• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 4:54pm
NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

Hong Kong's overzealous parents may be hampering their kids, says expert

Expert warns that forcing children to learn extracurricular skills to help them get into elite schools may harm their personal development

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 4:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 4:54am

Forcing children to learn will not improve their development or raise their chances of getting into elite schools, an educator at an international school has warned.

Hong Kong parents like to fill their children's schedules each day with extracurricular lessons, such as piano, swimming and painting.

Parents hope the additional skills will help their children stand out in admissions interviews for the top schools.

"It's good to expose your child to possibilities but it's not good to keep pushing them to try things," said Professor Deborah Eyre, education director of Nord Anglia Education, which opens an international school in Lam Tin in September. "You also want children to think, reflect and develop themselves as individuals.

"We value what parents do. We know that they're trying to do the best for their child. But what's important is that children come to school loving learning and wanting to learn," Eyre said.

It has been reported that some parents enrol their children in two kindergartens - an English-language one in the morning and another one in Chinese in the afternoon - in the hope of increasing their child's chances of winning a place at a prestigious international primary school. Eyre said she would not do it with her own children.

"For a young child, it's important to have good education but it's also important that they have more informal learning which they do with their family," Eyre said. "If you want your child to have a good vocabulary, you can read and talk to your child. They will learn better with you than they would in a kindergarten."

Eyre, a former director of the UK government's academy for gifted youth, offered the example of Scandinavian countries such as Norway, where children do not formally take part in reading or writing until the age of seven. Rather than negatively affecting their development, it helped them get to know the world.

"Internationally, [the educator's role is to] introduce some formal learning but also to value play and discovery with young children who are trying to understand the world around them," she said. "We need to help them to discover for themselves.

"It is also what teachers of young children in our schools believe in strongly."

 

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This article is now closed to comments

sipsip1238
Maybe not just focus on not pushing your child too much, but also make them actually learn something instead of just reciting.
Learning and applying seems to be a skill that is very much lacking in the Asian education system, a monkey can recite with enough repetition.
smileavenue
Xbox curricular activity hasn't done my kids any harm..........so far.....
dng18dng18
As a local HK parent, I too agree that kids here grow up in a pressurized environment. In a way, they have been brought up in this intense competing environment to make it to the best schools. I guess every parent wants their kid to go to MIT and become Einstein. As a parent, you want the best for your child, so previously parents practically enroll them in as many things as they can find to build up their CV. My gal is 2 now and she is telling me what she wants to learn. I think it's important for us as parents not to shove extra curricular activities down their throat, but rather listen and understand what they want/like. By letting them explore, only then will they discover what is naturally best for them in the end.
sipsip1238
Good on your little girl for telling you what she wants to learn, and hope you are able to accommodate whatever she wants to learn.
I think your little girl might be one of the rare ones with independent thought since that kids in HK are brainwashed at such a young age that they have no idea what they want.
And I think the reason for the CV building choices are because the parents themselves are such narrow minded people, where given the opportunity to hire someone, would rather an idiot with high marks rather than someone who have enough smarts and effort to learn, adapt and excel.
oxymoron19
This is how sad Hong Kong people are. They have to force feed their offspring to do things they do not want to do and many may end up depressed and even become rebellious later on in life. Many would have identity crisis.
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If you have the financial resources migrate to the US or Canada and watch how your children grow up in these cultures where education is simple, unburdened and fun. Grade 1 -12 and straight to college. Extra curricular? How about a game of basketball and baseball instead ? Ever heard of work-life-balance in school ? Be amazed because such thing exists. Eradicate any remnants of the colonial education system which operates in a pressure pot that would make kids commit suicide. Live the American dream !
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The photo above depicting children learning American accent : is posted for a reason. Majority of international schools in HK is either American or Canadian. There is no demand for anymore British high schools and it's no surprise after years of mayhem the complicated and burdensome system has taken its toll on HK. As Obama's famous line: "It's time for a change"!
jd.salinger.3154
Norway, being a place with dark winters and a population susceptible to Winter SAD, I can imagine the kids may need special programs to "[help] them get to know the world". Nevertheless, a great place for deep sea fishing.
ognevodd
Poisonous, degrading Western ideas!
Will the forced studies produce zombie-like adults who don't care about their work and only care about eating and watching TV? Yes. Can you change the ideas of local parents about life? No.
I've even seen expatriate parents falling prey to the idea that the child should begin studying economics before age one.
Their religion is that anything their child does except studying is a waste of time and only leads to decadence. Good luck changing that.
oxymoron19
You are so full of it ! How many expatriates have you met? Are they all British ? If so I am not surprised because their education system is a failure. Their grade school is equivalent to military school. The beauratic and ruthless system has let many poor students flying off the window to their demise. That is why HK is opening more American international school. Supply and demand. An extra icing on the cake is that people like to learn American accent more than the British. It's a given world wide fact ! Sorry for you folks who have gone to the UK and came back with a lifetime blocked nasal passage and who writes 18th Century redundant style English. Yes I'm being wholeheartedly satirical!
Your stereo type mindset of western kids being couch potatoes is laughable. Just as ridiculous as those adults in HK that can't stop playing with their devices in the MTR. Have you ever lived offshore in the Northern America ? Canada? Or maybe Australia ? You don't sound like it by your silly rhetorics. You sure sound like a simple minded jihad who has never left the country and has been living under the rock all your life. A true patriot who was born, bred and dye only on HK soil. I salute you sir!
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sunday212
Well, I was told my a HK parent, that to get into a decent local school you need a good CV. Good local schools look for acheivers, so kids need to do extra-curricular activities to show some sort of acheivement. My cousins primary school CV was about 20 pages. Her secondary school cv was about 50 pages, longer than my Universrity thesis!
lukesanders12@hotmail.com
Claiming someone is simple minded, and then calling them a 'jihad' in the same sentence, Wow.....

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