8 Things to Love About Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor)


By far the most popular post on Maths insider is my post,  8 Things to Hate About Kumon! As a former Kumon instructor who now works as an instructor with Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) I’m writing this post to give a unique perspective as someone who has worked for both companies.

At Thinkster Math I look after many, many ex-Kumon students including a family with 4 kids who switched from Kumon so that their children could explore the wider curriculum that Thinkster Math offers. So whether your kids are currently doing Kumon, another math program or you’re just starting to look into math programs to support your child’s math, let me share with you the 8 things to love about Thinkster Math.

1. Thinkster is great value

Thinkster Math pricing compares brilliantly to Kumon, Mathnasium and personal tutors. Prices start from $60 per month which includes one-on-one math coaching as well as unlimited worksheets.

More details here

And don’t forget there’s also the cost of your time as the parent who has to take your child to the tutor/learning center each week.

2. Thinkster Math Instructors are qualified teachers

Thinkster Math actually uses qualified educators. I’m a Cambridge University educated qualified high school math teacher and many Thinkster Math instructor have spent many years as teachers. Kumon prioritises business experience over teaching experience when it comes to choosing franchisees to run their centers. Thinkster Math focuses on math teaching experience and ability.

3. Thinkster Math actually teaches your child

The Thinkster Math program contains built-in instruction videos for each topic – not just a few written examples. Step by step solutions are also shared when students get questions wrong. Students have regular one to one tutoring sessions so that their tutor can review questions they got wrong with them, introduce any tricky concepts in the upcoming worksheets or even help with school homework.

4. Thinkster Math offers a broad and varied curriculum

Thinkster Math’s world-class curriculum is based on Singapore Math and other world-class curricula. It is then customized for each country according to the state/provincial standards. As a result it contains a confidence building mix of arithmetic, word problems and logic problems to build important skills for future mathematicians

5. Thinkster Math takes personalization seriously

Thinkster Math is a US based company with instructors around the world but our work is overseen by senior staff who we meet with regularly online and are available to help instructors, parents and students alike. Also, Academic Advisors take care to match new Thinkster Math families with instructors based on their specific needs. In the rare cases where parents want to change instructors, they can do so quickly and easily.

6. Problem solving is at the core of the Thinkster Math program


Most students join Thinkster Math with weak problem solving skills, even if they are strong at math in general. Problem solving is so important when it comes to math. Computers are able to process numbers far more quickly and more accurately than humans can, and those who have strong problem solving skills will be the ones in demand in the workplace. Thinkster Math puts problem solving at the core of it’s curriculum, including basic problem solving even in it’s Kindergarten worksheets.

7. Thinkster Math supports and extends kids school math

Thinkster Math worksheets use the math methods and techniques which have been proven to lead to a deeper understanding of math. With 1000’s of worksheets available, Instructors able able to build a specially tailored study plan to support and extend the student’s school math learning.

8. Thinkster Math builds mathematicians not just arithmeticians

If you put a Kumon student head to head with a Thinkster Math student and give them 100 arithmetic questions – the Kumon student will win (the Thinkster Math student will still be ahead of the rest of the class though).

However – if you give a Kumon student a series of logic or problem solving questions – the Thinkster Math student will come out top.

One of my Thinkster Math students was lamenting that in the weekly timed times tables tests at school he always finishes in 3rd place, slightly behind the Kumon kids. I offered to add in some concentrated times tables worksheets into his worksheet queue, even though we had moved beyond that stage in the curriculum, but he said, “No thank you Caroline. My teacher actually said that everyone in the class needs a lot of practice with word problems except me – so I don’t mind continuing with the work you’ve given me!”

Read more about  Kumon and Thinkster Math:

8 Things to Hate about Kumon – A Review

About Kumon The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Is Thinkster Math a Real Alternative to Kumon?

Learn These Math Skills First!

Which math skills does my child need to learn first?

“How can he be 13 years old and not know long division? How did that happen?”

That was an actual quote from a distraught parent whose child had just done “not so well” on the Diagnostic Test that Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) gives to all new students. It’s often the case that students struggle with a topic because they’ve either not had the chance to practice easier concepts or missed learning an easier concept entirely. So for this student, it may be that his times tables recall is weak or he’s making mistakes in subtraction or he just hasn’t learnt how to set out his log division work.

