As your kids hit 18 months, there is a subtle pressure to send your kids for enrichment.
When the kids hit 4yo, there is another surge of pressure to send your kids for even more classes especially on the weekends. From language classes, music lessons, swimming, fencing, phonics, taekwondo, art, speech and drama…the list goes on.
Recently ED Unloaded had an opportunity to conduct an email interview with Fiona Walker (CEO of Julia Gabriel for Learning, Chiltern House Child Care Centres and Julia Gabriel School of Education) and she gives her input on Enrichment Classes for Pre-Schoolers.
1. Are enrichment courses necessary?
Enrichment courses should be just that – a course to enrich and enhance your child’s learning and experiences. The school system here offers a very comprehensive academic programme so if your child has talents or an interest in the arts or sports it is a good idea to allow your child to follow that interest and enrichment courses make that possible.
With young children you may not know where your child’s interests lie. Taking a music class, art class or tennis lessons, for example, for a term then swapping over will help you and your child discover what he or she may wish to pursue.
2. Some pre-schools offer this as part of the curriculum. Is it sufficient?
Generally Nursery age children can find a full preschool curriculum very stimulating so if additional enrichment programmes are built in I would imagine, yes this may be enough for now. You may have heard of a course which is particularly good and engaging but I would limit that to one or two weekly additional classes for young children.
As a parent you will have to judge whether or not your child is being tired out. Dragging a tired or unmotivated child to enrichment classes really can be a waste of your money. Once children are in Kindergarten they are more ready for classes which expand their experiences beyond traditional classroom learning.
3. Is there such a thing as too much enrichment for children?
Definitely! I have known many children with a schedule which would horrify a professional executive. Rushing from school to classes almost 7 days a week. There have been a number of reports on the increase of stress in young children here. I believe this stress is very much a direct result of children being robbed of their childhood and right to free play. By increasing our expectations and packing their schedule from around the age of three, we will actually be producing children who behave like hamsters on a wheel and not creative geniuses.
Children need time to think and use their imagination. Enrichment classes can feed their imagination and help them think creatively but it is no use if they never get the chance to explore and expand on that new knowledge and skill before being rushed off to the next class.
Well, I would LOVE it if my child could play Bach on the cello, Sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” like Connie Talbot (From America’s Got Talent Fame), Read French with the right accent, and get a fashion spread at Young Parents. And if they could eat their veggies, it would be a nice bonus 🙂
But having three kids of such differing personalities, giftings and talents, I realised that exposing them to a wide spectrum of enrichment only makes it more difficult to make a decision! We’ll keep their official structured learning during school hours, anything after, will be based on their interest, likes and wants.
And my vote goes to more Family Time! where after school hours will be spent bonding as a family! We can’t do that together in Ballet or at Art Class, and this definitely can’t be achieved if I spend half the time finding a parking lot at the enrichment centre!
Furthermore, the extra enrichment classes are a real financial strain, and I think that quality time with the kids will be a better option…although I am a bit tempted with the Chinese Language classes, as we don’t speak enough Mandarin at home! 🙂