Private Tutors in Singapore: Five Things You Need to Know

Private Tutors Singapore

In a poll conducted by The Straits Times, nearly eight in ten Singaporean parents with children in primary school pay for private tuition. Do you belong to the minority who doesn’t send your child for tuition?

I admit that I belong to the ‘majority’. Being a full-time working mother doesn’t allow me to be with my son 24/7. It’s even harder to stay updated with the latest MOE syllabus when I’ve been out of school for so long.

Therefore, sending my son for tuition is unavoidable. Even when I’m working overtime, I’m assured that Edison is in good hands with his tutors.

Here in Singapore, we’re truly blessed with so many tuition and enrichment centers. On top of that, we’ve the convenience and expertise of home tutors who can provide our children with 1-to-1 attention at their own pace.

Since the start of Term 3 in 2016, I’ve engaged a Chinese tutor for Edison. Prior to that, he attended group tuition at two different centers. As he’s rather weak in the subject, I found that having a private tutor helps him greatly. In his SA2 last year, he has improved from Band 3 to Band 2.

It was a huge relief to me, I was at my wits’ end trying to find out how to help him in a subject that I myself are not good at. Furthermore, it’s Higher Chinese that he’s taking (he barely passed in SA1). We were lucky to find an experienced tutor who can motivate him to learn the subject. Much to my delight, Edison enjoys his lesson with him too.

This year, I’ve decided to stop his Math tuition at the tuition center. I engaged a Math tutor for Edison. I’ve also seen good improvement after one term with his tutor.

Benefits of hiring a private tutor for your kids

In my opinion, there are many advantages of having a private tutor – here are just some of them.

1. A private tutor can work at a child’s pace. Obviously, this is MAIN advantage. When your child is totally lost or weak in a certain topic, the tutor can explain everything from scratch and customize their lessons based on the child’s pace.

2. A private tutor can give a child one-to-one attention. Whether your child is more visual, has short attention span, or prefer learning through activity, an experienced tutor can cater their classes based on the child’s learning style and preferences.

3. A private tutor can work on specific learning obstacles. Be it dyslexia, attention issues or behavioural problems, a specialized and experienced tutor can help the child to advance in leaps and bounds.

4. A private tutor can impart vital study / exam skills. These include time management, handy tips like summarising and focusing on titles while skim reading, and strategies like paying attention to what the teacher emphasises in class, in order to predict the content of future tests.

5. A private tutor is flexible in timing and convenient. This is certainly the main advantage, especially for working parents like me. Sometimes, fetching your child to tuition center can be quite troublesome – difficulty in finding a carpark, travelling time, etc.

Primary Four is a Whole Lot of Hard Work

Edison at the recent Edusave Awards ceremony – his first time

Edison started Primary Four this year, and I’ve been hearing complaints from him about how tough Primary Four is. It’s only February now, how can he (or rather me) endure till Nov?

Well, it’s not like I haven’t been through Primary Four myself, but sometimes I really do pity him. Why Primary Four has to be so tough? During my primary school days, I didn’t study so seriously. All I could remember was playing all sort of games with my neighbours after school. And there was nothing called ‘homework’ or ‘tuition’ back then.

The weekly Chinese 默写 (mò xiě: write from memory) is the real killer. He has to memorize a paragraph as long as 40 characters. This is on top of the spelling list (ting xie) with more than 15 new Chinese characters each week.

Last week, he struggled with his mo xie again. He was so frustrated when he couldn’t get it correct after several attempts. My heart cracked into half when I saw a tear rolled down his cheek. I told him to stop learning and go to sleep early. I’ve never push him too hard for exam, not to mention the regular spelling tests.

I don’t want his weekly mò xiě madness to destroy the joy of learning Chinese. I wish he could have a sibling to walk down the path of schooling with him. Someone who can share knowledge and experience with him. But there’s no one. It was all my fault. 😥

So, I thought of an idea! 💡

Instead of asking him to learn on his own, I sit down with him and learn together with him. Yeah! It’s good that I learn some Chinese words too. Grew up in a national school in Malaysia with English and Malay as the main languages, my Chinese vocabulary is VERY limited. And because I didn’t use the language for so long, I’ve almost forgotten how to write most of them.

How Much Do Academic Grades Really Matter to You?

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“When your children fall short, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it is just means you’re not yet finished.”
~ Jaci Mun-Gavin

The stressful exam period is over, I’m sure all of you – parents with schooling kids – are rejoicing now. It’s a fact that exam period is exceptionally stressful for parents and kids. Many of us would go the extra miles to prepare our kids for their exam – be it major public exams, or just normal school exams.

