(WARNING: sappy ending) An attentive tuition teacher spots things that parents don’t

Sometimes, a tuition teacher (me) is faced with students who are, by and large, intelligent. However, they inexplicably end up doing worse on tests than his teachers and parents expect. When that happens, we have to look at the student’s life in totality, and not just concentrate on his academic performance.

The things that hold students back can sometimes be so mundane that other untrained or inattentive adults miss them. As adults, for example, we are very accustomed to using (and abusing!) caffeine. Children are often more sensitive to caffeine than adults are, so if you have a student who drinks three bottles of Mountain Dew a day, then you have a student who may be struggling with waning energy levels when it matters.

Sometimes I get a student who is usually hardworking, but who reports being unable to concentrate on his reading. If that happens, I ask him about the lighting conditions in his room. The student will probably give me a blank stare, but the attentive tuition teacher (me!) makes sure that the student understands the effect of good and bad lighting on the ability to concentrate.

Most painfully, and most commonly, I get students who hold themselves back because they crave parental love, but are not getting it. It is so painful to see a confident, intelligent budding-adult student become a morose, withdrawn, uncooperative child because his parent(s) withhold their approval and love just because of his test/exam results. I once let a student sit out an entire class (at the back of the classroom) because this boy, who is usually boisterous and outgoing, was trying to hold back tears after a scolding from his father. This student just could not process the information I was giving the class. It would have been pointless for me to demand that he give his attention to me when all he wanted was his father’s love. (Actually it was more like half a class. His boisterous facade came back soon after.)

I may be a sappy old thing, insisting that parents show their children love, but that one determinant is probably what most determines the difficulty or ease of my job, as a teacher. Let me say that again, so that everyone understands. If my students parents love him/her, and show it, my job is easier. If not, my job becomes harder. When children feel safe, they thrive. When children feel threatened, they shut down, because their brains are overwhelmed by fear. It’s a scientific fact.

So, label me a soft-heated softie if you will, but parents, tolong lah. Be a bit more loving, ok? Oh and buy your little ones some new reading lamps, they’re pretty awesome! 😀



Are you looking for an English tutor? For one-on-one lessons or group lessons, please send an email to kevinseahsg@gmail.com, or call/SMS/whatsapp 97700557 (Singapore only). I’m not always at my phone, so if I don’t pick up, please leave me an SMS to let me know you’re looking for a tutor.


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