Now, here’s a controversial thought: Could some prep classes actually reduce stress in the long term?
Some parents Young Parents interviewed feel that prep courses have helped ignite their children’s passion in some subjects, particularly in languages.
A spokesman for Molin explains that in the past, while the focus in learning Chinese was on memorising words, spelling and dictation, K2 pupils are now expected to be more creative and confident – skills that come naturally when your kid enjoys the subject.
“Motivation is an important factor in preparing a child for primary school,” explains Mala of Julia Gabriel. “The child needs to work on developing reading and writing skills with a positive attitude.
Drilling a kid in the mechanics of reading and writing would be a rather daunting process of preparation.”
So perhaps this means that effective prep classes now work more on motivating the child with the right environment, and less on drilling?
Lakshmi Nagappan reckons that the English prep class her elder son attended will also help her younger one, who will start P1 next year: “The programme created a passion for reading in my elder son that continues to this day.”
It also gave her kids greater exposure to writing and reading, compared to kindergarten, the 38-year-old claims manager adds.
Belinda Lim, on the other hand, enrolled her five-year- old in a Chinese foundation programme because the girl was reluctant to converse in Mandarin or have anything to do with the language at home.
“I had hoped to build up her confidence in dealing with the language by exposing her more to Chinese culture,” the 43-year-old stay-at-home mum explains.
The positive change came quickly and painlessly. “After enrolling her in the programme, she is now more willing to speak in Mandarin when being spoken to,” she observes.
“She (even) shows a keen interest when we switch to Chinese programmes on TV.” In cases like this, where kids don’t have enough exposure to a particular language, placing a child in an all-Mandarin preschool, for example, would be a better solution, suggests Veronica.
So the bottom line is, while some kids have certainly benefitted from prep classes, there’s really no need to rush into one just because everyone is doing it.
Daphne of Sengkang Green Primary puts it this way: “The best thing to do is to spend more time with your children to foster closer ties with them; to build their confidence and inculcate a love of learning and good values such as discipline, self-motivation and resilience.”
Stella Law, 37, a lecturer whose daughter, Tanya, is in P1 this year, couldn’t agree more. “Her four years of preschool were sufficient,” she says. ”We feel that there is no need to focus on her academic strengths at this point in time. We want to nurture her love of learning and prioritise her socio-emotional skills.”