You know you are a parent in Singapore when it sometimes feels like every kid is getting tuition for something. There is no doubting that achieving academic excellence through enrichment classes is a somewhat fiery topic in an ultra-competitive society like ours.
But is it absolutely necessary? Most certainly not. But if your child is struggling at school, then it can be really painful to watch as well. I should know, having seen Ash grapple frustratingly with his English Composition writing.
And if there is one thing I have learnt when it comes to a child's learning abilities, it is that one of the biggest barriers to learning is self-confidence. When kids enjoy learning and believe they can achieve, they truly can. But when they do not understand a certain concept or keep doing badly at it, their confidence suffers.
Cue epic homework battles.
And as much as I know I am capable of teaching my own kids (at least until P6!), kids have this tendency NOT to listen to their own parents' repeated teachings. Erm, I should know since I was young once. I have lost count of the number of times I have puked blood or tore my hair in frustration when attempting to coach Ash in his essay writing.
So imagine my - and my sanity's - joy when The Learning Lab offered a chance for Ash to attend its English program. Simply because a well-planned curriculum with skilled guidance makes kids feel more confident in their abilities, and helps them make the most of what they are already learning at school.
Or at least that was what I hoped for Ash when I sent him down for his first lesson. Little did I know I would walk out more than impressed.
The Learning Lab is the leading national provider of academic enrichment and tuition with 14 years of history and offers a wide range of core programs, including N1 to JC2 English and Math, P1 to S3 Science, and N1 to P6 Chinese across its three flagship brands: The Learning Lab Junior, The Learning Lab and Chinese Lab. These programs are not your usual tuition lessons but rather, they aim to nurture curiosity, creativity and a love for the subject so that every child can excel.
One of The Learning Lab's strengths lies in its holistic curriculum, where it is designed to follow MOE requirements closely, yet purposefully pitched 20-30% higher to give students a confident head start in school. The unique curriculum is developed by an internal team of 30 people as current topics are sourced from established publications to equip children with up-to-date knowledge.
For younger students, this means that they learn more through play as well as picking up softer skills - resilience, presentation skills, and independent critical thinking - which are essential as they encounter higher learning. For older children, lessons will be infused with current affairs, enabling them to stay ahead of the curve.
We all know one learns best when one is interested. The Learning Lab knows this as well, which is why all of its teachers receive a minimum 200 hours of training and are mentored by senior teachers. Only the most passionate teachers will do, so that not only can lessons be delivered in a nurturing and inspiring way, but they are enough to pique the interest of students.
But perhaps, the most impressive aspect of The Learning Lab has got to be its conducive (and expansive) learning environment.
For starters, the classrooms resemble board meeting rooms that companies sport. Unlike the usual classroom-style with individual tables, each classroom contains a long rectangle table where students take their seats face-to-face and not just facing the teacher. This way, I am told, is far more effective in allowing students to discuss and interact - triggering more critical thinking in the process, and helps in building up their self-confidence too!
I was especially surprised by the amount of space at its United Square branch that has been devoted to its students: namely the Recharge, Reflect, Reinvigorate, Rekindle and Research zones. One such zone had music stations - playing either oldies like Karen Carpenter's songs or contemporary ones from Taylor Swift - that students are free to use before or after lessons.
Coupled with a plush sofa area for students to chill, and I think I want to be a student there too!
Equally astounding is the library collection, where students are free to borrow books weekly. Even Ash exclaimed excitedly that there were so many interesting book choices - and this coming from a person who isn't exactly a voracious reader.
But all the impressive facilities will have come to naught if Ash did not genuinely enjoy his English classes. Before his term began, he was a little apprehensive and unenthusiastic at best. He has completed 2 lessons since then and when I asked him if he would like to continue, he nodded.
I think that was his cool way of saying, "I'm enjoying it!"
Stay tuned as I track Ash's progress (in essay writing especially!) until the end of the term! In the meantime, visit www.thelearninglab.com.sg for more information on its programs.
The Learning Lab Branches
UE Square: Level 3, 81 Clemenceau Avenue
Tampines Point: Level 3, 2 Tampines Central 6 Singapore 529483
Bedok Point: Level 4, 799 New Upper Changi Road
HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok Clubhouse: Level 2, 2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7
Westgate: 3 Gateway Drive, Level 4
United Square: Level 3, 101 Thomson Road
Mountbatten Square: Level 1, 229 Mountbatten Road
Rochester Mall: Level 2, 33 Rochester Drive