Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Random thoughts: wanting the best for our kids

In upbringing, I believe I am a contrarian compared to modern parents. In my line of work, I meet many parents, and have no lack of advice on what enrichment are effective and good for children. U name it, I heard it.

Some like abacus, and renowned enrichment like RR, ICR, ( I dun want to receive lawyer letters) have mixed reviews, and are overrated by the public. Some like shinchida( hope I get the name right), entry level kumon, people swear by it. Some like LL, used to have super reviews but have since receive less flattery review.

I think my son is coping well in languages but is rather weak in Maths, after he finished his swimming course, I might enrolled him in kumon.

What really shocked me is I see parents queuing overnight or get their maids to queue overnight to get into a particular kindergarten. It's fees are almost as expensive as local university, yet when I get off my car from my carpark, I saw sleeping bags and parents trying to keep awake using iPad. Wow. When I went to the mall whereby LL is located, I though people are queuing for million dollars ToTo, but they are actually signing their kids up for very ex. Tuition courses.Talk about brand loyalty

I used to give tuition, when I converse about the son study habits, I was shot down with:" I just want someone to study with him". This study tuition mum syndrome didn't stop at very young age like P1. Very often, when I call parents voicing concerns about their kids academic progression, very often, they would reply, he already had x number of tuitions, before hearing what I have to offer as solution. Is tuition the magic pill?

I have seen responsible kids, both of the same calibre, one has tuition, the other didn't. The one with tuition, performance tend to be quite volatile but is generally still slightly better than the other guy most of the time. But when the guy without tuition understand a concept, he never forgets it, and the baseline never recede.

My mum-in-law also nag at me for not teaching my son. I say let him learn at his own pace, I am more concerned about his values and social skills as he is the only son.

Guess I will regret it when my son fall behind others in school. But, if my son success is due to my pushing, what will he be without me. I have 2 great mothers who groom scholars calibre sons, telling me that they think they shortchanged their sons as they now expect the mothers to remind them and push them.

As long as my son cope well enough to stay in the mainstream of the education, I think I will not change my mindset. Les hope I dun regret my decision. In fact, I gave up a chance for my son to enrolled in a renowned primary school, my MiL is a bit upset, and some ask me why. I say I didn't mind he getting enrolled, but circumstances change, and I dun see the big deal in getting in a renowned school. There are pros and cons, but since the circumstances have it that it is easier to enroll somewhere else, so be it.

Wisdom or stubbornness or selfishness?


  1. sillyinvestor,

    I limited education, single, and have no children. So can't comment to your post. No skin in the game.

    Just dropping by to say hi after reading your comment at AK's blog.


  2. Hi SMOL,

    That's very kind of u. Thank you!!

  3. hello sillyinvestor
    I am guilty being a kiasu mother..i have three children..all three children went through tuitions at different stage of their lives. PSLE,O and A levels. Watching my children grow up, i learnt some lessons I like to share with you...you cant force your child to learn so no amount of tuition will help unless he wants to and motivates himself to do so. As you said, inculcating values are much more important as there is a window where he will listen to you (when he is young/malleable) as he grows older, he makes up his own mind and you can no longer influence him.Trust me you are on the right track.Regarding renowned school..this is what my son told me...when you are in a neighbourhood school, your slightest effort being good in your academic results is deemed excellent ..whereas if you are in a renowned school, half the time your results are mediocre because everyone else results is much better than yours so its a case of half-full or half-empty glass syndrome.. my son likes the half full glass cos when he feels good about himself...he challenges himself to do even better and it keeps at it...

  4. Hi Patrica,

    appreciate your comment on this matter. It must be tough raising three kids, I guess they are grown up now, and you are enjoying your golden years?

    I only have 1 son, while we contemplate about having the second, we are very apprehensive and the plan just get push back and back until I am not so sure about the age gap anymore.

    I am not against tuition per se, but rather blanket tuition without taking into the consideration the child attitude and needs. Blanket tuition or those with tuition everyday, is too much, IMHO

  5. Archoo..... sniff, sniff...

    I was a private tutor for a while as well. The type of students I really enjoyed teaching are the motivated ones but they are uncommon. The type of students I taught mostly are the less motivated ones and the trick was in trying to get them motivated. Not easy but can be done. ;)

    For me, I feel that parents play a more important role in their children's education than a private tutor ever could. I always tell parents that I only see their child for 2 hours a week, sometimes 1 hour. I could be the catalyst to help the child but they must be responsible for enforcing discipline and making sure there is follow through. In fact, I try to make parents sit in during my classes. ;)

    If the parents are uninterested in their child's education and choose to pass all responsibility to the private tutor, sorry, it is not the kind of arrangement I want.

    I am the only private tutor I know who designs a course which spans a finite number of sessions for a student. It could be a young learner or an adult learner but I will design a course which I think would produce the best results for him. It is a course which will span 5 to 10 lessons and usually not more than 15. I don't believe that having more lessons will make a difference.

    What I teach are the fundamentals and I don't think anyone needs to pay me to watch them practice once I have imparted all the relevant knowledge and skills. Well, I could make more money by being a nanny tutor while they practice but it doesn't give me any satisfaction and I don't think it achieves anything meaningful.

    Anyway, my private tutoring days are probably over. My last assignment ended almost a year ago. However, I still believe that parents must be more involved in their children's education, academic or not. :)

  6. Hi AK,

    Why did you sneeze? I didn't curse any tutors, I have many friends from the industry.

    In fact, I work hand in hand with some of them, I told parents not to pull kids from all directions if they are not ready. Will be better for the school and home to sing the same tune. I gave my contacts to the tutor to contact me.

    But sadly, only 1-2 did, I guess the rest are either very confident of what they are doing or couldn't care less.

    I also have an idea of a consultancy firm that is skills based, telling parents how to get their son to improve their various exam components, I gave the whole package to them, explain it, conduct demo on how to practice, follow up, so it is just a 2hrs 2 time sessions, and I charged a 1-off fees like 500-600 dollars for the package. They save too.

    Then I realised the plan is doom for failure, as parents do not have time to sit with their child to go through the steps and skills.

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