strongly believe that when a child has tuition, he relies much on the “study” part to the tuition teacher. I remember reading a book when I was young about a student who was lazy and imagined that there was a Math box that could be installed in his brain that would store all Math theories in his head so that he understood Math without studying for it. And that goes on for other subjects too. If a child constantly has tuition and has known tuition all his childhood life, then he may be over-reliant on external help to learn a topic which he otherwise should have paid more attention in class and figured out on his own. When he does not pay attention in class or understands a topic, he will tend not to ask in class because he has a tuition to fall back on. Or, he may have learnt topics in advance taught in tuition and be bored during curriculum lessons, henceforth switches off in class.

Recently, I attended a talk by Wei Jian Hui (Senior advisor to Appreciation Education). He told us that it is important for a baby to be delivered naturally. If this baby is able to come out through the birth canal on his own naturally, there is a satisfaction of victory as he did it by himself. I find this philosophy very interesting to use to describe that kids should be left to study and learn on their own. Sadly, parents these days do too much for their kids to the extent of risking the loss of their kids’ innate abilities. Like what Wei laoshi said in his words, parents these days DO TOO MUCH, CARE TO MUCH AND HELP TOO MUCH (做太多,管太多,帮太多)!

2. We cannot afford the hefty tuition fees
How much is a tuition class nowadays?
I remember when I was in my University days, I taught part time one-to-one tuition to primary school and secondary school children. As a new tuition teacher, my fees were $25 for 2 hours, making $200 for 8 times tuition in a month. When I was a little more experienced, my fees for Secondary school students were $25 for 1 hour. I am not exactly sure how much are the fees nowadays. But a google search for Learning Lab, a group class tuition costs about $60 per session which totals up to $240 per month. Multiply that by 4 subjects, parents have to pay for about $1000 for one child. If you have 3 children like me, then, it will be between $2000 to $3000 each month depending on whether your children enrol for all subjects. If you are rich, then these costs mean nothing, but for me, this is too much to bear. I will try to teach my children if they need help or draft a home study plan with them. I always tell my elder 2 kids, if they study well on their own without tuition help, we can save loads of money in a year and save up for a family holiday or for expenses to bring them out for play. At the end of the year, I usually award them with a gift that costs less than $20 or $30 if they show their efforts. No specific marks. Just purely show that they have done their best.

3. I want to spend more time with my children, so no tuition please…
How much time do I have with each of my child when I reach home from work and during weekends?
With such precious and limited time, do I really want to let tuition take away my children from me?
We enjoy family bonding time together during weekends. We love to go out to have fun. I dread examination preparation period which means we usually have to spend a couple of hours on Sat and Sun to go through academic matters with each child. I much prefer to play board games, run in the park, laze around, anything but studying together. I am still a laid back mum despite what we went through the failure of Math last year. Life is too precious and short to be spent studying, studying and studying.

4. Creativity is the future trend and academic-focus is outdated.
With great technology and invention evolving in this century, the future may not need so many academic achievers anymore. The story on the Math box installation in the brain may just be the thing in future. Who needs to study anymore? Let’s just leave the geniuses to do the job while the rest focus on being creative and to use our brains for advancing on more relevant future markets.

We may not need so many phds and 1st class honours which I am sure will be over abundant very soon. So maybe we need not be so academic focus afterall. Let’s just go back to the basics and let our kids learn naturally and let them gain survival skills on their own. With too much hand holding, they will never learn much and grow up as independent beings. I want my kids to not rely on external help but learn what is taught in school by themselves. They will have only one laid back mum as standby resource.

5. I can accept less than Aces results and failures.
If you remember my post on “A Laidback mum’s price on academic“, I was disappointed at my Missy 10’s failure in Math. But now I am going to tell you that I am happy that she failed before. The most important thing is experiencing the disappointment, her expectations of what she wants for herself moving forward, and how she does to make it happen.

Come to think of it, I had failed before in small tests. It is no big deal and certainly better than one who has never encounter failure and might not come to terms with the defeat.

I am certainly not one who demand my children to consistently ace their exams. Why should they be expected to answer all exam questions correctly and flawlessly? An average result to me is good enough as long as they show that they have done their best. Most importantly, they should not be studying to meet MY EXPECTATIONS. They should be studying FOR THEMSELVES.

Having said all these, I feel that tuition is a means to help a child catch up with academic should he/she really has difficulty understanding what is taught in class and falls back consistently in class. It should be seen as a walking stick than roller blades for acceleration to advance what should be taught at the right age. I will send my children to tuition under 2 circumstances:
1. Their basics are really too poor despite their efforts in learning and I am unable to help much.
2. Relationship between my kids and I got worse after I teach them. That can happen easily as teaching your own kids is never easy with much tantrums to be tolerated.

All these about paper chase can be non-relevant when our children grow up. For one thing I am very sure, I will give my children ample time for play for as long as school homework allows. That means I am willing to accept failures from them and less than aces results. My children should have their rightful childhood.

There is so much to life. We only realize that when we become adults. But it applies to children too. They should be given their rightful childhood and play when they are supposed to be playing. Academics is not everything of a child’s life.