It's that time of the year again. With the holidays coming to an end, it's time to start hunting for tuition and enrichment classes for your child.
In reality, different children have different learning needs, so there's no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for your friend's child may not work for your child. (Here's a link to a Yahoo Singapore article I wrote about the factors to consider when choosing the type of enrichment that suits your child.)
When it comes to choosing a tuition centre, there are many things to worry about. First: class timing. Second: teachers. Third: worksheets. Fourth: cost. Fifth: location. Sixth: class environment. Seventh: does the tuition centre have an accessible and clean toilet? (Joyous Learning does 🤣).
But there are only three things that really make a difference to your child's results - dedicated and skillful teachers, small class sizes, and well-designed learning materials. I've written about the importance of worksheets before, and I'll be sharing more about the importance of teachers and class sizes in this and the upcoming newsletters.
(1) Cost versus student to teacher ratio
When it comes to cost, one major factor that you need to take into consideration is the student to teacher ratio. If you've had the experience of managing primary schoolers, you'd know that there is a world of a difference in having 10 or having 20 students in a class. If you're paying a lower fee, always check if that comes at the expense of a higher student to teacher ratio. In our experience, any number more than 10 will result in some students receiving inadequate attention. So always check the class size before enrolling. You're better off not spending the money at all if it's not going to give you results.
(2) Difficult worksheets
They may be a convenient yardstick to measure the 'quality' of a centre's learning materials, but take a step back and think about it. It's easy to create difficult worksheets - give a Primary 4 child worksheets meant for a Primary 5 student, and voila, you've challenging questions.
What's important is that the worksheets are pitched at the appropriate level. They should be clear, easy to understand and precise. Students should be able to revise on their own using these worksheets. Challenging questions should not require advance knowledge. Rather, they should be designed to assess from various angles whether students have understood the concepts they are meant to learn for their level of study. In short, difficult worksheets are not necessarily good worksheets.
(3) Results are relative
The point of tuition or enrichment is to help students improve, rather than to achieve a particular absolute grade. This can only be done if the class size is small. With a small class size, teachers can customise their approach to ensure every student is stretched to his or her maximum potential.
If a child is scoring D in a particular subject, getting a B should be considered a significant improvement. Teachers should encourage and reward improvement. Once students are acknowledged for the improvement they have achieved (no matter the quantum), they will become self-motivated to push themselves further.
In this instalment, we've talked about things that may seem to be attractive qualities of an enrichment centre, but which may not actually benefit your child. In the next instalment, we focus on the things that really do matter, so click here to read on.