Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kumon Review

Have you heard of Kumon?
If you google Kumon, no doubt you will come across a variety of opinions and reviews about this academic concept for helping students achieve in reading and mathematics.  Chances are there is a Kumon center near you (there are 26,138 centers worldwide).  

So, what is the approach and does it work?  Well, I have experienced it first hand for the last several months and definitely have some opinions on the matter.  Let's talk about what it is first.

What is Kumon?

Founded in Japan 1958. It is an after-school math and reading enrichment program. 
The Kumon curriculum is made up of more than 20 clearly defined skill levels for each subject and hundreds of short assignments spanning materials covered from preschool to college level. With each assignment, a child advances in small, manageable increments.

They claim Kumon Can Help A Child:
· Increase confidence
· Cultivate self-motivation
· Develop critical thinking & analytical skills
· Strengthen concentration
· Build problem-solving skills

Subjects Covered: Math and ReadingGrades Covered: Preschool to High school

My Thoughts (Kumon Review):
(Each center may be slightly different and my experience is based on a particular center in Hawaii) 

All Students begin at a comfortable starting point that is determined by a placement test. Being an educator, I felt reassured that the student is tested and then set up for success from the beginning.  The parent is also given a lot of information that is explained thoroughly.  They are told what to expect and what their role is.  And, yes parents, you do have quite a big role.

Kumon uses a “learn-by-doing” approach. So, a certain amount of worksheets are given to the student to complete during each session.  
I really liked the content of the worksheets.  They provide an example illustrating a concept to be learned with a simple exercise modeled after the example is given.   Each new assignment is slightly more challenging but the progression is gradual, focusing on speed and accuracy. This is where the parent part comes in.  **When your child is completing the daily assignment, you need to time them and correct the work.  This takes time getting used to the routine and requires discipline and consistency. The immediate correction is necessary for the student to be taking an active role in their learning.

Does Practice Makes Perfect?
I will admit at first I was confused.  You mean one has to pay money and drive their child to a center bi weekly to sit quietly and complete worksheets and then correct them.  Hmm....why are parents doing this?  I mean just pick up a workbook from Borders and you are done.   Practicing anything helps to make permanent (not necessarily perfect). I think that the workbook pages are not magical by any means, but what works is the program's value on commitment and repetition of material! It's the same reason why people join a gym to get fit, you have to consistently do the work and stay motivated to get better and see results. 
Don't get me wrong, I embrace a holistic approach when it comes to teaching.  But, I do see the value in having a child spend some time working with mathematical and reading concepts in an organized fashion that allows them to be independent and confident (especially in mathematics).  This method might complement a home school environment, where parents may be looking for structure for a short time twice a week.  

How will you measure success?

Some children progress very rapidly, while others might take a bit longer to fully grasp a certain concept.  I met children that progressed a few grade levels ahead in math and reading.  However, even though some students may progress faster than others, I think it would take about 6 months to start to see the academic benefits.  

Caution: Every child learns differently and this might not be the approach that works for your family.   No child should be sitting at a desk all day doing paper and pencil work, then Kumon, then homework, without being creatively stimulated.  I decided that this wasn't the best approach for my child and haven't gone back.  It's very easy and more comfortable for my family to practice concepts at home rather than driving somewhere to wait outside for an hour and know that she just sat their and no one hardly even spoke to her.
That being said, all of the parents and students that I encountered were pleased with the program. I also wanted to note that some children have to wait at schools for hours to be picked up after school by their patents.  Rather then those children sitting playing video games; kumon may be a good option for them.

Check out some success stories here!

How can I get more information?

Find a local Kumon Center near you to request more information. Schedule a visit with a local Kumon Instructor for you and your child. Call 877.586.6671 for additional Kumon information or to receive a Kumon brochure.


  1. I never heard of kumon before. Hope it's in my area b/c it sounds like it may fit us.

  2. We LOVE kumon!
    Thanks, Mrs. Greer

  3. We've had a lot of success with Kumon, as well. Great program and I recommend it to friends frequently!

  4. I've called two centers so far in my area. One did not answer - left a message. One said, 'Hello - what do you want?' Very unprofessional so far. Called the toll free number and received basically the same level of service.

  5. Don't waste your money!!!

  6. Kumon is not worth it... Even for math.... Such a rip-off

  7. We sent my son to Kumon for almost a year. They seem to start children at what seemed too easy... My guess is so that you will stick with the program longer before getting to more difficult levels.... Which means more money for them. Honestly, it is a waste of money... Between 100 and 200 dollars a month.... And all you get are worksheets to complete at home. While at the center, your child is completing the same worksheets, with little to no assistance or interactions from staff. You are better off printing worksheets from an educational website at home.

    1. Yes, they start kids easy. This is to ensure there are no holes in their grasp of the basics, and to give them a soft introduction to the Kumon routine. I found my kids whipped through the low levels quickly - about one a month. Then they got to the harder levels, and these took 4 months to a year to complete.

