Tutor Selection Part 2: How to Gauge if your Child REALLY needs a Tutor

Tutor Selection Part 2: How to Gauge if your Child REALLY needs a Tutor

smartification tutor

TUITION. The billion-dollar industry that everyone is talking about.   Advertisements of an extremely wide range of services from academic coaching to enrichment to subject-specific bombard parents so much so that parents are fearing that if they do not send their child to any of these services – their child and they will lose out in the end. When I spoke to some parents on why they send their children for tuition, answers range from “So that they can enrol in the Gifted program” to “I don’t think he can self-study without supervision.”  But how do you know if your child really needs tuition?

There are 3 major fields of tutoring:


If your Child needs a Subject Specific Tutor

SmartificationThe biggest warning sign is when one of your child’s teachers expresses concern about her progress or about what her final grade might be.

If your child struggles with a particular subject, it can be a variety of reasons. The most common reason is probably that the teacher may be teaching too fast as he/she needs to cover a number of topics within a given (usually short) time frame. Most children really need more practices and reviews but somehow the teacher has already move on with some of the classmates. If your child is poor in expressing themselves, they will find it difficult to formulate her questions and thus face trouble getting help from a particular teacher.

Another possible reason is that while your child is able to keep up with class discussions and projects in a class or receive good grades on homework and project, they are still unable to see it in a “big picture” manner (how one topic links to another part or ‘piecing the jigsaw’) and thus, tend not to do well on tests. This happens when questions are often tweaked slightly from a different perspective and lo and behold! Your child finds that somehow, they are unable to answer that question even though they seem to have talked and practiced it a thousand times before.

RELATED:  The REAL Reason why Parents are not Allowed in Motivational Camps


If your Child needs a Organisational  Tutor

smartificationThere are some students who always seem perpetually ‘lost’.

Somehow when it’s time to study, your child just can’t find the information in her/his notes or even loses her/his assignments. Their homework is often in a mess and incomplete but somehow she/he can never find the time to finish them. They hardly plan their time. They don’t know how to review their tests because he/she waste more time studying content they already know instead of what is needed for the test or assignments. These students either have disabling organisational styles or exhibit a divergent style of thinking (Visual Spatial aka CREATIVE). What they need is really an Academic Coach who is able to teach them planning and organisational methods as well as study skills. This helps them to juggle both time and understand how studies really work.

(Please note that some children are messy but are still able to do well in their studies.).

Most times, parents of these children will go “I know they can do it one but they are just not paying enough attention.” They may not identify what is the real issue their child may be facing.

What they really need is someone who can teach them how to organise their thinking, schedules and notes.

RELATED: 6 Reasons why MotivationalCamps for Children do not help – backed by Science


If your Child needs a Special Education  Tutor

smartificationIf your child continues to do poorly even with tuition, your child may need a little more guidance. If your child’s teacher comments that your child seems to know the material during class discussions but does poorly in tests, it may be due to the strong anxiety that your child feels as they don’t feel secure about what she knows in class.

One thing that most parents don’t realise is that topics don’t exist in isolation. A topic is usually linked to several topics and your child may have trouble pulling together multiple ideas in his/her written work. This results in your child having issues working

Another possible reason that your child may be suffering from poor grades may be due to difficulty with reading comprehension. Once this happens,  this can affect his/her grades in multiple classes or subjects since reading is involved. This can couple with your child’s unclear understanding of their weaknesses and they may not know strategies on how to work around them. For example, those who are more diligent may continue studying without breaks when they need them.

When your child suffers from such strong anxiety, this makes it very difficult for them to learn or the be able to navigate life well if obstacles come across their way. This is when parental support is extremely vital and parent-bonding courses are required because once anxiety takes root in your child, anything can be a trigger and leads to drastic consequences.

When Parents Push their Children Who are Already Scoring Well

There are some children who are pushed by their parents to go for additional classes – believing that it will help to stretch their children. One thing to note – these courses are only successful only if your child enjoys going for these lessons as learning takes place only when it is fun.

