Singapore tuition centres are some of the most unpredictable establishments on earth. Send your child to one of them and he could either come out on the other side with a Harvard degree or have spent 6 months being “taught” by a “teacher” who probably needs to repeat primary school herself.
If you understand how tuition centres work, you’ll be better able to know a gem when you spot one and cut your losses if you end up with a dud.
If you’ve ever hired a home tutor for your kid, you’ll know that half the time the tutor is actually a tertiary student trying to earn extra pocket money. Some of these tutors know their stuff but somehow can’t get your kid to understand it, while others are seen desperately googling the right answers on your smartphone throughout the lessons.
Many tuition centres offer the exact same thing that you would get from a home tutor, except in group form. These same tertiary students turn up with no training whatsoever and teach groups of students in a haphazard manner with the help of assessment books they’ve found lying around the centre.
So does that mean all tuition centres are a gone case? Not necessarily. There are some situations where sending your kid to a centre is more beneficial overall than paying extra for private lessons:
- The tuition centre has a superior teaching methodology or syllabus that it trains all its teachers in.
- The tuition centre is actually a one man show, and the tutor is so good he’s got enough loyal students to justify opening a centre.
- The tuition centre is highly selective in hiring and training its teachers, only accepting NIE grads, for instance.
Based on the above criteria, here are some tuition centres in Singapore that make the cut.
The Learning Lab
The Learning Lab is the Harvard of tuition centres in Singapore—meaning your child probably won’t get in. They are notorious for accepting only students from top schools or those in the GEP programme. The rationale is that their classes are much more advanced than the regular PSLE, O level or A level syllabus. In any case, students actually enrolled in the programme have reported that it’s actually quite good and really as advanced as they say it is.
This is the centre to go to if you want your child not just to ace regular school exams but to get into GEP, the Integrated Programme at a top school or the actual Harvard (in fact, one of their activities, the Harvard Model Congress, had students meeting actual supervisors from Harvard).
- Pre-school English and Math
- Primary English, Math, Science, Chinese
- Secondary IP, O level, IGCSE and IB English, Language Arts, Literature,
- Secondary Math, Additional Math, Integrated Math
- Sec 1-2 Science
- JC H1 General Paper and H2 Math
True Learning is an example of a regular tuition centre without any fancy gimmicks or admissions tests that just happens to be a cut above the rest. The resident tutors are all MOE-trained, and several have even won awards. Other than the quality of the teachers, what sets this school apart from your run-of-the-mill tuition centre is the fact that each curriculum was specially designed by the founders, and all their tutors are expected to learn the teach according to their syllabus.
While the centre has its fair share of students from top schools, it’s not ridiculously selective, neither does it purport to use radical new teaching methods. This centre appears to have done things the old fashioned way—by teaching kids the way they should be taught in school. And amazingly, it seems to be working.
- Primary English, Math, Science
- Secondary O level and IP Math and Additional Math
- JC, IP and IB Math
Mathnasium isn’t just any math tuition centre. The Mathnasium method is actually some sort of super special teaching method developed over 30 years designed to give children genuine facility with mathematics. It’s been propagated all over the world in five continents in countries far less kiasu than Singapore, which you have to admit makes it sound rather legit.
The centre claims that children will gain an appreciation for math, and that they won’t spend all their time merely trying to pass exams. And while some programmes such as Kumon have been criticised for being too stressful or focusing too much on arithmetic, Mathnasium has a reputation for being enjoyable. Which, as far as education in Singapore is concerned, is no mean feat.
- Primary 1 to Secondary 4 mathematics
Do you have any tuition centres to recommend? Let us know in the comments!