Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All you need to do is point your kids in the right direction

I refer to the letter "It's not the tool, but our own insecurities" (June 15) and the issue of sending children for tuition, for which the common reasons given include the need for them to do well, so as to climb the education ladder.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, my family could not afford tuition. Our cousins always did well in school, and we hated family gatherings, where grades were compared.

Wisely, my father ignored such conversations and left us to struggle our way through.

All of us made it to university. Now, we all have families, and our cousins are engaging tutors. One of my neighbours is looking for a third tutor for her son, as she feels that two is not enough.

My friend spends her weekend chaperoning her youngest child from one enrichment class to another because her two elder sons were tutored into the gifted education programme.

But is this the only way?

If a child requires excessive tuition to gain a place in university, he might end up being learned and obtaining a degree for the workforce, but might miss out on education in its totality.

We chose not to engage any tutors for our children, believing that tuition, where the focus is on completing homework, doing one more worksheet or attempting one more assessment book, cannot fully develop the joy of discovery and learning.

Once our children discovered this joy, they became self-directed learners who found their own drive to study, to do well in examinations and, most important of all, to be educated.

Instead of tuition fees, we invested in a good library for our children. They love going to Bras Basah Complex, where there are many second-hand bookshops. A high literacy level is the best gift for children, who would then be able to learn anything on their own.

Parents should be there to encourage, probe and challenge their children and to provide opportunities for them to ask questions.

To prepare children for the 21st-century workforce, where information can be outdated within six months, where lifelong learning is a necessity and not a luxury, parents must provide children with the learning process, not learning outcomes such as grades.

Once the process is in place, the results would come.


The writer has one child studying in Nanyang Technological University, one in National University of Singapore and one completing a diploma with At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy

This letter was first published in Today on teh 20th June 2012.

Proverbs 22:6

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Frances,
I am doing some research and writing on large families (6 or more kids) in Singapore, could you please email me at, thanks! Anita