Openness, interaction key to better tuition
Tuition centre founder shares secret behind helping students learn well
While some students dread tuition classes, those at Emma Study Place tend to arrive early.
Founder Elaine Chin, 44, attributed this to the close relationships the students have with the teachers.
"Many of our primary and secondary school students come to the centre earlier to mingle with their friends, eat and do their homework. We want to keep our doors open to them," said Ms Chin.
Her openness with her students is one reason Ms Chin's once home-based classes grew into a full-fledged tuition centre - named after her only daughter - operating at two locations.
The Bedok branch opened in February, 10 years after she started her first centre in Sembawang.
Formerly a primary school teacher, Ms Chin left her job to spend more time with her daughter and started conducting tuition classes at home.
Ms Chin said: "It started with a student. Within a few months, I had more than 20 students. Over the years, it got to a point where I decided to branch out."
Emma Study Place offers classes in English, science, mathematics, Chinese and higher Chinese for Primary 1 to Secondary 5 students, as well as creative writing classes in English and Chinese for primary school pupils.
It also offers tuition for general paper and chemistry for junior college students.
Currently, Chinese classes are not offered at the Bedok branch.
While her students' results are important, Ms Chin said she often emphasises cultivating a love for learning and the importance of all-round development.
She said: "My teachers and I will always try to be more interactive with the students, injecting anecdotes and interesting facts to make the lessons more engaging.
"We will impart some knowledge from outside the textbook as well."
Acknowledging that "every child is different", Ms Chin said her teachers "do what it takes" to motivate each student.
"If the students are weak in certain topics, we will explain and revise the topics again. We go through the concepts, practise the questions, run through the techniques and practise again," she said.
"Our teachers spend extra time with the students, and if the students have difficulty and need to clarify doubts, we will arrange a separate shorter session with them."
Her secret to finding committed and like-minded teachers is a rigorous interview process, in which other teachers also sit in.
"I always look at their character when reading their resumes and body language at the interviews. Besides their qualifications, I also want to know that they have the passion to teach, care for the students and possess positive character traits," said Ms Chin.
One mum, Mrs Teresa Soh, pointed to the teachers' nurturing attitude as the reason her son went from scoring poorly in mathematics to being in the top three in his class.
She sends all three of her children for tuition classes at Emma Study Place.
Mr Neo En Dian, 17, a first-year student from Tampines Junior College, has been with the centre for about seven years.
He said: "The teachers are welcoming, and it gives us a sense of belonging."