Math, like reading needs to build up from strong foundations.

Find out which foundationnmath skills your child should learn first with this video. The transcript of the video is also below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube “complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and today I am going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader which is, “Which math skills, and how to know which math skills my child needs to learn first?”

A logical order of math skills

So I’ll just briefly go over the kind of math skills that kids need to know. So they basically need to know how to count, then add, then subtract and then multiply and then divide and then work with fractions and then with decimals and then how to use all the skills with algebra. So it sounds really simple, but the school curriculum kind of chops and changes so they make sure they do simple addition in one school year and then they do harder addition the next school year and then they do double digit addition the next school year and triple digit addition the next school year and then they might introduce the times table this school year while they are still doing double digit addition, but they introduce it as number sequences and then they’ll do the times tables.



So it’s no wonder that parents get confused, because after they’ve done the times table they’re going to do short multiplication and then they’re going to do long multiplication and then another year they are going to repeat the short multiplication as an introduction to long multiplication and so parents can be left thinking “What are they doing?” They’ve been doing multiplication for ever and you know that is true.

How Kumon Does the Math

A program like Kumon, what they do, they do, they basically do addition, addition, addition, 1 digit, 2 digit, 3 digit, 4 digit, yes they add and then subtract, well  they do addition and subtraction together, a bit of addition  a bit of subtraction, a bit of addition a bit of subtraction and then only after addition and subtraction are perfect for like 4 digits, plus 4 digits, and 4 digits, take away 4 digits, do they do the multiplication tables and then once they know those then they do the division facts and then short multiplication, short division, long multiplication, long division and so that’s how come Kumon students are able to seemingly move forward very quickly whilst the school will be doing all these things in a broken up way because then they have also fit in shapes and measurements and time and angles and all the other things that the curriculum decides. 

A Math Skills Strategy

But how does this help you as a parent when your child comes home with for example a question on dividing fractions?  So when I first meet a new student and the parents say they’re stuck on dividing fractions, first of all I want to know do they know their times tables. Well actually I want to know can they add and also subtract but it’s kind of more polite to say, “Do you know your times tables?” especially when you’re talking to a child who maybe 12 or 13 years old and often times they are really hesitant, they don’t know them. It is not a case of being really fast, a fraction of a second, they must know the answer straight away, but they should be able to give you the answer within a few seconds and not panic. So in order to access that dividing by fractions, they are going to need to be able to work with the times tables relatively quickly and relatively comfortably, so it is a case of making sure all the foundation skills are built up. So if you do have your child coming to you with a question to do with fractions make sure they do know their times tables and also before that make sure they do know their addition and subtraction fact relatively easy and not having to count on their fingers and their toes and your fingers and your toes. So it is actually worth taking the time out to do that.

Don’t skip the basic math

Often times I have parents who starts working with me and I start working with their child and they said well, they need to know their times tables which is fine I can give them lots of time tables practice, but actually they do need to be able to do the column subtraction because later on when they are doing  long division they’re going need to be able to subtract easily and accurately and times tables aren’t  actually that difficult to learn, they just need a concentrated amount of time and they don’t even need to be quick, quick, quick as I said before.  It’s the case to get the 4 times table, double and double it again and figuring out. Give your child the tools if they can’t memorize them then give them the tools to be able to get answers so that when later on they’re doing the long division, they are not having to count on to figure out how many times does four goes into 28. Then also they’ve got the problem they can’t subtract accurately, so they are making mistakes when they have to do the subtraction bit of the long division. So it is very important to make sure your child has all their foundational skills and it’s not that they have to be super speedy, that’s great if they can be, but they just need to be comfortable. 

Guide Your Child to LONG TERM Math Success!

Have you ever worried that your child is under-achieving in math?

Whether your child is struggling with their math; your child seems to be “doing fine” in math class or your child is “top of the class” in math; as a parent, you’ve likely paused many a time to wonder if everything will be OK in the end when it comes your child’s math.

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In fact, education research does show that student success in school increases if their parents are positively involved in their education.

Yes, your efforts count and it’s backed by solid data and experience!

However, it’s often difficult to know where to start and even worse, how you’re going to know if your efforts will pay off in the end. How can you make sure that your child will achieve LONG TERM Math success?