      It's not intended as a quick fix. If that's what you want, tutoring is better. Kumon is about laying a solid foundation. It worked for my stepson, who was failing Grade 8 math (marks in 40%s) because he never learned his multiplication tables. A year and a half of Kumon, and he is now a solid 80% student, even two years after leaving Kumon. He got the basics of multiplication/division that he needed to enable him to understand higher math.

  8. I have used an alternative to Kumon, Quipper Math. You should really try it, it is definitely the newest and most popular addition to outside study/tuition. It’s an app which your child can download and use on their iPhone or iPad and parents can see how their children are doing whenever they like. It definitely is a way to keep your children engaged because it is available on the iPhone or iPad, they think it is cool and more like a game when they actually improve their math skills and build math confidence.

    I was recommended it by a friend a couple of months ago whose children were using it to improve their math confidence and ability. My daughter Lily has now been using it for a month and never puts it down and i’ve already witnessed her improvement by looking at the progress reports Quipper Math provide me online and also by her class teachers. It really is impressive and it’ s only $14.99. When I joined I got a week’s free trial , which is really good as you can see how the product works and how it really does help your child, I think they may still offer a free trial so try it before it ends!

    So if you want a cheap and fun alternative to math study that your children will love because it is on the iPhone or iPad, try Quipper Math http://math2.quipper.com/

  9. I have been to Kumon for 3 years straight; And I find it not worth to go
    You have to pay 100-200 ( Each month and even if you're absent )
    I'm not increasing any confidence either
    At my Kumon I ask a few questions and the instructors ( Yes Teenagers; Some of them are quite rude! ) say this and that don't even make sense
    No breaks; You sit there and work to the finish and they expect you to understand it whether no instructions or not
    I DO NOT recommend Kumon; It is a rather rip-off
    ~ Former Student

    1. Thanks for sharing. Very honest.

  10. Kumon is amazing, but it is not for everyone. I find that it is moderately effective when the parents are not fully on board and can't implement Kumon well. It is amazingly effective if implemented properly.

    My son has done Kumon Math for 3 years now, and he went from being a C student in Grade 1, to being hands down the top math student in his entire elementary by Grade 4. My daughter has done Kumon Math for 2 years and is similarly impressing her teachers in Grade 2.

    Based on my experience, I would say the following about Kumon:

    1. It works if the parents follow the "Kumon way." This means diligently ensuring kids do their Kumon, and diligently marking the worksheets and making sure the kids do corrections. If you are not a systematic and consistent type, you will get only mediocre results.

    2. Parents need to be firm. Kids will resist and kick up a big fuss. Ineffective parents will find themselves caught in a lot of power struggles. Parents who are firm generally find the kids' resistance dies down and they may even start enjoying doing Kumon because they see the benefits. This year, I gave my kids the choice to quit and they chose to keep going. They love being academic superstars.

    3. There is no magic to Kumon. The worksheets are basic and can be duplicated by free online worksheets. What you are buying is a ready-made system. Yes, it can be duplicated, but the question is whether it's worth your time to do it, and whether you have the discipline to do it on your own.

    4. Rushing Kumon is counter-productive. Slow and steady wins this race. If kids start to struggle a lot, ease up. Yes, you pay a flat rate per month no matter how many worksheets they get. But forcing them to do more than they're comfortable with will likely slow them down in the end, as they put up huge resistance and get discouraged.

    5. Kumon is not a quick fix. If you want immediate help, try tutoring. Kumon is about laying a foundation for future success.

    6. Kumon is not about fostering creativity, but it may indirectly, the same way a master artist can do more than one that struggles with drawing or perspective. Or a top dancer can be more expressive than a dancer that still stumbles over her feet. Or an expert musician is more expressive than one still struggling to learn the notes. Kumon means technical mastery, which can lead to greater freedom and expression because it frees up most of the mind.

  11. I myself did Kumon as a child and do not recommend it for young persons unless they begin when they are very young (second or third grade). It is a business above all else and they insist on starting the kids at a very low level, which ensures they will get the most amount of time of the child using their business. This will take years for the child to get to a level that will actually help them with school work, if they not in the second or third grade.

    Also it is really nothing more than work sheets that are corrected, there is not any teaching and the same result could be found by having the child complete worksheets that can be downloaded off the internet for free.

  12. Three words: Waste of money.
    ..............at least the one in Woodbridge, NJ.

  13. We have 2 boys which love school and are lucky enough to have things come easy. Kumon has kept them challenged when school does not. I agree there is not as much time spent on theory as a normal math class so we have to explain a few things on the side and they see the topics get repeated in school anyway. After two years in Kumon we have a happy fifth grader doing algebra and third grader working their way through fraction addition/subtraction. And we never have to pull out a calculator during shopping when they are along. Not much I can complain about. :-)

  14. Hi:

    Have you tried http://www.lymboo.com ? It's an online alternative to Kumon. The curriculum is comprehensive, and the structure is designed to promote long-term retention. The assignments are rich in basic concepts, word problems, and critical thinking exercises. Every topic is broken in to easy to grasp concepts so that children can become independent learners. The website is very easy to use.