From getting our hands on past-year papers from elite schools to stocking up bottles of chicken essence, taking leave from work for last-minute revisions, and drafting grand revision plans, we’re getting increasingly hands-on. Give me a high five! =)

People labelled us as “kiasu parents”, but who cares. The good thing is, it brings us closer to our kids as we tackle questions together, revise for exam together, encourage them through the little things, or simply being there for them. That’s the beauty of family bonding over exams amidst the stress.

When exam is finally over, we’ve to brave ourselves for their results. When the results are not a true representation of their hard works, we plunged into disappointment. And even so, we had to hide our feelings so as not to further discourage our children. We heard of news that kids commit suicide over poor exam results, and we feared losing our loved ones.

Every cycle, I went through shock, disbelief, denial and finally acceptance. It’s hard not to panic when Edison starts coming home with test results below expectations. How much do academic grades really matter to me, you may wonder. Well, it doesn’t matter as much as I thought it would be.

While walking home with Edison last week, I was listening with half an ear as he chirped on about his last day at school. Last day in P3, I mean. And then, something about his Chinese compo test caught my attention.

Solve Your Child’s Math Problems with KooBits ProblemSums Singapore Math Online

Understanding math concepts has always been challenging for primary school students because either 1) the teaching method is boring, 2) the concepts aren’t explained in practical ways which leaves them asking “What does all this mean?”, or 3) too many worksheets that kill the joy of learning math.

As we all know, there is no shortcut to success in math except through consistent practice, understanding of concepts thoroughly, and build a strong foundation since young. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend the entire weekend working on math problems with your child.

Most of us are working parents; I can certainly understand your feelings and frustrations. Weekend is a luxury – no one wants to stay at home to drill math questions. I’ll be honest – I don’t do that too. Very often, we’ve the urge to outsource the problem. Tutors are everywhere in Singapore that most of us can afford. Why make our life so stressful?

But I’m committed to my son’s education. I help him with his school works and daily revisions. I encourage him to learn math and develop interest in the subject. I guide him to independence through self and active learning. And I make use of digital technology to enhance his learning in math.

Five Ways to Solve Your Child’s Math Problems with KooBits ProblemSums

In this post, I’ll share with you FIVE different ways to solve your child’s math problems with KooBits ProblemSums, a Singapore math online learning system for primary school students.

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1. Learn math as a game with fun quizzes, word problems and rewards

Let’s admit it. Traditional assessment books are boring. If they don’t work for your child, it’s time to try something interactive and learn math through games that are layered with incentives.

In KooBits ProblemSums, our child can learn math through various games i.e. Daily Challenge, Sunday Mini Challenge and Peer Challenge. Each of these challenges is layered with an interesting Challenge Points (CPs) reward system that allows the child to earn points. To top it off, the top scorers and lucky winners will get interesting prizes like toys and movie tickets every week.

If you’re worried that your child might become obsessed with the challenges to redeem more prices, rest assured that this will not happen. There is a cap on the number of questions that our child can do every day, and the portal will automatically shut off after 10pm.

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Here’s Edison beaming with pride and excitement for winning a pair of movie tickets from KooBits for the first time.

2. Develop a progress chart and work on the weaknesses, particularly for the slow learners

Every parent does their best to give their child a headstart in education. Some of us may expect our child to come out tops, but neither are we prepared when they end up padding the bottom ranks.

If a child struggles at school, it’s crucial for the parents to remain committed in their child’s education. The child will blossom by learning at his or her own pace, and having extra attention from the parents.

KooBits ProblemSums allows the child to learn at their own pace through a differentiated skills map where all the topics are aligned with the latest MOE syllabus. The progress of the child is captured in the proficiency report; hence parents can help the child to further work on his or her weaknesses.

Proficiency Report and Skill Map

(Left) Student Proficiency Report, (Right) Differentiated Skills Map

.Unlike other e-learning programs in the market, KooBits ProblemSums is not a ‘one size fits all’ program. It doesn’t just randomly pick questions from the database, but it also customizes our child’s unique learning profile over time. For instance, if Edison is weak in the topic Fractions, he will get more questions on this topic from the system.

This intelligent system totally wins me over! Need I say more?

3. Reap the benefits of peer learning and motivation

All types of peer learning have been shown to be highly effective in terms of boosting motivation and fun than learning alone. I make use of Peer Challenge in KooBits ProblemSums to further motivate him.