I’ve heard this concern from hundreds of parents over the years, so to tackle this important question, I’ve developed a free video series giving you 4 steps that you can use to guide your child to LONG-TERM math success.

Guide Your Child to Long-Term Math Success

How to Guide Your Child to Long-Term Math Success in 4 Steps

LONG TERM Math Success

IN THIS FREE training series you’ll learn:

  • Why you are the best person to oversee your child’s math learning (even if you are paying for a math program)
  • How I turn “I hate math!” into “I want to do more math!”
  • How to save time and money when you take control of your child’s math learning (even if you decide to use paid resources)
  • How to organize your child’s math learning

and much more!

When you watch it, you’ll also receive the rest of the videos in this series over the next few days…

Go check it out now and see for yourself. Soon I’ll release the second video in the free training series and I want to make sure you have the chance to go through it all!

Click here to access the free video training series: How to Guide Your Child to Long-Term Math Success in 4 Steps.

How Can I Help You Help Your Child With Math?


It’s been over 2 years since I blogged here on Maths Insider! So the first thing I’ll say is I’m sorry! I’ve still been connecting with Maths Insider readers through my Maths Insider Facebook page but have neglected those of you who have been coming over here for advice on helping your child with math.

So what has Maths Insider been up to for the past 2 years?

1) Working with Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor)

For the past 2 years,I’ve been Thinkster Math‘s instructor for International students looking after families everywhere from the UK to Europe to Asia and lots and lots of Thinkster Math families in Australia and a few in New Zealand. Thinkster Math approached me after I reviewed the Thinkster Math program here on Maths Insider. As a Thinkster Math Instructor, I’ve been helping families guide their children to math success using Thinkster Math’s iPad based system.

2) Homeschooling!

The other thing I’ve been doing is I’ve started homeschooling one of my four kids. I’ve been homeschooling my 8 year old son for the past year and am pleased to announce that we’ve both survived our first year of homeschooling! The math has been straight forward thanks to Thinkster Math and another cool math resource that I’ll talk more about later, but finding out how to guide my child to homeschool success in English, History, Geography etc has put me in the position of being an anxious parent searching Google, blogs and Facebook pages to find that secret sauce. All this searching has made me realise that a blog such as Maths Insider is still a valuable resource which I need to keep adding to.

The Maths Insider legacy still continued

During my blogging hiatus:

Teachers and parents have still been downloading the 21 Seriously Cool Careers that Need Math resource to give kids math inspiration.

Families have read my eBook – The Ultimate Kumon Review and have been able to find out if the Kumon programme is right for their child.

I’ve also had people joining the 31 Days to Faster Times Tables membership site and using the worksheets, audio and video guides to get their kids over the Times Tables hurdle.

About Kumon

And I’m back!

Over the next month I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look at the Thinkster Math program, so you can see what tools I’ve been using there to help kids improve their math. I’ll also show you exactly how to use Thinkster Math’s 1 week free trial to identify your child’s math strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve got a blog post in my drafts box about Girls and Math Under-Confidence. It’s based on academic research and also on my daughter’s personal experience, as well as on my experience as an math educator for the past 20 years.

I’m bursting to write a review post about Life of Fred Math because it really is quite the most quirky, wonderful and inspirational series of math textbooks I’ve ever come across.

I’m also toying with the idea of writing about my experience as a Kumon franchisee. I get lots of queries from people who are interested in running a Kumon center, so an in-depth and honest post  on the topic seems to be needed.

Over to you!

When I grow up I'm gonna invent a machine that eliminates all math homework

Apart from these ideas, I’d love to hear what questions you have about guiding your child to math success!

You can add your question here, in the comments, below this post or email me directly at caroline@mathsinsider.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Holiday Math and More


If you’ve read my Thinkster Math vs Kumon blog post a few months back, you’ll know that I’ve been working with Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor), the personalized iPad based math program. I’m Thinkster Math’s instructor for many of their international students, and I’m also recording instructional videos which accompany each of the Thinkster Math worksheets as well as writing articles for their blog.

As a result, It’s been a bit quiet here at Maths Insider but after the holiday I’ll hopefully be back here with a vengeance.

