Why Searching for a Kumon Tutor is a Dead End
Parents search for a tutor because they want their child to receive support so that they can improve their academic skills. It may be challenging for parents to help their kids themselves, as they have busy schedules or may not fully understand the methods and strategies currently taught in schools.
And tutoring, which is a $168 billion global industry , is a great way to get your child the assistance they need to understand challenging school topics, work through homework, and prepare for tests.
There’s no denying the importance of fact fluency, as computational skills are tied to logical reasoning and critical thinking problems. But a curriculum or math learning program that only focuses on rote memorization is limiting for students when it comes to higher levels of questioning and thinking skills.
But if you’re specifically searching for a “ Kumon tutor ” or Kumon® Math on Google, this may not give you the actual math tutoring help you are looking for for your child.
A math tutor teaches, not just monitors
When looking for a math tutor for your child, you want someone who is proactive and assists your child. A tutor will help them understand challenging concepts they are learning in school. They will observe your child, then help them work through strategies to improve their understanding.
Tutoring sessions typically are very interactive and high-touch for 30-60 minutes, and a tutor and your child work through material and topics during a teaching session.
The Kumon learning method has not been known to allow for this based on feedback from parents who have joined us.
The Kumon method, per their own statements, embraces self-learning through independent work. Students arrive at the center and work independently as an instructor monitors them. And as students are completing their independent work at the center, instructors, “give hints and advice only when necessary .”
This style of learning may work well for students that already have strong foundations or succeed with independent learning. But for students that need remedial help or guidance to make sense of math topics, they may struggle from the lack of support.
Self-learning doesn’t work when you need to learn a language
There are moments when self-learning can be successful.
Think of when a child is learning to tie a shoelace. They can watch a video or receive a little guidance to learn the steps, but they only truly master tying a shoelace after they practice independently.
Self-learning for bigger moments isn’t as successful.
Think of someone trying to learn a new language. They can use an app, like Duolingo, to try and learn it on their own. But they will be nowhere near fluent unless someone works with them to practice conversational skills and corrects their pronunciation and diction.
And math is language too, as vocabulary, symbols, and syntax are consistent and used in written form by people around the world.
Students learning math benefit from working interactively with a math tutor to understand the language. If they are forced to work on their own, they may just end up feeling more frustrated as they fail to grasp the material.
A math tutor assists with difficult school topics
Based on discussions Thinkster advisors have had with former Kumon parents, they shared that the curriculum felt rigid or fixed. Parents said that their kids had to complete worksheets in a set order. How is the work personalized to a student’s needs?
Because students follow a fixed curriculum, this often means that the material they are completing in Kumon does not match to the topics they are learning in school. Often, when students need math help, it is because they need support with school-specific topics.
And former Kumon instructors found this to be one of its big limitations too.
As Debbie P. , a former Kumon instructor and current Thinkster Math coach, says, “I found it terribly constricting that I was not able to help the students at their grade level school work.”
For students that need help with school material, they may need to find additional resources or parent assistance to help.
Debbie adds, “What’s the point of knowing algebra when you won’t be doing it at school for another five years?”
And because Kumon focuses on arithmetic skills, your child won’t receive help in areas they may be really struggling, such as with logical reasoning or critical thinking problems.
Many students find word problems challenging, especially when introduced to multi-step word problems or ones that include distractors. This is why it is important to find a program that will include critical thinking problems, and other topics, such as measurement and data and geometry.
A math tutor helps with homework or test preparation
When a math tutor provides help on challenging school topics, this usually means they are also providing help with homework and upcoming school tests.
Homework time can be extremely frustrating for students that are struggling in school. Recalling strategies and problem-solving steps can be very difficult for some kids. A math tutor will provide the necessary support and guidance to help your child work through topics.
Because the Kumon curriculum is standardized and students work independently at the center, there is no opportunity for instructors to help with homework or test prep.
If looking for a math tutor to help bring your child up to speed in these areas, it is highly unlikely you will find it at Kumon.
Stop searching for a “ Kumon tutor ” and try digital math learning alternatives like Thinkster Math
If you’ve been searching for a Kumon tutor on Google, maybe it’s time to look into other math tutoring solutions that will give your child the support you are really looking for. After all, your child will benefit greatly by receiving the math help they need to work through difficult school topics or homework.
Thinkster Math offers high-touch support that will help improve your child’s math skills. Additionally, coaches can align the learning plan to school work, and they provide homework and test prep!
Thinkster Math is significantly different than learning programs like Kumon, Mathnasium, Sylvan, Huntington, and others, and provides the learning improvements you are looking for for your child.
Click here to learn more on why Thinkster Math is a compelling alternative to other tutoring options.
Note: Kumon® is a registered trademark of Kumon North America, Inc. Thinkster Math is in no way affiliated to the same.
What Is Kumon and Does It Really Work?
This post was originally written for a different website; however it has been removed that site since it was published. I still believe it has valuable information and publishing it again, here.
