According to Household Expenditure Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics in the years 2017 and 2018, Singaporean households spent about $1.4 billion on tuition, a significant growth from the $1.1 billion in 2012 and 2013. The average monthly household expenditure on tuition, including home-based and centre-based tuition, has risen steadily to $88.40 a month, which adds up to $1.4 billion spent by households on tuition in 2018.
The consistent spending each year on tuition by Singaporean household reminds us on how much emphasis Singaporeans put on these extra lessons for their children. The steady growth has also contributed in making the tuition industry thrive, with private tuition in particular gaining popularity in these few years. Adding to the list is a fairly newer player – online tuition. Just by googling “tuition in Singapore”, you will find endless lists of tuition providers that boast a huge pool of qualified tutors vying for your attention.
Inevitably, it brings to mind the necessity of tuition, and it is easy to attribute it to the “Kiasu-ism”, or the culture of “Kiasu” among Singaporean parents. “Kiasu” is a term commonly used in Singapore that means “the worry of losing to others”, and in this context, this suggests that Singaporean parents send their children to tuition classes just to make sure they can stay competitive in their academic performance and do better than their peers. So, is it true? Or can it be justified?
Well, to be honest it can’t be denied that some parents do that out of being “Kiasu”. They make sure their children get the tuition maybe just because they saw their neighbours or friends are doing the same. However, it is also true that some students reap the benefits of getting assistance from their tutors. Perhaps their grades and even their confidence might have improved from it. Here we look at why some students should get that extra help from a private tutor or online tuition and who should get it.
1. Your children are lagging behind in school
Group-setting may not be for all students
Some students simply cannot do well when studying in group-setting. This can be because they might be too shy in raising their hands and ask questions. And if this is left unattended, over time they will find themselves having more and more difficulties in understanding what the teachers are saying and end up losing interest in that subject. This will result in them doing poorly in exams and the vicious cycle begins. In this case, getting a private tutor or engaging an online tuitions will help rectify the situation by helping them to catch up on the syllabus and enabling them to learn at their own pace.
Only engage in tutors according to your child’s needs
There are so many subjects that is needed to be learned in school and students may not be able to excel in all of them. This is where the tuition should come in. Tuition supplements the area in which the students are weak at. If the student is particularly weak at the math, then he or she should only engage in finding a math tutor instead of enrolling in all kinds of tuition classes or finding a private tutor that covers all subjects. If the student only needs help on particular topics of the subject, let’s say Algebra, then he or she can just request a lesson from an online tutor who can explain the topic in detail during the session.
2. An avenue to acquiring new knowledge and cultivating values
Enriching learning through different perspectives and methods
Sometimes a different perspective can spark a new way of understanding the study content and even encourage creative ideas! By engaging a tutor or signing up for an online tuition lesson, the students have the chance to learn the subjects through a different teaching method or content, and hence further enhance their knowledge. Students may also opt to engage those lessons that are not taught in schools or required in exam to broaden their horizons.
Tutors can help nurture interest in the subject
A good tutor is also crucial in helping students to nurture their interest in learning certain subjects. School teachers have to follow through the school syllabus within such a short period of time, all while conducting classes in big groups; so they do not always have sufficient time to make sure that every student enjoy the class. On the other hand, tuition classes especially one-to-one tutorials allow tutors to observe each student, examine his or her strength thoroughly and customize their learning journey. There are a wide range of high quality and experienced tutors in the private and online tuition market in Singapore that are ready to guide the students in the most effective manner to bring out the best in them. Furthermore, one-to-one guidance allows the tutors to be more willing to experiment with innovative teaching styles that may boost the student’s creativity and hence make learning more fun.
Tuition helps cultivate valuable skills
Moreover, tuition helps students to cultivate valuable skills such as time management as they have to juggle between their school work, extra-curricular activities and tuition. Online tuition is a good way to encourage them to be independent in doing so, as it allows them to take the initiative to look for help when they face difficulties in their homework, or even when trying to grasp a particular content.
3. You want to make sure your children pass the exam
Encourage children to work hard for their exams
Although scoring high in PSLE or O-Level does not guarantee a bright and safe future, it does affect the student’s education path as to which school or university he will get. In worst case scenario, if a student failed the national exam then he or she has to retake the exam the following year, which will be a waste of time. Plus, scores in the exam reflects how much effort and preparation a student have put on his or her study. Hence, parents should not push their children and put too much stress on them, but they must also encourage their children work hard for it.
