Conceptual Thinkers: My Take On Tuition Classes

Friday, January 06, 2017

Recently, I was talking to a mummy-friend over breakfast and the both of us agreed that the school syllabus is getting really hard to teach our kids these days - Primary school English and Math especially.

In the past, Math would be something simple, straight-forward even. Something that can be easily solved by drawing our trusty models and curly brackets and all solutions would be revealed to you. It is not so true in today's case?

I mean.. will you look at this:

This was a Primary 3 question that stumped even adults and took me a few minutes to figure it out. Shouldn't a 31-year-old mother (who had As for Math btw!) solve a P3 Math question without even a thought??

The thing is, I am not alone. AsiaOne and many other news sites have also reported that when they showed this above sum to the public, most of them said that it is "difficult" and "have no clue". YET....

When they showed it to a P3 girl, she said that this question was easy! Further revelation of the news report mentioned that she has learned it at her tuition class... which brings me to the entire point of this post.

On Tuition

Personally, I hope that I would be able to self-coach my kids for as long as I can, since I have the experience of giving teaching Primary and Secondary school children. I am still rather familiar with the syllabus, but really, how many mummies out there have as much time as me?

As it is, we have to juggle between work / housework and children's homework. To further provide the child with additional practises may be easier said than done. This is why I often told Nian, if I have to send my kids to a tuition class, it has better be EFFECTIVE.

Conceptual Thinkers is a first started off specialising in Math and now, they provide English classes as well. But before I go there, since I am in the topic of Math (lol pardon the pun), let me share with you more as to why I think Conceptual Thinkers is successful at what they teach.

6C Pedagogy

Sorry what? In simple terms, Conceptual Thinkers collaborates with Ms Pearline, the founder of Pearline's Math Studio. Pearline has a vast experience of teaching children, specifically Math, for at least the past 10 years. During this period of educating our children, she has developed her very own method of teaching.

* Maximum of 6 candidates per class
The small group size allows the teacher to fully concentrate on each and every student. As we all know, some children are really great learners while others tend to drift off easily. With a small student group, it allows the teacher to interact with the children individually, identifying their weakness and working with them.

* Catered pre-enrolment assessments (placement tests)
Placement tests are getting increasingly popular among tuition centers and I think it is an efficient first step to go. You see, when children are put through a standard placement test, tutors would be able to gauge their standards and they would be grouped together with children who have similar learning speed and ability. At Conceptual Thinkers, the children are split into three different groups - Inspirer for the slow and steady ones, Potential for the mid-table kids looking to score that first A* and Achiever for the fast learners to expose them with more challenging sums.

This improves efficiency in teaching because the fast learners can learn at a faster pace together, while the slower ones would not need to feel unnecessary pressure to keep up.

* 12 Essential Concepts Exposure
Concepts is such a magic word - easy to mutter, hard to grasp. The reason why some children can perform better is because they are able to break down the syllabus into concepts to be understood. Conceptual Thinkers, like its name, teaches its children how to think concepts-wise to solve individual sums.

* Distinctive Curriculum Lesson Plans
Just like school, a class will be time-efficient if the teachers have already planned what to teach for the day. For parents who are familiar with one-to-one tutoring will realise that tutors usually "play-by-ear" on what to teach, and they are often following behind the school's syllabus.

At Conceptual Thinkers, they have distinctive curriculum lesson plans that allows children to visualise what they are going to learn. That way, they can anticipate what is coming, be prepared for it and absorb it better as compared to going along the flow.

* Comprehensive Coverages
Every single chapter is covered and they have in-house worksheets that is catered to the level that your child is allocated to. (Mentioned previously, the Inspirer, Potential and Achiever)

* Conducive Classroom Learning
I think this is something that is very important but many families often overlook! In my time of giving tuition, I have seen families who have kids lying on the floor to study, houses with orange lighting that is great for lounging, but just so terrible for studying...

At Conceptual Thinkers, you can expect spacious classrooms with ample lights and air-conditioners, minimal disruptions and all the help you get.


All in all, I think results are not something that you can achieve simply by studying hard. It really takes a combination of elements - correct studying technique, ample resources and help, comfortable studying environment, just to name a few.

I also feel that as a mother, regardless of how dedicated I am, I can be rather limited in terms of resources. Many people think that for Math, all you need is practice. Sure, I can go online and print some past-year papers for my children to do, but sometimes, repetition may not reap results if the child is understanding the concept wrongly!

This reminds me of a student I had a few years ago, when I was still tutoring. Her mother would buy her assessment books and she would do it very, very diligently. My job was to go through the work she has done and correct her mistakes. 

But one day, she handed up a completed chapter of Fractions to me. And to my horror, every single question was wrong! She misinterpreted what her school teacher taught her and instead of practising the correct concept, she repeated the wrong one for the entire week. Over and over again.

Even when we try to correct her, she slips sometimes.. because the repetition has caused her to lapse into the wrong method and it took her a while to correct it.

This is something that I learned - that yes, practise does make perfect. But if you perfect a mistake, it would be terrible.

Appraisals and Testimonials

With Pearline's vast experience and Ben's passion in teaching, you can hardly worry about what other parents have to say about them. Here's one that I've picked out from their Facebook page to share with all of you:

While I must emphasize that results are not everything, we cannot deny that we all want our kids to sail smoothly through their primary school life. If my child is struggling in water, I would send him for swimming classes, so that with the ability to swim, he gets to appreciate the wonderful underwater world, the relaxation of completing a couple of laps and the joy of being able to play independently in the water with his friends.

Likewise, if I see my child struggling with his work, I would hope that I can find help for him so that studying is a less stressful but more enjoyable affair.

Based on my experience, a lot of children feel stressed over their work not because they are not doing well. Rather, it is because they have difficulties in catching up, which often leaves them frustrated and helpless. Like what I always tell my husband, extra-curriculum classes and tuition classes are like fertilisers and our children are like young saplings. Too much fertiliser kills the plant, yet they grow better with a little bit of boost every now and then.

If you think that perhaps your child might need some help or two with his work, why not give Conceptual Thinkers a call?

Conceptual Thinkers
221 Boon Lay Place
Boon Lay Shopping Center
Singapore 640221

Tel: 8268 4308

Visit them on their Facebook page:

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