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Friday, August 14, 2015

Are We Kiasu Because We Send Our Kids For Tuition?

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I never believed in tuition. I believe that tuition should only be remedial, to cover the gaps in teaching/learning and not as a means to progress more quickly than other people by learning ahead even before lessons are taught in class.

Yet, why are more and more people sending their children for tuition these days? Are we just being kiasu? After being in the public school system for over 6 years, I realized that this is not necessarily the case.

Why We Need Tuition These Days

Teachers are often too busy and do not have enough time to cover the school syllabus. Sometimes even very hard working teachers not to mention the less dedicated ones, quickly go over the topics to make sure everything is covered within a given time frame. Some teachers rush over the topics. Sometimes kids are asked to mark each other's work. If you are not a stay at home mother who can sit with your child to teach them patiently, you may have no choice but to get extra help.

Both parents are busy working to try to make ends meet. Eventually, that leads to a situation that when a child is left alone when he clearly needs help, he will be behind his peers. If left alone for too long without extra help, he will be left further and further behind. Once the basic foundation is not strong, he will have a lot of catching up to do in later years.

Don't mention tuition to get ahead. In our system, sometimes the kids require tuition just for homework help. There are projects to be done and if you do not have someone around who can give guidance, the child may be lost. We do not want a situation where a child starts hiding homework because he was unable to get them done as he didn't know how to and did not have any help.

How much is enough?

My daughter once told me that a classmate was getting tuition for "Chinese Penulisan" during the after-school compulsory tuition, at a tuition centre and a home one-to-one tuition! 3 separate tuition classes for not only 1 subject but for 1 paper! Clearly that is too much.

We as parents must choose how much tuition is necessary. We do not want to bog our children down with extra workload. Having tuition 7 days a week for every subject is too much. Pick only subjects your child needs help in for example if he is weak in Mandarin and you come from an English speaking home.

How To Get The Best Out Of Tuition For Your Child

  • Get extra tuition only to bridge the gap for weak subjects. Starting tuition at standard one immediately when the child starts school does not give you a chance to assess whether there are any gaps in learning and whether your child actually require tuition. 
  • Allow your child to learn on their own first before you decide whether they need tuition. You do not want to raise a child who is dependant on tutors
  • Do not overload your child with tuition
  • Pick the right time. Having tuition classes till 9-10pm may be too tiring for a child
  • Work with the tuition teacher. Do not leave everything to them.
  • Think about your child and decide whether one-to-one or group tuition is more effective (every child is different)
  • Do not send your child for tuition because of peer pressure but only if there is a true need. Do not be afraid to stand out from the crowd. If  your child does not require tuition because she is following all her subjects in school well, then don't. You can send her for other fun, enjoyable courses instead outside of the exam syllabus or let her get much needed rest, relaxation or exercise
After School Compulsory Tuition

Many Chinese schools these days have after school compulsory tuition. However in some schools, you can still opt out by writing a letter to the school. Do you need these kinds of tuition. Again, it depends on your child. Know your child well. If she seems to be doing well minus the tuition, do not be afraid to opt out. It is not easy to go against the tide. You will probably ask yourself over and over again whether you are doing the right thing. Knowing your child well will help you make the decision whether to opt out or follow the crowd. Many schools start doing this for upper primary students. You can opt out in std 4 and 5 for example and opt in again in Std 6. 

To Send For Tuition Or Not?

There are those who are very strongly against tuition because according to them it makes the child lazy, dependant and addicted to tuition. On the other hand, there are others who strongly believe that tuition is necessary. To send for tuition or not? I think it very much depends on your child and your family circumstances and only you will be the best judge of that. Not others. 

Malaysian parents seeking tutors can now join our Parents/Tutors forum. Start a new topic under "Looking For Home Tuition" or browse for and reply to tutors under "Tutors Available" headings. 


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