Volunteer tutors get lessons in how to teach

JUNIOR college students who volunteered to give free English tuition to children from lower-income families were put through a coaching workshop last week.

The 88 students from Meridian, Jurong, Serangoon and Victoria junior colleges as well as Raffles Institution (RI) attended the half-day workshop at RI, where they honed teaching methods and had psychological profiling.

Since March, they have reached out to 85 needy Primary 5 and 6 pupils under The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund's STep-Up programme.

The students said they are starting to see the difference they have made.

Seventeen-year-old RI students Gan Ming Jin and Celine Tham Yi Xin, who started giving tuition at the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre in April, say their young charges have become more confident and vocal.

When asked why he volunteered, Ming Jin said: 'We want to make it easier for them to get through primary school. Sometimes, it can be difficult if they don't have the resources.'

He and Celine said they also gained skills from having to explain principles of grammar, such as past and present participles, to the children.

Ming Jin described the pupils as being motivated and always trying their best.

Celine said: 'Sometimes, they're quite tired, but we can see that they appreciate our efforts.'

Ms Siti Sara Amin, programme executive at Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre, said the 29 children who are on this programme at the centre have become more confident and engaged in their studies.

She said: 'The children love attending the programme. It builds self-esteem and confidence.'

She sang the praises of the volunteers as well: 'They're really passionate and approachable when it comes to teaching the children.'

ljsherri@sph.com.sg