However, there are those who go for extra tuition just to maintain their As. When this happens, the message that we are telling these students that they cannot be happy anywhere but at a small, selective group of colleges or universities. When this occurs, any deviation from their As may results in tragic results. Doing so may encourage impatience with their development and gives the wrong impression of what success in their lives should be. These students may not be able to realise the full potential of their abilities and interests.

If you need advice or have enquiries regarding the above post, please contact me at facebook.com/Smartification.


  1. “Tuition Ruined my Childhood”
  2. How to gauge if your child really needs a tutor
  3. Types of tutoring available
  4. Types of Tutoring Options and their pros/ cons
  5. Types of Tutors in Singapore
  6. Factors to evaluate your Potential Tutor and Questions to Assess Them
  7. What Your Tutor needs to Know From You
  8. Types of Teaching Methods


How to Help Your Child Deal and Avoid Rejection

How to Help Your Child Deal and Avoid Rejection

Question from a Parent:

Hi, when I read your last post, I realised that my child was in a similar situation! I didn’t want to admit it initially and was very ready to push the blame to all the other children! Yet, after that post, I forced myself to admit that when he has changed 2 schools – things have not improved. I tried talking to him but he felt he has not done anything wrong. I wanted to speak to his classmates but his teacher felt that it was not right for a parent to speak to his classmates directly. Are there any strategies that I can help him with?

It is great news that you are proactive in finding out the issues that your child is facing with his peers. It would be a great idea for you to talk to your child’s teacher , school counsellor and even principal to find out more. If your child shows symptoms of severe stress such as headaches, interference with schoolwork or great reluctance of going to school, you may wish to look for a psychologist. You may also wish to try some of these suggestions:

RELATED: The Social Awkward

Make as Many Friends as Possible

While it is easier said than done, the idea of having many friends is to help your child to look for others when they are being rejected or being treated unkindly on a particular day. We have friends whose mood seems to swing on different days and this can be very confusing to your child. Explain to them that they are really unpredictable and just to leave them alone when they are ‘cold’ on those days. Encourage them to look for friends who are consistently nice instead.

Identify Behaviours that Attract or Repel Friends

When your child is able to anticipate responses to different social cues, they will be able to get along much better with others. Provide a list of annoying and polite behaviours and ask your child the following questions for each of them:

  • What is the likely impact of such a behaviour?
  • Why will the other child behave that way?
  • How would the actions make the other person feel?
  • What impression would the actions create about the person who does them?
  • What would be a better way to handle the situation?

Ask them to try to and reflect before responding when interacting with peers the next day.


Sometimes, there are just kids who are just all out to tease and be mean. What should your child do? As these children only want to get a rise out of your child, get your child to practice looking bored and using the word “So?” in an even tone. The aim is for your child to look as if they are unaffected by the teasing.  You can try roleplaying with your child but just ensure the words do not hurt them personally.

An Adult can be an Ally

When children are bullied, they will usually run to find a teacher to complain to. While most adults encourage this, they will have the reputation of a tattletale and this may lead to further rejection. Rather, ask your child to be visible to a nearby adult or friends by playing near them so that they can be less of an easy target and if anything is to happen, they can receive help immediately.

Talk like the Group

When children of a group come together, they usually talk of things that will be of interest to them. So imagine if they are complaining about a test and your child comes right along and says “No. It is easy. Did you even study?” Not only does it throws the whole momentum of the conversation off, your child has just trodden the tails of everyone of that group. If your child wants to be in the group, he/she has to follow the same tone, body language and similar comments for the group. If they complain about a test, he/she has to throw in a complain. If they are talking about the latest fads, he/she has to match the same enthusiasm.

However, if your child finds that the topic does not match his/her interest, it is better to withdraw than to pretend to be interested in the conversation.

RELATED: When Your Child Withdraws Socially instead of Just Being an Introvert


Most of the time, children are oblivious to things that they may have done to contribute to problems. Ask your child to consider some of these questions below and reflect on their behaviours:

  • Have you laughed at someone who made a mistake or struggling?
  • Have you ever told someone you ‘hate’ another child?
  • Have you deliberately called someone a silly name, even after you are asked to stop?
  • Have you made fun of someone because of the way they dress, talk, act or look?
  • Have you continued ‘joking’ even though you notice someone was getting upset?
  • Have you ever said “Oh no!” when you have to work with someone?
  • Have you ever join a group to pick on somebody?
  • Have you said mean things about other before?
  • Have you passed mean notes about someone?

