Does Kumon Really Work?

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1.3/5 - (183 votes)

Does Kumon work?Kumon is a mathematics and reading-based learning franchise that started in Japan and has now expanded worldwide. In the United States the focus is on math and reading and can be broken down by the goal you’re trying to achieve, whether to catch your child up, challenge them, or get them started learning at an earlier age. But how well do real parents say it actually works in practice?

Math skills play an important part throughout life, even now that we’re so reliant on computers and digital devices that do most of the arithmetic for us. But strong math skills can be the foundation for advanced degrees and engineering and science, and can set your child up for a better and more productive future.

It’s well known that the American educational system leaves something to be desired, especially if your child is going to a public school system that faces overcrowding and other roadblocks to an effective classroom. Giving them additional lessons sounds like a smart choice.

The Claim
Kumon claims that their after school programs can help your child because they are individually created after your child’s needs are assessed. This is not to be confused as one-on-one time with your child, but rather a way to tailor their pre-made academic programs to your child’s current abilities, and project a path for their learning.

The Hype
Any time a franchise reaches the level of success that Kumon has, there will always be some hype that comes along with it. The mere fact that this is practiced in multiple countries in various forms speaks volumes about the sort of results parents must be seeing. Logic dictates that it wouldn’t have been able to grow to this size of an operation if parents weren’t seeing noticeable and measurable results, at least to a level that would convince them to keep their children enrolled.

The Cost
The cost has often been justified as being more expensive than teaching your children on your own, and less expensive than a private tutor giving one-on-one lessons. It’s $110 a month per subject that you enlist them in, and there’s a one-time enrollment fee of $70.

The Commitment
Many parents would be attracted to this service because they feel like they wouldn’t have to do much in order for their child to learn. But like with most activities your child takes part in, the more you involve yourself in it, the better it will be for them. That’s why you’ll want to take a hands-on approach to this, in order to supplement the learning that they are doing, and to set the example that learning can be fun and interesting and that everyone does it.

The Pluses
One thing that most parents agree on is that they can in fact see improvement in their child’s reading and math abilities, so it’s not as if the time spent using it is wasted, or that the method doesn’t have any effectiveness whatsoever. At this point it’s also stood the test of time, and been used by millions of students around the world, so it’s not as if it’s a new system and your child is a sort of beta guinea pig to see if it works or not. You’re basically plugging them into the pre-established system and letting it do its job.

The Minuses
In Japan, the country where the program originate, the Ministry for Education criticizes their methods as relying too heavily on rote memorization which stifles a student’s ability to think critically and solve problems using reason and logic. Reading programs that rely on memorizing words have come under some scrutiny in the United States as well, with programs like Your Baby Can Read. Here children are taught how to recognize words on sight, which gives the illusion that they’re learning to read, but in fact they aren’t able to sound out words using phonics.

It’s hard to get an accurate idea of how Kumon is being received by parents, because each parent is going to expect something a little different for their child, and this will determine whether they think this is a good investment or not. And that’s exactly what you see when you look at the reviews: half of parents think it’s great, while the other half don’t like it at all. You also have to remember that some parents will want the sort of drills and repetition and feel that this is what their child needs in order to learn to focus, while others will see it as turning their child into an automaton.

Since parenting and teaching styles vary so wildly, the only real way to know if this is something that will work for your child, and get your seal of approval is to give it a try and see how they respond to it. The only real drawback to this is the $70 enrollment fee that they charge to get started. It might be possible to sit in on a class, or have your child use the workbooks before enrolling them to give it a trial run before signing on completely.

Final Kumon Review

Kumon gets our Thumbs Up rating and It will likely prove effective if you go in with reasonable expectations as a parent and focus on getting your money’s worth out of the service they provide. You’ll want to balance it out with your own teaching, and challenge your child to think creatively, since this is only going to show them how to do arithmetic and many of those that have tried it have said that it gets repetitive.

Our Recommendation
It’s important that children learn as much as they can at a young age. This is the time of their lives where they’re best able to learn new concepts and if they’re not given the necessary challenges this time will be wasted. The American education system lags behind in the global economy, especially when it comes to math, and this is mostly due to other cultures putting more emphasis on early education and expecting more out of their children when it comes to academic performance.

What do you think? Does Kumon work or not?

