Falling grades in primary school maths tests? “Let’s look for the best tuition centre in Singapore!”
This probably sounds familiar to many parents of primary school kids. The concern is valid – falling grades in math are indeed a concern. However, the bigger question here is whether tuition is the answer.
Tuition centres or private tutors should be able to fix the problem, we say. After all, isn’t that what everyone else seems to be doing? As much as we hate to admit it, we have to say that what is popular may not always be right.
To understand this better, let us find out the underlying reason why students fare poorly in maths assessments in the first place. Contrary to common belief, it is seldom a reflection of the students’ ability or even of the difficulty level of the curriculum content. Rather, the real culprits here may be the method of instruction and the students’ mindsets.
Teaching Primary Maths Without Primary School Tuition Centre
In many primary school tuition centres, topics in maths are taught in isolation, with little reference to what the student has already learnt.
For example, when a child in a traditional learning environment learns about a particular heuristic technique in a topic like whole numbers in primary maths, he/she situates the technique to this topic alone.
That is to say, when a question on another topic, say decimals, calls for the same heuristic, the student is baffled. He or she is not able to understand the overarching concept of the heuristic here, viewing each topic or content in silos instead.
What happens then is that the child feels that new information is being fed each time. That can be tiring. That is also when stress creeps in, adversely affecting brain performance, and manifesting itself in the form of poor memory and disappointing test results.
In such a situation, it doesn’t pay to deploy tuition teachers to drill in more information of the same kind, without paying heed to the student’s gap in overall conceptual understanding.
The Secret to Primary School Math: The Optimal Flow Method
This then calls for a method that would allow children to join pieces of content together into a coherent meaningful whole, something known as the Optimal Flow Method.
Cognitive research has consistently shown that more effective learning takes place when new information connects with the child’s prior knowledge.
After all, the brain is not a blank slate, and connecting new information to what has already been stored in the brain would go a long way in helping a child make sense of what he or she is learning, and commit it to memory.
A Champion Mindset
No amount of coaching would suffice if the child does not have the correct mindset. This is why it is important to first equip our child with the skills, attitudes and values of a champion. It is needless to say that such values are far from the minds of primary school tuition centres in Singapore.
The child needs to have the right attitude when learning the primary maths content. Such skills and attitudes can be inculcated from young by the parents. Alternatively, children can learn these by participating in an integrated English, Math and Science Enrichment Programme such as the offered by MindChamps Academy, where they learn the ten values of a MindChampion such as being confident, embracing setbacks as setups and being reflective.
As much as drill and practice have a placed in mastering primary maths tuition, mindless repetitions without enabling the child to see the bigger picture or inculcating the right attitude and skills are not going to work for too long, if at all. Let us first understand our child and look for solutions that address root problems before rushing into registering our child into any primary school tuition centre.
Let’s not blindly jump on the tuition bandwagon.