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Tuition vs no tuition - Brigitte Rozario

Should primary schoolchildren go for tuition? Some parents believe they need the additional help only for subjects they are weak in, and often it is the language subjects. Others say it is not necessary at such a young age as they would then be missing their childhood.
Let's hear what three parents have to say:

Rina Thiagu-Kler

Rina Thiagu-Kler, mother of two children, aged five and seven:
“My children don’t go for tuition at the moment, but they are involved in other activities which are not available at their school, such as speech and drama, musical theatre and swimming.
My eldest daughter, Harvynna, is quite academically-inclined. As such, she is able to do reasonably well with minimal guidance. However, with the change where Maths and Science is now taught in Bahasa Malaysia, she needs some guidance and support, which I am able to provide – by explaining the keywords and terminologies.
I don’t want to send her for tuition at such a young age as I don’t want her to be dependent on external help. I believe that she should be trained to be an independent learner. I check her school work weekly to see if she needs help in any areas and we work together to improve these areas.
I support her school work with additional workbooks, which are easily available. Through these exercises, she gets the necessary practice needed.
I don’t think it is essential for primary schoolchildren to go for tuition. If parents are able to commit their time to help their children, that would be best. Workbooks can be used to supplement school work for additional practice and reinforcement of what has been taught.
As mentioned above, in my personal opinion, sending a child for tuition from Primary One itself, would make a child dependent on tuition. However, having said that, there are cases, where tuition may be an option. For example, I have many non-Mandarin educated friends who send their children to Chinese schools. In these cases, they may need to send their children for tuition. Also, competition in school these days is really keen and if the child is struggling in school, tuition may be the solution, if parents don’t have the time.
Therefore, I believe that the need for tuition is on a case by case basis, but in my case, I would try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Primary schoolchildren should not be sent for tuition just because everyone else is going.
Class sizes in most public schools are getting larger – some schools have up to 50 students per class. I doubt that the teacher would be able to give each child the individual attention that they need. Every child learns differently and some may catch up faster than the rest. Parents should also play a role by monitoring their child’s homework and progress, if possible. This would help identify any areas that need attention from the beginning.
Generally, kids these days are stressed as their day is filled with numerous activities – from singing, dancing, music to sports. If they enjoy it, then why not? If tuition is done for the right reasons, then the child would not be stressed. But, if a child is sent for tuition because everyone is going, then it could be to the detriment of the child.”
Ling Siew Teng, a tuition teacher, who has three daughters aged seven, 12 and 14:
“Currently, I give tuition to kindergarten children, aged four to six years old.
I also send my own children for tuition, but only when they are in Primary Four. I guide them from Primary One to Three since I can still cope with the syllabus. I only send them for Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia tuition and revise the other subjects with them.
I treat their tuition as revision because they seldom do revision.
I think that it is not important and not necessary for primary schoolchildren to go for tuition.
The teachers should do their best but some are not responsible and assume that parents will send the child for tuition if their child is weak. I have true life experience with teachers not teaching well in school and later telling the children to go to his tuition centre!
I do think that parents are overstressing the kids by sending them for tuition from a young age as they hardly have time to relax and they will miss their childhood life.”
Kalwant Kaur, a freelance insurance agent with four children aged three years to 12 years:
“Three of my children go for tuition twice a week for two hours.
Firstly, I find it difficult to cope with the current education system which keeps changing. That's why I send them for tuition to help them with homework and revision. Secondly, I have no maid so I am mostly occupied with taking care of my youngest daughter and the household chores.
I think it is important for primary schoolchildren to go for tuition. The class is so big that the teachers in school just do their part in teaching and can't guide the few who can't understand … and teachers nowadays have started using the phrase 'go and ask your tuition teacher if you can't understand'. As they themselves give tuition, they encourage the students to go for tuition.
I don't think I am overstressing the children because they need to cope with the current education system which is challenging ….”

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