According to a 2015 survey, nearly eight in 10 parents in Singapore send their primary school children for tuition. In fact, it almost seems like a natural path for parents to sign their kids up for extra classes once they start school.
Surprisingly, tuition might not be the way to academic improvement as a 2016 Straits Times article revealed that students who attended tuition actually scored worse than their non-tuition-going peers.
With that, we share some reasons why primary school tuition might be ineffective for your school-going children.
Focus on rote learning rather than confidence building
Most primary school tuition centres teach students by getting them to practise or be drilled with sums over and over again. These methods can get dull and repetitive over time, and students often lose interest quickly.
Although mathematics is a subject that requires a lot of practice, students must be motivated to do sums by themselves, and they can only do that if they love the subject. Primary school tuition may not help them love the subject any more nor have more confidence in their own abilities.
Primary school tuition is not catered to a child’s needs
Instead, it assumes that all students would be able to adapt to this kind of learning. Everyone has a different way of learning – visual, aural, verbal etc – and tuition’s one-size-fits-all method of teaching will not suit most students.
It is very difficult for the tuition teacher to figure out the learning method of each child and adapt their teaching to the kids. Some children may also be weaker in other areas of learning which affects their understanding of math concepts. For example, kids who are weaker at reading comprehension may find problem sums extremely challenging.
Focus on academic performance as the only barometer to improvement
Primary school tuition centres also track the performance of their students through grade improvement, which might cause some students unnecessary stress.
Tuition teachers would also be pressed to produce results, and the stress would spill over to students. Some kids may react adversely to stress and lose confidence in their abilities, thus impacting their grades negatively.
Students can show improvement in many ways other than grades – they can answer problems quicker, show more confidence and be more careful, but these criteria are rarely assessed.
Tuition may result in a change in attitude towards school
Some students may also end up not paying attention in school as a result of extra tuition lessons. They might become complacent and over-confident as they feel tuition would repeat class curriculum.
However, school lessons are the most effective as the teachers know what will come out during examinations and can give the students more tips. Tuition is only meant to be a supplement and not replace lessons completely.
Children end up disliking tuition because it takes up their time
Tuition can become counterproductive when kids start disliking tuition because they find that it takes up too much of their rest time, and in extension, start hating the subject. It becomes a vicious cycle when students hate going to math tuition and refuse to practice, and their grades get worse.
Sometimes, parents are peer-pressured into sending their kids for tuition as they see their friends’ children being signed up. While some kids may benefit from the structured learning of tuition, it is not for every child. Parents should assess their own child’s needs and weaknesses before sending them for extra classes.
Written by Steffi Wee