Wednesday 18 March 2015

Academic enrichment for Trend or Need? defines peer pressure as, social pressure by members of one's peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.

My definition, it's everywhere! Conformity to get hooked and cooked up under pressure is a decision, isn't it? Over the years, academic centres are seen sprouting almost everywhere. Even in the most isolated corner of our island. It's good evidence that enrichment demand and supply are in prosperity. It really is looking like a national parenting obsession now.

Js don't do additional academics classes out of home and school, while the social circle around us have their kids, almost all embarked on various academic programs, 'strawBerries', 'Tian shang' 'Learning Lap' 'Mind straighter' and the you name it centres. We decided not to be succumbed by pressure. I've to confess, it wasn't easy to self convince that it's alright to be playing monopoly junior, scoot, ride or play in the hours of their free time.

Many told me it wasn't a choice, it's survival. Oh well, we do know choices fall in the power of our mind and hands. I get a tad concern if our little ones have choices too. Do we pay some attention to their desires and needs, which could simply be the need for more sleep or play.

If you ask, was I ever concerned or worried? I say, Yes! It's a rat race we're in after all, can't beat them, join them. That's the impulsive thought I had on many occasions, and was at different point of time spurred to sign them up for Chinese, Math and English enrichment classes. It helped manage things better when the man rejigged and calmed my thoughts. Okay I said, let's focus on discovering talents then. Talents that can be advantageously nurtured from young. I had Jazz embarked on piano and both Js are on swimming.

I share my views on why we don't do academic enrichment:

1. It boils down to expectation. I guess we are calm to accept if they don't write or read English and Chinese as fluently as the elites or enrichment going kids. The  formal education begins in Primary 1, I'm sure schools' syllabus has been well organized for every child's pace. Hopping into primary school, I don't think we'll have any big expectations of them getting to the cream of the crop. Being average is our expectation, moving beyond average will be a bonus to us. So yeap, manage expectations. 

2. It really is alright to hold the fear of having our child left behind, because I fear too. In my parenting realm, if they don't make it academically outstanding in life, they should however, not fail in values and character. That will then be my biggest parenting failure. I mean, whether or not God bestowed extraordinarily ingenious children to us, we'll still work our best and love them for what they are.

3. The big question - Are we doing this because we, parents fear failure much more than our kids? It's reasonable because some failures are irreversible. We know what's best for them when they don't seem to know. In midst of counter fighting fears, we can teach the responsibilities of being a student, the commitment to learning and the methods of conquering subject fears. It trains a child not to have too much reliance on the additional enrichment classes.

4. Now we say, our kids don't speak Mandarin at home. I firmly believe all preschools are bilingual. The amount of time spent learning and speaking mandarin in school seems well sufficient than the weekly 1 or 2 hours of enriched mandarin session elsewhere. I believe lessons in schools are as fun as anywhere else.

5. When they do school full day, I do get a little worried about the everyday structured learning in school. We know kids lead and learn best in unstructured environment. It's feels overwhelm to be embarking on additional series of structured learning out of school hours.

6. Over the past few months, we've been school hunting for Js, I was impressed by the academics coverage some schools offered, which left me pondering on why parents are still doing additional enrichment. Trust is a two way traffic, we need to trust the school we've chosen. 

7. Now that both kids are in full day school, it means enrichment classes will spill over to precious weekends. We love keeping weekends relaxed and spaced out. The only weekend class we're doing now is swimming. Jazz's piano session is on a Tuesday evening. It feels good having a full day freed for any family activity filler. 

8. Jazz is 5 and Jare is 4. I don't see the need to burden or overwhelm them with enrichment classes. Would really love to watch them play and enjoy childhood more often now than later. More play would probably aid ideas for interesting composition write ups.

9. We aren't talking about quantum physics, relativity or thermodynamics. I think I can still handle the teachings within our household. No time is quite an excuse. The journey of sending our child to and fro a class is good enough for a quality 1 - 1 lesson with Mummy or Daddy. Though I understand the challenge of teaching our own child, but the best thing about being our child's private tutor isn't just knowing about their progression, it allows us to know our child better. His cognitive and creativity skills, as well as interesting discoveries to his character and learning style.

10. It makes more sense to outsource their swimming, piano and creativity classes, which are those that we can't handle or teach at home. Some of which are better in group learning. So yeap, those that we can't teach, we outsource.

11. Enrichment is not trend where you get followers because you look good in it. It really is a personal choice and style catered to the character and progression of every unique child. What looks good on others may not look good on me. It's essential to identify the learning style of our child - the auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. It all begins with us being involved in their learning journey and style.

12. For now, we are being prudent about the non-necessities. Enrichment isn't what they need now. The linkage between richness and success seem to light a glow. The richly provided family has it all for their kids, the mediocre or low earning family has its lacks. I will say richness is in love.

Oh well I'm only a mum of preschoolers. I've no foresight of the moving forward and whether or not, I will embark them in academic classes. For now, I can only say I might if they request for it. If not, cultivating the habit of active learning and self revision is always the best discipline. Instilling the attitude of being hungry for knowledge is a always a good trait to adopt.

While I understand every family has its story, this is my story. I fully comprehend the decisions every parent take to mould their children all for the better and smarter. I love you all too! It is however, important not to lose track of the necessities of enrichment classes. The purpose for need or trend? Peer pressure is not a benchmark. There's just this amount of after school hours a kid has, let's fill them wisely.

Not doing enrichment is definitely Not deprived learning, because learning is everywhere. Not doing enrichment is Not a weak or shaky foundation, because we being the 'workers' make sure we cement it really well with our mighty own effort. So everything begins from home. 

To my comrades sailing the same boat as me, I know it isn't an easy decision to get off this trend. Have faith in our decision and kids! Whatever decision made, I'm confident that every parent has the best interests for their child. 


  1. Totally agree with what you meant and look up to you for not succumbing to enrichment!
    My kids only have Chinese and I don't want to load them with more. I don't want to spend my weekends sending them here and there also!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! Glad we're having some things in common.

  2. Agree! My kids didn't have any academic enrichment throughout preschool (only started K on chinese in K2), and they are doing fine, just from learning during their half day kindy. There's so much pressure but we just need to surround ourselves with like-minded parents, then we don't feel so 'alien' in swimming against the tide.

  3. Thanks L! Glad to be swimming along with you.


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