You’ve likely seen ads on television or passed by Kumon centers in your daily travels. Have you every wondered, exactly, what Kumon is?
About 9 months ago, I was introduced to Kumon through one of their publicity firms, learned about their program and decided to try it out. Before I get into the results, let’s start with a little bit of history.
The History of Kumon
In 1954, Toru Kumon, a high school math teacher in Japan, began developing materials to help his second grade son who was struggling in math. With a few key principles in mind, Mr. Kumon created a series of sequenced materials for his son to complete after school. His son improved in math; Mr. Kumon’s neighbors heard about this success and began asking him to work with their children. The first Kumon center opened in 1956 and it continued to grow, expanding into North America in 1974.
Now you know why Kumon is so familiar to you already; it’s been around for over 50 years! They offer after school programs for both math and reading. We elected to participate in the math program, since my daughter didn’t feel confident in that area and has always been a strong reader.
What is Kumon?
I had always thought Kumon was a tutoring program. In reality, it is a curriculum for math and/or reading. If you register for a Kumon program, your child will need to work this program in addition to his or her regular school assignments after school.
The curriculum consists of hundreds of short assignments (worksheets) completed in sequential order. Every assignment is timed and graded. Students must get close to 100% accuracy within a set time in order to be able to move on to the next level of worksheet.
In our case, my daughter was assigned additional “speed drills” for addition and multiplication practice.
What to Expect During Your First Visit to Kumon
When you enroll in the program, you will sit down with a center instructor for an orientation. During the orientation, we watched a Power Point presentation and went over parent expectations. Parents will be required to complete some paperwork (it wasn’t terribly long) and children will take a placement test.
The placement test is actually a series of tests. Your child will work through different “leveled” evaluations until he or she can not complete any more. These tests are immediately graded and your child will be sent home with his or first assignments to be completed. All in all, expect to spend roughly an hour and a half during your first visit.
What to Expect at Home
Page 8 of the Kumon Parent’s Guide says “There’s no getting around it: Kumon is extra. Extra time. Extra homework. Extra effort.“ Boy, do they mean it.
Children are expected to complete their Kumon assignments 7 days a week. My daughter was assigned 10 worksheets a day, 7 days a week, plus 10 minutes of “speed drills” each day. Parents, you’ll be expected to grade the assignments immediately, return them to your student to correct and participate in the speed drills. Be prepared to commit about 30 minutes a day to Kumon assignments.
In addition to the daily at-home assignments, children visit the Kumon center 2 times per week to turn in their homework and receive the next batch.
Our center was flexible enough when it came to our crazy travel schedule, giving us a week’s worth of assignments at a time, when we let them know when we could not make it back twice in one week.
What to Expect on Visits to the Center
During your child’s twice-weekly visits to the center, he or she will turn in his or her homework to the instructor who will review it to make sure your child is on course. The center instructor may work on speed drills with your child and watch him or her work through another set of worksheets.
Do not expect the center instructor to teach the materials to your child in the same manner as in a traditional classroom. The instructors do not lecture, demonstrate or tutor students through the curriculum. The Kumon method utilizes in the “learn-by-doing” approach. The instructor provides guidance, praise and assistance, if absolutely needed.
According to the parent materials provided, the Kumon approach believes that having a child try to solve the problems on his or her own teaches them to think for themselves and build confidence.
How Much Does Kumon Cost?
Let’s face it, cost factors into the equation for most of it. Each Kumon center is independently owned and operated, so costs will vary by location. In general, though, expect to pay $95 – $125 per month, per subject, plus a $30 – $50 one-time registration fee.
Does Kumon Really Work?
At the beginning of our trial of Kumon, my daughter was entering 8th grade Pre-Algebra. After her initial placement evaluation, the instructors at the center thought she should start with addition of single-digit positive numbers (almost near the beginning). She understood single-addition math just fine, but the center instructor wanted her to be able to do the math faster before moving on. After attending the orientation and reading through all of the parent materials, I understood why our instructor made this decision but, unfortunately, my daughter did not. She was embarrassed and her self esteem was very low.
We worked through the program with as much consistency as possible. I’ll readily admit that we were not as consistent with the program as we should have been and we may have bitten off more than we could chew this school year. After nine months with Kumon we did not see a dramatic increase in her Pre-Algebra grade, but we weren’t expecting to either. It’s not a tutoring program, remember?
I have noticed other, smaller changes, though. Her confidence in math is slowly starting to improve and she’s extremely quick and accurate with her addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which does help avoid simple calculation errors on her regular school math assignments .
As mentioned before, Kumon has been around for over 50 years. A program that doesn’t deliver results wouldn’t survive that long. It’s important, to remember that individual results will vary and completing those daily assignments and staying on course is vital to your child’s success in the program.
Disclosure: I was provided 9 months of the Kumon math program for the purposes of this review. All opinions in this blog post are strictly my own.