Tutoring Guide Series: How to help a student who is lagging behind?

Drawing parallels from the famous illustration by Zhuge Liang, often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era during the Three Kingdoms period in China in novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms:

[A man has fallen into a terrible malady.

First the physician must administer hashish, then soothing drugs until his viscera shall be calmed into harmonious action.

When the sick man’s body shall have been reduced to quietude, then may he be given strong meats to strengthen him and powerful drugs to correct the disorder.

Thus the disease will be quite expelled, and the man restored to health.

If the physician does not wait till the humors and pulse are in harmony, but throws in his strong drugs too early, it will be difficult to restore the patient. ]

~ Zhuge Liang in Romance of the Three Kingdoms

A tutor can only effectively help a student who is lagging behind by first finding out the root cause of the student’s academic performance.

Each student holds a different lock and a personal tutor will have to find the key to the lock!

While it could be tempting to hasten the learning for the student in order to improve within a short time period, however the personal tutor or private tutor will have to understand that if the foundation is not laid and true understanding of the content is not attained, it will not be beneficial to the student as new content is being introduced.

Why?

This is because usually the content learnt in higher grades are based on the content learnt in lower grades and going up from one level to another e.g. (Primary 4 to Primary 5) would follow a T-shape trend for different topics- increase in breadth and also in depth.

So, help a student who is lagging behind by leveraging on what private tuition can best do- personalising and planning what is appropriate for the individual student. Prepare and customise lesson plans according to the student’s needs. Also, remember to explain and discuss with student and parent why your lesson plan will help the student.

Of course, to sum it all,  “administer” the right “medicine” for your student!

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