So really, what should you look out for when choosing a centre?
You need to get under all that fancy marketing and look into these 6 areas:
A centre’s culture should be unique and positive. Its culture should be fun and warm such that upon entering, you and your child feel at ease and welcomed. A good centre runs based on the belief that all children, academically weak or otherwise, are welcomed into its programmes. The people mould the culture. Look for a centre whose management and teachers believe that each child is different and deserves equal concern, guidance, love and opportunities.
Find out more about the teachers. Determine their profiles. What is their experience in the education industry? Do they have other teaching commitments? Are they overstretched? Are they part-timing at more than one centre? How long have they been teaching at the centre?
Having said that, while teachers’ qualifications are important, they should not be the sole determining factor.
- Request to do a quick observation of an ongoing class, if this is permitted. Does the teacher engage the class well? Is he/she lively and energetic?
- Request for your child to attend a trial class too, if this is permitted. This can determine if there is rapport between the teacher and your child. Rapport is the connection between the two. When your child likes and trusts the teacher and when the teacher in turn, likes and believes in them, your child will thrive.
Get a sense of whether teachers have a sense of belonging, are happy and proud to be part of the ‘family’. When they are, they will be dedicated to their work and not simply aim to clock the hours. They are less likely to leave the centre midway. Disruption and changes in teachers are always undesirable. These teachers are more willing to offer guidance beyond the class hours. This ensures your child is taken care of during and after class.
It is crucial that the material used is professionally presented and customised. It should be updated according to changes in syllabus. Centres that pride in creating their own material will be ideal. Centres that have material with overarching themes that are fun, interesting and up-to-date with present day happenings will make learning more relevant and enjoyable.
4. CLASS SIZE
A small class setting has numerous benefits.
For one, it equates to more individual attention. A class size of no more than 8 makes it easier for teachers to identify issues that a child might have. Learning disabilities, can also be spotted more easily, allowing for quick intervention.
Of course, the bonding between the teacher and students is better too. Ask any child and he or she would likely tell you that he or she likes a certain subject because of the rapport with the teacher! This rapport is developed better in a small class setting. Additionally, children feel less intimidated and are encouraged to come out of their shells to voice opinions and ask questions.
5. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
The physical environment of the centre can affect your child’s learning experience. Most children, when asked, state that they enjoy being in a colourful and fun environment which is warm and welcoming.
A centre with a play area where children are encouraged to learn through play will be excellent. A library or book reading area where they are encouraged to develop reading habits will also be ideal.
Classrooms should also be conducive for learning with bright lighting, comfortable chairs and equipped with teaching aids. Even the seating arrangement can affect a child’s learning process. Often, a boardroom seating arrangement is most ideal for optimum engagement and discussion-based learning.
Find out from existing parents and children how they feel about the centre. Positive reviews should put your mind at ease.
Michelle Loh, Founder of SOZO Education, English, Mathematics and Chinese Specialist