Maths and science are definitely not every student’s forte. Asking teachers and friends to understand these two subjects is one thing, going to a tutor is another.
Tutoring can help strengthen subject comprehension, boost confidence, and build important learning skills. Individual attention will be given as well. Whether a student needs an extra boost to catch up on school, whether they need a specialised learning system, or whether they are really into Math and want to excel their knowledge: A tutor is a way to go.
Charmaine Heilijgers is from the Netherlands but was born in Jakarta when her father was working there. She’s lived in Indonesia, Singapore, the Netherlands, and the United States where she pursued her MBA Finance degree in California.
Growing up, Charmaine attended international schools in Jakarta and Singapore. It’s commonly understood that international schools have high expectations and foster a fast learning environment. Challenging times it was, and is, for students.
“As a student, there were many times I wish I had someone there to ask questions without any hesitation. Being in a full classroom can be intimidating for any student to freely ask questions, myself included,” said Charmaine.
She’d never stayed put for too long until moving back to Jakarta with her four- and seven-year-old daughters after working in finance and internal auditing in the Netherlands. “I wanted to give them the same upbringing I had,” Charmaine recalled.
She noticed that maths and science were the troublemakers for lots of students. She started helping students with maths, science, and economics, initially as a hobby. Within just a few weeks, the demand for this additional help rapidly grew until it became her full-time job.
“The only way to meet the demand was to make my services official and hire additional staff who could ensure the same teaching method and approach that I provided,” Charmaine explained.
The company’s expertise lies in international curricula of various international schools in Indonesia. It ties back to Charmaine’s personal experience of attending international schools. “It’s important to have a focussed specialism. I’d rather offer a service for a limited number of subjects for which we can ensure a guaranteed level of quality and knowledge in the subject fields,” she said.
Focusing on international school students allows the team to get in-depth knowledge of the specific requirements for these students. “We possess the right knowledge and expertise in these areas. Solely catering to students attending international schools, we have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum of each of these schools in the subjects of maths and science,” she conveyed.
Finally, A for Effort was established and continues to exist by focussing mainly on the most in-demand subjects: maths and science. Available for all grades, from students in Grade 1 who are learning the basic skill sets for maths essentials, up to Grade 12 students who are preparing for college, and are busy with IB, AP, or other maths and science courses; all are welcome.
A variety of reasons go into why students attend A for Effort. Charmaine explained, “Not only students struggling in maths or science come, but also students who want to advance, challenge themselves, or even aiming to gain college credit with the potential to skip college courses.”
Charmaine attended and graduated from an international school in Jakarta. She recalls the high expectations she sensed that resulted in a high and challenging workload to prepare students for their future educational and professional careers are set. “Students are in a fast-paced learning environment and if they miss out on even the smallest subject matter, it could snowball and lead to them losing confidence and understanding in subsequent topics,” she said.
To her, students appreciate the additional support of a tutor to re-explain or simplify topics, to provide additional practise to master certain skills, or to have someone there to ask any question to, no matter how silly it might seem. Charmaine and her teams’ personal knowledge and experience of the curricula followed by international schools have set the foundation for providing the services the company offers today.
A for Effort is considering expanding to cover computer sciences because the demand for this subject is high and is still clearly related to the current services. There are also plenty of requests for English since some clients would like a complete package covering these main subjects.
Charmaine doesn’t foresee too many subjects as part of the expansion though. “My main goal is to ensure a certain expected level of quality, no matter which course you take or which tutor you have. If we venture out into too many different subjects, I think it’ll impact the quality as our depth of knowledge might not be equal across all subject matters,” she elaborated. Even so, Charmaine notes that expanding into other subjects isn’t achieved overnight. She would like to ensure the same level of quality and expertise, which can develop with the right resources.
Charmaine now works together with other professional tutors who are all passionate about teaching, dedicated to their work and form a strong bond with each of their students. “They can fully tailor their lessons to each individual student’s needs,” Charmaine said. The tutors generally have a degree in maths education or engineering; basically an educational background relevant to the math and/or science subjects they teach.
Each also has studied abroad and had personal experience studying IB and AP courses. The small team of tutors has all been trained and is continuously monitored to ensure the same level is adhered to at all times, including Charmaine reviewing the daily lesson reports and monthly progress reports for each student.
“Hiring the right tutors to join the company is a carefully thought-out process. We look at qualifications, capability, and last but definitely not least, their personality. It’s important that tutors are likeable and fit the company culture,” said Charmaine.
A for Effort truly makes maths and science fun again, in such a way that students look forward to their tutoring sessions. Therefore, having the right tutors who can ensure this attitude is crucial. “We make sure that the students can expect the same level of quality and the same experience no matter which tutor is assigned to them,” said Charmaine.
The services don’t come in a one-size-fits-all approach; the tutoring classes depend entirely on the student’s age, course, and personal goals. “At the end of every month, we write a comprehensive progress report for each student and share it with their parents. This way, parents can see where the child excels, where their challenges lie, and how much effort the student puts into the tutoring sessions. Parents are free to always contact the team for more clarification on how their child is progressing,” said Charmaine.
A wide variety of activities such as practice papers, workbooks, games, and other interactive techniques are used to keep the younger students engaged throughout the lesson. Interactive notebooks, for example, allows primary students to create their very own exercise book by incorporating maths or science rules and essentials. It’s a fun and engaging manner which also helps to aid them in understanding and memorizing the material.
“With the older students, for example; IB maths students, we focus on their current curriculum in addition to any specific skill set they need to improve. We work through numerous official IB practice packets to help them familiarise with IB exam-type questions and thoroughly prepare them for their upcoming IB exams,” explained Charmaine.
As discussed, tutoring gives individualised attention. Charmaine revealed that enormous personalised and tailored support is needed particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The teachers, students, and parents closely collaborate for A for Effort to gain a great deal of insight into what the students are struggling with, which methods work best to overcome these struggles and figure out ways to further help the students to excel.
“With online school lessons, the fear to ask questions in a virtual classroom with over a dozen other students has become more evident – impacting the students’ understanding of the subject matter,” Charmaine pointed out. “A tutor helps to clarify any uncertainties the student has.”
Charmaine found online tutoring to be a great medium to continue to serve students across the globe since March 2020. Over 90 percent of her students were outside Indonesia between March to August 2020. “Some of our students have permanently moved back to their home countries yet continue to follow tutoring lessons with us through online sessions,” said Charmaine.
The team was working around the clock to match their schedules across different time zones in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. “Our Zoom tutoring sessions closely mimic our face-to-face sessions and fortunately, our students have been very positive about their online tutoring time,” noted Charmaine. Online students who are currently in Jakarta usually receive packets of materials to their home address. This is particularly important for the younger students, to ensure the same hands-on interactive activities continue whether they’re having classes online or in person.
International schools switched over to online learning around late February to early March. Charmaine admits it was a challenge. She and her team had to understand the different ways each individual school was approaching their online learning programme; exam dates and methods were abruptly changed – some even entirely cancelled such as the IB exams. Students were struggling more than ever so the team had to quickly understand what each school was doing to continue their support for students.
There are the large tutoring companies who mostly provide lessons in group settings following a standard learning method, and on the other end of the spectrum, individual private tutors teach one-on-one lessons to students. A for Effort implements a hybrid method of tutoring processes, derived from a company consisting of a group of tutors while strongly emphasizing lessons being personal and tailored for each individual student.
Parents can apply for A for Effort’s services by accessing the company website www.aforeffort.org. It has detailed information about the various services offered and can be used to request more information or schedule lessons by directly contacting through a form on the site.
Kindly contact WA number at 081911001203 or via email at [email protected] as well.