Kyle Spencer has a fascinating New York Times article: Centers See New Faces Seeking Test Prep. In brief, cram schools seek your child for their class.
This is what I think: Childhood is short. American kids don’t need to spend it in offices being drilled by businesspeople.
These are the facts: NYC has a limited number of good private and public schools, all of which have competitive admission.
Clearly, you want your child to be successful and go to the best schools possible. Your child may have to prep at times, but you should do it intelligently.
Remember, many cram schools operate using scare tactics, and the more time your child spends there, the more money they make. Your child probably can’t advocate for his happiness and freedom nearly as effectively as a cram school administrator can get you hot and bothered.
What you should know:
First, for admissions tests, thorough prep usually requires a limited number of weeks, not years. Be efficient about it.
Second, for academic prep (if your child could be a better writer, reader, or math student), think carefully before jumping into a joyless drill-and-kill operation. Does the “educational center” hire fun, qualified instructors? Do the instructors know how to teach to your individual child, or do they teach out of one-size-fits-all workbooks?
If not, I would look elsewhere, or consider hiring a tutor. Moonlighting teachers, math geeks, college and high school students can all inspire your child at a range of prices, on your schedule, in your home.
I advise my clients about choosing effective tutors and tutoring centers, and make recommendations.