March 4 2015
What is a private tutor? A tutor can improve your child’s academics, but also help boost your child’s confidence at school (and further on in life).
Tutors are a spring of knowledge and experience; they have went through what their students are going through, they have lived what their students might undergo and are perfect for handing down lessons – not exclusive to academics, but on life as well.
These all sound splendid, but there is a catch! First, you must find the right tutor whom is in tune with your child’s character and learning approach. The Genesis Team has come up with four points to consider when picking a private tutor.
As part of a holistic education in Singapore, your child will have to balance schoolwork and his/her Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). Knowing this, you need to determine if your child will be able to juggle schoolwork, CCA and the additional work the tutor may hand down. It would be counterproductive if your child dreads the tuition classes and turns up with a closed and tired mind.
Therefore the frequency and duration of the lessons must be considered, with your child’s welfare as priority, but also simultaneously ensuring that the lesson durations will be sufficient for your child to absorb the content of each lesson.
Private tutors may have many students and need to rush around to their students’ houses for classes. This is also a factor to be considered, if the tutor you are considering is able to make the time for your child comfortably. It just would not do if the tutor arrives late and out of breath half the time.
What you need is a tutor who can afford the time to travel and reach the designated venue calmly and with composure to start each class on the right note.
Often we judge a teacher’s ability to teach by his qualifications and certificates, as we want to ensure that he/she has a level of professionalism and/or that the tutor knows what he/she is teaching and has been tested for it. However, we often forget that the ability to study and score well for examinations does not necessarily embody the ability to teach. Something to look out for is if the tutor is able to make learning fun and engaging!
Each tutor has his/her own strengths and may or may not be able to connect with your child, and we have categorized some generic traits according to the main four types of tutors for easy viewing:
The experience of what your child is currently going through is still fresh in these tutors’ minds (and they may even be currently undergoing the same stresses), and this allows them to better relate to your child’s stresses and conditions at school. The rates for these tutors are relatively lower, which means that if the tutor were good and experienced, the tuition would be cost-efficient. However, there is a possibility that the tutor is inexperienced and lacks the necessary teaching skill-sets.
Parents that choose a private tutor from this category hence bear a higher risk as compared to choosing a tutor from other categories.
*Point to note: Tutors that are still studying may encounter problems accommodating your child’s available timeslots during their own examination periods or due to internships.
- Part-Time Tutors
These tutors have finished their education and hold Full-Time jobs in various industries and fields, and are often only available for classes only in the weekday evenings or on the weekends. Part-Time tutors are able to offer “real-world” experiences to their students while teaching them, preparing your child for what there is to come in the future. The rates for Part-Time tutors vary according to the number of years they have been tutoring and also the qualifications that they hold. At times, they may encounter the need to cancel or postpone lessons due to the demands of their full-time jobs, but make-up lessons can be arranged.
- Full-Time Tutors
Full-Time Tutors are experienced and focused during lessons, and are able to identify the problems your child faces in his/her studies. Having tutoring as their full-time job, they are well versed in the syllabus and teaching methods and will be able to convey learning points efficiently and understandably. Full-Time Tutors usually have many students and need to rush around for tutoring, and hence flexibility of lesson scheduling may be an issue.
- MOE Certified (Current/Ex Teachers)
MOE teachers are the most sought after, due to their involvement with the changing trends in education in Singapore. Both current and ex teachers have graduated from the National Institute of Education (NIE), ensuring an elite level of teaching and communication skills when compared to the other categories of tutors. However, due to the high demand of MOE Certified tutors, their rates are the highest among all the tutors. Another issue that you may face as a parent is that they may have to reschedule lessons if MOE requires them to invigilate national exams or attend retraining.
A very important thing to look out for is if your child is comfortable with the tutor and how they will interact during tuition classes. Factors may include the gender of the tutor, and the tutor’s style of teaching. For example, there are students who cannot learn well under stress from strict and impatient tutors, and they only learn what is needed to avoid the wrath of their teachers. In some cases, the students form a connection between the feelings of misery and the subject itself. If this is the case, you will need to find a tutor that is able to ease the fears in your child and renew his/her interest in the topic or subject.
The tutor must be able to learn and understand your child’s learning style, and adapt accordingly in order for your child to learn in an optimal environment. Things that you as a parent could look out for during the first lesson would be if your child faces any difficulty understanding what the tutor is saying (perhaps if the tutor has a thick accent), and if the tutor is distracted and restless (for example fiddling with his/her mobile phone).
Every parent wants the best for his/her child, and is willing to give whatever it takes for the child to excel in whatever he/she does, including academics. In the highly competitive education scene of Singapore, it would not do for a child to lag behind in his/her studies, and parents would want the child to have tuition lessons to help with academics. However, it would be better to ensure that the rates of the tutor you consider hiring is within your budget.
It is important to note that having a tutor that charges low rates does not necessarily mean that the tutor cannot teach, and in the same way having a tutor that charges high rates does not guarantee that your child will connect with him/her well.
But the most critical point, more important than the tutor’s credentials and certificates, is to discuss your child’s concerns regarding private tuition. Find out what problems your child may be facing and what kind of teaching styles your tutor must have. Identify the subjects and topics that your child is weak in so that the tutor can prepare materials beforehand.
Ultimately we believe educating a child is not solely dependent on the teachers around him, but it takes a whole village to raise a child.