    Advantages over Kumon:

    1. Online - it's convenient. No grading by parents. All performance reports are available instantly online.
    2. Free diagnostic tests - determines where the students begins the program
    3. Daily assignments - requires almost full score and within recommended time limit
    4. Periodic spiral review assignments - to reinforce and retain what was learned earlier. Very important!
    5. Cost - fraction of Kumon!

    Check it out.

  15. My child has ADHD and eye/hand coordination issues. We are now getting her help in holding a pencil because this is still a real struggle for her. She was put through a battery of tests at CHOP at the age of 5 and we continue to follow up. However, at 5 we also started the Kumon program. This year she was recommended for both the gifted program and for occupational therapy for her grip and her eye hand coordination issues. THe laughable thing is that her school thinks they are the ones teaching her. THey are not. We parents and the Kumon center are providing her her excellent education. I honestly believe that she is exceptional but she also has learning disabilities. Because I am an educator and taught alternative school for a number of years, I was perfectly willing to do the tough loving necessary to give our daughter a good education--to do whatever it took to get through the obstacles so that her exceptionality could be accessed. She is so proud of herself now. Bottom Line: We--her Kumon teachers and her parents--have had to be the bad guys, so that school can be fun. She is getting two bronze Kumon medals this week. She's in the third grade, reads at a 6th grade level and is a math quiz! She no longer resents the program. She loves it. Parents, start be willing to be tough. Kids know when parents are doing it for their own good. Permissive parenting has trickled down and saturated the schools, weakening curriculums. When is this country going to wake up?

  16. Kumon is a bad place.They basically torture them. My child goes and his grades are not improving greatly.

  17. kumon is the best

  18. Kumon is the worst franchise to own here in the U.S. I quit a high paying job in Chicago in 2010 to start a Kumon learning center. Initially, everyone was friendly and painted rosy picture about the franchise. I went through the motions and finally got my center up and running after investing close to $120,000 in build-out, lease, furniture, training etc.

    No sooner started my Kumon learning center, I was asked to spend $4000 on advertising. I was told that I could advertise anywhere. So I did, only to get into the cross hairs of another Kumon learning center franchise owner. My signs were taken out, posters ripped etc. The Kumon office intervened and "I" was told not to advertise by the same people who told me to do so in the first place.

    The problem is that Kumon does not have assigned territories. So anytime a center can open anywhere even next door to you. It makes your Kumon center vulnerable to competition.

    The rent I pay is over $4000 per month with CAM extra. In the first 12 months I just had about 60 students, and by the end of 2 years I just had 110. I am deep in the red, and am worse off than I was with a high paying job that I quit. The royalties are about 35% of the tuition. Tuition is $100 per month. I would like to increase it but other Kumon franchisees seriously undercut me on the price that one can do nothing about.

    Older franchisees bad mouth newer franchisees like me claiming more Kumon experience and by putting some fake awards on their walls.

    Management at Kumon is in total disarray. My field support manager provides me with no support. She comes once in a while, looks around, smiles and leaves. The staff are poorly trained to support franchisees. You call up the Chicago branch office and you are sure that your call will never be answered or returned. At the instructor conference this year, I heard that the problem goes right to the top. Recently the President Akira Hamanaka and Executive Vice President Atsushi Nose were fired from Kumon North America. This happened after all franchisees were promised better days to come at the conference by the President and CFO.

    If you are reading this and are planning to open a Kumon learning center, take my advice and DO NOT invest your hard earned money in Kumon.
    - Kumon is an outdated program and has not changed in over 50 years. It does not match the school curriculum and is below school standards in the U.S.
    - Overall Kumon has a bad reputation among students and parents. Parents and students who quit the program usually never come back.
    - If you complain about your student numbers with the Kumon staff, they blame the franchisee saying that "it is your fault that your students are quitting you."
    - Older Kumon franchisees get a free pass. They can do whatever they want, even run a center from non-retail space.
    - Older Kumon franchisees bad mouth new franchisees like me.
    - There are no clearly assigned territories.
    - There is poor advertising support.
    - Management at Kumon is bad.
    - There is no quality control in other Kumon centers.
    - Royalties are very steep and margins slim to none.
    - Kumon staff are inept, poorly skilled, arrogant and condescending.
    - Worksheets similar to Kumon and of better quality are freely available on the internet.
    - Many parents have switched to online learning on advice from their school teachers.
    - Kumon has a bad reputation among Schools and School Teachers in the U.S.
    - There is no resale value for one's Kumon center. I have been trying to sell my center but I cannot even recoup 10% of my investment.
    - There are many, many better programs like EyeLevel, Aloha Math etc. which offer lower royalties and assigned territories.
    - Franchisees that I met all hate the management and staff at Kumon.
    - If you fall sick or are unable to run your center, the Kumon management will shut you down.

    My advice is DON'T OPEN a Kumon learning center even if you are sold about it. You will regret it just as badly as me.

  19. kumon is waste of money


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