KooBits 4 - Peer Challenge

This morning when we login to KooBits ProblemSums, he received a challenge from his classmate. I told him, “If you accept the challenge, you will win points. After that, you can also send a challenge to your friend.” He immediately jumped into action and took the challenge. Like most kids, winning is a BIG DEAL! He doesn’t want to lose face, so he must accept the challenge.

In Peer Challenge, our child can send a challenge to a friend of the same school or a random opponent (automatically assigned by the system). When our child challenges their friends or respond to challenges from friends, they will earn Challenge Points (CPs).

So, reap the benefits of peer learning and interaction. If you’re already using KooBits ProblemSums, don’t hesitate to ask other parents to join and let our children benefit from peer learning.

4. Learn anywhere and anytime, even if it’s just ten minutes a day

Digital technology gives us access to math questions no matter where we are, as long as we’re connected to the internet. I’m sure most kids will be hungry for an electronic fix when we’re queuing to pay for our groceries, waiting for food to be served, etc. “Mama, can I play with your iPhone?” this question never fails to irritate me.

Instead of allowing him to break into games, I dish out my tablet and tell him to complete his Daily Challenge on KooBits ProblemSums first. This math portal supports login from PC, MAC, iPad, Android or other tablets. Now, our kids can get their hands on math questions wherever they go.

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Ten minutes a day adds up to a little more than an hour a week. So, make use of these free times to learn math. You’ll be surprised at how these daily bite-sized learning can benefit your child, especially for short attention span children.

5. Cultivate self-learning and independence since young

If you ask me what impresses me most about KooBits ProblemSums, I would say the MASSIVE collections of challenging math word problems and video lessons. The math portal features more than 700 mathematical skills and 10,000+ problem sum questions. Seriously, I don’t need a paper-based assessment book anymore.

To top everything off, all questions come with an immediate feedback mechanism to guide students, as well as detailed step-by-step solutions with problem-solving strategies, models and diagrams. Let’s watch one sample question and solution here:

KooBits ProblemSums goes beyond the traditional MCQ and fill-in-the-blank questions as the questions require students to enter workings for reflective review. The math portal also has a pictorial model function that allows students to draw model diagrams effortlessly.

KooBits Pictorial Model

Don’t worry if you do not have time to do the marking for your child. This brilliant portal comes with auto-marking features, which is a huge relief for many parents.

KooBits Auto Marking

Technology drives innovation in teaching and learning. With a fantastic math portal like KooBits ProblemSums, we can cultivate self-learning ability of our child since young.

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Using KooBits ProblemSums is one of the best educational decisions I’ve ever made for Edison. The benefits of it far exceed the traditional paper-based assessment books and teaching method. And I truly believe that it will help Edison to excel in math.

During the product demonstration with KooBits, I was told that the annual subscription fee for this math portal will be kept below $30. This is really a steal! I spend more than $30 on math assessment books every year.

As of now, ProblemSums is only available for school purchase. KooBits has a plan to open the subscription to all parents in future so that more children can benefit from it. And the good news is – KooBits has extended a 6-month FREE TRIAL to my blog readers. (Thank you so much, KooBits!)

So, get your free trial today by clicking on the button below. There’s absolutely no string attached, and no credit card information needed to register! Grab this opportunity to make tutoring math more fun and less stressful for you and your child as well.

[su_button url=”http://synad3.nuffnang.com.sg/gtrack/click/14071″ target=”blank” background=”#F9999A” size=”5″ center=”yes” rel=”nofollow”]Sign me up for FREE trial![/su_button]

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For more information on KooBits ProblemSums, please visit their website HERE. You can also read my previous post about the detailed product features.

If you have other useful tips for making math fun for kids, do share them in the comment section below. I love to hear from you too!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Nuffnang. All opinions are honest and are my own. We strongly recommend KooBits based on its benefits and uniqueness.

4 Great Tips for Composition Writing

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As a mom of a Primary 2 boy, I admit that composition writing is the most challenging subject to teach. It requires a confluence of several complex skills, and it’s quite possible that a child may not have mastered all those skills by the age of 9 or 10.

In Singapore, our children start learning picture composition from Primary 1 (age of 7). In Lower Primary, students are required to write stories with 80 to 120 words, based on a series of 3 or 4 pictures.

Today, I’m so glad to share with you FOUR great tips for Composition Writing. This article is brought to you by Jan & Elly – my favourite English Language School. I’d like to thank Ms Elly Sim, Director and Founder of Jan & Elly, for sharing these wonderful tips with us.