I’ve still got plenty of ideas to share with you on Maths Insider over the next few months but in the meantime, here are some of the articles I’ve written recently over at the Thinkster Math  blog about holiday math, Kumon and Thinkster Math:

Want to Give Your Child a Math Boost this Holiday Season? Here’s How!

Fun, family, festivity and math? Believe it or not, the winter holiday period is the perfect time to give your child a boost in their math. Take a look at these 8 practical ideas to keep your child’s math skills fresh this holiday season………..


Advice from an ex Kumon parent

We’ve been asking our Thinkster Math parents to give us feedback on the program. This is the text of an email that one new Thinkster Math parent sent us last week……..

Yes, America Agrees! Math is the Most Important Subject of All

Tabtor holiday math

Math has never been seen as the coolest subject on the block, with math lovers being called geeks, nerds and worse! However, there’s no escaping the fact, even amongst the haters, that knowing your 1, 2, 3’s and your X,Y,Z’s is important.

And America agrees!

This week Gallup released the results of a poll which asked,

“Which school subject has been most valuable to you in your life”……….

Thinkster Math vs Kumon. An Insider’s Perspective.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my Maths Insider blog comparing Thinkster Math to Kumon Math. I used to run my own Kumon centre in the UK and 2 of my own children worked through the Kumon program for several years, so I’m in a unique position to compare Thinkster Math’ innovative math program with the well established Kumon program……..

Naturally the articles above are all written to promote Thinkster Math, but I hope you’ll find plenty of helpful information in them to help support your child’s math.

Is Thinkster Math a Real Alternative to Kumon?


Each month thousands of people come to the Maths Insider blog looking for unbiased information about Kumon. When it comes to math tuition, Kumon have cornered the market for center based tuition, but if the high cost and the mixed reviews from parents and teachers alike have you searching for an effective alternative, then Thinkster Math could be exactly what you’re looking for.

About Thinkster Math

Thinkster Math is an online program which, like Kumon, offers an individualized K -Grade 8 math program, except using digital worksheets and video tutorials. One of the major added benefits of Thinkster Math is that a real life math tutor not only checks over your child’s work, but provides feedback to you weekly about their progress. The Thinkster Math content is aligned to the Common Core which all states in the USA use in their math programs. It’s also based on the Singapore Math program which is one of the world’s most respected math program. There are also worksheets tailored for the UK and  Australian curricula.

Tutor feedback tight shot

I tested the Thinkster Math program for 2 weeks with my 6 and 12 years olds. Initially I was cynical, as to how Thinkster Math would be any different from the thousands of math apps available, but my kids are used to being guinea pigs for testing out new math programs, and the fact that they could do their work on an iPad while slouching around the house really appealed to them.

How Thinkster Math worked out

After signing up and my kids doing their diagnostic tests, a welcome email from my kids Thinkster Math tutor landed in my inbox giving me some insightful feedback on their tests and inviting me to connect on Skype to discuss my kids study plans. Cool! Throughout the trial any questions I had about Thinkster Math and my kids work were answered quickly and efficiently. It was obvious that my kids Thinkster Math tutor was personally overseeing their work and making adjustments to their study plan when needed. [edit: The Thinkster Math program now also offers one-to one coaching sessions with experienced math coaches]


Being a busy mom, I didn’t read all the detailed instructions on how to use Thinkster Math, but the simple interface on the iPad made it easy for my kids to work it out for themselves. I was worried that the lack of game play and avatars that many online math programs and apps have, would be a turn-off for my kids, but there are a few unexpectedly simple things that my kids liked about Thinkster Math: 

  • they seemed satisfied with the simple audio and big tick that announced a correct answer,

  • they loved the second chance they got if they got the answer wrong first time and the chance to go back and try questions they’d missed out.

  • they appreciated the immediate feedback that the app gave at the end of the worksheet,

  • they liked the personal feedback from the tutor the next day after she’d reviewed the work,

  • my 6 year old also loved the detailed breakdown of how long it took to answer each question, looking to see his fastest time! 

My kids didn’t use this, but there’s the ability to “flag” a question so that they can get more detailed feedback and help on that particular question.


