Maths and Chinese tuition even before pre-school

Little Evan was only two years old when he stepped into his first classroom at The Learning Track.

His parents wanted him to have a head start in picking up Chinese and mathematics so that the toddler would be better positioned to apply to pre-school.

"We aimed for a specific school, which was the Singapore International School (SIS), and we thought it was the best way to prepare him for the application process," said his mother, Hong Kong-based Singaporean actress Eileen Yeow.

Singapore may have a reputation as a 'tuition nation', but Ms Yeow said the conditions in Hong Kong are worse, with parents scrambling to take extreme measures to ensure their children get into good schools.

She said: "We're not 'Tiger Mums'. That's just what you have to do in Hong Kong.

"People can go for 14 school interviews just for the primary school level. We did not want to have to go through the same process."

So Evan started preparation lessons about a year before he was eligible to apply for the equivalent of kindergarten.

"After brushing up on his Chinese and maths, it was better for his SIS entrance interview," said Ms Yeow.

Now four years old, Evan is enrolled in kindergarten at SIS and still attends lessons twice a week at The Learning Track.

When The New Paper sat in on one of his classes, Evan and two other four-year-olds were reading aloud from Chinese storybooks that also taught them to tell time - material that seemed advanced for their age.

Said a smiling Ms Yeow: "He has gone from not speaking Mandarin to talking a lot now.

"There's more motivation when he's put in a small class.

"Even if the teaching is a little advanced here, it's okay. At least he'll understand when he gets to school."