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One topic that always comes up during my Parent-teaching meetings (PTM) is Chinese tuition.

When parents feel that their child is not keeping up with their school work, they’ll think of sending them to tuition.

When they notice that their child is not doing as well as their peers, it’s tuition again.

Even when they think that their child is not interested in Chinese, they’ll turn to tuition.

All in all, sending their kids for Chinese tuition seem like the miracle pill that’s going to solve all their problems. However, is this really the best solution to improve their Chinese?

It might work in some cases, but most of the time, after a good discussion about their child’s situation, I can tell you that 70% of the kids in school don’t really need it.

Here’s why parents tend to rely on tutors

Being clueless about the primary school syllabus

The most common reason is that most parents in Singapore are English-speaking or they don’t know enough about the Chinese syllabus taught in primary school to help their children with their homework problems.

Fair enough.

If I wasn’t a Chinese teacher in school, my Chinese would also probably be reduced to a conversion-only mode. So I can understand why it might be a better idea to outsource this task to someone professional instead.

It’s a mean of forcing your child to study or revise Chinese regularly

The other interesting reason that some parents share is that they feel that their child is “lazy” or “not motivated enough to study on their own”. By sending their child to tuition, they hope that the tutor will be able to “push” their child for them.

Hopefully, with these addition Chinese tuition classes, you can prevent your child from falling behind in school, performing poorly or failing their Chinese exam. Valid reason.

Busy schedules and limited bonding time with child

Some parents have an extremely busy work schedule, so it’s hard to have the time or energy after work to continue monitoring their child’s school work.

I’m sure many parent who tried coaching their child would agree with me when I say it’s often a frustrating process. You either lose patience in the process or end up getting into an argument with your child.

Outsourcing reduces this friction. Seem legit.

Peer pressure

If all your friends are sending their kids for tuition, you’ll naturally be scared if you don’t.

Afterall, this is a very stereotypical “kiasu” parent mentality. FOMO is real. You don’t want to lose out and thanks to you, the tuition industry in Singapore is earning billions. I’ll go more into this later.

Parental guilt

This is something that bother not only my class parents, but many of my friends too.

I understand, all concered parents feel that way. You want to do your best for your child and “maximise their potential”. Somehow, a part of you feels that if you don’t help them to succeed sufficiently when you have the means to do it, you’ll be doing them a disservice.

What is your reason for considering Chinese tuition?

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons why parents send their children for tuition. Here comes the golden question: Is Chinese tuition necessary?

Let me share why most of the time it’s not.

I feel that at the end of the day, whether your child needs Chinese tuition really depends on 2 things:

  • Your child’s Chinese results
  • Your child’s attitude towards the language

From students from foundation classes all the way to those from stretched classes, I’ve grouped the students I’ve seen over the years into 4 main categories.

Pick the one that best describes your child and read on.

My kid is struggling with Chinese and they don’t like it

If you child is having difficulty coping with Chinese, not able to do their homework or having trouble recognizing Chinese characters, their proficiency in the language is probably what’s stopping them from liking the subject.

Most children don’t like things that they are not good at because it takes them too much effort.

If your child belongs to this category, Chinese tuition may or may not solve the problem. The more important problem to solve here is your child’s interest in Chinese.

If they don’t have the motivation to learn or already have a negative association with it, it might do them more harm than good if you send them to the wrong kind of Chinese tuition class.

If the tutor is too strict or fierce, or if the curriculum is too dry or not peg at the right level, your child may end up struggling during tuition classes and hate the subject even more. You’ll definitely not want that to happen.

What can you do then?

Try to find ways to help them see Chinese in more interesting ways, expose them to comics or explore enrichment classes instead.

Tuition is not the answer. Once you can get them interested in learning, you’ll start to see them improving gradually.

My kid is weak in Chinese but they don’t really hate or love the subject

If your child’s attitude towards Chinese is generally ok, but they are not performing well in school, you might want to have a good talk with their Chinese teacher to find out why.

Once you find what their weakness is, you can consider signing your child up for private tuition, group tuition or online tuition depending on their needs and your budget. In such cases, your child can benefit from learning at their own pace or getting the homework help they need from a professional.

While you are selecting the right kind of tuition, think about your child’s ability to focus and whether the tutor is able to provide the additional support and resources that can help them improve their understanding and performance.

Having the right qualifications is one thing, but it is still important for you to monitor your child’s progress and get their feedback every now. Make sure that your tutor can deliver the quality that they claim to justify what you are paying for.

My kid is doing ok and they are also ok in terms of attitude

I generally don’t recommend Chinese tuition for such kids.

If your child is self-disciplined and doing quite well in their studies, they are already considered a rare breed.

I’ve noticed that having the right attitude is one of the greatest factor of how far a child will go in life, so if your child is like that, you’re either a very lucky parent or you’ve taught them well! Good job!

If you are still considering tuition because you’re afraid that you are not doing enough or that most of their peers attend Chinese tuition lessons, don’t worry.

Remember, other parents may be sending their child for these additional classes because their child lack the self-discipline that your child has or they might just want to force their child to sit through more hours of studying which your child would be able to do on their own.

For such a child, getting them to explore their own interests a better way for them to spend their free time instead of going for tuition classes that they don’t need.

My kid is doing well and they like Chinese

If you are just thinking about sending your child for tuition to get a few extra points to get that perfect score you want, you MIGHT want to adjust your own expectations a bit.

If your child is already doing better than the average child, is it worth paying someone the money to put your child in class to listen to things that they already know? Does it really mean they will score better?

You decide.


Overall, enrolling your primary school child in Chinese tuition can have both positive and negative effects.

Although it may improve your child’s proficiency and confidence, it can also increase your child’s workload and cause them unnecessary stress during their childhood. I hope this post was able to help you decide what you really want for your child and determine if they really need Chinese tuition.

Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments below.

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