Thought I should pen a post about RaeAnne's enrichment journey. I am sure there is a lot of literature and discussion about this. Is enrichment really necessary? My parents for one, did not believe in them. To them, nothing is more important than studying. Anything that takes time and concentration away from studying is not good. Of course, they are a different generation and times were harder then, definitely no time or extra resources for enrichment.
Is it a waste of money? Another difficult question to answer unless you are going to start setting KPIs and measuring the results. What kind of enrichment programmes are good? Which centres to send them to? There are so many different types of programmes and so many different centres offering similiar yet different programmes. Go to kiasuparents.com and you may end up being more confused cos some parents said this programme is good, others said another is better. Some kids enjoy the class, some kids don't.
To me, enrichment programmes should first of all, enrich their child's experience. Ie. it should expose to something new which they may not have tried or seen. Secondly, it can be something that matches a need or an interest. Eg. send a shy child to speech and drama, send an impatient child to music lessons to learn to listen, a lively child for dance lessons etc, a kid who loves to sing for singing lessons. It is definitely important if they love it or at least enjoy it. No point dragging a toddler to enrichment all the time if they hate it right? But of course, I will give a reasonable period of time for the child to experience it fully and tell me if she wants to continue or not.
Of course, lastly, it has to be within our budget and manageable within the child's schedule. I really don't want to start packing the gals' weekday night and weekend schedules back to back with enrichment programmes esp since they already attend 8 hrs of 'school' daily at childcare. I guess in a way, it's good that we don't have a big budget in the first place so I can't burden them with enrichment even if I want to and we really must be selective in what enrichment we send the kids for.
Ok, back to enrichment. The first enrichment that we sent RaeAnne for is Yamaha Music Wonderland which started in Jan 2011. Simple reason is because both myself and hubby had no chance to learn music when we were young cos both our parents cannot afford a piano or organ and we want to give them a chance to learn. In secondary school, I stayed cleared of the band or chinese orchestra since I didn't learn music. When I was in choir in JC, I can't read any notes and had to memorise how high pitch I need to sing. A few times, I sang it either too high or too low cos I can't remember. A choir mate who was not the best singer but learned the piano was chosen as the section leader simply because she can read notes and could guide us in our practices. My other friend who sang so beautifully that she was given 2 solo pieces to sing in our JC musical was not the leader cos she also didn't learn the piano.
Although MW is only a weekly 45mins programme, I bore it with a bit of resentment cos it is on Sat, 12 to 1245pm. Really not an ideal timing cos we can't do anything in the morning except have brunch/lunch then shop at Tampines Mall before class. We can't do much after the class cos RA will be tired and needs her afternoon nap. Having said that, we are continuing with her music lessons and this year, she is Yamaha Junior Music Course which is same timing but 12-1pm.
ILs said before it's good to send her for music lessons to 调冶性情 because she is so impatient. Yes, RA has a short attention span and easily distracted. Which toddler isn't anyway? But anyway we hoped that music will help enforce the importance of listening and improve her concentration. So, sometimes when we were in music class and I was talking to her (either repeating the teacher's instructions or cueing her at the wrong part of the music), she will admonish me with 'Shh, Mummy, must listen.' keke. We already bought a junior piano in January so must be more diligent to make her practise. Let her choose between watching cartoons, playing with toys or practise piano, she would rather play or watch tv. -_-
This year, I was thinking of adding another enrichment for RA. Main reason is because I want to expose her to more while she is in preschool because once she starts primary school, her schedule will be packed with lessons, homework, CCA etc. So, started looking around. 3 choices came to mind: Swimming, Ballet or drawing/arts. I didn't want anything to do with studying so English, Chinese, abacus etc are out. Really don't know which one to choose and which one she will enjoy so we let her try all 3 but one at a time not simultaneously.
Ballet, I brought her to Crestar at Abacus Plaza. The first trial lesson didn't go very well cos she started crying when I had to leave the class after 5 mins as instructed by the ballet teacher. Not surprisingly, she said she doesn't want to learn ballet cos she doesn't want Mummy to leave the room. 1 month later, I bought a cute ballet dress (cheap one at $10) I enrolled her in the same class as her favourite CC classmate, Valerie but even though she didn't cry at all for the class. Teacher Joy said she can follow well. I just need to buy proper ballet shoes for her so that she can do tippy toes. But after the second trial class, when I asked her if she wants to learn ballet with Valerie so that I can register at the counter, she still said no. She said, I don't like to dance. Even wearing pretty ballet tutu cannot entice her so I gave up. No point forcing her if she doesn't like it.
Arts class, I must admit. I was hoping to find some hidden talent in RA for drawing/arts since hubby is so good at drawing and cartooning. It doesn't help that I saw a few kids younger than RA by a few months turning out such beautiful watercolour paintings of Minnie mouse, house, girl etc. The trial class at Globalarts at Tampines Central CC was just 15mins on a Fri evening maybe cos it is free. Although she did colour the orange in shades of yellow, light orange and dark orange as per instructed by the teacher, she had to nudged into action and initially refused to sit down to colour. I asked the young teacher whether we will be stifling the child's creativity by teaching them how to draw and what to colour at such a young age but she cannot give me a convincing answer. She only said that they do allow the kids to choose their own colours sometimes. Anyway, after the short trial, I asked her if she wants to learn drawing or colouring but she said no. I think it's ok to just let her develop her skills for art/drawing naturally. She is starting to draw better for faces and some animals. So, no art classes for now. If she wants to learn, I shall 'volunteer' hubby to teach her. ;P
Swimming, we started one to one lessons with Happy swim in early Jan at a very costly monthly fee of $300 for 2 toddlers. The gals enjoyed their lessons very much and RA looks forward to swimming lessons everytime so I really don't regret the $ spent. But unfortunately Raelynn is still a bit too young to focus. She only follows the coach's instructions half of the time when she feels like it so Coach Terry told us we can afford to wait till she is 4 yrs and save $ in the meantime. RA is ok as she can follow instructions to blow bubbles, kick water without bending her knees and even mimick 'frog leg' movement of breaststroke. But we are unable to continue with Terry after the 4 lessons ended because if we take RL out of the class, it will become one on one class for RA alone and that will costs $200 per month. Too costly to me, since most kids only pay $50-$60 per month for swimming lessons.
So we started with the new coach (Neil who was recommended by Terry) last Sun, the swimming lesson didn't go very well. It was the first lesson with new teacher and RA panicked when she realised she is now at the deeper learner's pool instead of the baby pool used by the previous teacher. She refused to even walk in the shallow end with me. Swim teacher saw her resistance and told me to just bring her to play for a few weeks before starting lessons since she is so afraid. May have to start looking for alternative cos find 855am timing too early, water is cold and RL cannot wake up in time so it is no longer a family swimming outing. :P
Actually thought swimming is a good enrichment programme for he since it's sports, keeps her healthy and strengthens the lungs. Also, she already has music lessons so I prefer her to learn a sports 一文一武. And Mei Mei gets to join in the fun too. Hehe. So, will try a few more weeks, if she still doesn't want to learn swimming at the big pool. I will take her out of swimming class, then we will just swim occasionally on late sunday mornings or we can bring the gals for a picnic or bird park or visit the library/museum. It will be a nice change to have our Sunday mornings back and spend it the way we want to at a whim of fancy. I constantly remind myself not to be too kiasu in enrichment because when the gals grow up, they will always remember the happy times they spent 'playing' with us at a playground or the zoo but they may not remember what they learnt in a classroom. :)