Simple questions but more often than not, you may find your child feeling more and more uncomfortable as they go down the list.

Stop being Aggressive

Many times, there is a natural tendency for a child to be aggressive especially when they are on the receiving end of one. Research showed that if the child has a friendly connection with someone or even write about someone they love or admire, it will soften the aggression in the child after they are rejected.

To Learn A Language – Advice from a Polyglot In Training

To Learn A Language – Advice from a Polyglot In Training

by Khairy Farhan

Learning a language is really one of the most difficult things to do.

You’ve got symbols (letters, handwriting, fonts) and their combinations (words, phrases, clauses, sentences).

Then you have the meaning of the combinations and what they refer to (conceptual and associative meaning).

To make things even more difficult, some languages have proverbs that were made thousands of years ago or influenced by other cultures.

Additionally, specifically the English language, has many inconsistencies. It has both general rules as well as exceptions. For example, the past tense of ‘punch’ is ‘punched’ but the past tense of ‘fly’ is ‘flew’. So what’s the past tense of ‘cut’?

Having attempted, and still trying to, learn other languages, presently German, Japanese and Arabic, these four points are what I’ve discovered if you’re serious about learning a language:

1) Interest, Curiosity, Purpose.
Make sure you have at least one of these. For me, I was curious about German because someone I liked studied German. Japanese was out of interests and I enjoy watching Anime. Arabic was so that I could understand my religion a little more. There must be a reason behind your mission to learn or it will just fade out after a while. Make sure that this is something you feel strongly about.

2) Reserve Time.
Language learning needs a huge investment of time. There are some shortcuts to conversational levels of a language, but if you’re talking about academic purposes, you would definitely need to commit a large amount of time to the subject. I used to spend the time on the way home on the train revising my japanese vocabulary using the app, Memrise. There are many apps out there which could help you revise and customize your own content.

3) Creatively Connect.
The story that I always tell my students is about a Japanese word I was struggling with: Magaru (まがる) which means ‘turn’. So I used my native language (Malay) to create a funny story. In Malay, ‘mak’ means ‘mother’ and ‘garu’ means ‘scratch’. So I created the new connection of the 2 Malay words and the Japanese word I was trying to learn, “Mother, Scratch” and so I turned to let her scratch me.

4) Use Often. Seek Help.
If you wanna be good at a particular language, you’ve got to use it often. I used to write German sentences just to learn how the syntax worked and read the discussion forums on the website I studied at (duolingo.com). It would be really good to learn from others and ask them to check your progress. This could be teachers, friends or tutors. But the key ingredient is you!

So that’s all there is to it. Have a Purpose, Reserve Time, Connect Creatively and Use it Often! All the best with your language learning!

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Ask the Questions First!

Ask the Questions First!

by Gabriel Suppiah

Ok. We all know that we cannot run away from formative assessments and it is also driving you parents crazy in getting them ready for these tests and exams. We have already introduced flip learning to you and for those who are not familiar with this, I suggest that you read an article on it. Flip learning does not apply just to schools, but also to how a child can study at home. What is the situation now?

  1. Student goes to school and learns
  2. Takes exams and achieves some result
  3. Parents get tuition for extra help
  4. Parents purchase assessment books for additional help
  5. Parents choose some alternative programs to add on the help
  6. Help is given to the point where it becomes hindrance and we hope we learn this sooner than later
  7. This vicious cycle continues and we all think this is learning

Alright, this article is not about changing the way learning happens but changing the approach to learning. I think this will be a good start. You can practice this during the school holidays and let us know your feedback.

  1. Read the infographic and follow along
  2. Give them the test first!
  3. Let them go through the tests and answer in the ways suggested
  4. For the questions that puzzle them, challenge them to find the answers using new technology AKA internet or old technology AKA books.
  5. Evaluate the difference


This is not Rocket Science folks. Instead of giving the assessments after reading the contents, you are giving it beforehand. This is the only thing you are changing.

