What’s the first response to unsatisfactory grades? Tuition. What to do when your child can’t understand a subject? Tuition. What to do if you want your child to be ahead? You guessed it, tuition.
Almost 80% of singaporeans believe that tuition helps their child improve their grades. And with 1 in 2 parents spending more than 500 a month on tuition, it has led to a rapidly growing industry, offering many types of tuition.
But, is tuition beneficial for your child? Does it justify the huge price tag that comes along with it?
Singapore’s Average Student Academics
The average student has decent results, some subjects scoring above average and some below average, with some occasional failures.
He finds some lessons too fast paced for him, and may have some gaps in understanding some concepts. Schoolwork is somewhat manageable for him.
He has never gone for tuition before, and his parents are considering sending him to tuition to boost his grades and strengthen his foundation.
Understanding the Types of Tuition available
Not all tuitions are created equal, and understanding the kinds of tuition available can help you and your child find the type that suits him/her best.
Group tuitions are tuition classes with one teacher to a small group of students, ranging from as small as 4 to as large as 12 students.
Group tuition allows the child a group learning environment, where they can exchange ideas and feedback. For subjects like english and GP, being able to see the different ways to tackle an essay helps the child better understand the topic at hand. (See: Tuition Centre or Home Tuition?)
However, a group setting may mean that your child does not receive more personal attention, which could lead to less effective learning. They are, however generally cheaper than personal tuition. (See; How Much Does a Tutor Cost?)
Personal Tuition is on a 1-to-1 teaching setting, where your child gets the full undivided attention of the tutor.
Tuition can be carried out in the comfort of your own home, and the pace of learning is tailored to your child, making learning much more effective.
This is for students who struggle to learn in a group setting. However a downside of this is the higher cost involved – some private tutors can be cheaper than group tutors as well. (See: market tuition rates, 2019)
Online tuition is a relatively new avenue coming out, and is for people with uneven schedules or live in remote places. It is the most convenient option, as your child can access the classes almost anywhere. They are held over video conference/call.
Being online, your child does not need to commit to a fixed date every week, and can schedule tuition as and when it is needed.
This can lead to some cost savings and more free time for your child. However, it is not recommended for those that are easily distracted or prefer more traditional ways of learning. (See: Home Tuition or Online Tuition?)
So, now that you know the types of tuition available out there, let’s weigh the pros and cons of tuition, and see if it’s something your child needs:
Personal attention. In tuition, the lower student to teacher ratio means your child gets more attention and personalised feedback.
Your child can also quickly clarify doubts that they may have from lessons or schoolwork, and the customised pace of teaching means your child can better grasp the concept and build on their foundations.
Great for those that find the pace of normal lessons or big group learning ineffective. For the average student, a personal tutor could mean a better learning environment for subjects that need fast and customised guidance, such as english, to quickly drive home good writing habits and proper grammar.
Small group tuition for subjects like English or Science also allows him to see other ways to answer the question, allowing for a more unique solution that stands out from the crowd, and thus a better exam result.
Builds confidence for the subject. Exams can be very stressful, especially major exams where one paper can make or break a student.
Having tuition for a subject boosts confidence, as the extra help and practice they got from tuition makes them feel prepared to tackle any problems the exam paper throws at them.
This extra confidence also lessens stress, which helps in information retention. That’s getting two birds with one stone!
The extra practice from tuition also allows him to see general trends to answer certain questions, and avoid common careless mistakes.
Tuition imparts study skills. Mass lectures and lessons usually only focuses on imparting content knowledge to the student. However, study skills may not always be taught to the student.
Tutors usually also impart vita study skills such as time management, how to approach tricky questions or how to spot likely questions that may come up in exams.
Lagging behind in studies is mostly due to inefficient learning techniques, so attending tuition can allow the child to learn better studying skills from the tutor, and even his friends that attend tuition with him. The sharing of study skills will make them a better learner.
Tuition can improve results. You probably heard the stories, or the advertisements from the tuition centres themselves, students who went from a F to an A within 3 months, with tuition.
These stories are all are true to some extent – that tuition can improve results. If not, why are so many Parents spending hundreds per month on tuition?
For many students, poor results can be fixed with the proper studying and exam techniques. While results may not be everything, good results open more doors for your child.
You can choose your own Tutor. In school, the teachers your child gets are not up to him/her. Sometimes, your child gets stuck with a teacher that they cannot effectively learn from. This leads to inefficient learning and consequently, bad results.
But in tuition however, you can choose the teacher that your child can relate to and learn from best. If one does not work out, you can change to another freely. This greatly improves results and renews your child’s interest in that subject.
This extra flexibility in the choice of tutor lets the student get a tutor that suits his learning needs best. (See: How to Choose from a List of Tutor Profiles)
Tuition is expensive. Tuition can be a costly affair. With some parents spending almost $1000/month on tuition, cost is often cited the biggest reason against tuition.
Below is a table of the average rates of Home Tuition in Singapore: (always remember you get what you pay for!)
Tuition can disincentivize self learning. Having a tutor spoon feed your child solutions to any problems in schoolwork they might have could lead to a dependency of the tutor.
This false assurance that tuition is the answer to any of their academic problems could make them lose their independence and incentive to find solutions on their own.
It’s important to ensure your child knows that tuition is to aid studies and not to replace them.
Tuition can impede other areas of your child’s development. Tuition takes up a lot of time after school, and this leaves little to no time for your child to pursue other things such as co-curricular activities or hobbies.
This could impact your child’s emotional development and chance to develop their social skills.
This essentially robs your child of their childhood, and impede their chance to find/do something that interests them.
Tuition can be a great help for your child, and go along way in promoting effective studying habits.
They could also be a fresh change of pace and studying environment for your child, and breaking the monotony of a classroom could be what they need to study better.
However, tuition don’t come cheap, and past a certain price point the cost could very well undo what benefits there might be. Though, some parent see it as a worthy investment for their child, no matter the price.
At the end of the day, it’s best to discuss with your child and see what suits them best, as well as leave some time out for them to pursue their interests.
Some may find normal lessons sufficient for their learning, while some may find tuition only marginally effective and some prefer alternatives.
Alternatives to Tuition
There are other options out there besides tuition, and they may be the more appealing option for your child:
Consultations are a way for students to clarify lesson content with their teachers, or to seek help with homework problems.
They function similarly to tuition in that they are a way to supplement the student’s learning and provide them opportunities to catch up on learning. And as the teachers know the syllabus best, they are most suited to helping your child plug the gaps in their learning as well as to prepare them for exams.
Best of all, they are free!
However, it varies between Schools and teachers – some are not flexible and open to having regular weekly consultations.
Study with friends.
Sometimes, the best way to understand a topic is to explain it to your friends.
Not only does it help your friends, it also helps you internalise the topic and see how it links together.
Studying regularly with friends also promotes accountability with your studies. If you miss a day or two of studying with your friends, most friends will make you feel like you are left out in your academics. What better way to promote studying than competitive friends?
The bottom line for parents is to find the most effective (and cheap) way to raise grades, while the bottom line for the average student is also to raise his/her grades, but at the same time maintaining a proper balance in work and play.
And at the end of the day, Tuitions and consultations serve to raise grades and improve learning.
Tuition or not, there is no replacement for hard work and practice, practice, practice!