How do you choose a good holiday enrichment class for your child? School holidays are a well deserved break for the kids, but at the same time, you don’t want them to play on the iPad all day long.
That’s where holiday enrichment classes come in. There are so many to choose from, so where do you start? Here are some expert tips to guide you along.
The classes should enrich your child’s out-of-school time
Enrichment programmes should expand his experiences beyond traditional classroom learning, feed his imagination, and help him think creatively, says Fareena Nizar Ali, business development executive at Learning Horizon.
“If your child has a talent for, or an interest in, say, the performing arts, music, dance or sports, it’s a good idea to allow him to develop it, and enrichment classes make this possible.
“Most enrichment programmes offer higher-level thinking which, in turn, helps kids acquire important academic, social, emotional, cognitive and/or physical skills.”
Try a lesson before committing
Most centres offer a trial session so that your child can fully experience the programme before committing to it, says Fareena. You should use this time to decide if he has what it takes to continue beyond the first few lessons.
“If he expresses an interest in a music or dance programme, remember that it may take up to six months before he is able to play a musical piece or master the dance steps,” Fareena explains.
“He may also have to practise at home after the lesson and you may have to help him with his ‘homework’. Does he have the discipline, and do you have the time to commit to the whole programme?”
Choosing a centre: Your goals are as important as the cost
“Remember that there is no standard accreditation or national quality monitoring for enrichment centres,” says Sirene Lim, senior lecturer and early childhood education expert at SIM University.
“All are private businesses required to register with the relevant authorities. Some are international franchises with a standard curriculum, activities, equipment, and so on.”
In addition to the fees, Sirene advises you to consider your long-term goals for your child, as well as your current knowledge of his interests, habits and developmental needs. Observe him and monitor his progress; if he shows no interest in the class, don’t force him to continue.
You should also visit the centre to check out the facilities, cleanliness, accessibility, and class schedule, Fareena suggests.
Strike a healthy balance
Fareena warns that overloading your child’s schedule with enrichment classes and other structured activities can cause a delay in his development milestones. To achieve a balance, remember to give him a couple of hours of free play every day.
If you had to choose just one class for your kid, Sirene advises you to go with a sport or physical activity that gives him the freedom to move, indoors or outdoors.
“With childhood obesity on the rise and so many kids leading sedentary lifestyles, being physically active is important,” she points out. “Sports can be considered a form of play that engages your child’s imagination and allows him to explore the environment and be social.”
Check out these enrichment centres for more information on their holiday courses:
English: The British Council’s classes for kids in preschool develop their literacy and social skills as well as their confidence in speaking. Primary schoolers will benefit from its courses, which help them excel in examinations. Click here for more details.
Swimming: Aquaducks is a child-oriented specialist swim school for infants and preschoolers. Click here for more details.
Mandarin: Chengzhu (pictured above) develops your child’s ability to speak, read and write confidently in Mandarin thanks to a full immersion environment. It caters to babies as young as six months old, through to kids in upper primary. Click here for more details.
Gym: The Little Gym of Singapore hones your child’s motor skills in a safe, non-competitive environment and offers recreational gymnastics as well as sports skills classes. Its programmes are designed by child development experts from the United States and are suitable for kids from four months old to six years old. Click here for more details.
Reading and writing: Mindchamps’ programmes help your child to love reading and master the craft of writing. They’re suitable for kids aged three to 10. Find out more here.
Brain training: Well-known since its launch in 1958, the Shichida Method of brain training offers programmes for kids aged three months up to 10 years old. Read more about its classes here.