Parents are always looking to find out more about the different tuition centres out there and the services that they offer, such as the credentials of the tutor, the class dynamics and the curriculum or general lesson plan, before registering their child for any tuition.
You may employ the following six key questions to assist you to decide on the most suitable tuition centre.
(1) Class Size
The first question that any parent can ask is how big is the class size on average. Many tuition centres that offer Physics usually try to maximise their resources in terms of seating capacity and tutors. This results in them not setting a limit to the number of students per class and will either open big classes at the start or add new students into existing classes along the way. For such enormous classes, students may not be able to get their Physics questions answered, for reasons such as time constraint, embarrassment and disruptions. This may create a misunderstanding that students have fully understood the Physics concepts that are covered during the lessons since not many questions are being asked. However, there are certain exceptions to this general notion. For very good and reputable tutors, they may not have availability to accommodate private tuition sessions with students who want to learn from them, therefore, they may decide to adopt the alternative teaching arrangement of forming big classes. You will have to do a comparison with other factors in order to make a sound choice.
(2) Teachers Qualifications & Experience
Many parents astonishingly do not check for the prospective Physics tutor’s credentials when they make enquiries at tuition centres. They believe that all tuition centres go through a rigorous selection process before deciding to employ their tutors. The unfortunate truth is that many tuition centres out there may have a limited number of very effective and excellent tutors. More often than not, the majority of their pool of tutors may have average standards, and your child may not be allocated to a class with the most qualified tutor at these centres.
You may want to find out about the teacher’s qualifications and experience teaching a specific subject. If you sign up your child for Physics tuition, you will want to check if the teacher’s qualifications for Physics as some tutors may be teaching more than one subject and their experience level will vary between the subjects that they teach. Many tuition centres usually have a catalog of the profile of their teachers for your perusal and you may want to look out for (1) number of years teaching Physics, (2) whether the teacher has taught Physics either privately or at other tuition centres or schools previously and (3) the actual professional qualifications of the teacher.
If you have the opportunity to talk to the teacher, you can find out more about the teacher even if the conversation only lasts for a couple of minutes. You can put together one or two Physics questions on behalf of your child and determine the tutor’s competency from the way he or she answers the question. Do note that this is not a formal Q&A session, so try to keep the questions short and express appreciation for the tutor’s time at the end of the short session. This is to ensure that the Physics tutor does not have a bad impression and affect the teaching with your child should you choose to sign up with the tutor in question.
(3) Past Track Records
It will always be a good idea to enquire about the performance of previous students whom the prospective Physics tutor has taught before. The more established tuition centres and agencies usually possess a track record of the student’s progress and grades under each of their tutors as a means to measure the tutor’s performance level. This will help them to determine if they want to continue employing the services of their tutors. However, they may share the information to you out of goodwill if you ask for it as well.
Here is one approach towards determining if the Physics tutor is good based on the past track record. It is not a good indicator of a tutor’s competency to ask the number of students who scored an ‘A’ for their examinations since you do not know if the students are already achieving such good grades in school already before joining the Physics tuition class just to maintain the grades. A teacher who mainly teaches high-achieving students may not necessarily be competent as compared to another teacher who managed to help students improve their grades from a fail grade to a ‘B’ grade for instance. Instead, you want to understand how well each student has improved and progressed along the way by looking at the progression or improvement of grades that an average student of the class has attained.
(4) Scope of Syllabus
Besides the qualifications and track record of the teacher, another question that you can ask is the curriculum and Physics syllabus that are being covered. If the Physics tutor is able to provide a comprehensive curriculum to you, that will tell you how well prepared the tutor is before every lesson as well as the alignment of the coverage of topics in comparison to schools in general. A lot of parents assume that tuition centres always have a well thought out curriculum and syllabus but that is not necessarily true.
On top of that, many tuition centres hire freelance tutors as and when they are required. Therefore, there is no contractual agreement between these teachers and the centre that are hiring them, which means that the quality of the materials are not assured as the tuition centres usually let these teachers come up with the teaching materials by themselves and do not usually review the materials beforehand. This inadvertently results in some Physics tuition classes falling short of a good and comprehensive syllabus to be covered.
As parents, you can request from the tuition centre (1) a copy of the syllabus, (2) how recent the syllabus has been revised [as regular revisions show that the tuition agency or centre looks at syllabus planning with high priority] (3) how often do Physics teachers follow the stipulated syllabus and how much flexibility do teachers have to deviate away from the syllabus as and when deemed necessary. Do take note that teachers who deviate away from the syllabus may do so for the correct reasons as an effective Physics tutor will be able to determine if the syllabus covered is too difficult for the current standards of the students.
The cost of tuition is one of the most prominent criteria in the consideration of any Singapore parents when deciding to sign up their child for Physics tuition. However, just a simple comparison of the tuition rates across the different tuition centres is a superficial way of finding the appropriate Physics tuition services for your child. Sometimes, the tuition fees may be related to the experience and effectiveness of a Physics tuition teacher. Even though parents may have certain budget in mind, it is not a wise choice to always select the most inexpensive tuition centres since your child may be wasting their time when they receive ineffective teaching during their tuition classes.
In addition, tuition centres situated within high-end shopping centres or located at prime locations may have costly rental expenditures which will be taken into account when deciding the tuition fees for students joining them. Do not discount tuition centres which are located in shop houses or neighbourhood malls as they may be hidden gems with their comprehensive materials and a good tutor pool to support the effective learning of students. We understand that parents wish to provide their child with the most conducive environment for learning, but they may sometimes overlook such details when deciding on the tuition centres to enroll their child in.
(6) Trial lessons & Deposit Fees
You can always ask whether the tuition centre provides (1) trial lessons and (2) deposit fees. Trial lessons are perfect to find out how the Physics tutor teaches the class in terms of their delivery and presentation of the materials and determine if this is the tutor that you want to stick with for the long term. Do check what are the conditions of the trial classes, especially the duration of the trial period.
Enquiring about the deposit fees is also crucial as such fees are often there to bind students to that particular tuition centre. That could be a sign that the tuition centre is not optimistic in retaining their students due to a possible lack of good Physics tutors or materials.
To sum it up, it will definitely pay off for you to do the necessary research and checks when considering Physics tuition for your child. Selecting a suitable Physics tutor with the right tuition centre can help you to avoid having headaches down the road if you have to look for another suitable replacement tutor. At the end of the day, choosing the right Physics tutor will help your child to achieve excellent grades in their O level and A level examinations!