Because primary and secondary school is heavily subsidized for locals in Singapore, it is easy for parents to under-budget for education. However, this would be a mistake as school fee comprises only a small portion of the total cost of education. In fact, a major chunk of the cost of education is made up by after-school tuition fee, enrichment classes and holiday workshops. For instance, our research shows that most Singaporean families spend about 7% of their monthly budget on education or approximately S$322 per month (S$3,864 per year), with the average spending going up in tandem with rising income levels. Within this amount, enrichment classes and holiday camps can account for over 90% of a family’s child education budget, with school tuitions being only a very small part. If these extracurricular classes cost so much money, just what are they really like and how can parents afford them more easily? To help parents make better decisions with their money, we explore the various options available for different classes, and ways parents can reduce these costs without compromising the quality of their children's education.
How Much Do Enrichment Classes Cost?
Singaporean kiasu parents lay great emphasis on enhancing their child’s academic performance in school as well as in honing their overall personality. Therefore, most children start going for enrichment classes from the age of 4 and might end up going for 3-4 classes per week by the time they reach 9 years of age. Given that individual enrichment lessons at private schools cost S$30 per class on average, enrichment classes can cost about S$1,500 per year.
However, there are several factors that can influence this cost for each family. For one, group lessons are cheaper than private, individual lessons. However, your child might progress faster to the next level in individual classes because of the personal attention they can receive. Secondly, classes at community clubs are more economical than at private schools, but they remain packed with long waiting lists and tend to have larger class size. Lastly, it is important to factor in the cost of progress, as classes tend to be cheap for beginner levels and rise in price as the child advances to more advanced levels.
What’s the Cost of Keeping Children Productive During School Holidays?
A corollary to the enrichment classes are holiday workshops and camps. Parents want their kids to stay occupied and productive during the school holidays so that they can acquire new interests, skills or passions. However, this indulgence does not come cheap. The average cost of holiday workshops is about $30 per hour, which totals up to S$1,000 or more for some camps.
How to Save on Education Costs
If spending thousands of dollars on your child’s education sounds too expensive, there are still ways to reduce your cost without compromising the quality of their education. First, you can easily earn a sibling or groups discount at most camps by forming a group of children with other parents. Doing so can also help you save money on transportation as you can split the responsibility of picking up and dropping kids with other parents. Not only that, most schools also offer loyalty discount for returning students.
Secondly, planning ahead can really help financially. Most holiday camps and workshops open up for registration a few months before the school holidays and typically offer 5 to 15% early bird discount. So, if you are planning to send your kids to one or more camps in the upcoming holidays, then it is wise to register now.
Lastly, there are some tricks you can try for smaller but still valuable savings. For example, using a cash back credit card to make payments for your child’s classes can help reduce your cost by earning rebates on those expenditures. Also, you can save by packing your child’s meals instead of opting for the camps or classes’ default meal options.