19 Customer Reviews on “Does Kumon Really Work?

  1. Kumon is absolutely horrible. Both me an my friend go to Kumon, and we both agree it is basically a math sweatshop, since we both only do math. They hand out 10 pages of homework, WITH PAGES ON THE BACK!!! I already have so much work from school, but having to do 10 backsides pages makes it impossible. Also, I am kind of starting to see my friend develop anger issues as well, after all, we do have 10 pages we have no idea how to do. Don’t send your kid to this living hell, I promise you, you will regret it if they go here.

  2. It is the worst! It is so repetitive I am in 8th grade been doing it for 7 years now. It is so stressful especially when you get into higher grade levels the amount of homework and kumon just is too much! I am planning on quitting it myself.

  3. Beside Kumon,many parents recommend using Beestar. i used Beestar for my son at least three years. It’s user friendly and the math practice program based on school curriculum. Their exercises are interesting to him, so the uses the programs without much parent supervision. I really appreciate for that.

  4. I sent my child at the center for English Reading. The program was good for him initially but in just less than a year, it became too difficult for him to continue. At the center there are inexperienced teaching staff. When the child is struggling with understanding concepts this is not explained to them. The solution offered by the staff is to get the student to repeat the same material over and over again without understanding the concepts taught. The Kumon solution is simply, to repeat the material multiple times. The child hates doing the same material over and over again. The staff will also make a student repeat the material if they take more than the allocated time to complete each book. My child took much longer to do the material than the allocated time, as he hated doing the work and spent most of the time complaining about having to do the material. He is also a very slow writer. Kumon does not take any of these factors into account. It assumes that if a child takes longer than what they determine is acceptable then, the child needs to repeat the material. When the child repeats the material, they remember the answers not how to determine the answers. The early levels 7A to 2A (inclusive) tests did not assess his spelling of basic words. They started testing spelling at A1 level. I noticed that even though my child moved on to higher level, he still did not know how to spell basic words. Kumon assumes that the child will learn how to spell basic words in earlier levels which is wrong. At A1 level and beyond, the child is expected to learn how to spell about 150 words (which is excessive) in addition to the concepts taught at each level. In the material there are no strategies explaining to the child how to answer comprehension questions. The Kumon material also does not explain concepts well or often, provides no explanation at all. Kumon books which can be purchased from retailers explains concepts far better than the course material. In some levels there is too much for the child to learn in one level. If the child fails, they are given the same test to do. The child passes the second time, simply because they know the answers to the test not because they have learnt the concepts in the level tested. This is a “false” sense of achievement for the child and the parent. But Kumon does this to make parents believe the program is working for their child. The center offers no helpful assistance to the child and the program is 100% reliant on the parent to assist the child. So you are paying for the material $130- $150 per month. Significant improvements need to be made to the Kumon material and the method of teaching. My recommendation is if you want to try the program, try it for no more than 8 months and then switch to another course or use the Kumon books instead, which can be purchased online.

  5. I am a 9th grader who has been doing Kumon for about 4 years, and i do agree that Kumon is helpful in some cases but it’s stupid, i’m learning trig right now and i don’t get any of it and the helpers can’t help u so i’m stuck with packets i don’t even now how to do, also reading kumon is not even close to helpful. Kumon is just a waste of time and money, i really don’t recommend it


  7. I have a PhD in Statistics and I am a mother. I was horrified when my daughter’s “progressive” curriculum at her private school left her unable to add single digit numbers in 2nd grade. We immediately started Kumon and public school, and by the end of 3rd grade in public school she was one of the top math students. It’s hard work and involved many tears, but it absolutely works. Just like exercise, the more you do, the stronger you get.

    Her public school does common core, while Kumon does traditional mathematics. Her Kumon has helped her with common core, even though the approach is completely different.

    When I tutored math, I noticed that many of my students struggling with higher math (including in high school) lacked basic numeracy. They were trying to do calculus but couldn’t even do multiplication, and were counting on their fingers.

