Tag Archives: tutoring guide

Pythagoras Theorem Explained

Ever wondered how Pythagoras Theorem, the so called 1st theorem of Elementary Mathematics is proven as such?

Here’s an interesting video and method which you can explain to your Secondary students!

Make your tutorials fun and interesting!

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.


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!

A Different Perspective to “Teaching”

“I cannot teach you.., only help you to explore yourself.” ~ Bruce Lee

Passion to Teach!

Most, if not all teachers, tutors or educators alike aim to inspire their students and to make a difference in them and their future.

As quoted by wiki, “Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.”

And this noble duty to be able to impart knowledge to our young requires….. PASSION!

A tutor with the student in mind and tries to understand their learning habits or what makes them learn is definitely a good example of how putting yourself in one’s shoes definitely helps. Students hate boring lectures read seemingly from a script or rote learning in your typical primary or secondary school. Good tutors makes a point to inject what is required into an otherwise dead and dry topic to make the subject alive!

Here’s a video of MIT Professor Walter Lewin which very much exemplifies how being a passionate tutor can make a difference in your teaching style and more importantly, in your students’ lives.

As quoted by Professor Walter, a physics professor..    “If you don’t love physics, it means you’ve had a bad teacher!”

Whether you are a school teacher, professional lecturer or a ConsultAtutor Personal Home Tutor, now you’ve got the message, think of how you can inspire your student and you can very much make a difference

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Left hand vs Right hand

Lecture Chair

Errm..how about left-handers?

Do you know that only 10% of the people in the world are left-handed? It is well-known that there are many left-handed people who are highly talented and accomplished including great leaders, artists, musicians and thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci and Bill Clinton just to name a few.

Of course, not all left-handers are naturally gifted and creative. If your child is left-handed, perhaps it is more important to find out how to help her navigate through this right-handed world and fulfil her full potential. A left-hander need not be at a disadvantage!

Firstly, it is good to know that a left-hander is predominantly controlled by the right side of the brain. Alot of creativity is centred at the right side of the brain thus it is common for left-handers to be creative individuals that excel in many subjects including music, sport and art. That is of course, not to say that right-handers are not creative but rather left-handers are equally creative if not more.

Research has also shown that left handers are able to handle better when large amounts of information are being thrown at them and in within a short period of time as the connection between their left and right brain is larger and better connected compared right-handers. This allows left-handers to make use of both sides of the brain to good effect and increase overall processing time.

Despite the various research results that seemingly reveals that left-handers are not at all disadvantaged anatomically, it is a fact that many things made around us are designed for the predominant right-handers. Hence, it is important for you to observe and help your child to adjust their left-handed habits comfortably into the right-handed world. It is probably a bad idea to force them to switch to their lesser skilled right hand too.

Incorrect handwriting posture of a left-hander leading to aching wrists, smudging and slow writing is a problem that has to be addressed from young. If you observed your child is still struggling with any of the effects of incorrect posture, you should start to find out how you can teach/help your child. 

We would recommend using a report by M.K. Holder, Ph.D from the Handedness Research Institute here as a guide. For our ConsultAtutor personal home tutors, it would be wonderful to read up on it so that you can help too if you are currently tutoring a left-handed student.

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Know your child’s predominant learning type: V,A,R or K?

Ever wondered why when you are back in Primary school some teachers want the class to read a passage aloud, take part in numerous role plays, learn new words using big pictorial cards and why when you are in Secondary school some teachers seem to “teach less” and allow you and your classmates to take more charge in the learning process by organising more group discussions etc.?

If you haven’t realise it, educators-teachers and tutors love to explore various teaching styles to suit the student’s learning style such that the delivery method and style bring about the most effect in a student’s learning. At various stages of a child’s education, pedagogies like assessment styles and delivery methods differ greatly. Hence, it is important for you to understand your child or student’s (if you are a tutor) predominant learning type in order for learning to be most effective in terms of skills vis a vis academic results.

In general according to Fleming’s VAK/VARK model, there are 4 types of learning styles:
1. Visual learners
2. Auditory learners
3. Reading/ writing -preference learners
4. Kinesthetic learners

In summary,

1. Visual learners prefer to learn by seeing and learn better via visual aids like diagrams, mindmaps, slides, animation etc.

 2. Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening and learn better via lectures, group discussions, audio-cds, podcasts etc.

3. Reading/ writing preference learners prefer to learn by reading or writing and learn better via  jotting down notes, preparing summary sheets, reading prepared handouts etc.

4. Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by experience and learn better via hands-on projects, science experiments, labwork etc.

Teachers who conduct classes for a number of students can identify and implement various methods of instruction to suit the class in general or a ConsultAtutor Personal Home Tutor can customise tutorials (delivery methods and teaching aids) specially for your child/student’s learning type after a period of observation.

