a sad child being forced to read
Overloading your child’s schedule can do more harm than good, says experts. (Photo: 123RF.com)
  1. Does It 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. “Moist enrichment programmes offer higher-level thinking which, in turn, helps kids acquire important academic, social, emotional, cognitive and/or physical skills.”
  2. Have Your Child Attended A Trial Class?
    Most centres offer a trial session so that your child can fully experience the programme before committing to it, says Fareena. You should take 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 practice 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?”
  3. How Well Do You Know Your Child?
    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 progresses; 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.
  4. Are You Overloading Your Child?
    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, Sirena advises you to go with a sport or physical activity that gives him a 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.”

Text: Sasha Gonzales, Young Parents, May 2016 / Additional reporting: Sylvia Ong

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