  8. I’m just going to say it.
    Kumon sucks.
    It’s too repetitive and can be very stressful and degrading.

  9. I am a current student at Kumon, and I’m a high-school freshman (9th grade). I’ve been attending since I was 3 years old. Yes, I’ve been attending Kumon for 12 years. I have to admit, I’ve had plenty of moments where I absolutely hated Kumon. Loathed it, even. I used to cry and sob every time i had to do long division. I hated it, but i knew it would help. Many people talk about how it hasn’t helped their child at all but there are many factors we must take into account. Firstly, the time matters. When you’ve been attending Kumon for a longer period of time, it tends to help you more. Most parents who have had children attending Kumon had their children enrolled for anywhere from anywhere from a few months to about 2 years. I can understand why this wouldn’t help, your child hasn’t been in the program for very long. However, I’ve been attending for 12 years and counting, and I honestly cant begin to explain how much its helped me. In elementary school, I always had phenomenal grades because i had already learned most of the material from Kumon. What we were learning in school was basically a review. All throughout elementary and middle school, and even high school now, Kumon’s impact on my education has been obvious. Kumon helps so much, with all levels of math. For example, in algebra, I already knew the majority of what i was being taught, and i was able to help my friends with their schoolwork when they didn’t understand it. Just last week, in my current math class (geometry), we were factoring to solve a problem that involved algebra, and my friend was having trouble factoring a polynomial where a was not equal to 1. I taught him the cross method (a relatively simple method taught in Kumon to factor) and he understood immediately! Kumon has also prepared me for future courses. Currently in math, we are learning geometry. Although Kumon doesn’t really touch upon geometry as much, I am still able to use my algebra skills to help me (I finished all of Algebra I and Algebra II by the end of 6th grade). Recently, I finished pre-calculus and am now doing Trigonometry. After Trigonometry, I will move onto Calculus and will learn through AP Calculus. I cannot even begin to explain how much this will help my grades in school, especially since schoolwork after 9th grade has a huge impact on college. Doing well only increases your chances of going to a great college, and Kumon is the right way to go! I do admit, I used to hate Kumon with all my heart. I used to beg my mother to quit. But in recent years, I’ve found myself thanking her and my instructor for keeping me in Kumon. It honestly helped so much. And while we’re on the topic of instructors, many people have had bad interactions with their instructors, but this is not necessarily all instructors. An instructor depends entirely on them, it isn’t Kumon’s fault if they’re not very nice. For me, I have a great instructor. She’s basically become family now, us having known her for 12 years. She always explained my math and reading to me very well when i didn’t understand, and she always made sure i completely understood before moving me on to a new topic. I always feel at home at Kumon, and over the summer, i am welcome to volunteer there to help with the younger kids and the kids whose coursework I’ve already mastered. My instructor is a great woman, and I always discuss my current grades with her. I keep her updated on everything happening at school whenever I go to the Kumon center (twice a week) and she always provides me with great advice. Her, my mother and myself have the rest of my education planned out, up to and including college! I am so grateful to have such a great instructor. To end, I want to say that yes, Kumon will be a lot of tears, and it will be very annoying and irritating and children will hate it (trust me, I went through it myself), but in the end, it has helped me and is continuing to help me so much more than me and my mother originally bargained for. I truly mean it when I say Kumon is worth it.

  10. I had high hopes when I signed up my seven-year old son for the math program. But after five months, I had to throw in the towel. The exercises were endlessly repetitive, boring and demotivating. Kumon’s standard approach when a kid has problems with the work sheet is to repeat it over and over again or just to go back a few exercises and start over. Talk about money for old rope! The instructor and the assistants also seemed highly stressed in the center and no wonder. Kumon is like a gigantic paper-chase, with methods anchored in 1950s Japan (which is when the method started up). Kumon seems to have no interest in updating its ‘method’ and why should it when it can extract 30% plus royalties from franchisees just for supplying paper worksheets and very little else? I switched to an i-Pad based method and both I and my son are very glad we did.

  11. Well Kumon is a supplement for children who need the support. I put off doing it for my daughter for two years because I didn’t believe it would engage her and who loves doing worksheets? Not me….well to sum things up she’s struggled academically since 1st grade (now she’s in 3rd). We did private tutoring at a cost of 100$ per week for two hours. It worked with specific reading strategies that she needed. However, there was little carryover or retention of skills. I decided to put her in June (when they offer free enrollment) because I wasn’t going to let her start 3rd grade not knowing her math facts and counting on her fingers (2nd grade does 2,4,5,610 multiplication facts with 2 step multi-operations word problems). It is now January 22, 2016 and she has been six months in Kumon and it has been difficult to get her to do the worksheets at times like summer or knowing her friends don’t have to do “additional” work, BUT the consistency in doing it every day and the physical act of writing for practice for both math & reading that I am happy to report she is on grade level and doing very well this year! Kumon works in my opinion for children who need the basics (number facts, reading on grade level, reading comprehension etc ) and for children who need the repetitive practice to gain confidence and help improve those skills that need to be route and automatic to them.