Other things we liked about Thinkster Math

Our Thinkster Math tutor spotted that although he’d got all the questions correct, my older son had used an over-long method, and suggested he watched the video tutorial before the next worksheet. Also she could see that my younger one did know his number sequences, even though he got the last few wrong, because he wanted to go out to play and just typed random numbers to get the worksheet finished! The things that make Thinkster Math a good alternative the Kumon are:

  • No marking your kids work, the system does it

  • The clear video tutorials that your child can watch if they want

  • It’s half the price of Kumon

  • No traveling to a center (Yay!)

  • Thinkster Math covers the whole math curriculum including problem solving. Math is more than just arithmetic and algebra

  • The flexibility to discuss and change the study plan

  • A real math tutor to guide your child through the program, way cheaper than the $30+ per hour for a private tutor and $80 per hour at a specialized learning center

  • A system that tracks the speed of work to show your child’s confidence level for every question, just as teacher observes students in class

  • The individualized but flexible study plan based on your child’s actual work as well as on their results



Thinkster Math free trial

Thinkster Math offers a 1 week trial, which is definitely worth checking out if you have a 5 – 14 year old. Over that 1 week period you’d get a pretty good idea whether Thinkster Math would suit your child’s learning style. After the free trial Thinkster Math plans start from $60. To grab your free trial click here 


Disclosure: After writing this Thinkster Math review, I was invited to join the Thinkster Math team as a part time instructor. (I might even be your child’s Thinkster Math instructor if you sign up from Europe) After seeing behind the scenes of the Thinkster Math system I’m even more impressed, but I’ll still be continuing to share plenty of other cool math ideas and resources here on Maths Insider!  

Click here to grab your FREE 13 page sampler of The Ultimate Kumon Review

The Ultimate Kumon Review Without the Kindle Worry


Yesterday was a busy day.

At the start of the day, I knew I had to drop my 4 kids at 2 different schools 20-rush-hour-traffic-on-the-highway-minutes apart from each other. But that was usual for a Monday morning, and although the school bus would normally be kind enough to drop the older 2 home, I knew that my daughter really wanted to play in her soccer match another 15 -rush-hour-traffic-on-the-highway-minutes, after school, with all the younger kids in tow.

I was mentally prepared.

Except when aforemenentioned daughter announces half way into our 20-rush-hour-traffic-on-the-highway-minutes journey, that she left her Chemistry book at home and REALLY needs it. Well there’s no turning back, and since she had the good grace to bring home an A in Chemistry in her mid year school report last week, I silently wept as I mentally crossed off an hour of “me time” from my morning calendar.

The 3 different times for the afternoon pick up went well and I even managed to deprive my kids of Mr HotDog by quickly throwing together a chicken pasta bake for them to eat out of plastic containers in the car on the 15 -rush-hour-traffic-on-the-highway-minutes after school journey t0 the soccer pitch.

I survived the day, her team won the match, and we got home in time to get the little two to bed at a later, but still decent hour. But it wasn’t the kind of day where I would have had time to sit down and research the family holiday, or how to support my kids weaknesses, or do a workout or any of the other gazillion things that busy parents need to do.

And I know that a lot of parents want to buy The Ultimate Kumon Review but don’t have the Kindle App on their iPhone, Android phone, tablet, or computer and were having one of those day’s, week’s, year’s where it just was not going to happen.

So since today is a much quieter day, I’ve finally put The Ultimate Kumon Review for sale as a PDF copy that you can read instantly (or save it for later) on any device. It’s exactly the same as the Kindle version and it costs the same $2.99 (or whatever that converts to in your currency). Here’s a screenshot of what one amazon customer had to say about the book.

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If you want to join the over 400 people (yes, I also finally got round to totalling my sales as well) who’ve used The Ultimate Kumon Review to help them decide if the Kumon program is right for their child, then of course you can still click through to buy the Kindle version on the Amazon.com Kindle Bookstore or the Amazon.co.uk Kindle Bookstore or if you don’t have the mental energy to figure this whole Kindle thing out, you can now buy a PDF version of The Ultimate Kumon Review directly from Maths Insider which you can read on your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop without needing any extra software.

That’s one more thing you can cross off your to-do list.

