It is natural as parents to give the best to your child by enrolling them in the best schools, providing them enrichment programs and tuition, all in the hopes that they will do well in PSLE and have a head start in life. Now that you’ve accomplished your first hurdle with much success, how can you help your child continue to do well in secondary school? What do students from top schools like Raffles Institution or Raffles Girls Secondary do to keep themselves ahead?
We interview Ms Jasline Hong, Founder of The Learners Council (TLC) of her experience in coaching top students. She has not only studied in Raffles Girls School and Raffles Junior College, but also taught in Raffles Institution for more than 6 years to share her insight in how to nurture high-achieving students.
Qn: What should parents know about the transition from primary to secondary school? How is the learning environment like?
Firstly, students take only 4 core subjects in primary school. When moving up to secondary schools, they start reading 8-9 subjects, and at a much greater depth. Besides a heavier academic load, students have CCA to cope with, a new environment to adapt to and peer pressure to deal with. It is actually quite a steep learning curve and there is a lot to adjust to.
Secondly, the nature of the subjects get more technical and questions naturally get tougher, especially for Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Subjects also become more conceptual, mainly for the Sciences like Chemistry and Physics. What we teach at TLC mirrors what is taught in top schools; we ensure that our students not only grasp the concepts, but are also able to apply and use the right exam techniques to score.
Qn: From your experience, how well do students cope with the secondary syllabus? Can parents help?
While there are brilliant students who adapt well and start learning independently without external help, there are also very many students who will find it hard to keep up. This is because school teachers expect some independence from students in their learning and are thus more hands-off. With higher academic demands, heavier CCA commitments, exposure to computer games and social media, many end up with insufficient sleep and a limited ability to focus.
Parents may start finding themselves unable to help with their child’s schoolwork as well. This is natural as parents are not MOE trained and have no experience in marking exams. I cannot emphasize how important it is to know how the exams are structured and the techniques required in tackling them. At TLC, I ensure all my tutors have experience teaching in schools, in marking exams and in mark schemes; only then are we able to detect misconceptions through students’ answers, know the demands of assessments and be able to know why students are not scoring in their exams.
Qn: You have coached many top students, what strategies do you use to help them ace their secondary school education?
At TLC, we teach ahead of the schools so our students are always more than well prepared when they go to school – that’s also our goal as we want to make learning easy for them. Our students find learning easy and when that happens, they begin to enjoy learning. For example, Sec3 students learn Sec3 content, with a head start into Sec 4 at the end of their Sec 3 year, and likewise for other levels. In fact, most utilize this added boost to their learning to move on to higher order and more challenging concepts. This is the secret to a top scorer. While many struggle to keep up, TLC students are ahead of the rest.
Qn: How about struggling students? Are they able to get ahead?
Yes it is possible as long as they follow what we teach in class. We break down difficult concepts into very simple, bite-sized and practical facts for students, making them so easy to comprehend and remember. This helps to make Science and Math a joy to learn and a subject they no longer find so abstract.
Because we make learning so easy for them with our lucid explanations and appropriate pacing, this helps the weaker students learn ahead and gain confidence in school. Some students need more time, but we are always more than willing to answer their questions via WhatsApp or stay back in class to help them out after class. There are many testimonials of huge grade improvements at TLC.
Qn: By providing 24/7 WhatsApp help, are you spoon-feeding and making students so reliant on you that they cannot perform during exams without your help?
Can a teacher ever “over-help” a student? I don’t think so; if a student needs help, he needs help. I don’t think we are creating an over-reliance on tuition for our students. WhatsApp help is really an additional bonus for our students that other centres do not have, but we have this service at TLC because we value all our students and we want to provide them with holistic help. Many centres only see their students once a week, 2 hours each week. How much real help can they offer to students who are already in need, and hence seek tuition? Moreover, we find that students have problems with their schoolwork as well and we as dedicated teachers, would love to help them.
We have so many testimonials thanking us for this service as students are so busy nowadays, they are unable to meet us face to face. Through our dedication, we inspire our students to be responsible for their own education.
Qn: What should parents look out for if they are looking for a tuition centre? How is TLC different from other Tuition centres?
Unlike the past, exams now feature more thinking and critical reasoning. It is important to choose a centre that does not focus on drilling i.e. a format of lesson followed by self-practice questions as this is not helpful at all.
At TLC, our teachers have the ability to impart concepts and thinking skills effectively. This skill to effectively engage students and help them truly learn is a skill. Many private tutors who know a lot about a subject may not necessarily be a good teacher – there needs to be a good balance in content knowledge and teaching ability. We also only select MOE trained teachers as they understand a student’s requirements better.
Our dedication to teaching sets us apart, as we do not simply lecture big groups of students like what they would experience in school and in many other centres. Our classes are small, and we care about each and every student. Our curriculum is customized and our students learn what they truly need. Students can also reach out to their teachers whenever they have a question, and our centre is comfortable and conducive for learning. We pride ourselves in caring, stretching, coaching, and supporting our students unlike any other. Given our limited space, we do have fixed enrolments each semester and we encourage all parents interested to register a place for their child early.
About The Learners Council
Formerly known as The Physics Council, The Learners Council is an expanded tuition centre catering to the IP, O and A-level students in Physics, Maths and Chemistry. It also offers holistic programs for primary and lower secondary school students in math and science. Visit www.thelearnerscouncil.com to learn more.
Location: Guthrie House, 1 Fifth Avenue #03-06, Singapore 268802 (5 mins from Sixth Avenue MRT)
Contact: 82924288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2019 classes are open for registration!