Leave the kids alone

From The Sunday Times, 1 June 2008:

The school holidays may be here, but for six-year-old pre-schooler Victoria Ong, there are classes to attend six days a week.

Her mother, Mrs J. Ong, a teacher, signs her up for ‘as many enrichment classes as possible’ to fill up her school holidays. This has been the norm since she was three.

Said Mrs Ong, 38: ‘She’s attending six enrichment classes this June. She asks to attend all these classes and I want her to do as much as possible before she goes to primary school.’

This means that Victoria, a K2 pupil at a PAP Community Foundation (PCF) kindergarten, goes for classes in creative writing, maths, Chinese, ballet and piano every day except on Sunday.

But even her Sundays are not spared. She is expected to work on her creative writing and do some writing at her ‘own time, own target’, as her mother puts it.


Mrs Ong, however, believes that Victoria is having a lot of fun at her enrichment classes. ‘This is fun for her and she is not tested in any way,’ she said. ‘Now she can already read secondary school essays and write very well.’

This article was pretty interesting. My initial reaction was to think “Give the kids a break lah”, so what if a 6-year-old can read secondary school essays?

So what?

My 5-year-old Isaac can tell you the entire storyline of Spider-Man 1-3, I think that’s far cooler and smarter, because I didn’t have to teach him squat – he just watched the trilogy with Isabel and fast forwarded through the boring bits.

But Goy pointed out – the article could actually cause more parents to worry how come THEIR 6 yr old kids can’t read secondary school essays and start enrolling in all sorts of special enrichment classes. 

Gotta keep up with the Ongs ya know.

My wife is probably right on this.

However, I do wonder if the story turned out as Mrs Ong imagined it would. Sometimes, newsmakers see a story and say: “Hey, I didn’t say it that way!” because of the unintended (ok, negative) feedback it may generate, despite the journo’s best attempts at explaining the story angle.

Anyway, my response is pretty obvious – children need their childhood. Many Singapore parents don’t have a life, but it doesn’t mean their children should live the same way too.

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