'Enrichment' should come from parents, not prep classes

I implore parents to carefully consider the necessity of extra coaching to prepare their children for Primary 1 ("Helping kids make leap from pre-school to primary school"; Monday and "The 'need' to prepare for P1 worrying" by Mr Ng Chia Wee; Wednesday).

The pre-school years are our children's sacred time to play and just enjoy being children, instead of being burdened with extra enrichment classes.

Parents should ask themselves whether they are jumping on the bandwagon just because people around them are doing so, with no regard for their children's needs. 

Research has shown the harm that can be done to children with too full a plate and insufficient time to play.

Being saddled with too many structured classes may also cause children to be over-reliant on

ready answers, thus, setting in motion a vicious circle wherein they become increasingly dependent on tutors for help throughout their school years.

We want our children to be independent learners who seek to satisfy their curiosities on their own accord, instead of being dictated to.

Parents should not succumb to the flashy promises from enrichment centres whose main aim is to profit from parents' insecurities and guilt.

Parents know their children more intimately than any teacher will and should play an active role in their children's lives. 

They, and not the enrichment centres, should provide the extra "enrichment" for their children just by spending time with them.

The power of incidental learning as parents interact with their children trumps any enrichment class.

Parents who are too busy to interact with their children should not assuage their guilt by imposing extra classes on them.

Parents should trust their pre-school educators to deliver appropriate lessons that cater to their children's learning needs.

Even in the unlikely event that children are inadequately prepared for Primary 1, schools will provide the remediation for children to catch up with their peers.

More than 10 years ago, when pre-school standards were perhaps not as high as they are now, my daughter was found wanting in her preparation for Primary 1. I had not seen any need to send her for preparatory enrichment classes.

She was put in the Learning Support Programme in the first half of Primary 1. This slow start has not disadvantaged her in any way.

In fact, she has turned out to be a highly motivated learner who seeks answers on her own.

This has garnered her multiple scholarships and she is now setting her sights on a PhD.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline ''Enrichment' should come from parents, not prep classes'. Print Edition | Subscribe