Top Maths Insider Posts 2012 (and how may I help you in 2013)


Hope you’re having an amazing start to 2013! If helping your child develop a love of math is high on your list of things to get done this year, then I’d love to help you achieve this through my posts here on Maths Insider. What topics would you like to see covered in the year ahead? To give you some ideas, here are the Top 10 posts that Maths Insider readers flocked to in 2012:

Top 10 Maths Insider posts of 2012

1) 8 Things to Hate about Kumon – A Review 48,724 views

Still at the top of the list since I wrote this post back in 2010! Kumon is the largest after school math profgram in the world and therefore it’s no surprise that parents are either looking for some feedback on the program before they enrol their child, or wondering if it’s worth continuing once their child has been on the program for a while. As a ex Kumon instructor I shed some light on the negative (and some of the positive!) aspects of Kumon.

2) 10 Seriously Cool Careers That Need Maths – 26,139 views

One of my personal favorites and great to see that Maths Insider readers are as excited about how math can lead to some seriously cool careers. Also check out the link in that post to the free “share to get” full color booklet 21 Seriously Cool Careers That Need Math for some seriously cool math inspiration.

3) About Kumon – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – 23,730 views

More Kumon revelations. This time I start with the good points about Kumon (2 of my own kids were on the program for several years – it ain’t all bad!) but then also highlight some of the important aspects that can cause problems (I’ve even had an instructor email me privately to say that they agree with both the positives and negatives) For those of you whose children are doing the Kumon math program, do you agree with me?

4) 16 Cool iPad Math Apps (That Your Child Might Actually Love!) – 11,564 views

It’s hard to believe that the iPad is less then 3 years old! With thousands of Math apps of varying qualities on the App store, this post highlight my pick of the best. Don’t forget to check out my post about my very favorite math app Dragon Box.

5) 24 Short and Sweet Preschool Maths Activities. – 11,229 views

I’m a big fan of anything that makes math fun, especially for younger kids. I’m not one to send time making resources, but will happily spend a few minutes making and cutting up numbers cards for a quick game of hide the numbers or log on to a kids website for some math videos and games. You’ll find some other nice and simple activities in this post.

6) The Ultimate Kumon Review – 9,603 views

My first published book on Amazon (in a recent Amazon recommends email, they even suggested I may be interested in buying my own book!) In The Ultimate Kumon Review I spill the beans on what kind of families I think the Kumon program works for and which families it doesn’t (yes it’s not just do do with the child) The questionnaire at the end of the book will help parents decide if the Kumon program is right for their child.

7) No! No! No! No! Don’t Let your Child Finger Count! – 8,500 views

A controversial post again written in 2010, but still popular as ever with parents who are anxious about their child’s finger counting. I’m actually not so militant about this topic these days but there’s no getting away from the fact that whether it’s used as a crutch or because a child really can’t work out the answer, finger-counting is something that can be replaced  by other strategies.

8) Who else wants their child to be lightening fast at mental maths? – Introduction – 6,655 views

 Ironically, this post is based on the idea of slow increments and mastery which are the foundations of the Kumon program. Find out how to build your own mental arithmetic routine with your child in this post and the 2 videos linked to in the post.

9) 13 Cool, Beautiful and Inspirational Math Quotes – 5,961 views

More math inspiration! I fired up Powerpoint on my laptop and with limited artistic skills took some cool math quotes and some cool fonts and backgrounds and produced this math-eye-candy post. Which is your favorite quote?

10) Have You Seen These 8 High Quality, Free Maths Websites? – 5,504 views

Everyone loves a bargain, even when it comes to math resources. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to high quality online math programs, but the websites in this post offer some great free options.

Tell me what you think!

So tell me, which are your favorite posts on Maths Insider? What can I help you with in 2013? Tell me in the comments below, hit the Contact buton at the top of the page or if  you’re a subscriber reading this in your inbox, don’t be shy, hit reply and tell me how I can help your child love math in 2013!

Your Child Hates Kumon? Try This

I got this interesting question from a Maths Insider reader, about Kumon:

Hi came across your site and would like to thank you for this. I have a 5 year old boy in reception class who also attends Kumon. He has been doing Kumon now for 8 months. I find it very difficult to get him motivated to do his Kumon intially this was not a problem but for the last 3 months I feel he has become very bored. He has started addition on the +1 and if in the mood can complete this in a matter of minutes but when not in the mood which is now most of the time it can take upto 45 mins but we normally stop him after 15 mins as advice given by kumon instructor. The Kumon instructor has now taken him back to repeat previous number worksheets to improve his handwriting. This worksheet is v easy for him. I have had a chat with the instructor and raised my concerns but he has told me that he needs to get his handwriting correct before he can move on. His handwriting can be good  when he wants it to be but when he is bored his handwriting suffers.

