If you’ve ever clicked through to my about page, you will see that on that page, I confess my previous, sordid source of income. My occupation took me to a cold and dank church hall twice a week. I even employed others, some of them barely teenagers, to help in my dastardly enterprise!
I ran a Kumon centre!
Now in some circles being a Kumon Instructor is tantamount to a sub criminal activity! Kumon seems to be something that people either love or hate. I’ve started answering questions on parenting forums and sometimes there are parent’s asking for a kumon review. The responses often go:
I hate it!
I hate it!
I love it!
I hate it!
I hate it!
So what’s my Kumon review after my time on the inside?
Whenever I read the pros and cons of the Kumon method, I agree with the moderate opinions on both sides; it’s not the answer to all maths problems but it’s not a rip-off or scam either!
However instead of providing an insider’s impartial Kumon review, here are my 8 things to hate about Kumon, along with, what you can learn and use from the Kumon method when tutoring your own child!
1) Kumon is expensive
$100 dollars or £50 a month isn’t cheap. (Yes Kumon is cheaper in the UK as there, the worksheets are marked by the parents.) It can buy a lot of fun math workbooks or a lot of printer ink to print off worksheets! However it’s cheap compared to $30/£20 for private tuition. Of course tutoring your child yourself is the least financially expensive option of all. Don’t have time to tutor your child yourself? When it comes to time, parents feel that sending their children to Kumon will save time, but when you factor in ferrying your child to the centre each week, tutoring your child yourself at home is a time saver as well.
2) Kumon instructors aren’t qualified maths teachers
Most Kumon instructors, although trained in the Kumon method, are not maths teachers. As a parent you may feel that because you’re not a qualified teacher or a mathematician, then you can’t tutor your own child, but Yes You Can! Who cares more about your child’s learning? In addition, learning alongside your child sets an amazingly positive example to your child!
3) Kumon instructors don’t teach
In fact instructors spend around a maximum of 10 minutes with each student each session. As a parent tutor, there will be times when you can tutor your child while preparing a meal. or running your business. Children love being independent, but not always when it comes to school work. We feel that it’s necessary to fill our children’s heads with information, but many times it’s better to encourage children to try to work things out by themselves with guidance where needed.
4) Kumon is repetitive and boring
In the Kumon method, children repeat the same worksheet up to 6 times. It is true that repeating helps kids get faster at their maths, practice does make perfect. Geoff Colvin in his book Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else claims that 10,000 hours of practice is needed in order to truly excel at something. The key here is to make the repetition interesting. Mix it up; use workbooks, drills, maths games, and videos.
5) Kumon is a franchise so results depend on which centre you study at
Different Kumon instructors have different personalities, some are very strict which is a problem if your child is sensitive and some are gentle which can be a problem if your child needs a firm hand! As your child’s tutor, you’re in the best position to judge your child’s changing moods and to devise a flexible program (e.g. we won’t do drills today, let’s play cards instead!)
6) Kumon doesn’t do (much) problem solving
Kumon does this so kids can focus on improving their arithmetic, which means when they come across a maths problem, the arithmetic part of the question will be easy. Of course, as your child’s tutor you can also cover the important skill of problem solving.
7) Kumon uses different methods from those used at school
In maths, there can be many different ways to solve problems. Of course it makes sense to follow the methods your child’s school uses, but also looking at other techniques will help your child when faced with different maths problems.
8 ) Kumon turns out arithmeticians not mathematicians
The Kumon method doesn’t cover telling the time, data handling, maths investigations, or (much geometry) but Kumon students will be fast at arithmetic. This in turn improves children’s maths confidence. Make sure that your child’s arithmetic is strong which in turn will support their learning in the other areas of mathematics.
If you’re a parent trying to make the decision about whether Kumon is right for your family? Check out Maths Insider’s Ultimate Kumon Review.
So tell me, do you still hate Kumon?
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