Tips for parents looking for a good tutor for primary / secondary children (PSLE / GCE)


Fret not. Here are things to look out for when looking for a good tutor for your child.


Wait. First off, why look for a tutor in the first place? Well..


It is no secret nowadays that teachers in mainstream schools are working tirelessly and long arduous hours day in day out for one thing – co curricular assignments. Think cca achievements and administrative out of the classroom projects. These are key performance indicators for mainstream school leaders to rank high performing teachers to low performing teachers.


Classroom abilities and striving for value added student academics are considered low level work and school leaders (majority) value teachers with achievements for the school’s reputation more than striving the best for our children’s academics. Why else do you think teachers stay in school long hours beyond curriculum time? Do you really remedial lessons really last 4 hours?


No. Mainstream Teachers work for the A grade status which means initiating projects, cca awards and competition, innovative notions to boost their school’s reputation (to lure future parents, of course), leading administrative assignments, more cca projects and other ideas that have little to do with the betterment of our children’s grades and more importantly – their future.


Of course, an A or B grade would ultimately mean – higher performance bonus payouts in April annually. They have no choice but do work that way in order to survive.


This is where the tuition business comes in to fill in the gap – to look into the academic needs of our children. To ensure and propel sheer guidance in studies so as to achieve that passing grade or better still, that patented A grade.


There are 3 types of tutors that fit different parents’ preferences –


1.) The Babysitter

The Babysitter Tutor is a babysitter. His primary instruction is to request his tutee to take out homework assignments for the day and to help his tutee finish their homework within deadline. The current rate for a babysitter tutor is $20-$30 an hour as of the year 2016. Most of them are current university students or freelancing. This is usually the starting point for most tutors and mainstream teachers.


You can spot and hire them from online tuition agencies and negotiate for a fee. An unconcerned parent may just engage them for a tutoring assignment and the wheels will start to turn while the broken spoke on the wheel gets unnoticed. So please.. Parents, monitor your tutors! Ask for a detailed weekly report or at least a diagnostic or something. Tutors today need to produce some kind of professional report to parents. Else, they are the average Joe and Jane Babysitter tutors.


Nobody knows why parents are still okay with the Babysitter approach by tutors. No monitoring is done but one thing is for sure – homework is 100% complete.


Here is a better way to save expenditure and spending –

Assign the student to complete his homework with a peer, preferably a classmate.


The result – homework is still done and the student improves in communication and logical reasoning skills working through collaborative effort with a peer. This is so much of a substantial difference as compared to merely nodding and listening to a babysitter tutor’s advice. My neighbor’s grandmother can do that too.


2.) The Past Scholar

Wow these guys are everywhere. The past scholar are tutors who were once A graders who most probably had tuition from tutors as well. Some are equipped with degrees in education and know their trade well. These guys carry the biggest swords in the battlefield, cast healing spells and can wield magical flames with ease.


Students are given loads of practices and remediation under the Past Scholar tutor type and usually attain some or even maximum form of improvement in their academics.


Something to think about – why do most ‘elite’ tuition Centres require a minimum of B grade for students to enter their tuition programme? Why do they turn down C graders to F graders? Why discount students with bad grades? An easy formula to print out more success stories? I’ll leave it to you to figure that out.


Dont forget, when you engage a Past Scholar as your child’s tutor, it is like going to the Lord of the Rings type of tavern engaging an expensive bodyguard to help you in the battlefield. Their stellar performance also charge a stellar price.


Standard pricing for a former or current trained NIE Past Scholar tutor is about $50-$70 an hour. Any more than $100 per hour is advisable to ensure that the tutor enforces a money back guarantee if your child doesnt attain an A grade in his or her final exams.


Yes, there are tutors who offer money back guarantee based on academic results at the end of semestral exams. Ask them. Ask for a detailed report of your child’s progression and if possible, a diagnosis of areas of weaknesses and learning profile. The best tutors do. They always deliver without question.


3.) The Present Champion

The Present Champion is a rare gem. These guys are clinching mainstream / organisational teaching awards at present and are known by their outstanding contribution to both the society and to their students. The Present Champion are passionate teachers who prioritise themselves with students first and will say no to useless projects that have nothing to do with their students’ betterment and interest.


The Present Champion tutor do not give credentials to their academic results in the past (most tutors are academically inclined anyways) but have a reputation of producing an entire class of A graders or over-achievers. These guys are usually invited to TV or radio shows once in a while. Well, nobody knows or cares about this because people more commonly prefer to tune in to variety shows and what-nots.


The Present Champion makes sure each and every of his students excel in both areas of academics and also life values. He is a true advocate of his own teaching philosophy and delivers it in every angle.


How do you spot a Present Champion tutor?


Take one look at his facebook account. Look at his real, personal facebook account not his ‘teacher’ fake account. Look for personal photos with pictures of family members and friends to confirm that it is his personal account.


A true Present Champion has nothing but teaching related posts with everything to do with students’ learning, pastoral care and welfare for students, students and students. Posts are usually comments on teaching pedagogies, recommendations in self improvement and opinions on improving quality of learning.


Spot for teaching related outstanding awards in their picture albums. Spot for teaching moments in their pictures. Read their students’ comments. Look out for good practices in the classroom.


Its basically 85% teaching related posts and 15% other life experience posts. Sharing of articles are always accompanied with paragraphs of commentary.


Ask him to share his teaching philosophy. The Present Champion is always championing his life mantra. He would love to share it publicly. Take your time to reflect – is this the kind of tutor I want for my child?


Or you still want a random unmotivated overworked teacher in a classroom?


What if there is a passionate tutor you feel that is the best for your child who lives and breathes teaching and education but has no commendable teaching awards?


This tutor – is also the Present Champion tutor. The only biggest difference is, he is not assessed by an established panel be it mainstream or organisational simply because chooses not to and is self sufficient with his own teaching assignments.


4.) The Online Tuition-Agency Nobody

These guys somewhat pollute forums and facebook groups with unwanted services and demonstrate credibility showing their GCE ‘O’ or ‘A’ Level results. We are not talking about the ones who register online on tuition agencies (that’s okay actually), we are referring to the guys who spam parents with ‘offers’.


Most tutors out there in the market are already equipped with a good track record in academics. Content wise, every bugger out there is a master of his subject niche. Even an introvert nerdy Power Rangers old classmate of mine has straight A grades.


Come to think about it, did he ever have social skills to teach and relate content and knowledge via an effective pedagogy that works for students with different abilities and learning profiles? No way!


Might as well get a text-to-speech converter and play it on speaker to read a textbook.


Reflection –


Something to think about for parents with children who are struggling with studies in school –


At the end of the day, do our children benefit in the long run with a cca achievement or good grades in final examinations?


Personally, if our child is already acing his exams, i would recommend striving for cca excellence. It definitely helps in developing a child’s esteem, confidence level and interpersonal skills.


However, if the child has always been on the borderline or failure grade, my take is – to focus more on his academics and limit cca involvement. Let the cca teacher in charge find another student to run his errands.


Gold in CCA
A grades in academics?


Which is better for our children’s future? What do you think?


We thought so too. 🙂


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