Newfound confidence in Mathematics and newfound friends in parent-coaches – Chongfu School’s students are benefiting from the Parent Support in Mathematics programme. Find out what makes these sessions so rewarding – for students, teachers and parent-volunteers.
Parent volunteers at Chongfu School, like Mdm Elizabeth Tsang (left), dedicate their Monday afternoons to coaching P6 students such as Janelle Ng in Mathematics. They also act as their confidantes.
Every Monday afternoon, a group of 12 Primary 6 students head to a classroom for additional Mathematics lessons. But waiting for them in this ‘classroom’ are not their teachers… but parent-volunteers.
These sessions – known as the Parent Support for Mathematics programme – are meant for students, who can benefit from more help in the subject. It started 15 years ago. There are currently four parent volunteers, each supporting groups of about three students.
Parent-coaches as cheerleaders
Ms Winnie Tai is one such parent volunteer, who has been coaching such students since 2011. Her three children used to study in the school. A long-time Parent Support Group member, she had joined the Maths programme because she had some experience working with kids, and she continued as the coordinator of the programme even after her youngest left the school in 2014.
Every week, she helps her group of students practise the Maths concepts that are being taught in class. She works with the students’ teachers to understand the topics and approaches, so that she can better cater to their needs. In her class, she then reinforces the concepts and helps students get over stumbling blocks, so that when they return to the next Maths class, they are more confident about the topic.
“Students who struggle with Maths may lose motivation, so our parent-coaches act as their partner,” shares Mr Jason Ng, Head of Department, Mathematics. “They spend time getting to know the students under their care and give timely words of encouragement, along with helping them with their sums. They work with the students’ Maths teachers to find out their learning gaps, so they can provide more targeted support.”
Muhammad Fazryan Bin Muhammad Faizal, Class 6 Sincere, says, “Ms Tai gives us clues to answer the questions. She helped me to simplify fractions.” He was initially struggling with ratio and fractions, but these extra lessons have really helped.
Angela Huang, Class 6 Sincere, who studies with another parent-volunteer, Mdm Elizabeth Tsang, is proud of the progress that she has made since joining the programme. “I scored poorly in last year’s end-of-year exams but managed to improve by two-digit marks for this year’s Term 1 Weighted Assessment! Thanks to Mdm Tsang, who tells us to keep trying and not give up so easily.”
Mdm Tsang has been volunteering for this programme for the last six years. Her eldest daughter graduated last year, while her younger daughter is currently studying in the school. She says, “My role is not just about coaching them in Maths but helping them move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Students want to do well, but they may lack confidence. I encourage them not to be afraid of Maths and to believe that they can do better if they try.
“Sometimes they ask me why they need Maths in life. I tell them that Maths trains one’s analytical and problem-solving skills. These are essential life skills.”
Muhammad Alfarel Dafa Lee Tianyou from Class 6 United credits his parent-coach for helping him improve significantly in his mid-year exam results. “I’m now more confident of solving short answer questions on percentage on my own! The extra practice really helps.”
Parent-coaches, like Ms Winnie Tai (left), revisit Mathematics topics covered in class and provide students with extra practice. They sit with the students as they practise as a form of emotional support. (Muhammad Fazryan Bin Muhammad Faizal is featured in the foreground)
Mr Benin Yong, Teacher-in-charge of the programme, points out how special it is that parents have continued to support the programme even after their child has left the school. “It is so encouraging to see these parent-coaches. Their partnership means a lot to us and has kept the Parent Support for Maths programme going to this day.”
“These coaching sessions go a long way in creating a conducive, homely environment with students getting even more individualised attention,” says Mr Ng. Students can get extra practice for topics they are weak in, and they have a listening ear to share about their challenges. After they have learnt the basics, parent-coaches revise the concepts with them and clarify their remaining doubts. They also sit with the students as they practise, as a form of emotional support.
“I share my concerns with Mdm Tsang about my Maths results and my options for secondary school. She is always so reassuring,” says Janelle Ng from Class 6 Observant. “I enjoy chatting with her.”
“After coaching many students over the years, I’ve come to understand that children learn at different paces. This also helps me to be more patient with my younger daughter when I teach her Maths,” reflects Mdm Tsang.
“It’s a bond that’s created,” says Ms Tai. “Even after the students have graduated, when they see us, they greet us with a big smile and share fond memories of their school days. This makes us so proud of them.”
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