'It's good for young children to play'

Let your children enjoy their childhood. And there's no need to send your pre-schooler for tuition to prepare him for Primary 1.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had this advice for over- zealous parents on Sunday night.

While some parents want their children to get a head start, it is important not to "over-teach" them.

"Pre-school is to teach the kids certain skills which are best learnt at that age - languages, social skills, basic motor skills.

"It's not meant for you to prepare with a P1, P2 textbook and to drill the kid at three or four years old so that by the time he goes to P1, he already knows what the teacher's supposed to teach him."

He said research by child development experts have found that hothousing pre-schoolers may lead to harmful "over-teaching".

"You do harm. You turn the kid off, you make his life miserable," he said.

"Instead of growing up balanced and happy, he grows up narrow and neurotic. No homework is not a bad thing. It's good for young children to play, and to learn through play."

And to parents who send their children to two pre-schools or tuition, he had this to say: Don't.

"I've heard of parents who send their children to two kindergartens. I read of parents who send their kindergarten-age children to tuition," he said. "Please don't do that."

Housewife Pamelia Tng, 31, said she agreed with the Prime Minister, but it's easier said than done.

She sends her three children - aged seven, six and two - for enrichment classes but she "slows down at home".

"You want your kids to enjoy their childhood but you have to make sure they can catch up with their peers. That's always a struggle for parents," she said.