What do you think should I stick at it or what I am now really frustrated. Please help.


Thanks for your question, I know how difficult it can be being a Kumon parent, it wasn’t much easier for me even though I was an instructor and knew the system inside out! However based on my experiences as a Kumon instructor, a Kumon parent (my youngest started Kumon at 3 years old) and the articles I’ve been reading about maths education since starting Maths Insider, there are 4 different options:

1) Stop Kumon

Creative Commons License photo credit: Afroswede

Stopping the Kumon would be the easy option, No more complaining from your son, no more marking those workbooks and no more fees to pay out. However since it’s likely you started your son on Kumon to support and or extend his maths learning then you’d want to replace it with something else. If you do 10 – 15 mins a day of maths practice using workbooks from the bookstore, an online maths program (I like Maths Whizz) or practical maths games this will help your son do well at maths.If you want the lightening fast arithmetic, you’ll need to replicate the 100 arithmetic questions or so each day, although doing these orally or on a computer may be more appealing. Also by not doing Kumon, there’ll be more time for your son to work on his problem solving skills (which Kumon does very little of)

2) Follow the Kumon instructors advice

Creative Commons License photo credit: Frodrig

Moving your child back to an easier level is a standard Kumon strategy. It does actually work. The idea behind it is to give your son easy work again so that he can rebuild his confidence (and in your son’s case improve his handwriting) My own son, and many other young Kumon students (particularly boys) have the same problem; their calculation skills are more advanced than their writing skills. It’s tiring for a 5 year old to be gripping a pencil, especially if he’s been writing all day at school as well. You may find that the writing fatigue won’t be such a problem during the summer holidays since he’ll be writing less. If your son is tolerating the easier work and making progress with it, then it’s a good idea to go with it. In the meantime, you can help your son to overcome writing fatigue by getting him to do more with his hands – no , not more writing, but practical activities which will exercise his hand and wrist muscles such as Play Doh, model building, cutting out, Lego.

3) Insist he stays at the same Kumon level

photo credit: buzzybee

This is what most parents would want. When my son was 5 years old and found the writing part of the Kumon hard, I kept him at the same level, even though he once took over an hour on a 10 minute worksheet. I never advised other Kumon parents to do that, but with my own child I thought it would be different. Big mistake! It worked in that it only took a week or two for him to reach the target time, but it was a miserable 2 weeks for both of us. If you do want him to stay on the same level, I suggest you ditch the pencil and do the worksheets orally, with you writing the answers, or even, do it so that your son writes 1 page, then you write the next. This should only be done for a few weeks, and your instructor would probably want to give him the same sheets again to make sure that he was able to finish them on time.

4) Take a break from Kumon

Creative Commons License photo credit: loungerie

You could just take a break from Kumon. It used to be the case that you could take up to 3 months off without having to pay the registration fee again, I’m not sure if this is still the case. You could spend the time doing workbooks, an online maths program, maths games, lego, play-doh. However when your son returns to Kumon, he’d likely be doing the number practice workbooks again (but hopefully whizzing through them!)

I’ve given you 4 realistic options, each of which has a positive and a negative, but each should have the end result of helping your son do well with his maths. It’s up to you to choose which one would work best for you and your family. If you do stick with the Kumon, and it certainly is a program that works in the long term, then do take time to do some practical maths with your son, even just once a week or so, just so he knows that there’s more to maths than fast arithmetic. I hope this helps!

Are you a Kumon parent? What do you do when your child complains about Kumon? Tell me in the comments below!

Thinking of enrolling your child on the Kumon program? For the low-down on this popular after-school program check out The Ultimate Kumon Review

Want an alternative to Kumon? Read my post Is Thinkster Math a Real Alternative to Kumon?

The Kumon Interviews: Would Kumon Work for Your Child?


