First Impressions: A Tutor’s Perspective


With the help of a great network of passionate volunteer tutors, Heartware Network’s Tuition Programme has expanded to 24 schools and 1 organisation from a humble pool of 7 schools in 2009. Such a promising expansion of the programme is telling of the needs of many underprivileged children out there, and can only be matched and addressed by having more youth who are passionate in the cause. 

Yet, it is not the numbers that move us to strive higher and dream bigger. It is the stories of transformations and precious relationships forged that become the important memories gleamed from this tutoring experience. Here is an inside look at some first impressions tutors had that will surely tug your heartstrings:

*Faces of tutees have been blurred out to protect the identity of these students*

Darie Chan, 17; Eunoia Junior College


“I knew that by signing up for the Tuition Programme, I would be tutoring underprivileged kids with perhaps challenging backgrounds. I was expecting more pressure and stress; no doubt, I was a little nervous.

I first met and taught my tutee in the school’s library. The experience thus far has been extremely exciting, and my tutee is very friendly and enthusiastic. Despite knowing that my tutee lacks home support, he is a normal child whom I find enjoyable to teach. His weakness in fundamental math taught me patience. I also begun to learn how to relate to people of different ages, and communicate my ideas effectively to a person much younger than me.

In the school I’m attached to, there is a wide range of students with different abilities – from learning issues to slight behavioural difficulties. The truth is that despite these labels, they are your typical children who love interaction. They are very energetic and playful, but are nevertheless disciplined in finishing their work. They are adorable.”

Chew Zi Ying, 17; Dunman High School

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“When this programme was introduced, to be very honest, I had my reservations about joining. I enjoyed teaching, but I was horrible connecting with people, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do a good job as a result. Even so, I found that this was a cause that I really wanted to push for, so I ended up joining.  

I had initially expected the students to be really naughty and rowdy, as the sharing from the experienced tutors had really shaped my expectations. The thought that I may not be able to control my tutee frightened me.

So when we had a little sharing session on the first day about school and hobbies, I was pleasantly surprised that the students were more than willing to join in this interaction. It really eased me into my role as a tutor. It has only been a couple of sessions so far, but I was able to learn more about the students and their idiosyncrasies, and I felt that this year’s journey is going to be even more meaningful.”

Joel Chan, 18; National Junior College


“I initially thought that the tuition programme was going to be one more tiring commitment in my life and that I would need to do more work. I also expected the children to be reserved and shy.

However, when the sessions kicked off I found out that it is actually not as intense as I predicted it to be, and the children are very friendly and outgoing. Also, I found out that all the other tutors I’m attached with are from Raffles Institution; my first immediate impression was that they must be very smart!  But, we all share a great sense of humour, and I feel that we can get along well. All these put my heart to ease, and the tuition sessions became more delightful than expected.

I could tell immediately that my tutee was a fairly outgoing person when I first saw him. After talking to him, I found out that he has his own goals and targets that he hopes to achieve, which is exceedingly mature for a Primary 6 student. He is intelligent, but he gives up on the questions too easily without putting in much effort. I hope that with time we can change this attitude together so that he can be more confident.”

Tanya Lim, 17; Raffles Institution (Junior College)

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“The vision and mission of the programme impressed on me that this tutoring experience would be a very educational and fruitful, and it will allow me to work with children and make a real impact on their lives. I honestly expected that it would be a difficult task with many challenges along the way. Well, I was half right, and half wrong.

Indeed, my tutee was very difficult at first as she had a difficult attitude that reminded me of myself back when I was in primary school. In a way, I could very much relate to her views and how she behaves. This taught me to be very patient, and to try being empathetic  and visualise how it is like from her point of view. My tutee is a very good child, but with a skewed outlook and perspective of life, and I hope to be able to guide her to what is right.”