Today marks our third week of going to Eye Level, formerly Enopi.
I know it’s still May and not yet officially school season, but we already started our “schooling” because we’re not depending on the school year anyway. If you’re interested, here’s our current schooling setup.
We were set on enrolling Yuri, who turned 4 a couple of months ago, in a “formal” school this school year. However, when I weighed the options, I was convinced it wasn’t our best option now. Before I tell you why, here were my requirements.
Anatomy of a Good Preschool (for me)
- All of us are working. While I am working from home, my job entails following regular office hours. Because of the nature of my job, we need to find a school that is just within our area.
- Location has to be good. It shouldn’t face the highway directly, and strangers shouldn’t be able to access the kids.
- Given that I would need to work while waiting for Yuri, there needs to be a good waiting area conducive for work AKA quiet and comfortable.
We tried to go on a school-hunting but none of the schools within our area fit our standards. Better schools are farther away, and I am not willing to commute that far every single work day. I also can’t afford to be unavailable for a couple of hours each day to my team members.
Nuh uh. *shakes head vigorously*
So here was my new plan:
- Homeschool (we haven’t officially begun as we are still in transition period — I don’t want to overwhelm the boy)
- Enrol him in an enrichment school (choices were Kumon and Eye Level)
Let’s not talk about homeschooling today lol. Honestly? I haven’t laid out a concrete plan yet! So let’s just talk about the enrichment school part of the plan.
Why enrichment school? It’s not as demanding (time-wise) as regular school, but, based on my experience, is effective in driving important concepts to a child. Also, learning is personalised and according to each child’s pace — no one is pressured to keep up with the pace of the others. Finally, I want another person of authority teaching Yuri.
Both Kumon and Eye Level offer English and Math classes. Math sounds really interesting, but we are prioritising English first because Yuri doesn’t know how to write and read yet. There are also some abstract concepts (read: positions) that he can’t grasp yet. And it’s overwhelming to enrol him in two subjects. Math can come later.
Now, why did we ultimately go for Eye Level over Kumon?
Eye Level vs. Kumon
Kumon comes from Japan. Kumon was originally my first and only option because, when I was a sophomore-junior in college, I used to be an assistant teacher in a Kumon centre near UP (Mindanao). I worked there for a year (or was it more?), and I know the system inside-out. I know how it works and I know how students progress from one level to the next.
On the other hand, Eye Level traces its origins to Korea. I’ve never tried Eye Level before nor have I ever taught in a centre, so I just relied on reviews online. According to many reviews, Eye Level uses the same concept as Kumon (as in, worksheets + repetition = mastery).
Knowing how Kumon works is also precisely the reason why I decided not to enrol in Kumon. I don’t know if this is the same in all centres, but discussing with a child why his answer is correct is not encouraged. The student is supposed to find out on his own. I recall students getting frustrated because of this rigid system.
On the other hand, in Eye Level, there is more interaction between the teacher and the student in Eye Level. Based on my observations these past three weeks (and what I overheard — sometimes Yuri’s voice can be loud lol), the kids are freer to talk to teacher.
Also, I don’t know if this is the same with all Eye Level centres, but kids can interact with each other. Yuri himself has already made a lot of friends. In contrast, my Kumon students (apart from the boys) almost never talked to each other. I doubt they even knew their co-students.
In our Kumon centre back then, we teachers are seated at one side of the room and the students occupy individual desks on the other side. It is a lot similar to regular classroom setup.
In Eye Level, the teacher is, well, basically eye-level with the kids. The teacher and the students share a desk and the students are able to approach her a lot more freely. Here’s how their setup looks like:
Also, the ambience is a lot more friendlier than Kumon’s. Kumon blue-and-white colour scheme just looks sterile compared to Eye Level’s colourful classroom.
Worksheets and Homework
Even for the younger levels, the worksheets can be too demanding. Also, they are quite boring. No colours, nothing to attract my visual learner 🙁
And the amount of homework (at least, the way I recall it), is too much in my opinion. I hope my memory serves me right, but I remember giving three actual booklets of worksheets for students’ homework? Don’t take my word for it though as I am not 100% sure.
On the contrary, Yuri’s worksheets from Eye Level are a lot more attractive because they are colourful. They are also larger (Kumon’s worksheets, unless they are different now, are half the size of Eye Level’s), giving my boy more room to practice his strokes.
Homework, as of now, is minimal. I am actually amazed that Yuri can do six pages of homework in one sitting (before he started Eye Level, he can barely finish one).
Here’s the system as I understood it. The student is given one booklet per week — the first part of the booklet is answered during the first session of the week, another part answered during the second session, and the remaining unanswered pages are given as homework to be answered over the weekend.
Rates are similar, with Eye Level’s being just a tad higher. Kumon’s rate is P1,800 per subject per month, while Eye Level’s rate is P1,980 per subject per month.
(Okay, unless you also live in Davao, this may probably not apply to you. Sorry.)
While Kumon is nearer to our house (10 minute ride), the branch in Buhangin was just in front of a busy highway. I cannot compromise when it comes to highways (I have a strange fear of crossing highways, thanks to less-than-responsible drivers.) The building it is located in also looks cramped…
In contrast, location is the main reason why we pursued Eye Level. It is located right inside the compound of Robinsons Cybergate, which is really really convenient because I can do a bit of grocery-shopping while waiting. There’s also a mini-canteen and several food stalls inside the grocery.
Yuri’s grandma can also take him to school some days because just on the floor above Eye Level is Robinsons Home, which she visits regularly (we are licensed real estate ladies). And there’s a bank a few steps away, too. Mercury Drug is also just next door. Ah, convenience, convenience, convenience, my old friend.
And when I visited the centre for the first time, I found the waiting area to be conducive for work. Quiet, clean, spacious, with comfortable seats, and air-conditioned! I enjoy getting some work done while waiting for the little boy.
There are also security guards everywhere and a big parking space. My only wish? I wish a gym opens there, too. That would be perfect!
Overall, these are just my personal preferences. So far, there is nothing I don’t like with Eye Level. Yuri looks forward to his “class” every time and he’s always excited to go inside the classroom. His teacher is a very nice young lady whom all of the children just adore.
For what it’s worth? Kumon is also a good enrichment school that you must consider. I saw a lot of students progressing quite nicely. While some students didn’t do well under pressure, some thrived.
In the end, we might have different preferences and “requirements.” So you should follow what suits your lifestyle. As for us, Eye Level works!