Tuition is a seemingly necessary endeavour for every Singaporean student. Whether or not a child is naturally proficient in academia or not, he or she would still have to take the PSLE, the O-Levels, and finally the A-Levels as well. And so exams can be a very stressful time for students and often the cause of anxiety in children. Throughout primary, secondary and JC classes, numerous students will keep struggling to understand certain subjects and many will turn to extra tuition classes for support.
Not every student has the aptitude to do well in school. And because many students do not understand the real life applications of what they learn, they sometimes develop a dislike for studying, especially for abstract topics. Even as adults, it is sometimes difficult to see how all the maths trigonometry and physics F=MA equations during our student days actually help us in the corporate world.
As such, one of the perennial questions facing parents is “should I get a tutor”, and if so, “which tutor or tuition centre is best suited to help my child?”
With so many tutors and tuition teachers in Singapore, parents often do not know where to start. Moreover, the tuition industry is largely unregulated & opaque, with agencies simply trying to out-promise & out-market each other. Parents often try to find the “best” tutors through word-of-mouth, which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t work.
This article is not meant to help you find the best tuition centre, but to provide a roadmap for describing the types of tuition services available in Singapore, along with some helpful information about each of them, so you are better able to decide which type of tuition works best for your child.
Different Types of Tuition Options Available in Singapore
There are mainly two types of tuition options in Singapore: tuition centers in Singapore or private home tuition. The 3rd option of “Supertutors” is usually a subset of tuition centres, since many “Supertutors” run their own centre.
Group tuition at Tuition Centres refers to a class with multiple students ( usually 5 to 20 depending on the size of the classroom) learning together. These are usually conducted at tuition centres around Singapore.
Private tuition at Home refers to a teacher giving 1-1 tuition to a student. This usually takes place at the residence of the student. This is a convenient option although tuition fees are generally higher than group tuition fees.
Learning with a “Supertutor” refers to an individual, well-known tutor who runs their own tuition centre, and is purportedly very good at teaching students.
The rest of this article talks about which type of tuition may be most suitable for your child. As well as things to take note of, as you go about choosing either a home computer or a tuition centre.
Taking Group tuition at Tuition Centres
Group tuition at tuition centres is probably the most popular option for tuition in Singapore. Loosely categorised, there are three types of tuition centres, (1) established tuition centers with multiple locations (2) reputable centers that are opened by well-known teachers ( some of which are known as super tutors), and (3) smaller, individual neighborhood tuition centers.
Physically, tuition centres are retail shops that have classrooms and are private entities, usually run by a single or small group of partners (usually the teachers themselves). There are many tuition centres in Singapore and most of them follow the MOE syllabus. Tuition centers are like mini schools, students learn together and a group with other students.
Advantages of Choosing a Tuition Centre
Math tuition centres are probably the best choice for students if they are able to study well in a group setting, and are able to conveniently travel to the math tuition centre.
Most tuition centres also provide excellent resources in terms of materials and notes that enable students to study at home at their own pace. The materials given out by the tuition centers supplement the student’s own notes from school, enabling the student to get a better grasp of the various mathematics subject matter.
Disadvantages of Tuition Centres
One of the downsides to going to a math tuition centre is that parents are less able to ascertain the quality of the tutors that teach their child. Many tuition centers have multiple teachers that teach the same subject, and the tuition center may use different teachers to teach various topics or use a single teacher to teach all the topics.
Another important factor is the teaching style of the different teachers in the tuition centre. Teachers are also humans and have their own habits and idiosyncrasies when teaching, their teaching may or may not be suitable to your own child’s learning styles.
Many tuition centres also move at a pace that may be faster than the official MOE syllabus. This means that your child will be able to go through the topic twice once with the math tuition centre and once again in school. Some parents prefer this and believe that the child will learn better having gone through the learning material twice.
Overall, many parents still prefer tuition centers as they are generally cheaper than 1-1 home math tuition. This is because the class setting allows the tuition center to distribute costs across a larger number of students, and also because the teacher does not have to travel to the students home to teach. Because of cost constraints, many parents enroll their children in multiple tuition centres learning different subjects.
In summary, if you are looking at a tuition centre, ensure that you take note of
- Credentials of the teachers
- Are the teachers university graduates?
- How many years of experience do they have?
- Do they have a proven track record?
- Homework policies — Does the tuition Centre give out homework every lesson? Is the homework graded promptly and returned to the students?
Class Size — How big is the class size? Are students able to get individual help from the teachers if necessary?
- Location — Traveling time is especially important during the exam period.
- Consider looking at tuition centers in your locality first.
- Fees — Do not pick a tuition centre based only on the cost of their fees. Tuition centers with higher fees often have better quality teachers as well as better material handouts.