All parents who actively enroll their kids in private tuition (Physics or otherwise) would have pondered on this question at some point: “Should I send my child to a tuition centre where lessons are conducted in a class of 10 to 20 students, or would my child benefit more from the specialized attention afforded by individual or small group tuition?”
Pros and cons of each type of Physics class setting
The pros and cons of each approach is quite obvious to most parents. Attending large tuition classes may be lighter on the parent’s budget as tuition centres can exploit economies of scale, but your child will run into the same risks faced in a regular school classroom – having difficulty concentrating due to lack of individualized attention and the presence of many distractions, and difficulty keeping pace with the rest of the class. On the other hand, some students do benefit from having a structured, fast-paced approach to tuition and revision, and may even benefit positively from peer pressure. You have to know your child well and understand how he or she responds to these factors.
Many parents end up choosing one to one or small group tuition because they value the individualized attention and hand-holding the kid can receive. This is especially so for Physics. Lessons can be easily tailored to suit the student’s needs rather than forcing the child to adapt to the class. After all, private tuition should afford a different experience from the regular school setting. There is a lot more flexibility in terms of arranging for additional lessons, and even two different Physics tutors together if different tutors are specialized in specific areas.
So what is the difference in the way tutors handle larger classes versus 1-to-1 tuition, and as a parent, what are the different expectations you might have for each scenario?
Firstly, a tutor in charge of a class of 10, 20 or even 30 students has to follow a fixed schedule for teaching and for revision, with comparatively less time allocated to addressing individual students’ needs. Students would definitely have to travel to a fixed location at a fixed time every week.
You might think that this setup is no different from the usual school classroom. A good tutor, however, can always find the time and space to attend to individual queries, and even accommodate students joining the class at different times of the semester, subject to appropriate class size limits. With the right tutor, large group tuition can be more flexible than the school classroom.
Excellent Physics tutors would also be aware of the need to distinguish their classes from regular school classes, otherwise, why would parents and students bother to make the extra effort to attend tuition outside the school environment? Hence, large class tuition is a situation where the tutor’s personality, his teaching ability and style, and his communication skills are of utmost importance. You send your kid to large class tuition because the tutor can add value over and above what the child is receiving in school.
On the other hand, 1-to-1 Physics tuition is more suitable for students who already have difficulty following their regular class in school, and there is a real risk that putting them in a large tuition class would only compound the original problem. For individual tuition, the parent and student can also decide on a time slot that best suits their schedule.
Individual tuition is where the student can fully benefit from the unique teaching style and ability of the tutor. The many benefits of individual tuition are also probably obvious to most parents and students – they include freedom from distraction, the ability to have the tutor tailor his lessons specifically for the student, the opportunity for the Physics tutor and student to decide on a suitable pace, and an appropriate syllabus to cover. The Physics topics that the student finds easy can be skipped and more attention can be given to the harder topics or teaching the student strategies and techniques of tackling challenging questions. The tutor can even provide homework that is individualized and personalized for the student.
But of course, individual tuition most often commands a premium price over and above large group tuition, to parents will have to consider the cost benefit analysis carefully and decide what will benefit their child most.