Are you considering CXC extra classes for your child? This article provides the insights you need to make the best possible decision for your child's academic success.
The COVID pandemic created a massive education gap in Jamaica. At its peak, upwards of 120,000 children were disengaged from learning and many schools found it difficult to reach out to those students. Many teachers and administrators at these schools were silently crying out for help.
The teacher shortage also continues to be an issue. A staggering 43% of our teachers resigned, 44% have been approved for leave, and 13% retired at the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year. This shortage problem further increases the education gap since many students are often left without a teacher for several weeks while school administrators scramble to find suitable replacements.
The Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY), in partnership with the private sector, reduced this massive education gap created by the pandemic to 25,000 students in March 2022, primarily through online classes. OneAcademy facilitated these free Math and English online learning sessions for over 500 students. The programme had great reviews with 63% of those who completed our feedback survey indicating that they loved their teachers and 53% indicating that they loved the manner in which the quizzes were done.
However, there are students who still need additional academic support. Equally, free classes often don’t cover all areas of weakness in a particular subject area for each child. It is for these (and other) reasons that caregivers turn to after-school classes for their children.
Here’s the truth.
Many extra classes cost at least J$1,500 per session — a cost some parents can’t comfortably afford. Financing extra academic support for your child is an investment into your child’s future. However, you also want to ensure the investment you’re making is worthwhile.
This article focuses on the pros and cons of CXC extra classes and provides some guidance for helping you determine whether these classes are the best option for your child despite the costs.
Extra classes give students access to teachers outside of classroom hours. The teaching style of an in-school teacher may not match a child’s learning style. A teacher who provides extra lessons may be able to fill the gap and open the child’s eyes to different approaches to concepts.
In an individual or small group setting, a teacher will be better able to ascertain learning styles and adapt to using appropriate teaching methods that will motivate students’ learning. This is especially true in an online environment since it:
Can be easily adapted to the student’s learning style to maximize student engagement
Enhances the learning experience through use of the learner’s preferred medium
Builds confidence by empowering the learner
The CXC curriculum is quite extensive and, for many subjects, can’t be completed during school hours. This concern was voiced by UNICEF in 2021 for CSEC and CAPE exams. UNICEF cited that based on the pandemic, changes needed to be made to the multiple choice paper (Paper 1) and clearer structure also needed to be provided throughout all examination papers. They argued that the pandemic widened existing gaps, allowing the disadvantaged to fall further behind.
OneAcademy provides private online tutoring, past paper solutions, self-paced videos, live small group classes, and several learning resources that help close the gap.
Extra classes help students gain additional practice that supports their learning retention — the ability to store new information in our long-term memory. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’ research in memory showed 70% of what we learn is lost in the first 24 hours, and 90% within a week.
Extra classes are beneficial to retention because they provide demonstrative learning, which is a practice-based teaching method. The student becomes an active learner rather than a passive, theoretic-based learner in the classroom. This type of learning can be through strategies such as gamification. With gamification, learning can be transformed into fun activities such as Jeopardy and games like dominoes/poker that relay academic concepts in practical, layman’s terms.
Some children develop the mentality that they don’t need to pay attention in their regular classes because they’ll learn everything they need during extra lessons. This proves to be even more true in an online setting.
Most importantly, students miss a key retention method in the online environment — group discussion. In the National Training Laboratory’s Learning Pyramid, group discussion accounts for 50% of learning retention and is an active teaching method that stimulates the learner through:
Voicing their ideas and thoughts
Clarification on these ideas
This promotes and develops students’ confidence in public speaking, promotes good listening, and develops relevant topic responses.
Extra lessons put additional pressure on some students. They spend less time on extracurricular activities, socialising with friends, and resting.
UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to raise awareness and address some of the stressors highlighted, has started a mental health hotline for youth called U-Matter. Its aim is to address post COVID emotional and mental stresses being faced at school or at home. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), depression is the leading cause of illness and disability adolescents. They cited that 1 in 5 youth will suffer from a mental illness by age 25.
The student is not the only one who carries this stress, a point that is often overlooked. Caregivers are equally (if not more) stressed as they have anxiety over their child’s development and finding the finances to fund their child’s success.
A parent expressed in an article published in the Jamaica Gleaner that unemployment was a huge deterrent in being able to assist in her child’s success. Another asked, “Will the urge for money prevent them from teaching effectively in the classes so they can capitalise on extra lessons for pay?”
At J$1,500 per session, these caregivers may have a valid point, as two classes, two times per week equal to $12,000 per month. In an economy plagued by rising inflation and job scarcity, the ability to find these resources is becoming harder.
OneAcademy allows students to access one-on-one tutoring sessions, small group classes, on-demand videos, and study resources. Our Premium members access these benefits at a reduced price, thus making supporting the academic success of their children more affordable.
Your answer to this question should be assessed on an individual basis, as not all students need additional assistance or may only need assistance in particular topics. Students who are found to be too advanced or falling behind my also benefit greatly from extra lessons. A student preparing for CSEC may also need the personalised learning that extra classes can provide.
Here are some things you can do to further assess your child’s need for CXC classes after school:
1. Speak with your child’s teacher.
2. Carefully monitor your child’s assignments and grades.
3. Have an honest conversation with your child about his or her feelings towards the learning experience at school.
Yes, the expense of extra classes may be concerning to you. However, are you prepared to invest in your child’s academic success?
Another important consideration when deciding whether extra classes are right for your child is to determine your child’s current level of academic stress. Added pressure and anxiety could lead to your child losing confidence and failing. Encourage your child to live a balanced life where academics don’t dominate every waking hour.
Academic success is the aim. We must all adopt the mantra, “Every child can learn. Every child must learn” and do all we can to achieve this goal.
Extra classes? No extra classes? Some extra classes? You can only find the answers to these questions by looking at your child’s needs. The choice is yours. However, weigh your options and speak with your child to determine his or her specific needs.
OneAcademy is here to help your child achieve academic success. Sign up for a Premium membership and learn more about how we can help your child ace CSEC exams.