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Updated: Mar 4

If your child is not doing well in school, here are 10 obvious signs that they’d need a private tutor to bring up those grades.

A child can’t determine whether they need a tutor; but parents can take note of the 10 signs your child might need a private tutor. There are some things you can’t predict, but some things you can. You don’t want to take action only when danger comes a-knocking; you want to prevent things going south.

Singaporeans aren’t strangers to tuition, as evidenced by the fact that the tuition industry is worth $1B a year. And that number is just going to increase.

Your child’s classmates has a private tutor, your friends’ children are attending extra lessons, even your neighbours’ kids are having tuition. You could be pressurized by the society norm to hire a tutor for your child so they won’t lose out, but does your kid really need one? To make sure your money is worthwhile, here are 10 telltale signs that your kid’s going to need some much-needed home guidance.

#1 Short attention span

A big reason so many parents think making their kid study is a chore is because of their short attention span.

Focus is a precious element for the learning process. It helps your kid stay on task and get work done rapidly. Unfortunately, Straits Times Singapore reported that the normal attention span of a primary school boy is about 7 minutes.

You may have tried several attempts to control your kid’s roving mind. But if things doesn’t work out and you give up, you may be setting yourself up for disaster.

Fortunately, it’s so easy these days to arrange for a private tuition.

#2 Attention-seeking

Doesn’t it seems like little children are programmed to draw attention from adults? They can get whiny, squirmy or even rowdy in class.

Before deciding that they might simply be mischievous, consider all aspects of its possibility. Attention-seeking kids may have a bigger issue at play such as medical or psychiatric conditions (ADHD, autism, Munchausen Syndrome etc.). If you’ve ruled out probable causes, find out why they’re so emotionally needy.

If it hinders their learning performance in the classroom, make changes, such as hiring a home tutor, to help them catch up with missed time and knowledge.

#3 Difficulty working in groups

It’s natural for kids to display withdrawal tendencies in the classroom. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. But if you’re convinced they won’t ever manage to get by, and you’re not willing to make any changes for them, then there’s a good chance their grades will suffer indefinitely.

Encouraging your young kid to learn in groups will be fruitful for them in the long run. As their education process goes on, they’d be expecting more classroom learning (secondary school, polytechnic, junior college and university). Cooperative learning can help them be comfortable with raising questions, have productive learning discussion with their peers and open up themselves to feedbacks.

But if your kid is having trouble learning in groups, don’t push into it. For now, take baby steps. Having an adult figure, like a home tutor, around them while they’re learning helps them build confidence in challenging themselves into doing something they normally find it hard to do to such as asking questions.

#4 Lack of confidence

This can be closely related to the aforementioned pointer (not learning well in groups). It may well be the culprit that needs to be addressed, and the prime reason to why you should engage a private tutor. There could be several reasons why your kid lacks confidence, for example the fear of rejection, not knowing how to cope with disappointment or trying to prevent feeling slighted.

The lack of confidence can lead to feeling embarrassed of asking questions, even when something baffles them. There’s a huge chance they’ll prefer to ignore it entirely. It becomes disastrous when time goes by because it’s vital to fully understand the concept of a topic before proceeding to the next.

For example, if you notice that they’re not doing well in math, other than heeding these 5 tips to improve PSLE math problem solving skills, getting them to vocalize their difficulties can help you know what causes an absence of self-confidence.

#5 Slipping grade

This should be the most obvious indication of a child needing a private home tutor. The prior signs could all induce poor grades, and the faster you arrange for home tuition, the more you can prevent grades to fall.

But don’t worry. It’s still not too late. Once you see a gradual or sudden downturn on the report card, talk to your kid’s teacher to find out more. Pinpointing the problem(s) can help you know what needs to be done.

#6 Losing interest in learning

Do you know what causes the loss of interest? If it’s technology distractions, pare back the screen-time. If it’s too much playtime, try to balance out between work and play.

Yes, kids are kids and their need to play is understandable. But excessive freedom can do more harm than good. Kids who are overplayed without a well-balanced schedule gradually lose control and interest in learning.

Guide them back to the right track of learn-and-play with some extra after-school lessons if it’s hard for you to do so.

#7 Avoiding school

Attempts to avoid school such as feigning illness or acting out before school time might be a silent cry for help. They could be facing academic problems or feeling incapable when it comes to academic achievements.

A home tutor can provide assistance to help your kid stay focused. But it’s paramount to dig deep into the real reason of why your kid avoids school.

#8 Reluctance in trying something new

Your kid might be clever and sociable, yet unwilling to try new methods of solving problems even after guidance.

Kids can be stubborn, which is a part of their temperament. They could be insistence on using the exact same methods that their teacher uses, since children are born imitators. Or they’re afraid of failure, which makes them more hesitant to new things. The possibilities are endless.

But we know the unwillingness of trying something new can ooze further into other aspects of life, like sports. A temperament can be hard to change. We certainly don’t encourage forcing changes, but employing some appropriate supervision can help a child learn to accept new approaches.

Bringing in a private educator can help them realize that a change of learning environment and habits isn’t all that bad. And hopefully it’ll ease them into trying new approaches eventually.

#9 Lying about the completion of homework

Just like avoiding school, hiding homework or not doing their schoolwork could be an implication of bigger issues. Fundamentally, they do not want to confront what they’re afraid or dislike. They could be struggling in comprehending the subjects or topics taught in school, and would go all out, even lying, to steer clear of coming in contact with them every chance they have.

Letting them know that you having their back is critical to them. It helps lighten the load that they might have. Show them your support by being there for your child when they’re doing their assignments. Of course, a tutor can come into great use if you aren’t able to solve questions that they might have.

#10 Change in personality

Do they have a change of friends? Are they becoming unusually introverted? Do they suddenly dread going to school? Are they throwing more tantrums?

They could be facing humongous amount of stress when learning in school and they’re not talking about it. If you’re having difficulty getting them to talk about it, introducing a private teacher to your child’s learning process might help. They would feel more comfortable talking to someone else. Learn what you can from the tutor as they may have some insights about the situation. Moreover, you know the private educator is always on your side when it comes to helping your kid.


Many reasons contribute to your child’s poor grades, but the worst thing to do is pretend it’s not happening. The sooner you realize the problem, the sooner you can make things right.

After you’ve acknowledge the signs that your kid might need extra customized guidance, don’t break the confetti just yet. Many of these signs may point to greater problems. Talk to them, but beware of your tone. It’s important to let your kids know that you’re supportive and caring instead of blaming them.

If it’s indeed academic problems, a private tutor can trigger novelty and amusement into the learning process which are nothing but beneficial to them.

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