Q&A

Ask Sandra

Q I am afraid I am one of those parents who feel that tuition is a necessity, at least in the case of my younger son, who is struggling with both science and mathematics.

Can you give me some advice on what kind of tuition I should go for and how do I check for quality? Do you think I should seek the advice of my son's teacher before sending him for tuition?

A Here is a checklist of questions that two professors from Hong Kong - Mark Bray and Ora Kwo - came up with for parents who are considering sending their children for private tuition.

First, you have to consider your child's needs. Your child needs rest and play in addition to academic development and other forms of training. Are you getting the balance right? How do you know?

The quality of tutoring your child will be getting is an important consideration before choosing a tutor.
The quality of tutoring your child will be getting is an important consideration before choosing a tutor. ST FILE PHOTO

Your child needs rest  and play in addition to academic development and other forms  of training. Are you  getting the balance  right? How do you know?

If you are considering supplementary tutoring, what are the reasons?

•To keep up with classmates?

• To keep ahead of classmates?

• Because other parents seem to be investing in tutoring?

• Other reasons?

Are these reasons appropriate?

RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE SCHOOL

What are the attitudes of your child's teachers towards supplementary tutoring?

In your own judgment, how would tutoring complement or disrupt regular school learning?

Would your child be bored in school because the material has already been covered?

Would he be more interested in school because the material is easier to understand? Would he be tired in school because of too much out-of-school tutoring?

How would the tutoring shape his relationships with other children?

How would the fact that tutoring has to be paid for while schooling is free of charge shape your child's views towards schooling?

EVALUATING THE TUTOR

If you do decide to invest in supplementary tutoring, how will you evaluate the content and quality?

How can you find out and evaluate what the tutor will cover with your child?

What qualities should you seek in the tutor? How will you know if he has those qualities? How would you determine the appropriate intensity and duration of tutoring?

Should tutoring be a short-term activity for specific needs, or should it be for the long term?

If it is short-term for specific needs, how would you know when those needs have been met?

If it is long-term, how would you avoid the danger of your child becoming dependent on tutoring instead of learning to be self-reliant?

CONTRACTS AND SERVICES DELIVERED

Do you have a formal contract with your tutor? Do you get receipts for payments? Why or why not?

If you are dissatisfied with the services of your tutor, what is the mechanism for terminating the arrangement in the best interests of your child?

How would you decide if you are paying an appropriate price for the tutoring?

• E-mail your questions to stnewsdesk@sph.com.sg. Specify Ask Sandra as the subject and include your name, age, gender and contact details.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Ask Sandra'. Print Edition | Subscribe