Do this for all the assessments and you will see a change in the way your child learns.

  1. Students show more curiosity and interest
  2. They are committed to finishing the exam on time.
  3. They feel that their answers are respected.
  4. Grades go up!

Real easy parents! All you have to do is practice is this. Till the next article on better learning, this is Gabriel Suppiah AKA The Dean signing off.

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When Your Child Withdraws Socially instead of Just being an Introvert

“Isn’t that William and Yovan from your class? Go over and say ‘hi’!” Jim’s mother was waving to his friends and trying to drag Jim over. “No!” Jim snarled. Can’t you just leave me alone? I hate my class and I hate everyone. I just don’t want to attend this graduation party!” Without another word, he stomped out of the door – leaving his mother behind. 

Some children really hate to attend social events. However, is it something to worry about?

If your child is able to

  • interact with others happily under certain circumstances
  • have at least one relationship with another child where they like each other mutually
  • have someone to sit and chat with during lunch

Then, it is not a cause for concern. Your child is simply an introvert who prefers quieter and smaller interactions.

Yet, if you find your child routinely pulling themselves out of social issues due to the following issues:

  1. they may have been rejected before and fear the possibility of being rejected once more
  2. they feel anxious and are unable to reach out to peers

You may have an issue on your hands.

Inhibited Temperament 

1 out of every 5 babies are born with the ‘inhibited’ temperament. That means, they are very easily overwhelmed and get very upset when there is a change in routine, people and environment. One theory states that they may have more sensitive nervous system than others which makes them harder to calm down. These children may even refuse to look at unfamiliar people or be prone to anxiety attacks when they are older.

Vicious Cycle

Most of the time, these children really enter a vicious cycle of not being able to make friends. In the end, most end up in the cycle illustrated below:


When this happens many times, they will believe that they are a social failure and will be very sensitive to any signs that they may be rejected.

Baffled Parents

When parents are naturally outgoing, they are unable to understand why their children are unable to be in social situations. When parents also have issues mixing around, they either become overly cautious  by protecting their children from fearful situations. Sometimes, they believe that they should go all out and demand that their children must mix around. This only adds on to the anxiety of the child. 

Research has shown that ⅓ of these inhibited children tend to grow out of these inhibitions due to positive parenting strategies, This involve striking a delicate balance between accepting your child’s feelings and nudging them forward with small encouragements. These small steps actually contribute to greater social competence and confidence over time.

Strategies to Help Your Child Blend In

Observe before Blending In

Never ask your child to ask “Can I play?” while others are playing as this interrupts the flow of the game and mischievous kids may answer “No.”. Rather, get your child to look for ways to blend in such as running around as well in games of tag or look for sticks to contribute to a building project.

Look for Individuals or Groups of Four or More

Research shows that groups of twos or threes are least likely to welcome someone into their group as they are more close knit. Rather, look for groups of fours for higher chances pf being accepted. If your child do not succeed on first try, don’t worry. research also shows that even most well-liked children also face rejection ¼ of the time.

Use Friendly Body Language

A smiling face, a relaxed and open body posture, interested eye contact and an upbeat tone of voice all really signify openess to friendship. If your child is always hunched in a corner with a book and refuses to interact with other kids, this sends a very strong negative message to others. What happens if your child protests? You will need to explain to him/her that it is now a manners issue instead. They can do the reading anytime.

Practice Simple Conversations

One simple way for your child to interact with others is to ask open-ended questions about others instead of talking about themselves. Use role-playing and encourage your child to look at others in the eye. If they are unable to look at others in the eye, try looking at the bridge of their noses! This will seem less scary.

Find Interest Groups

Your child should have a specific interest by now. Encourage your child to join these groups so that they are able to interact with peers with similar interests.

Use Voice Recordings

Some children become mute in front of strangers. Encourage your child to talk and record their voices. They can role play or make funny sounds. After that, play them so that your child can get used to their voices.