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Private tuition: To do or not to do?

What’s the best word to describe the sentiment of Singapore parents whose children are in school? Kiasu! The author may be guilty of generalization, though it would be very unlikely that a parent facing the pressure of the competitive education could manage to maintain his cool all the time. Many of us parents pour money into the education industry, often when paying for extra tuition classes outside school. It has become a phenomenon that Singaporean students go for tuition lessons on weekend, at home or in some organized tuition centers. Before you as a parent join the crowd, would you like to pause and think for a while whether your child really extra tuition? Could your money and your child’s time be better spent while your child achieves no less academically in school? The author does not know the right answer for you, but would like to offer some pointers on how to make an informed decision about whether you should apply for tuition for your child.

When you should not be applying

If you apply for tuition because you see many other parents are doing the same, be alert! You may have fallen into the trap of parental peer pressure. There are many students who excel in their exams without taking a single extra lesson after school. They are motivated and have reasonable degree of self-awareness. Hence they know the obstacles in learning and are able to solve their problems by thinking on their own or by having consultation with their school teachers. If your child falls into such a category, it is unlikely that he/she needs an extra helping hand. What he/she needs is probably the confidence from parents that he/she completely ‘owns’ the learning process.

If you apply for tuition because you are afraid of that dreadful question from your relatives during, say, the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, ‘how’s your child’s finals?’ be aware! You may have fallen into the trap of egoism. Academic achievement from one’s child is definitely a source of pride for a parent, but one should not use that to fuel one’s ego. If your child is not doing so well in school, don’t jump to the conclusion that your child needs extra classes. It helps to find out the underlying causes of underachievement. Is your child not paying enough attention in class? Is your child having difficulty coping with interpersonal problems with other classmates and that affects his/her desire to learn? If the problems are found to occur in school, it doesn’t help to find remedies outside school. Communicating with your child and your child’s teachers may be a better way to deal with the problems.

So what are valid reasons for finding your child tuition?

Major obstacles in learning

First, your child faces major obstacles in learning. That usually happens when your child transits to a new school or grade where learning curve of a subject may rise suddenly, or when your child takes up an entirely new subject. The obstacles usually lead to a drop in grade, which leads to a drop in interest and motivation in learning. Your child may be very hardworking, but the objective difficulties may be too great to be overcome by him/her alone. Before your child’s interest in the subject dies out, it is advisable to apply for private tuition for your child. Tutor from a different background may have different ways of explanation. Your child will also have more opportunity for consultation and clarification. More learning opportunities lead to better grade, which leads to greater interest and motivation. If that is achieved, a tuition class is well paid for.

A discipline master at home?

Moreover, if your child is not disciplined enough at home, it is also beneficial to have a private tuition class. You may be too busy to supervise your child. And if you have lost touch with school curriculum for a long time, your supervision may also not be effective, because your child, being smart, knows that you may not understand what is going on when he/she is doing a set of exam papers. However, if the person sitting beside your child is a teacher who ‘knows the stuff’, your child will have more incentives to study properly. The private tutor can appropriately set the duration for a practice paper and can give immediate feedback once your child completes the paper. In the meantime, good learning habit has been cultivated at home. Such a process is especially effective when your child is still young. Good learning habits go a long way in making sure that your child excels in study at every stage of the education system.

The final lap

Lastly, what if a major exam is coming up and your child is still struggling with a particular subject? Don’t panic. It is also a time to call for help. Private tuition often effectively boosts your child’s score in exams because it offers more opportunities for practices and feedbacks. Exam skills and tricks can be shared by the tutor. Last minute revision helps cement memory of what is required by exams, such as the color of a substance or the meaning of a word. If an important national exam is in one month time, it makes more sense to be exam smart than to talk about ‘real learning’. There’s always a time for everything.

Having talked so much about extra tuition, it should be stressed that it is not desirable to compensate inefficient learning in school with more classes after school. Private tuition should always play a complement, though sometimes important, role. And tutors cannot replace the concern and encouragement from parents, whose words of praise may be the greatest motivation for their loved ones to work hard.

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Singapore 159929
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Phone: (+65) 3158 4759
Website: https://www.frankltuition.sg
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