Sunday, January 19, 2014

The attractive safety net of enrichment classes and tuition

(Photo taken with LC-A+)
A new year has started and OH BOY, it has been really rough going on the education front.

I've shared my thoughts about our nation's obsession to avoid failure and how I am a winner in mediocrity. So there I was, wrapped in my comfortable world of mediocrity when I was rocked out of my zen mode the moment Kai announced that he really wanted to learn how to play the violin. He had asked many times the past years but he sounded dead serious late last year.

When Kai was born, I had hoped he would pick up the violin. But I never signed him up for classes, preferring to let him lead the way. With no request from him for any sort of enrichment classes over his toddler and pre-school years, I decided that my firstborn was the sort that likes to stay home and play, watch TV, play phone/PC games, and read. And so with feelings of apprehension of what lies ahead (i.e. the struggle to get him to practice at home) and excitement (he's finally learning the violin!), we embarked on our first, real enrichment class over the November and December school holidays.

Then school started again this year, and it has been HELL. Kai is more defiant and difficult, perhaps due to a desire to exert his independence as a soon-to-be 8yo. This made it very hard for me to get him to do any thing that needs to be done. Then teachers started handing out homework and one afternoon, after getting lunch into the boy, helping him with homework, AND arguing with him over homework, I looked at the clock and realised that CRAP, there's hardly any time for revision! It's close to 5pm, I need to pick Kit up from school and prepare dinner. Most of all, it hardly seems right to work the boy after dinner when he's been doing homework most of his afternoon. And crap, when is he going to practice his violin?!

So how do other school-going children who have enrichment classes the whole afternoon manage it? How do they find time to tackle the school's homework plus homework set by their tutors and practice on a musical instrument or go for sports training every single day?

Kai doesn't get additional help from external tutors for math or English. He has a Chinese tutor who only sees him once a week but that's hardly enough; one needs to be exposed to the language everyday. I am his external help. I do revision with him on all his subjects on a daily basis but surely I can't be as effective or good as tutors/tuition school. Am I short-changing him?

The thought of sending him to a tuition centre is very attractive. I'd be able to outsource the stress, the teaching, and the frustration. I'd have more time to spend on teaching Kit, who needs to, according to his teachers, improve on his writing and reading skills. (He's only 4yo!) Am I short-changing him too because I don't have time to work on those areas with him?

Kai wrote a poem for me today just before he went to bed. It is a pretty good effort, with only two spelling mistakes. I make mistakes too but the love is there. I hope love would be enough for both of us.

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