Back in her school days, Ms Lim was not the one standing on stage receiving medals for academic achievements.
"I was never the first in class, I don't score A's every single time," Ms Lim recounted vividly, "I did relatively well, scoring between B's and A's in school. It really was because my parents allowed me the freedom to balance my school work and school achievements with other extra curricular activities." Ms Lim showed me her collection of artwork, ranging from beautiful sketches to oil paintings. "I love art. I'm no artist, but it helps me express myself. I'm happy with myself, I think that should be key."
Ms Lim refers to "self-happiness" as one of the greatest achievements in life. Growing up in an average-income family, she has never experienced the luxury of owning a car nor living in a condominium. "These things are trivial. Once you're older, you realise they don't really add up to inner peace and happiness."
Ms Lim, now age thirty-three, spends most of her time tutoring for an income. When asked about her secret to educating students so well, she has two words to share:
"Inspire curiosity," she chuckled, recounting one of her favourite students that she recently tutored. "She is a handful! Her attention span was really, really short, and she was incredibly uninterested in mathematics subject and the art of the English language."
Having tutored for nearly five years, Ms Lim has seen her students grades sore from a fail grade to being able to score A's repeatedly. "It's not always about the tutor's grades, or tutor's experience or academic qualifications. More often than not it is about the tutor's ability to get the students in the right mindset, something which most school teachers themselves may not always be good at."
Here are some tips Ms Lim shares with us, on how we can tutor our children in a more effective way that inspires curiosity and eagerness to learn.
1. Remind students it's okay to fail
The word 'fail' is a taboo word in most parent's vocabulary. However, it is important to allow your child or student to know it's okay to make mistakes now, so long as they put in the effort to learn from it and prevent them from repeating the same mistakes.
In cases where a student truly does fail, it is a signal that they have not developed the right skills and attitude to think about what they did wrong.
"Such cases always require a stern reminder instead of praising them for trying," Ms Lim suggests, "you can praise them for trying hard, but you cannot praise them when they have not properly thought through what they did wrong."
Where failure can serve as a good lesson, the student must have the attitude of wanting to learn from it. Reminding children that it is okay to fail builds confidence in them and allows them to train the characteristic of persisting in the face of failure.
"When a student becomes confident and readily learns from their failures, they become individuals who are ready to take on more challenges and put their capabilities to the test. This is the point in their lives where they start scoring better grades as well, and they score A's more frequently. It's pleasantly odd, you see their grades in other subjects improve and they start to score A's for those subjects as well."
2. Encourage students to teach you instead
"When a student is tasked to explain something, they're put in a position where they have to know the underlying concepts of what is being explained, as this is key to any successful and effective explanation." Ms Lim shared.
Without the student being completely aware of what's going on, they're placed in a position where they have to first gain a good grasp of the concept and then be able to explain it in such a way that reflects clarity and confidence in their understanding. In this process, students are also made consciously aware the concepts they do not know well enough, and motivates them to learn faster.
"This is particularly useful in a group tuition setting, where every child gets a chance to explain to the others the questions they were tasked with explaining. It forces them to fully grasp the concepts of the question and the topic, which works very well for math and science subjects. The pressure to score A's is no longer as intimidating as it is fun. In a group setting, this method encourages healthy competition that only serves to encourage the student to do better in the future."
3. Effective answering and time-management
A little-known method of scoring well at exams is the ability to manage one's time well and according to his or her capabilities.
"Students need to be aware of what they're strong and weak at, and tap into time management skills to ensure they have adequate time and allowance to score well on sections they know they excel in," Ms Lim suggested, pulling out a mock test paper for me to review. "This student does incredibly well for most components except the comprehension section, which she knows stresses her out and causes her to lose confidence and focus to tackle the rest of the paper if she did this section before anything else."
It might seem like a last minute resort to score as highly as possible, and it is definitely a smart one. This is one of the techniques that Ms Lim incorporates in every class she teaches, and it is an invaluable skill that most students should be taught to do.
"When time is tight and confidence is lost, so will the marks." Ms Lim said. "Quite often, the difference between students who score B's and students who score A's is the way they manage their time effectively when working on their exam papers."
Do you agree with Ms Lim's teaching methodology and beliefs? Why or why not?
What are some teaching methods and beliefs you can share with us?
Comment in the section below!
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