• Principal Patrick Low

What Is Personalised Teaching?

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Personalised teaching is based on the principle that each child is different and unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to children. Hence, personalised teaching encapsulates the idea that teachers can adapt their teaching methods to best suit each unique child’s ability and understanding.

A child’s ability comprises of his/her learning patterns, strengths and weaknesses, and learning styles. Learning styles are broad and varied—some learners understand information better by listening (audio learners); others by doing (kinesthetic learners). In terms of ability, slow learners require an emphasis on foundation building to strengthen their basic skills while fast learners thrive better when constantly stimulated and challenged.

It’s just like tailor-making clothes, where teaching is custom-made to a child’s ability and understanding. In teaching specifically, it’s like choosing a colour for a shirt.

In personalised teaching, lessons are planned and paced to match the student’s needs. Teaching becomes flexible and mobile, no longer rigid. Students are taught in small groups (definitely 4 or fewer) and not one-to-one or in big classes. In large classes, the teacher cannot focus on each student’s weaknesses.

Learning Smart specialises in small group tuition—driven by our belief in personalised teaching. We equip our tutors with a set of teaching methods that they master before adapting to suit their individual students. While many private tuition centres bypass such training, it is important to me that my confidence in personalised teaching is shared with our tutors too. With 14 years of teaching experience, I have witnessed the changes it can bring about for the child. One such student was Darren whom I tutored in Maths and Science back in 2015 when he was in Secondary 1.

Like many kids, 13-year-old Darren was unmotivated to score good grades. He liked his computer games more than studying; he was content with borderline passes. When I first met him, he was adamant against having tuition more than once a week. Neither was he willing to do homework. While it initially seemed like a hopeless case, I focused on working with what I had. I befriended him and asked him about his games. I did not enforce extra sessions or assignments. In return, a steady bond formed, and we agreed that for the duration that I saw him each week, he would give me his full attention—no phones, no distractions. Realising that Darren was able to focus well during our tuition sessions, I maximised our limited time together by revising content that he learned in school. Although it was not an intensive period of time we had, his grades saw a slight improvement to high 50s in his EOYs.

In Secondary 2, we saw a big wave coming—streaming. Darren wanted to take A Maths and Pure Science in his following year, but his grades as they were were unpromising. We introduced having homework and he managed to score 50s and 60s for his MYEs—an improvement, but not enough to qualify for his desired stream. We reconvened to discuss his goals again and finally agreed on meeting twice a week. With this extra time and effort, Darren surpassed 70 for his EOYs, qualifying him for A Maths and Pure Science just like he wanted.

Secondary 3 and 4 brought about even more challenges as there was now double the Maths and Sciences; above which, he got busier with extracurricular commitments as well. He did poorly for his Sec 3 MYEs. Since he was, again, reluctant to increase the frequency of our tuition sessions, we compromised on sticking to our usual during the school terms—then picking it up over the holidays. Only in Sec 4 did we start meeting thrice per week on top of having homework. By then, Darren had become more aware of his end-goals—how he wanted to fare, where he wanted to go—and it was exactly this intrinsic motivation that led him to put in his best efforts. I encouraged him to ask more and more questions—take charge of his learning, know what he doesn’t know. With our combined hard work, he scored an A1 for A Maths, A2 for E Maths, A2 for Physics and B3 for Chemistry in his ‘O’ Levels.

Of course, I was proud of Darren.

Beyond that, I saw how unique Darren was—just like how each and every student of mine is different, and how I must cater to them and them only. Tutoring is barely just teaching—it is a mentorship and a bond. Personalised teaching does what schools cannot afford to do: We connect personally with your child, then teach according to his needs.

If you’d like to find out more, please visit us at www.thelearningsmart.com

Tutoring Session

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