Previously, we interviewed one of our tutors, Ms Niki Wang, for our other article “What’s So Special About Being a Tutor? Interviews With Those Who Became Full-Time Tutors”, where she shared her experience in becoming a tutor.
We were amazed at her effectiveness when she told us how most of her students achieve a perfect score of 100 in their Mathematics after her help.
With her 12 years of tutoring experience, she has seen enough of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to helping a child achieve their fullest potential, and would have valuable advice for parents on what they can do to better their learning experience.
So we spoke to her again to gain insights and obtain her opinion on how parents can complement the tutors’ efforts so that their child can advance optimally.
Ensure that the child’s well-being is taken care of
For students to learn well, they need to be healthy, both mentally and physically.
Aside from the other aspects of their lives, parents should ensure that their children are:
- Getting enough sleep
- Having a well-balanced diet
- Obtaining a good amount of exercise
- Staying away from addictions
- Maintaining a healthy amount of screen time and healthy gaming habits
- Consuming appropriate media
“Parents need to monitor their children’s mental and physical health so that they are in the optimal condition for learning,“ urges Ms Wang.
She has seen the severity of consequences when students are not properly supervised by their parents.
Ms Wang once had a student who would binge-watch cartoons from when she reached home, all the way till bedtime, spending up to seven hours a day on YouTube.
“High sugar consumption inhibits the production of Orexin (neuropeptide that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite),” warns Ms Wang. “She was unable to absorb much during class.”
As children’s main pillar of support, parents can take on the responsibility to care for them and guide them in their life, especially at their young age.
Ensure that their child cooperates with school and tuition work
As much as tutors can give their very best and try to help students during their lessons, the onus is still on students to put in the effort to do their homework and revise diligently after their lessons.
Especially for children of younger ages who may not have the ability to grasp discipline and time management yet, parents have to keep their children in check to ensure that they are doing the necessary work to improve.
Students will not be able to retain information that they have learnt in class if they don’t put their learning into regular practice.
Reinforce their learning
When students go for tuition, it’s important that they take away and remember what they’ve learnt, otherwise, they would be rendering their tuition lessons ineffective.
Aside from doing their homework, students need frequent refreshers on what they’ve learnt so that it will stick to them well.
Parents can get their children to recall what they learnt by asking questions like: “What did you learn during your tuition today?”
If your child is unable to answer confidently, it highlights the gaps in their understanding that you can bring up to their tutor, or get your child to surface their doubts to their tutor during their lesson.
Ms Wang always reminds her students to tell their parents what they have learnt during their tuition, and vice versa, she reminds the parents to ask their children what they have learnt during their tuition. This promotes active communication between the parent, student and tutor.
“I am trying to get my students to practise active recall, which is an efficient way of moving information from short-term to long-term memory,” says Ms Wang.
Besides, when her students are not performing up to her expectations (e.g. leaving blanks in their work, not writing neatly), Ms Wang communicates with their parents and asks them to check their child’s work.
“Parents and tutors must work hand-in-hand with each other to present a consistent message to the child so the child knows very clearly what is required of him,” says Ms Wang.
Give them opportunities for real-life application
Singapore’s exams have moved towards real-life application questions instead of repetitive and regurgitative questions.
Students can drill on the standard questions as they are always repeated in assessment books and past-year papers, but real-life application questions are not as easy to predict. It requires a true understanding of the concept and the skill of relating the concept to real-life problems.
This can be done simply through their everyday life.
“Parents can encourage the practical application of Maths by asking their children to calculate the amount of change they should expect to receive after paying for goods,” suggests Ms Wang.
These would allow their children to relate more to math questions by familiarising themselves with simple concepts in real life.
Choose the right tutors
Of course, parents need to be discerning about the tutors that they are paying money to help their child.
Parents should seek a tutor that fulfils their requirements:
- Tuition rate/fees
- Full-time or part-time
- Track record
- Teaching style
Setting the requirements from the start will prevent disputes and frustrations when the tuition lessons commence.
Once you are settled with a reliable tutor, you can then trust them fully and not have to micromanage their teaching style.
Tutors will also feel more motivated to teach with the full trust of parents and the freedom to exercise their own teaching methods that work best for them and the student.
Consequently, your child can then benefit from the whole tuition experience.
Don’t overcompensate by engaging multiple tutors for one subject
This might come as a surprise, but some parents hire multiple tutors for their child just for one subject.
This could often be because parents will worry that the one tutor that they hired might not be able to secure their child’s grades, so they might end up overcompensating and want to have more safety nets.
On the other hand, some parents actually do this because their tutor is not able to commit as much as needed. So, they get other tutors to stand-in.
Of course, parents have the liberty to engage multiple tutors if they can afford it, but Ms Wang has seen the detriments of this practice.
“Too many cooks spoil the broth,” says Ms Wang. “When children receive different instructions from different tutors, they can get confused.”
Having one good tutor for the subject is enough to make a world of a difference for the child. With consistent emphasis and practice using the same learning method, the child will be able to catch on effectively.
Don’t give too difficult or too much homework
Parents always want the best for their children and would definitely wish for them to be one step ahead so that they will never fall behind.
But many have this misconception that their children will learn faster if they take on advanced-level work (e.g. letting a Primary 3 student jump to Primary 4 assessments as soon as they have finished their Primary 3 exams).
The truth is that education is a progressive journey and building on their foundation is very important. Students need to learn in a step-by-step process to truly understand the concepts well.
“The child may feel demoralised if he is unable to answer most of the questions,” says Ms Wang. “It makes my job harder as I would then have to spend time counselling the student before bringing his focus back to his studies.”
Parents need to ensure that their child has already mastered and is fully comfortable with the topic that they are learning, before moving on to the next.
Another common mistake that parents make is giving their children more homework than they can handle.
In Singapore’s stressful academic scene, students are already overloaded with homework from their school and tuition. Some parents may still wish to give their children additional work to make sure that they get more practice.
But as parents, you will need to take note of your child’s workload and judge whether they have too much work on their plate.
Students should prioritise their school homework, followed by their tuition homework, and then any other additional revision. If they struggle with completing all their work, they might not be able to produce their best quality of work either.
Many parents may think that signing their children up for tuition classes is all that they can do to help, but that’s not true! It takes collaboration between parents and tutors to ensure that the child gains the most from their tuition.
You can definitely accelerate your child’s learning process and avoid making it challenging for them by adopting the valuable tips shared by Ms Wang.
Special thanks to Ms Niki Wang for sharing her valuable experience and advice with us!
Ms Niki Wang is a registered tutor at SmileTutor. Request a tutor with us today.
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