Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Welcome to the Land of Tuition

"Tuition" - most parents have a complicated love-hate relationship with it, they can't decide if they are doing the right thing for their child by making tuition part of their child's life or keep it out of their door forever.  I have heard parents from both sides giving their valid reasons for their decisions.  Personally I think there are no right or wrong decision for sending a child for tuition, I am only against loading the child with too many tuition and preventing them from having serious playtime and most importantly ample rest time.

I remember when I was schooling, my results were slightly above average and I was struggling with Maths all through the years, "tuition" has never crossed my parent's or my mind at that time and I was lucky that I have always managed to score a borderline pass for this subject.  My mum will of course scold/nag at me for the undesirable result but I guess so long I don't get red marks in my report cards she is ok.  I only had Maths tuition for a couple of months while preparing for my "O' levels and its a miracle that I scored a C5 instead of F9 for it. 

Anyway, that was me and that happened more then 2 decades ago, things are different now and the expectations are higher.  Even so, when DinoBoy was born I was determined not to start him on tuition or any academic enrichment lessons till its deem necessary.  So he did not attend any classes to make him "more clever" or to be more advance than others as it was never my intention to purposely turn him into a boy who excels in everything, I only wanted him to grow up strong, healthy, happy and have loads of fun every day. 

So while most of my friends were bringing their babies to left (or is it right or perhaps its both side...) brain training, gym classes to train their agility/motor skills and some other classes, this little boy goes to child care centre, having all the fun in learning the basic ABCs 123s together with a bunch of kids in the class. 

When he was 3-4YO, his friends were attending I Can Read classes, some more left/right/both sides brain training or some other type of classes.  The only extra lesson he had was a weekly class at Boogie Bug conducted by The Amazing ToyBox and for a year he danced, jived and had fun with Reuben & Mark.  He love to dance to the rhythm of music and sometimes both of us will do a little dance together too.

At 4YO onwards, his friends were attending some abacus class, tuition for English, Chinese and Maths, he was splashing colors on canvas at WowArt Learning Studio and later on at heART Studio, he was also splashing water in the neighbourhood swimming complex under the guidance of his very strict swim coach.  We went to many plays, enjoying an hour of entertainment each time and talking about the play even weeks after we watched them.

Of course during these 6 years I had my fair share of worries like the time when was 3YO, his friends were already reading simple story books, this little boy still don't know how to recognise and pronounce words like "the" or "house".  My attempts to make him sound the words using phonics failed terribly.  I hopped around anxiously, battled with myself whether to send him to I Can Read or not so that he can "learn to read".  I spoke to his teachers who assured me that he is able to read in class and doing it quite well too.  I trusted their words and my instincts, stood my ground and piled him with loads and loads of books, reading to him every night without fail.  I succeeded a few months later and through the process I have also cultivated his love for books.  He is now an advance reader and chomping books like nobody's business, demanding me to buy more books for him or bring him to the library to borrow books to chomp errmm... I mean read.

When DinoBoy started Primary 1 earlier this year, I was not a bit worried because his child care centre has prepared the kids way in advance so they can adjust to the new environment easily without worrying about catching up with the school work.  Then a couple of months into the school I started to notice that he has a little problem in recognizing Chinese character or HanZi .  I was puzzled by this as I am very sure his child care centre's Chinese teacher taught him well and he could read many words then.  I did a little bit of investigating and found out that the school has been focusing on HanYuPinYin thus learning Chinese character or HanZi has taken a back seat.

I took matters into my own hands, bought some Chinese books to read to him but was not persistent at that time which made me regret for not doing so.  When he failed the subject by 1 mark during his Term 2 Holistic Assessment Test, I almost had an heart attack.  Still I stood my ground, no tuition for him but I will try my best to coach him and do some intense learning by doing assessment books and past years test paper to help him so that he can score better for year end test.

Few days into our Conquer Chinese journey, I almost wanted to raise the white flag, to tell DinoBoy that he is allowed to fail his Chinese this time.  I held my tongue because I do not want to teach him to quit even before trying.  I want him to have the Never Quit attitude in every thing he do, to put in 100% effort and reap the rewards or to embrace failure wholeheartedly so that he will become stronger to take on the challenge again with a positive mind.  I pushed on even though my temper flares every night, we had a few talks about these extra learning whenever he felt dejected.  I reminded him that earlier in May he told me he will work harder so that he will be in Higher Chinese class next year.  Frankly, it is not important to me if he goes to that class or not and I am not pushing him to go for that too but if he wants to set that as his target, I am fine with it. 

Sadly, I really have to throw in the towel after a month plus of intense coaching, I am not patient enough to do it, the temper flaring every night is causing a strain on our relationship, we always end the day feeling bad and lousy, it is definitely unhealthy both mentally and emotionally to all of us.  Last week, we walked into a tuition centre around our neighbourhood and I signed him up for trial classes. 

So we have jumped down from the fence and landed onto the Land of Tuition, I am clearly not happy with the arrangement or with myself.   I hope this will be the only tuition he will ever have and I'll be able to stop it in a year or so.  Till then, I will seek comfort that his Chinese will definitely improve tremendously under the guidance from the tuition centre's teachers.


  1. I can totally understand what you are going through. THTs the reason why my girls started tuition from P5 onwards because it strained our relationship so much for years! If tuition can help Z, why not? :)

    1. Chris, I know it will help definitely. I just want tuition to help him catch up with the Chinese as I feel that his standard is not good enough (failing Chinese at P1 is no joke).

  2. Don't be so hard on yourself, Jenn. I think you made the right choice here, to send him for tuition, as it was putting a huge strain on your relationship with him. It's good that you recognised that you are unable to help him in this aspect, and that he needed extra help from a tutor. It's better for his morale too, if he gets help now, and doesn't fail. Sometimes, a child gets too demoralised after failing a subject a few times, and refuses to try anymore after that. Hope he will enjoy his tuition classes, so that you won't feel so bad about sending him there. :)

    1. Hey Adeline~ How's things down under =)

      Ya, I am no Supermum so I have to out source to others. I'm not sure if he will enjoy tuition or not since he only went there once. He also understands that his result is not very satisfactory tts why he needs to go tuition. I hope every thing works out fine too.