Why did you teach him how to do simultaneous equations at seven? Huh???

With more than 97% of our students taking tuition, the shadow education industry is worth a billion a year in Singapore. Parents are forking out cold hard cash just so to get a good education for their kids. To me, it is a sad phenomenon that needs attention.

I truly think that parents who put their kids in tuition are either (1) clueless on how to help their kids do well academically themselves, (2) are lazy to do the grueling work or (3) have children who are so competitive they insist they must have tuition.

Most, if not all, parents are the best teachers for their children.

While I do see benefits of sending a child to tuition temporarily because they are unable to catch up on certain topics, I sincerely believe that mandatory tuition just to get good grades not only does not benefit our families and children, it is detrimental.

Why.

First, I know families who struggle just to put their kids into tuition classes and enrichment, hoping that these tuition can perform miracles for their kids. If a parent chooses to work just to earn enough to put their kids to tuition or enrichment, then the family has already missed the point.

Research shows that the most gifted kids come from families with stay-at-home-mom or dad. So if there is a choice, choose to spend more time with your child.

If you don’t believe me, just ask track any family that has made that kind of financial sacrifice for the kids. You will see that the hard work they put in can be so futile and sad.

Second, many parents use tuition teachers as baby sitters, a way to outsource the task of monitoring kids, or to ‘burn’ active kids’ time. This is even sadder. I’d like to think that our kids’ time is precious, our kids’ time with us is even more precious. We should be protecting that instead of throwing that away.

I think that talented tuition teachers should not be wasting their time baby sitting, but be absorbed in the education system. I also think that our teachers in the education system should have a better status in our economy. I think that being teachers must be so prestigious and well paid that our brightest would choose to teach than to be doctors.

Third, parents must be the ones to instill the joy of learning, and from a very young age, so that children want to learn themselves. If this is done, then there shall never be a need to send them to tuition centers and enrichment to play catch-up. Learning at will is fun, studying to catch up is a horrible, arduous and stressful task.

How do you do instill the joy of learning by teaching while the kid is enthusiastic?

Just now, I received a message asking me if it is too early to teach a four months’ old how to read. My reply: we should start to teach a child how to read from 1 day old.

It is so fun, it is the best thing to do for the parent and the baby.

One of the strategies I teach is to train the visual pathways of babies at birth, so that they are ready for near vision instruction. A baby’s vision between 0-6 months is not developed yet, and can therefore discern black and white best.

Therefore, we can surround the baby with black and white soft toys so that when they wake up, they get to observe the defined lines between black and white. That activates the curiosity in the baby.

This is against the conventional approach of choosing pink or blue for the baby’s stuff. While these colors are beautiful and cute for the adults, they are too light for babies to discern, and serve no purpose for the child’s intellectual growth.

As the kids grow beyond six months old, we activate their learning through games, culminating to them reading without having to learn a single phonic (meaning no stress and no reading school). After that, we step them up with the right materials (often free) until they are ready for the university.

Such ways of learning can save thousands and thousands of dollars, and really happy children who are motivated to learn more everyday.

Over the years, I have tried to share my strategies in parental seminars. Many who have followed the simpler ways I teach are marveled at the success they see in their own children. A fortnight ago, I met up with a parent with a very sick child who had to skip school often. Using the simple beliefs that were taught, the mother helped her daughter get into a university a year earlier than her peers. Mothers always do wonders.

If you want your kids to succeed and escape the sad fate of tuition or the tragedy of being diagnosed with all sorts of disabilities, if you want to save money and give your child the joy of learning from the person they love the most, regardless of your education, then teach before you have to leave the teaching to people far less qualified. We must activate the creativity in a child so that they learn to figure things out themselves.

Start when the baby is one day old. Or start immediately. You will be immensely satisfied with your parenting journey in the many years to come.

I have no clue how Old Boy figured out simultaneous equations at seven, he probably read it somewhere or figured it out somehow, just like how his sister figured out how to add at 15 months old, and how his brother figured out how clouds were made at 9 months old.

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