How to choose your child’s first tutor

By Anita Yee   — July 03, 2016
  • Determine if your child really needs the extra help
    1 / 4 Determine if your child really needs the extra help

    Besides getting bad grades for his mid-year exams, your child may need tuition if he has trouble revising his schoolwork on his own.

    He may also not show interest in studying, or cannot recall what he learnt in school, says Adrian Tan, founder and director of A*chievers Tutorial School, who has 14 years of experience. 

    All these signs point to a child who needs a more focused approach to learning, as well as extra coaching and motivation to help him understand what’s been taught. 

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  • Private versus group tuition
    2 / 4 Private versus group tuition

    The decision depends on Junior’s needs. “If he has a weak academic foundation with consistently poor grades, then a private tutor is a better bet for that one-on-one, focused approach,” says Adrian.

    “The tutor will help build your child’s knowledge and interest in the subject, and provide personalised learning strategies and customised lessons.”

    With private tuition, your kid misses out on the opportunity to discuss the subject with his peers. 

    Adrian says that group tuition is ideal if Junior does not show much interest in that subject, is having trouble understanding certain topics or applying certain concepts, or doesn’t know how to revise what he’s learnt in school. 

    “Your little one will get to interact with other kids and develop his critical thinking skills during group discussions,” Adrian points out.

    He warns that introverted students may find the group setting intimidating at first, and may not immediately ask for help if they don’t understand something.  

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  • How to choose
    3 / 4 How to choose

    Getting recommendations from other parents is a good idea, but as every child is different, what works for one may not work for another.

    “If you’ve decided on a private tutor, interview him personally and ask him about his credentials and experience,” Adrian suggests. 

    “It’s also important to understand his motivations for tutoring, since he will be a key influencer on your child’s future attitude and behaviour towards learning. 

    “If possible, get your young one involved in the selection process. After all, he will be the one interacting with the tutor so he should decide which tutor he feels most comfortable with.”

    If you’re going with a tuition centre, Adrian suggests visiting the place first. It should be conducive to learning and your child should feel comfortable in the space. 

    Ask if it has any specific features, like a “no homework” policy, or if practice worksheets and reference books are included in the fees. 

    “I also recommend taking along a copy of your child’s past two exam or test papers for the tutor to analyse and work out where Junior needs extra help,” says Adrian. 

    Rates for private tutors vary depending on the qualifications and experience of the tutor. 

    Adrian says that it’s about two-thirds cheaper to send your kid to a tuition centre because the full rate is shared among several students.

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  • Look beyond star tutors
    4 / 4 Look beyond star tutors

    It’s trendy for centres to boast about their “star” tutors, but look beyond the marketing campaigns and ask to see the centre’s results, says Max Wong, principal of Kent Ridge Education.

    Check how long the tutor has been teaching, her students’ results, whether she is National Institute of Education-trained, and look beyond the promise of “guaranteed results”.  


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