Know more about your student/child’s predominant learning type today! I’m a V type. How about you? Share with us by taking part in the poll below or if you are unsure, try finding it out by doing this questionnaire before polling.

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How do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths?

If your child is in Primary 6 this year and is going to take the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) in just a few months time, you should have heard of how past years’ PSLE Mathematics paper have been so challenging and mind-boggling  for students. 

With the introduction of the calculator and algebra into the Primary 6 Mathematics syllabus in recent years, the PSLE Mathematics standard has been raised considerably compared to 10 years ago. Not only do students have to pick up another skill to use the calculator wisely and appropriately(you will be surprised how some students use their calculators), they have to learn not to lose focus on their fundamental arithmetic skills while tackling the famous PSLE Problem Sums. 

So in the midst of remedial lessons in school, preliminary examinations and of course tutorials, how do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths? 

Firstly, we would recommend setting a clearly-defined goal or grade to achieve. Set a realistic goal and always aim high. If you ask your child what grade does he or she wants and you get the answer “I dunno..” instead of “I’m working hard to get an A!” You probably should start thinking about fixing this first. 

Secondly, in general students at different level of proficiency will require different approaches. Hence the strategies a personal home tutor, or you as a parent could map out for your child’s progress in Maths would be according to the goal and current proficiency level. Spot weaknesses that emanate from repeated mistakes, identifying level of understanding of topics and analyse scoring trends according to sections in the practice exam papers or preliminary examinations is key to formulate a winning strategy for your child’s academic progress. 

If your child has set a goal to achieve an A* and is consistently scoring 80 marks and above in school examinations, you can target to let your child focus more on challenging non-routine problems sums while at the same time ensure that the foundation sums in the front sections of the paper still maintain a high score and preferably, be bold and aim for full marks.    

For a goal to achieve an A or B, it is important that the fundamentals is strong and good. Work on the concepts and the important links between topics like Fractions and Decimals, Fractions and Ratio, Fractions and Percentage (they are very very closely related topics) More practice on basic mental sums or arithmetic calculations is important too but only allocate a small portion of time on this. Finally, move on to focus more on the problem sums solving methods (with examples first) once a good depth of knowledge is attained on the relevant topics. Remember, mathematics to a certain extent is about practice, practice and practice! 

Depending on the learning pace of each child, which is different, you or the tutor should adjust and suit the learning progress accordingly.  

Thirdly, inculcate good examination practices if your child still has not know or practice any yet. Plan the time for each section or even each question well and allocate enough time for checking such that your child can answer you how much time he is going to spend for example, a Section A MCQ. 

To make a point, we would actually recommend that the preparation as stated above starts at least 1.5 years before the PSLE. Some of the strategies as stated above are not limited to Maths alone and are in fact also employed for students in ConsultAtutor’s One to One Tutoring Program. As time is a luxury at this moment for those taking PSLE this year, even more hard work and personal attention would have to be put in. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain! 

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

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Left Brain, Right Brain, Whole Brain?

If you are an educator or a parent, you probably would have wondered at times what is the “correct key” that fits into the “lock” that each child holds. Finding it is crucial for the child’s development since no one child is the same. Being able to identify various types of “locks” for different type of children and choosing the “correct key” is a skill that takes effort and a little bit of ingenuity.

To make things simpler, you ought to know more about different learning styles and personality types that are generally attributed to brain dominance. A good educator knows this and always try to identify and work with the style suited to that particular student.  In addition, she chooses the right tools that could ignite the flame of learning in the student and motivates him to improve. 

Well, you could probably have heard of left or right brain dominance but how about whole brain? A very good model created by William “Ned” Hermann commonly known as “The Whole Brain Model” is widely used in various organisations including corporations and educational institutions, it models the way our brain functions in four different systems with four preferred styles:

A Quadrant: Analytical thinking.

  • Key word: logical, factual, critical, technical and quantitative.
  • Preferred activities: collecting data, listening to informational lectures, reading textbooks. Judging ideas based on facts, criteria and logical reasoning.
B Quadrant: Sequential thinking.
  • Key word: conservative, structured, organised, detailed, and planned.
  • Preferred activities: following directions, repetitive detailed homework problems, time management and schedules.
C Quadrant: Interpersonal thinking
  • Key word: kinesthetic, emotional, spiritual, sensory, feeling.
  • Preferred activities: listening to and sharing ideas, looking for personal meaning, sensory input, and group study.
D Quadrant: Imaginative thinking.
  • Key word: Visual, holistic, intuitive, innovative, and conceptual.
  • Preferred activities: Looking at the big picture, taking initiative, simulations (what if questions), visual aids. Appreciate beauty of a problem, brainstorming.


“The Whole Brain Model”

If you would like to know more, here is a very good research article on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) or “The Whole Brain Model”. Start exploring if you haven’t!

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