As mentioned in our article on 5 Secrets to Scoring in Primary School Without Tuition, Singapore’s tuition fixation stems largely from parents’ fear of their children falling behind and losing out to others.
But primary school tuition may lead to an over-scheduled childhood, where free play is replaced with surmounting stress, pressure, and hours toiling at a desk piled with assessment books.
Some parents might feel like their second job is chaperoning their children from one tuition or primary school tuition centre to another.
Why primary school tuition may not necessarily lead to better grades
While it is natural to want the best for our children, when it comes to helping your child excel academically, primary school tuition may not be the best answer.
In fact, a 2015 survey by the Straits Times showed that seven in 10 parents did not think tuition improved their children’s grades significantly, and yet, 8 in 10 households sent their primary school children to tuition anyway.
Even though some parents spend several hundreds or thousands of dollars a month on tuition, it may not necessarily lead to better grades. Survey data from the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012 revealed the counter-productive effect of tuition, finding that “students who had tuition fared worse than those who did not.”
Children already engage in a lot of activities during the school day – and just like adults, they need downtime to unwind. After sitting through numerous lessons, the idea of spending their hours outside of school at a primary school tuition centre or enrichment class is often met with dread. One of the potential harms of sending your child to primary school tuition is that it extinguishes their interest in lifelong learning at a young age.
With that in mind, here are some alternatives to help your child excel in primary school in lieu of primary school tuition.
1. Improve your child’s academic performance by getting organised together and fostering effective study habits
With so many notes, textbooks, and subjects to keep track of, clutter can easily build up. Often, papers and homework for different classes can be misplaced or stacked into one big pile, which impedes time management and makes things inefficiently hard to find.
Clear the clutter together. Encourage your child to keep a tidy workspace, and make a fun exercise out of getting organised (and re-organised) together periodically.
Invite your child to plan their daily timetable with you.
This teaches them how to take ownership of their own study habits and schedule – which are skills that will help them throughout their entire academic lives.
Encourage them to allocate extra time for subjects that they may be struggling with. Proper time management plays a key role in academic success.
2. To help your child excel in primary school, spend time together by eating dinner as a family (instead of driving or commuting to enrichment class after enrichment class)
A Columbia University study shows that children who eat dinner with their parents at least five days a week show better academic performance.
Research has shown that young children reap immense vocabulary benefits from family dinnertime conversation.
The more vocabulary words children know (including both rare words and common words), the better they are at reading.
Additionally, regular family dinners are a prevailing predictor of high achievement scores.
How great is it that such an enjoyable and relationship-building activity has the advantageous side effect of boosting academic performance too?
3. Get active together
Exercise can improve children’s academic performance, cognitive abilities, memory, problem-solving skills, muscular strength, and mental health, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.
Active children are more likely to perform better on exams than less-active children. Being active as a family can directly contribute to your child’s cognitive development and performance in school.
Rather than rushing off to a primary school tuition centre after school, get moving together.
Enjoy brisk evening walks, scenic runs outdoors, bike rides, or other forms of physical activity together, and encourage extracurricular sports (but ask your child which sports he or she is interested in first).
4. Read with your child and boost his or her literacy at home – without even having to step inside a primary school tuition centre
Strong reading comprehension skills can determine a child’s overall academic success, helping him or her score better in all the subjects – even for primary school maths and sciences, especially when it comes to complex problem-solving.
To improve your child’s literacy, build a culture of reading at home. Make reading a joyous family bonding occasion, and place books in every room to serve as a reminder for your children to read more.
5. Establish a loving and comforting bedtime routine and ensure that your child is getting adequate sleep
If you do not have a bedtime routine with your child yet, establish one. Research shows that poor sleep can lead to poor academic performance.
Children who receive sufficient quality sleep perform better in math and languages, according to scientific studies. So if your child is having difficulty in school, enforce a consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule.
Develop healthy sleep habits by implementing zero screen time before bed. Instead, give your child time to wind down and read a bedtime story before tucking him or her into bed.