This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tuition or No Tuition? (Part 1)

It is the end of the academic year and the annual process starts again. Tuition shopping time! That’s the big headache for today’s parents. It seems that every parent would like their child to have a headstart. So they go round “shopping” for the "best" tuition centre or tutor. Having taught students both as a schoolteacher and a tutor, I can perhaps give parents a tip or so, on whether your child needs tuition or not.

The School Teacher – the best judge for your child

Parents, your child's teacher is your child’s best friend. She knows where are your child’s potential, weak points, strong points and areas that need to be improved. She sees your child, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year.

Besides you (and the domestic maid, if you employ one), your child’s teacher is probably the only other adult your child sees almost everyday without fail. That itself, makes your child’s teacher an important person in your child’s life.

I am not propagating that you should call the teacher up every single day. She, like you, has a family too. However, there are many things she knows about your child which you may not even know! A good time to get to know the teacher is during the “Meet the Parents” session. But you don’t have to wait for that. There is nothing to stop you from taking a day off to meet the teacher if such a need arises.

The teacher will be able to advise you if your child is weak in a certain area. She will be able to give you feedback if your child has been doing his homework or not. It must be remembered that the child is YOUR child. To the teacher, your child is just another student out of the 40 she has in her class. So the onus is on you to make effort to know your child’s teacher, rather than wait for her to call you - because if she does call, more often than not, it would be news you’d rather not hear.

The Teacher’s advice is most likely to be objective with no bias –

You pay school fees to the government. The government pays the teacher her salary. This makes her an excellent person to consult on matters about your child. She does not worry if she tells you the truth that your child does not need tuition, or if he needs it. Her pay does not depend on whether you take up tuition or not. Hence, you can be assured that she has no vested financial interest, if she were to advise you that your child needs tuition.

The advice given will be based on her opinion as a teacher. She will be able to tell you if your child is weak or capable. Furthermore, she will be able to tell you which specific area, or topic, your child needs to pay attention to. With this advice, you will be in a better position to make a decision if your child needs tuition or not.

If your child is weak in only one subject, it means there is no need to give him tuition for all subjects. If you give him tuition in areas he does not need, you are burdening your child with extra work.

If your child is weak in a certain topic within a subject, it may be advisable to engage a one-to-one tutor to strengthen that particular topic, and that topic only. Again, there is no necessity to burden your child with extra work.

If your child is weak in all subjects, check out if the whole class is also weak in all subjects. If that is the case, in all probability, there will be extra lessons for the whole class – which means, free tuition from the expert, which is the teacher herself.

So before you burden your child with more tuition, find out if he needs it in the first place. If you have not been talking to his teacher, make it a point that you do that the next academic year. However, please bear in mind that this does not mean you can call her 24/7. After all, the teacher, like you, needs to have her own private life too.

This is Part 1 of the article “Tuition or No Tuition?”. In Part 2, we will discuss the points that you need to be aware of, should you decide to give your child tuition.

That would be posted next weekend.


Tuition or No Tuition? (Part 2)
Tuition or No Tuition? (Part 3) – Tutoring your own child

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