School, Tuition, Extracurricular Activities – Too Much or Too Little?

I read an article about Hong Kong’s Tiger Parents. I know a lot of Asian parents push their child hard when it comes to academics because there is a lot of competition to get into good schools. We want the best for our children and we want them to have an advantage over their peers, or at the very least, be on a level playing field. It’s a tough world out there and many parents are caught between pushing their children too hard and not doing enough. It’s a rock and a hard place because how much is too much and what is too little?

I hear about neighbourhood children getting ready for school at 6am in the morning and getting home at 9pm at night after a full day of school and after school tuition and it makes me wonder: is this really necessary? The really sad part is that one of these kids is failing despite all these “extra” classes to teach the same material.

I’m not against extra-curricular activities, in fact, I’m all for it. If the children enjoy it, then why not? But to go from school to tuition on math, reading, science, etc.? We’re not talking about remedial classes for a child who has a learning disability. For many children, this is a standard affair and it begs a very serious question: if our children need to attend tuition for more of these classes, then what are they learning in school? Why can’t they learn all this stuff in school? Isn’t that what school if for? If they have to attend tuition classes to learn all this, then maybe we should just scrap school and just have the tuition classes. At least that frees up half of the day for our children to do something else.

If our children are having trouble learning these subjects at school, maybe the problem is not our children but the way the subjects are being taught.

And when I read about hefty schedules and programs that keep children away from their families, I am reminded about what Makoto Shichida wrote about the importance of family relationships in a child’s development. Like I said, I’m all for extracurricular activities, but not to the point where it interferes with the development of their relationships with their parents. If they are getting ready for school and attending school and extra classes from 6am to 9pm, when do they have time to spend with their families? If they don’t spend time with their families, where’s the bonding? And if there’s no bonding, there’s no relationship.

So while it is great that we are invested in our children and their development, it pays to remember the TweedleWink motto – relationships first. Without focussing on the relationship with our children first, it doesn’t matter how many classes and enrichment programs we send them to. Even if we are primarily motivated to do this out of love for our children, it doesn’t matter because it is how our children perceive our love that matters.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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