3 Ways Too Much Tuition Might Make Your Child Poorer

By Joanne Poh

Kiasu parents, take heed. Overloading your child with tuition classes may not necessarily put them on the fast track to a high paying job later on in life.

A Taiwanese study found that cram schools (tuition centres) negatively affected children psychologically, in some cases was even linked to depression and could permanently damage psychological well-being later on in life.

Another study showed that forcing kids to attend lessons at too early an age was detrimental to their educational attainment, and depriving children of opportunities to play, develop social skills and control their impulses could have serious psychological consequences and even a shortened life span. That means the kindergarten-aged kid who’s already up to his neck in tuition might grow up to become a pretty maladjusted adult.

Here are three reasons overloading your child with tuition might turn him not only into a psychologically-unbalanced adult, but also a less financially successful one.

1. Lack of recreational reading leads to poor analytical skills

Think back to your childhood and you might recall being immersed in Enid Blyton books or Dragonball comics. These days, kids spend so much time staring at assessment books that they hardly have time to read recreationally.

An interest in recreational reading has not only been linked to higher test scores but also increased linguistic ability.

You really can’t expect your child to become a sophisticated speaker of English or any other language if he or she isn’t reading or listening to material created by native speakers. Most Singaporeans are functional—but not fluent—in any language. They can follow instructions but are deaf to nuances.

There are many problems associated with not reading and not being fluent in any language, including poor communication skills and an inability to think out of the box, poorer reasoning skills and poorer general knowledge. Other than the fact that your kid turns out to be a complete drone way before his time, it’s also not hard to see how this could lead to decreased employment and business opportunities.

Despite their academic achievement, Singaporean workers have already been lambasted for their poor English and sub-par analytical skills. The global economy will be even more, well, global when your kid grows up, and a while a good certificate might be enough for Singapore SME employers now, it’s hard to see exceptional global employers hiring someone who’s able only to regurgitate formulae from A math text books.

2. Poorer performance at work

Play is just as important as study in the development of a well-rounded human being, and that’s where many kiasu parents falter. Play is crucial to brain development and a childhood without play turns a kid into a maladjusted youth.

Without the benefit of experiential learning, kids may be able to answer test questions but get stumped when they have to use their instincts or think outside the box.

Deprived of the freedom to play and explore as children and instead besieged by the need to produce results at an early age, it is really not surprising that Singaporeans cannot perform in more demanding roles.

CEOs have complained that instead of taking on a more experimental, exploratory approach like their European counterparts, Singaporean workers tend to be preoccupied with a fear of failure. This shouldn’t be the case, based on Singapore’s “first-world education system”, but it is.

3. They will have few interests to capitalise on

This is going to sound really sad, but many Singaporeans have no hobbies or interests. Most cite hectic work schedules as an excuse, but another problem is the fact that mastery of a skill or hobby often starts in childhood, when one should have more time for play.

For instance, while you can certainly learn to play an instrument later on in life, musical skills attained in childhood can it easier to become much faster.

Mark Zuckerberg started coding as a kid and Lang Lang was passionate about the piano at a young age. And all great writers start out as voracious readers.

Your child might have the potential to display real talent and passion at something, but neither of you will ever know what it is if the first 18 years of his life are going to be spent cooped up in tuition centres.

This article was first published over at MoneySmart blog on 16 January 2015. It is reproduced with permission.

About The Author (Joanne Poh)

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.


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