4 Great Tips for Composition Writing

When it comes to composition writing, or writing in general, many of us stumble and find ourselves in a complete blank state. We either struggle to come up with ideas or struggle to put them down in words. Even more so when it comes to teaching our children how to write.

Sure, there are helper words, pictures and prompts to help with composition writing, but very often, these big words and phrases are short-lived in our children’s stories.

To really write well, we need to understand how to use these prompts. Here are some tips that have come in very handy for our students at Jan & Elly:

bullet-point1. Read widely and variedly

If there is only one thing you take away from this post, make it this.

To write well, you need to read well. Get your children to pick up reading as a habit. Read daily, weekly, whatever it is that works, but read.

We’ve heard it all a million times, but it never gets old. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Students can only begin to understand what a good composition looks like if they have read enough good compositions and stories.

While at times reading can feel like a step backward when other homework or studying could have been accomplished in that same duration, the benefits your child will reap are well worth the effort.

The reason why so much emphasis is placed on reading, is this – it opens up the imagination, giving students freedom to put themselves in unfamiliar situations. Reading forces the brain to comprehend, visualise and predict stories and situations independently. Unlike movies, the setting isn’t laid out. Students are made to draw out the story in their head, to imagine what the place looks like, the time of day, the character’s faces and the little details, based solely on the writer’s words.

Because so much effort is put in to understand and visualise the entire story, students are able to remember how words and phrases work together to bring a point across, making good English almost second nature to them. In turn, good grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure – key components in writing, will become ingrained in them.


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2. Visualise your story

A lot of times, students write mediocre compositions not because they aren’t imaginative. In fact, most children have wild imaginations. It’s just the transferring of thoughts to words that somehow gets lost along the way.

Walking through the entire story step by step can greatly help students visualise their composition, and come up with realistic and creative ideas. That is why it is important to plot out compositions. As a general guide, it is always good for students, especially young writers, to plot out their story in three main sections – beginning, middle and end.

This way, they won’t be tempted to lose focus when a new idea pops up, but simply add it to the beginning, middle or end of their plotting process.

With each writing exercise, spend a couple of minutes with your child to help plot out the story. Talk through the beginning, the characters involved, the reactions of each character, the main plot of the story and the ending. As a start, it helps to question your child about his or her ideas. When talking it out, put yourself in the story – ask your child questions such as “Would mummy react this way? Would daddy get mad at you if you really got into an accident?”

Once this becomes a habit, your child will begin to use reason and logic when writing, while staying focused on the plot. It may seem tedious at first, but with practice, this much-needed step will be a quicker process.


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3. Keep a journal

This tip is a well-known one and has been a great help to many students. Always keep a journal – for recording new words and for free reign of writing.

Every time your child comes across a new word or phrase, get him or her to write it down. It could be a completely new word or a simple word used in a completely new context. Jot it down and then come up with one or two sentences using those words. Some students even take it a step further by consciously using the word in conversation.

When we apply newly-learnt words to our daily lives, it sticks with us and gives us the confidence to use it creatively.


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4. Write simply and clearly, but make it powerful

We all love reading stories and articles that are well-written and simple. Complex sentences can make our brain shut down and often leaves us skipping entire paragraphs just to get the gist of the story.

When it comes to writing, always keep it simple. Remember that simple isn’t boring. A lot of times, students try to make their writing sound polished and impressive by using big words in long sentences. At times, it may work but when it’s overdone, it becomes a nuisance to read.

The golden rule here is to use simple but powerful words. Always show, don’t tell. Don’t simply tell the reader that you’re angry. Show it to the reader. In other words, paint the picture in words.

Let’s take a look at the examples below:

Version 1

I was extremely angry when I heard his voice.

Version 2

I was fuming at the sound of his voice. I started trembling in rage, my blood boiling in anger.

Both these examples tell us that the writer is angry, but Version 2 does it with so much more impact that as readers, we can visualise the extent of the anger.

This is what writing simply yet powerfully means. There are no extremely big, complex words – just simple words merged together to form strong sentences.

A helpful exercise is to practice identifying adverbs, and replacing them with power words. Typically, most adverbs end with an ‘ly’ and are used unnecessarily, such as “running quickly”, or “shout loudly”. Instead, try using words such as “sprinted” or “yelled at the top of his voice”.

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These tips can be used with all writing exercises so try them out with your child and have fun exploring different writing styles as you go along.