Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Letter to a Worried Mother

Dear Grace (not her real name)

I can help you see the change I made in various of the contributors of those pictures.

The blue and green 4 page letter was written by a PRC N Level student , who was failing math and english. She had little patience for English and felt little need to improve. Her math was also weak because her teachers went too fast in class for her. She always has questions to ask me about math, which I could explain clearly to her. She then managed to pass with merit for N levels and has gone on to her desired course at ITE.

I have now 2 SCGS primary 3 students, who scored top 25% of their cohort in English math and science.  They drew the rabbits. Their mom was very worried about their math because they were not scoring at P2 level. I bought many assessment books and studied which chapters were good for them. I scanned them and drilled them twice a week. In SA2, they achieved > 90%.

I have 2 girls who are studying in School of The Arts. One of them was doing badly in Sec 1, she managed to get top in class last year for Sec 2 math. The other SOTA girl I taught scored A1 for math, maintaining her grade.

I am teaching 2 Primary 5 students English Math and Science now. One scored scored 50% or less last year. I am now in the process of raising their grade. The other student has been passing and scoring band 1. This year she has been having difficulty in math. I learnt that she has problems understanding the question. I taught her to attempt by drawing bar diagrams and not just sit there and stare at the problems.

I've brought 2 PSLE student through their exams. One girl had 3As and a B. She received an A for math. She was last in class but she managed an A at the end. The other boy I taught was getting single digit percentage. His parents aim was to have him enter Normal (Academic) not Normal T. He managed to pass math and got into Normal Academic.

I have a student from Gan Eng Seng. She does well in school, but has told her mom she now does better because she has me to explain to her during our Sunday lessons.

A parent of another student who is from ACS Primary 3 told me that she sees a difference in her son who has more confidence in his timestables.

As for your question about how I can improve your child's grade, I have to see what is the problem first. It could be some of these
- Comprehension: She does not understand what the question wants. It could be because she doesnt understand the language so well.
- Lack of exposure: She has not been doing questions of the typical PSLE sort. If she did, she did not learn from the mistakes made.
- Fear: She has been so scared of math that she doesnt dare to think further
- Lack of interest: Math started to get boring for her because the questions are all so difficult
- Discouragement: Since she has been failing, the more she doesnt want to do math

Now let me tell you how I deal with each problem
- Comprehension: Sometimes it helps the student to read the question with a highlighter. Also this problem is deep as it has to do with the child's innate ability in English. I will encouraage this student to get as much marks in Paper 1 which usually has questions that are not so wordy.
- Lack of exposure: during tuition time, I will pick from assessment books some very typical PSLE questions eg. patterns, guess & check, ratio/fraction/percentage mixed questions. The student has to be exposed to many many questions to be able to answer them.
-Fear: sometimes encouragement and some inspiration from me will help. Also the student may need to feel more confident if she is able to score well in small tests in tuition.
- Lack of interest: So this may be a problem in attitude. I studied applied math in Engineering. I am able to inform her of the usefulness of math in life.
- Discouragement:  Positive encouragement and also realistic expectations is needed.

Grace, if your child has been scoring 19%, i'd say that she may be very discouraged and even feeling disinterested in math. I want to see how she thinks . By this I mean I want to know what her thought processes are. Are they focused or divergent. Some students need much help to get better grades, while some students can be trouble-shot quite fast. Allow me to assess your child to see her ability. Then I can talk to you again to tell you my plans for her.

I see a need for not only a raise in grade, but a change in attitude towards studies. That is the only sure way a child can succeed in any academic subject.

I hope you can see my passion and mission here. I hope to impact your child's life through my instruction.

Yours sincerely,

Happy Birthday Miss Ching!