5 Online Enrichment Classes (From $110) To Find Your Child’s Talent Area For Direct School Admission
According to the Household Expenditure Survey, an average Singaporean household spends $112.40 monthly on private tuition. However, this number obscures the fact that this includes households without children meaning that the actual amount that Singaporean parents are spending on private tuition is much higher and probably closer to the $322.10 for households where the main income earner is aged 40 to 44 years (prime parenting years).
With so much money being spent on private tuition, parents are increasingly seeking better value. This includes choosing enrichment classes that prepare their children for Direct School Admission (DSA).
What Is Direct School Admission (DSA)?
Direct School Admission (DSA) is increasingly popular among parents, as it allows their child to be admitted into a school of their choice based on a talent area. If admitted, the child has a reserved spot in the school even before sitting for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).
There are many talent areas available, and each school has its own set of talent areas. In general, they fit into these broad categories:
- Sports and games
- Visual, literary and performing arts
- Debate and public speaking
- Science, mathematics and engineering
- Language and humanities
- Uniformed groups
- Leadership (E.g. Prefects)
Online Enrichment Classes For Every Talent Area
One good way to find such a talent area is to expose your child to these talent areas by sending them for classes to give them different experiences.
Here are five online enrichment classes you can consider for your child this school holidays. These classes focus on broad talent areas which give you a wide range of schools to choose from or can be submitted for multiple categories. The classes are also held online, in line with the tightened measures of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)
Artgrain has visual arts classes starting from as young as 3 years old, and with a progression scheme that is aimed to expose children to different art styles as well as different media such as Clay, Paints, Oil Pastels. The course starts to get more technical at the Foundational Art level (7 to 12 years old), and advances to the Portfolio Preparatory Class (10 – 12 years old). Online classes are available this period.
Trial Lesson (1 lesson): $35 for 8 to 12 years old (2h), $80 for Art Material Pack
Module Fee: $480 (2h X 10 lessons, twice weekly) or $690 (3h X 10 lessons, twice weekly)
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) / Robotics
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a big category – it typically involves an interdisciplinary mix of coding and engineering skills.
Nullspace Robotics engages in Robotics education, which encompasses coding skills integrated with hardware skills. Their CATALYST Robotics DSA Preparatory Program involves having children plan, build and code their own Arduino project with guidance, and thereafter document it on their own blog. The pre-requisite is the Inventor Certificate Program Using Arduino Microcontroller, which must be completed before attempting the DSA preparatory program.
Single Session: $110 for 1 training session (2.5h)
Course Packages: $700 for 8 training sessions (20h). Other course packages are available on their website.
Coding also falls under STEM. If you wish to have your child pick up purely programming skills you can consider Codinglab. For instance, they have a Python programme – Python Junior 1 – for 10 to 12 years olds that can build towards DSA preparation.
Course Packages: $445 for 5 sessions, 2 hours per session. Other class formats and courses are available on their website.
The Math Classroom
The Math Classroom has a DSA preparatory program if your child has a keen interest in problem-solving and mathematical thinking. This programme prepares students for the Math Olympiad as well as DSA. Schools such as NUS High or School of Science and Technology (SST) mainly offer Math and Science DSA and parents and students who are keen to enroll in these schools may wish to focus on Math for their preparation.
Course Packages: Pricing information is not available online. Interested parents can enquire via their online form.
Language, Creative Writing and Literary Arts
The Write Connection
The Write Connection is more than just English tuition, it’s also about writing skills and teaching students to plan their writing on top of thinking critically about their writing piece. Submissions for DSA have varied requirements for this but writing skills can still be nurtured early on before being honed and specialised to meet the requirements of your desired target schools. They also hold June holiday programmes such as a 3-day SCOOP! that go beyond the school syllabus to cover general knowledge and current affairs.
Lesson Fees: Writing Enrichment programme: $64.20 per hour for weekdays and $69.55 per hour for Saturday. 2h per lesson. More details here. $256.80 for 3-day SCOOP! programme.
Music Elective/Concert Band/Choir
In general, students who have some kind of piano/violin music grade, or experience with a certain instrument will be considered under this category. The minimum grade is typically ABRSM Music Theory Grade 5 Theory. However, to improve your chances, it is best for your child to be specialised in a specific area of music. For instance, if you wish to DSA for Concert Band, it is best that your child already knows how to play a specific concert band instrument.
However, vacancies generally depend on school needs. If a school choir already has many existing Altos and has many graduating Sopranos, the school is likely to prioritise Sopranos, followed by any Altos the choirmaster deems suitable for conversion into Soprano.
Music classes typically happen on a one-to-one basis and it may worth engaging a freelance music teacher if you wish to expose your child to learn a concert band instrument or vocals. Be prepared to spend money on an instrument if you wish for your child to pursue this route.
Do note that due to the pandemic situation, no singing or wind and brass instrument in-person classes are permitted from 16 to 13 June 2021.
Pick The Right Talent Area And A Good Enrichment Centre To Coach Your Child In Preparing For DSA
With the variety of enrichment classes available, the school holiday period is a good time to expose your child to different talent areas. Focusing on DSA can be counterproductive if the talent area is not something they enjoy.
One important thing to look out for when seeking out enrichment centres for DSA is whether the course has a clear progression pathway. A good DSA preparation programme would entail well-structured classes to teach the student the talent area itself, followed by a progression pathway to send these students for competitions, or showcase achievements that can be collated into a portfolio.
Given that it takes time to demonstrate proficiency and achievements, preparation for DSA will need to start early (around mid-Primary 3 to mid-Primary 5), so that they have time to build their proficiency, clock in achievements, and build up a portfolio.