South Korean parents have a faith that an entry into a recognized university guarantees success of their children or, at least, increases the possibility of their children’s success. With this faith, they put their children in various private educational institutions by setting a goal of their children’s education as an entry into a famous university. Such private education gradually lowered the target age of the education and it was extended to the age of young children. However, early childhood private education can have negative influence on young children. In this context, the study attempts to examine the general status of private education through surveys on private education and extracurricular activities focused on two-year-old children, the age passing from infancy to early childhood, and five-year-old children, the age passing from early childhood to the age of entering elementary school. Based on these analyses, the objective of the research is to propose a direction of improvement and policy support measures on private education for healthy growth and development of young children.
In order to achieve the goal, the study was conducted through literature research, survey research, workshop and advisory conferences. In literature research, different analyses were carried out on definition of terms related to private education, private education related laws, current status and perception on early childhood private education, impacts and effects of early childhood private education, researches related to extracurricular in kindergartens and daycare centers and daily schedule of young children. In terms of determining the current status of private education, existing data of the National Survey of Child Care and Education and the Panel Study on Korean Children(PSKC) were analyzed. In survey research, surveys, studies on the cases of private institutes and studies on counseling cases were carried out. Firstly, a survey was conducted to determine the general status and perception on private education and the study analyzed the responses of total 2,276 persons: 537 parents with two-year-old children, 434 teachers teaching two-year-old children, 704 parents with five-year-old children and 601 teachers teaching five-year-old children. Secondly, a case analysis was conducted with total 16 persons: 3 parents with two-year-old children and 4 parents with five-year-old children attending playschool, 4 parents with five-year-old children attending private English institutes and 5 parents with children attending kids sports club. Third, with the objectives to investigate the effects of early childhood private education on young children’ mental health and to draw implications, a counseling case analysis was carried out with 124 pairs of parents-children and among them, 5 cases were selected for in-depth analysis.
As a result of the analysis, it was revealed that, the hours for private education in daily schedule of two-year-old and five-year-old children was considerably high. Although differences exist depending on the types of private institutes, children attending full-time private institutes were spending considerably high number of hours in learning. Among the subjects of the survey, 35.5% of two-year-old children and 83.6% of five-year-old children were found to receive private education. It was also found that two-year-old children are taking 1.7 types of private education, 2.6 times per week and 47.6 minutes per session whereas five-year-old children are taking 2.2 types of private education, 5.2 times per week and 50.1 minutes per session. The types of private education program participated by young children are more of academic education rather than education focusing on physical exercise, art and music, and many of two-year-old and five-year-old children are taking private lessons on Korean language. However, the parents considered that the current hours of the education are either appropriate or insufficient. It was revealed that the monthly expenditure on private education per child is about 4% of monthly household income. It was found that the parents of two-year-old children spend average of 134,300 KRW and the parents of five-year-old children spend average of 161,300 KRW per month. The parents with two-year-old children responded that the average age of starting private education is 22 months-old. However, desirable private education starting age was found to be 3.6-year-old for physical education, art and music, whereas it was 4.6-year-old for academic private education and this shows huge difference between recognition and reality. As a desirable direction of private education policy, high proportion of parents of both two-year-old and five-year-old children responded that the vitalization of extracurricular activities in kindergartens and child care centers are required and it was followed by construction of infrastructure and reduction of private education due to advertisement of the negative effects of early childhood private education.
As a result of analyzing cases of private institutes, it was revealed that the parents who chose full-time private institutes over daycare center or kindergarten have high demand on private education that cannot be provided by daycare center or kindergarten. The mothers, especially, were found to have different expectations on different types of full-time institutes. For example, in case of parents sending children to English institute, they had high demand on learning whereas parents sending their children to playschool tend to focus on the development of children’s personality and sociality. On the other hand, the parents who send their children to kids sports club took high interest on physical development of their children. As they sent their children with such expectation, they reported that private institutes had high impact on children’s development in English skill, personality and confidence. However, they also reported that they were concerned about the quality of private institutes as they do not know detail information about full-time private institutes and as the institutes have ambiguous standard of teacher certificate. Besides, they also reported that they are concerned about high cost of private education. The parents who participated in case study responded that their children started to attend private education before their first birthday, starting from cultural center program, and gradually increased the types, numbers and institutes of private education. They also responded that the reasons for sending their children to private institutes are to develop children’s personality, to enable their children to have special experience, to prevent them from falling behind and to make their children to enter into a recognized university.
As a result of analyzing the studies on counseling cases, the highest number of parents with child rearing attitude of control- affection tend to send their children to private institutes due to vicarious gratification through their children’s achievement, their inferiority complex and compensation mentality for uncertainty. For them, private education was used as a measure to compensate the dysfunctional parents-children relationship. But when there is problem in the relationship, the parents tend to have excessive dependence on private education which deteriorated the relationship and led children to have emotional, social and behavioral problems. Besides, the lower the exposed age of private education, the more effect the private education had on social development of children. However, rather than merely considering the negative effects of children’s development caused by excessive private education as the fragmentary influence of private education, it needs to be viewed from parents-children relationship and it should be understood from the social context.
Based on the above result of the analyses, the study proposes basic direction of private education policy that needs to be improved for healthy growth and development of young children such as securing the rights of healthy growth and development of young children, creation of environment for parents to safely rear their children without any burden, creation of social atmosphere that encourages cooperation over competition and that acknowledges diversity. As a measure of policy support, the study proposes basic direction such as securing young children’ rights of happiness by harmoniously balancing their daily schedule, recovery of parents-children relationship by breaking from dependency on private education, construction of infrastructure with public education that can absorb the demand of private education, proposition of educational direction by conducting longitudinal study and by sharing the study results, understanding of the development of young children and providing parental education for strengthening parental competency and reformation of social atmosphere through reconsideration of general educational policy.