9 March 2015
To give their child an edge in Singapore’s competitive education scene, parents are hunting for the service of tutors, spending up to even $250 per hour on private tuition. This article highlights the pros and cons of hiring a private tutor, and aims to help you decide whether you really need a private tutor.
Hiring a private tutor provides the convenience behind having the freedom to choose the location of the classes, for example having the classes held at home. This saves the time spent travelling to tuition centers or to the tutor’s place. There have been some cases where the students even choose to have their classes at a fast-food restaurant, where they can munch on their favorite snacks while paying attention to the tutor!
This is one major consideration in seeking private tuition. As students we have all experienced a moment when we felt we could not understand a concept being taught at school but everyone else could, and did not want to disrupt the class and/or look a fool. This could be due to not having paid enough attention, or perhaps a lack in foundation in the basics of a topic. Private tuition provides an alternate channel through which the student could clarify his/her doubts freely and request for the tutor to go through a concept again to have a deeper understanding.
A good private tutor will not only provide students with concepts regarding the subject, but will also bequeath students with vital studying skills such as time management and summarising contents.
Unlike at school where classes are rigidly scheduled, private tuition brings along the flexibility of being able to choose the time and day for the lessons. At school, students have to undergo a rigorous schedule of having back-to-back lessons where overwhelming loads of content and concepts are being fed to them. Having little or no breaks in between, this could cause a lack in attentiveness or interest in school. Having private tuition lets the student choose a day and time for the lessons when it best suits them, meaning that they can fit studying into an all-rounded schedule, where they have time to rest and pursue their hobbies and interests.
An Alternate Learning Style
In a large class where learning is restricted to a teacher’s single teaching style, one may find problems in understanding lessons. For example, if a student is a visual learner relying on pictures and maps, but the teacher at school relies mainly on texts and heavy reading to teach, or vice versa, this would definitely be an issue. A good private tutor would design the lessons to cater to the student’s learning style and ensure he/she learns comfortably.
Adults who have studying children are generally aged 25-59, and statistics from the 2014 report on the labor force in Singapore by the Ministry of Manpower state that 78.9% of those in this age group have full-time jobs (Manpower, 2014). This means that in most families both parents are working, leaving little or no time to supervise their child in their schoolwork. Time may not even be the issue, if you factor in the changes in syllabuses and advances in technologies. Parents may no longer be able to coach their children in their studies. This is where a private tutor may be necessary in making sure the tutees are keeping up with their studies or even just to ensure that they do their homework and their readings.
Elimination of Peer Pressure
Not every student can thrive in a classroom environment, surrounded by their friends who may pose as distractions. In a private tutoring setting, the tutee can get comfortable and solely focus on addressing shortcomings with regards to the academics at his/her own pace.
An Edge in Academics
A good private tutor will not only ensure that your child keeps up with class, but may even teach ahead of the school’s teaching. This means that your child will have a competitive edge over his peers at school by learning ahead of them.
Private tuition may be costly, depending on the type of tutor you as a parent may consider hiring. The rates the tutor charges depends on the qualifications and experience in tutoring. However, it is important to note that high rates do not necessarily mean that the tutor can teach, in the same way tutors that charge low rates are not necessarily lousy teachers.
Less Time for other activities (Rest, Reflection)
Having private tuition means that your child may not have enough time for rest and reflection. In Singapore, students have to stay in school for at least 7 hours, and this is excluding remedial and supplementary classes and Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs). With an addition of private tuition, a student may not be able to cope with the hours of studying and this may lead to more stress being placed upon the student, and a dreading of studying and disinterest in learning may start to grow. Furthermore, students may not have the time to socialize and have fun with their friends. This would lead to a lack in sociability, and a shortage in opportunities to hone his/her social skills.
Good tutors are hard to find, and they definitely should not be seen as a guarantee of good results. Marketing stunts such as guaranteeing a jump in grades should never be the main focus, as these statistics are often selective and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Even if the tutor has spectacular qualifications and certificates, this does not mean that his/her teaching style matches your child’s learning style. As such, by hiring a private tutor you will be undertaking a risk that naught will come out of the tuition classes. This however, can be bettered by getting to know the private tutor and seeing how he would interact with your child and assess whether he or she is the right tutor for you.
Ultimately, private tuition should be seen as a channel to broaden the minds of students and encourage them to strive higher. Being able to learn at a comfortable pace and understand the lessons well also will be a major stress reliever. This depends on whether the child is ready and available for private tuition or not. Does your child really need a private tutor? Ask him first!