We’re living in an age of competitive education. You’ve thought about whether to enroll your child for tuition. You’ve talked to your friends and family, read the online articles and formed your own thoughts about it. In the midst of it all, it is easy to be fooled into believing some common myths about tuition and falling into certain thinking traps!
Here, we look into eight common myths about tuition for you and share why many of these cannot be accepted at face value.
Tuition is for those who get poor/average results in school.
It’s all well and good if a child is doing well in school. However, this myth is based on the premise that tuition is merely about improving test results. While a primary goal of tutoring is improving a child’s grades, tutoring is more than a simple process of imparting knowledge to a child.
Tutoring is about mentoring, changing perspectives, and providing a meaningful and engaging learning experience. It’s about developing the right goals, motivation, and attitudes in a child towards learning, and enriching a child’s outlook and mindset towards knowledge and education itself. Tutoring is partly homework, lessons and assignments, but also teaching, mentoring and coaching. If done right, the value of tutoring applies to all children, regardless of their performance in school.
Tuition is only needed when PSLE is near.
Oftentimes, a large number of parents enrol their children to tuition centres when the PSLE examinations are closing in. While some tuition is better than none at all, better outcomes are typically achieved when a child starts early. There are two reasons for this.
First, consistency is key. A child who gathers, consolidates and retains knowledge consistently through the primary levels will find it much easier to revise than a child who tries to catch up with the curriculum at the last minute. It is very, VERY hard to excel with last minute revision – most children experience less retention of content, and inhibition of learning due to the pressure.
Second, early successes build up into a positive cycle. Both school and tuition curriculum are designed to introduce a child gradually into increasingly complex concepts. By starting early, his/her skills and abilities can increase commensurately with the difficulty level. This allows him/her to grow at a progressive rate, and to enjoy early successes, which provides rewarding experiences and increases his/her motivation to continue working on the subject. In other words, a positive cycle of learning and reward is built.
By starting late, any weakness in his/her understanding of earlier concepts will undermine his later learning. His engagement and motivation in the subject would consequently be negatively affected. Think about it – should someone climbing Mount Everest start training a few weeks before his expedition? Or years beforehand, through a series of smaller mountains?
Tuition makes children dependent; children should learn to be self-reliant.
A common misconception of tutoring is that teaches children to be dependent on external coaching and prevents them from becoming self-reliant. This stereotype is inaccurate and somewhat strange! Tutors often find this stereotype to be particularly frustrating, as they encourage independent learning during every step of the learning process. Tutors are there to inspire, challenge, and enrich children; the children must ultimately do all the work for themselves. Tuition is a fixed-term process with a distinct end goal: a student who can succeed independently in their academic study.
I am a bad parent if I give my child tuition
Speak about tuition and some may sometimes think of the clichéd image of over-ambitious, overbearing parents. While this stereotype may be true in certain cases, it is almost always a false portrayal of these parents. Most parents who engage tutoring services for their children do so out of a concern for their academic wellbeing. Others do so to enrich their child’s thinking abilities, beyond the traditional school curriculum. More often than not, a parent who engaged tuition services have their children’s best interests at heart.
Tuition makes my child even more stressed.
We get it, today more than ever, children and their families are busy with sport, music and other classes outside of regular school commitments. There is some truth to this myth. We encourage parents to consider the child’s schedule in totality, and to use good judgment in deciding whether or not to enrol the child for tuition. If a child is already overloaded, tuition will NOT benefit him! Having said that, it is also inaccurate to think that more lessons add more stress and workload.
Tutoring can be a strategy to enable a child to enjoy other pursuits and interests. Tutors teach specific strategies and heuristics that help students to comprehend and apply their learning faster. They also impart studying strategies and mnemonics (memorizing tactics) that make what would otherwise be a time consuming and frustrating process more effective and efficient.
While a level of stress is inevitable in tuition lessons, the level of stress depends heavily on the tutor’s demeanour, the environment, and general tone/culture set in the centre. We recommend enrolling in centres that encourage provide a positive, nurturing and respectful learning environment where children feel free to express their opinions and ideas.
Lastly, it is interesting to consider what is more stressful – the stress of tuition lessons, or the stress of doing poorly in school compared to his/her peers?
Tuition is expensive and not worth the money.
Have you ever looked back at our old classmates and thought about how much your lives have turned out different? How did the same people in the same class reach such different end-states? Oftentimes, the answer is education. Learning about specific subjects may not affect a child’s future significantly. However, the process of education, exposure to academic rigour and consequent development of character does. A child needs to perform well in school in order to gain access to these practices. Tuition augments these developments by providing exposure to these practices, and also by helping a child to perform well so as to access better schools and facilities.
Hence, we ask – how much is your child’s future worth?
Expensive tuition is good tuition.
We hear this all the time – you get what you pay for. Or do we? Goods and services are priced not just by the value it provides, but also other considerations such as branding, accessibility and so on. Think about it – a well-designed bag from a little known brand may be more functional and comfortable, and yet cheaper than a poorly-designed bag from a famous brand!
Likewise, expensive tuition is not always good tuition, it may simply be more branded, prestigious, or established. We encourage parents to study the centre’s philosophy, curriculum, methods and culture. If these suit a child’s growth needs, the price should be secondary.
Tutors are not as effective as teachers.
Tutors are not here to replace the role of teachers, but instead to offer something different – one-on-one tailored learning and mentoring to help your child achieve their personal goals. While a teacher is specialized in methods of teaching, a tutor often brings a wider variety of experiences that guides and diversifies his interaction styles with children. These also help a tutor to provide invaluable advice and perspective. As tuition often involves small class sizes, a tutor is also focused on a smaller group. He is better able to mentor and provide excellent support to his students, depending on the student’s needs.
A closing note
We've talked about what tuition is not, but what about what tuition is (or should be)? We will discuss various principles, approaches, concepts and ideas in the posts to come so keep a look out for them! In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about Polymath Learning Centre's approach to educating your child, feel free to sign up for a free trial lesson with us today!