At the start of the school year, parent’s attention starts to focus on ways to help their children make the most of the academic year.  When it comes to after school maths programs Kumon with 4 million students currently studying their maths and reading programs is LARGE!

Recently, while researching what makes  Kumon work well for some families and not so well for others, I had the pleasure of interviewing people who have had experience of the Kumon program. See what people are saying about Kumon in the extracts from 3 of the interviews below!

Andrew Schrage is the Editor of the Money Crashers personal finance site and studied on the Kumon program for 10 years as a child.

Josie Daga runs a website selling used wedding dresses and had 2 children studying on the Kumon program.

Jacquie Lewis-Kemp’s son started the Kumon program when he was in Kindergarten. She is the author of the book Blessed Assurance: Success Despite the Odds

Dr. Mary Mokris is the Education Specialist for Kumon North America.

1) Do you think the Kumon program improves mental maths skills?

774 - Neuron Connection - Pattern Creative Commons License photo credit: Patrick Hoesly

Andrew: Yes, my mental math skills are very good and are often superior to other people who may be excellent at math, but are slower, especially when it comes to quick division or multiplication questions (or those brain teaser games that test speed on smartphones).

Josie: I actually thought the “Kumon method” would be detrimental to him.  He would know 2+1 = 3, but would not understand the “why”

Dr Mary:Kumon improves a child’s mental math skills with daily practice. The short 15-30 minute assignments help student gain focus, concentration and problem-solving ability. Each Kumon assignment builds on to the next one, developing a child’s math comprehension

2) Does Kumon help with school maths?

Pencils and Moleskines 04 Creative Commons License photo credit: Paul Worthington

Andrew: I did do well at math at school.  There was certainly a point, however, where Kumon (probably because I didn’t make it to the end) stopped helping me as much as the math level in school became very advanced. My current job, as editor and contributor at Money Crashers, involves math to the point that we try to explain financial concepts in simple-to-understand terms, which often involve mathematical examples.  For example, trying to use helpful examples when explaining call and put stock options.  I also use math just to understand basic business and economic events, which I also sometimes apply to our stories. I even use it when I’m shopping and trying to implement extreme couponing, to figure out which coupons I can use and how much I will save.

Jacqui: The benefit in the classroom was that he always did math homework first because it was something he knew he could complete quickly and perfect.

Josie: My son was essentially memorizing.  1+1 = 2, 2+ 1= 3 etc.  Not the way he learns math in school with number lines, graphic representation, and 10 frames.

Dr Mary: Kumon helps children succeed in school math because of their improved study habits, confidence, and self-esteem. Math, like any subject, requires practice, and at Kumon students practice their math ability daily and develop their capabilities to the fullest extent to prepare them for high school, college, and beyond, so that they can be global players in the marketplace.

3) Is it true that Kumon is boring?

Dreamer Creative Commons License photo credit: Lutz-R. Frank

Andrew:  Yes, I did definitely find the repetition boring.  But, at the same time, my improvement was extremely exciting.  As I got better and better, it became less and less boring.

Jacqui: Great question! Yes, he found it boring many times. His grandparents even tried to talk us out of it because he “hated” it so. We insisted he continue–we never told him when the end would be, we didn’t know when the end would come. Our son later thanked us as he noticed himself excelling in high school, after Kumon was over.

Josie: Yes! Im a mother of 2 who used Kumon math but then stopped.  Dissatisfied.

Dr Mary: You’ll have to interview our North American students, however, I’ve worked in Kumon for more than 12 years now – and have traveled to many countries around the world – and kids from New York to the Philippines are children, and naturally, at times, would rather be outside playing than studying.

4) What do you think are the characteristics of a successful Kumon family?

Family photo Creative Commons License photo credit: – Annetta –

Andrew: I would say hard working and determined. If you can’t stick with it and stay disciplined, it’s not the right program for you.  You have to be willing to overcome challenges and obstacles along the way.

Jacqui: Routine and work ethic. To create an expectation of “extra work”

Dr Mary: Kumon is extra work, and requires discipline and daily praise and support from parents. Since much of the work is completed at home, parent involvement is critical to a child’s success in Kumon. Kumon’s academic enrichment program is integrated into the daily family routine so students can grow and nurture their natural ability.

So tell me what you think! Is Kumon boring? Does it help with school maths?

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