Saturday 4 August 2007

Frugal living: Educational Coaching for Kids

Many parents give their kids education highest priority, and a lot will resort to expensive out-of-school coaching to help them get better marks and/or pass selective school tests. Things were different when I was in primary school - you just sat for the selective ("Opportunity Class") school tests in Year 4, and if you did well on the test you were offered a place. These days many parents spend a lot of money on professional "coaching" classes or computerised study assistance programs. But there isn't much evidence that this is money well spent - in fact some recent reports suggest that having kids spend too much time on repetitive "coaching" sessions after school can get them burned out and perform worse on selective school tests than they would have without any coaching at all!

I think a small amount of preparation for selective tests is probably worthwhile - knowing what sort of questions to expect in the test, practicing the exam format and getting used to the time allowed and exam technique can only help the child relax and do as well as possible "on the day". So, rather than spend a small fortune of coaching classes I've just bought a book of practice material and some sample tests which I'll work through with DS1 over the next couple of years (the exam is in year 4, but DS1 is only in year 2 at the moment).

Another fun activity which will help DS1 academically is spelling bee practice. Although spelling bees aren't nearly as big a deal in Australia as they are in the US, there has been a state-wide "Premier's" Spelling Bee running in NSW for the past couple of years. Entries for this year's competition closed last month - the school DS1 attends wasn't aware of the Spelling Bee until we told them, and was quite pleased to learn about it. DS1 was keen to compete in the yr 3-4 group, so the school decided that he will be able to compete against the kids in years 3-4 for selection to represent his school. The spelling lists used for the early rounds of the competition are available online, so DS1 will be able to practice learning them. A good, cheap, fun activity that will help him academically.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's more to a good education and success in life than getting into an 'OC' or Selective. My children went to an OC, and got places at very good Selectives (interestingly, only half the OC class got Selective places, yet most were coached). However, they chose to go to the local high school after their OC experience. They were academically successful and popular students but being white Australians they just didn't enjoy the constant competition and back-biting between the other students. Group work was hampered by the other members of the group speaking entirely in Chinese and our kids said, frankly, some of the other kids were 'boring' to talk to as they did nothing else other than attend coaching clinics or study. We were worried about them missing out on their well-deserved Selective places but the end result is that they are exceptionally well-looked after academically at their choice of local High School, they love their friends and they love learning. They could have gone to private schools, but I love the fact that we're saving thousands $$$ by sending them local. Please don't see Selectives as 'the' thing to aspire to. Save all that coaching money and check out the 'gifted' classes at your local high school.