    I think we are living in a competitive world and we should give our children every opportunity to succeed. Side note we still do tutoring but only one hour a week and we have always worked with her endlessly to help her. Since she has a younger sister we put the 4 almost 5 year old in June as well and she is working well beyond kindergarten level. She can read her sister’s reading packets maybe not comprehend them but far more than we ever imagined she could do at 5 in six months time. Don’t waste time like I did…you will regret it. Research shows if they aren’t caught up by 3rd grade it is more difficult to close that gap in achievement. Good luck on your journey…definitely a learning experience for me as a parent and educator. I definitely have a higher level of empathy for parents with the same issues and know where they are coming from.

  12. Andrea, I agree that Kumon is not fit for all children. To begin with the history, Kumon was started by a teacher who wanted to help his son to achieve, but it doesn’t mean that these methods work for every single child out there. Do not waste time and money for programs at Kumon when there are alternatives that can help without spending loads of money to improve your child’s math skills. My daughter has attended at our local Kumon Center for a good two years, thinking that it would help her improve, but no. The Kumon Center did not help her, but rather just gave her loads of work assigned by worksheets and workbooks to complete on their own. What kind of learning process is this?!? A year ago, we were introduced to another program which was Beestar, and we were afraid that it would turn out to be the same as Kumon. But guess what? Not only did we see dramatic changes in her math, she also did above average in her reading and writing skills as well. Not to mention that Beestar offers free math, so therefore, you would not waste money on courses nor money on workbooks that seem to be no help at all. Beestar offers multiple subjects and provides great online management for us parents to check the progress of our children. We are very satisfied with the results we see and will definitely stick with Beestar!

  13. Andrea, I agree with you that Beestar is a better alternative to Kumon! They offer free math and it does really help improve their math and other subjects as well, without spending the extra money on workbooks and time on worksheets. Beestar offers a manageable amount of workload depending on the child’s pace and not rushing them nor do they just assign work for them to do on their own. Also, Beestar provides online management for us parents to track the progress of our children anywhere, anytime. It’s been a year since we’ve tried Beestar and we are in love in what we see as our child is enrolled in Beestar! We will definitely stick with Beestar to the max!

  14. Are after school centers like ‘Kumon’ worth the money? The answer to this question is: ‘”NO!” Do not waste time and money for programs at Kumon when there are alternatives that can help without spending loads of money to improve your child’s math skills. My daughter has attended at our local Kumon Center for a good two years, thinking that it would help her improve, but no. The Kumon Center did not help her, but rather just gave her loads of work assigned by worksheets and workbooks to complete on their own. What kind of learning process is this?!? A year ago, we were introduced to another program which was Beestar, and we were afraid that it would turn out to be the same as Kumon. But guess what? Not only did we see dramatic changes in her math, she also did above average in her reading and writing skills as well. Not to mention that Beestar offers free math, so therefore, you would not waste money on courses nor money on workbooks that seem to be no help at all. Beestar offers multiple subjects and provides great online management for us parents to check the progress of our children. We are very satisfied with the results we see and will definitely stick with Beestar!

  15. I think that Kumon has it drawbacks that we may need to reconsider sometimes. Yes, US is behind in education compared to some of the other countries but I think that each child learns differently so it is best to find what works for them. For my daughter it was difficult to keep her attention on Kumon as the worksheets were tedious. Her teacher recommended us to try out Beestar and we have been using it for almost 2 years now! She thoroughly enjoys the worksheets and the worksheets also keeps her interested. It is an amazing tool to utilize and also free of charge!

  16. I’m one of those parents who believes we teach too many things to our children that they’ll never get to use or benefit from. I believe school hours should be shortened and children should be allowed to be children for a change. But that’s not the way the world functions at present time and if you want to help your child stay competitive you have to continue to teaching them. If that’s the case I guess the next best thing to a talented tutor would be courses like kumon. I wish I didn’t have to make my boy study even more after school, but what choice do I have?

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