Does Kumon Really Work?

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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?

17 Customer Reviews on “Does Kumon Really Work?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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


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