Keeping up with the changing syllabus
An article by a parent of primary 3 student described how he and his wife had difficulty in solving his son’s math question although he used to be good in maths. This is because the Math that his son was studying then was not something he was taught before. The same thing applies to his son’s science subjects. The national exams that students go through nowadays are much more challenging and different from before. It is therefore the reason why sometimes parents may get a little help from the tutors who are constantly updating themselves with the MOE’s syllabus, instead of the parents stressing out over the tough questions they do not know how to deal with, and not to mention most of the Singaporean families have both the parents working. The additional help from tutors will definitely save the parents’ time and struggle.
Learning study skills
Sometimes there is misperception that students can score well in exam after taking tutoring class simply because they practice more on the previous year exam papers. While practicing test paper did help improving performance, students also can learn some study skills such as mind mapping from their tutors.
4. Tuition boosts your children’s confidence and creates a positive learning environment
Frequent review of student’s progress
Most of the time, students’ performance are reviewed only during examination in school. This is because school teachers do not have the time and resources to follow up each student’s progress closely. Private tutors usually have their learning plan that tailored for the students and based on special-designed module, and they will review the students’ progress from time to time. By doing so, any achievement can be cherished, and weakness can be improved immediately. Students will then be able to see their improvements and positive progress and this will boost their confidence in further studying the subjects and in their life.
Online tuition features for reviewing and learning
The online tuition has also provided a more engaging way of reviewing the students’ performance through various interactive features such as games and quizzes. There are also some online tutoring platforms that offer positive environment of learning and knowledge sharing. One such good example is iMath. Being an online tutoring platform focusing on mathematics that advocates for a caring community, we offer a feature named Community Wall on our website and also on our app. Students or parents can just snap a photo of any unsolved math questions, post it on the wall and the community members, who are comprised of math experts, enthusiasts and even parents will help answer the questions. Those who post the questions will then be notified. The best part the feature is that it’s totally free! iMath aims to connect learners to share their passion for math and get help when necessary through this platform. Besides, students may browse through the challenging math questions on the wall and practice by themselves. There is a saying that practice makes perfect and over time this will help gain confidence in the students.
To summarize the points mentioned above, students who need extra help on their study or certain weaker area, who would like to gain new knowledge or new way of understanding the subjects, who encounter difficulties in doing their exams and wish to gain more confidence in their studies should consider engaging a private tutor or online tutor. Simply judging those who have taken up tuition as being “kiasu” without understanding their reason is a simplistic statement. However, if you have arranged too many tuition classes for your children to the extent that they are overloaded, then it’s time for you to re-think. Tuition should be viewed as a way to empower them but not to stress them out.
Nonetheless, here we have compiled a list of Do and Don’t for the parents and students to take into consideration when they are deciding whether to get a tutor or not. It is hopefully this list serves as a reminder in helping the parents and students to make the best choice:
- Be clear on your children’s tuition objectives.
- Communicate with your children on what kind of tuition they expect to take.
- Do some research on the tuition options and the profile of the tutors.
- Get reviews on the tutors from different sources, such as word of mouth or google reviews.
- Talk to the tutors to learn more about them, their teaching method and styles before making a decision.
- Determine your children’s learning behaviour and style.
- Try out a free trial of the tutors’ service, if available.
- Check your children’s schedule and availability to ensure a balanced lifestyle.
- Check out what the tutors’ charges are and whether there is hidden fee.
- Commit to the lesson schedule once it is fixed.
- Be easily swayed away by the opinion of others.
- Go over budget just to get some super tutors or “branded” agency.
- Put unrealistic expectations on tutors and students’ performance as the result requires both sides to work together.
- Overload when it comes to how many classes or subjects your children should take up. Focus should be placed on quality not quantity.
- Think that the tutors should hold full responsibility on your children’s performance. Both parents and tutors play an important role in the children’s development.
- Make unnecessary comparisons between the tutors or compare your children with the others.
If you have decided to get some help from tutors, do consider iMath. Other than the useful feature of the community wall as stated earlier, iMath also offers a one-to-one 30 minutes video call session. You may choose a suitable tutor through their filter and search function, and book a tutor based on your preference and availability. It is super easy and fast! Plus, our tutors' rates are very affordable so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank asking for extra help!
iMath can be used on desktop through our website, and our app is available for download at Google Play Store and Apple App Store.