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We have enrolled our 6 year old daughter in the Kumon tutoring service for maths since November 2015, and at first she enjoyed it, completing the worksheets well and seeming to really understand her mathematics. We then started her English a few months ago, and again, she started well, enjoying it.

However in the past month or so, she's stopped enjoying it, finding it harder, and losing concentration with it, making silly mistakes in the process. She's losing her passion for Kumon, and it seems to be extending to learning in general. She's also not being actively taught in class, and she recently started column addition, but really struggled, meaning we had to go through it with her.

We try not to put any pressure on her, and only really complain about her results when it seems as if she's not put effort into the work, which recently is becoming more and more common.

We were thinking about stopping it, as if she's not enjoying it, we're worried about the impact it might have on her learning. We've also spoken to another parent that started it with their daughter, and they've now stopped it, because they thought it was stopping the passion and creativity for her, so we think it might be something that doesn't help for some children.

We were thinking it might be better to start a one to one tutor instead, as there's more teaching involved (which is kept to a minimum in Kumon), and it may help keep her creativity and passion for education.

Has anyone used Kumon? And do you think it's better or worse than a private tutor?

  • you said, "meaning we had to go through it with her" like you were doing something you shouldn't have had to do. Why is that? How deeply and directly are you involved in the education of your daughter? – JJones-Jr. Aug 7 '16 at 16:44
  • Never heard of Kumon. Got a link? – A E Aug 10 '16 at 1:58
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    @J Jones-Jr. I meant that we're having to show her how to complete column addition booklets that she's been given. We are very involved with her education, spending at least 45 mins each night improving her writing, spelling, maths etc. I don't mind going through things, but the main issue is that she's being expected to complete work that she doesn't understand how to complete. We've felt for a while she's being rushed through the program, and she feels the same. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:24
  • @A E, Kumon is a tutoring program for children that bases itself on repetition, kumon.co.uk will tell you everything about the UK version I've asked about here. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:33
  • Not enough for an answer, but it sounds like your child is TOO SMART for Kumon. Intelligent kids will fight against the very structure of Kumon, because they want to learn by exploration which is what your child is trying to do. – Jasmine Mar 5 '18 at 19:32
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The current trend of nose to the grindstone learning for children is starting to be unveiled as a bad thing. Children are not meant to be test taking machines. There are studies starting to come out about children doing much better with play times in-between learning. Here is one such article.

I hope you'll read the article in full, but here is a quote that gives the general idea:

What’s most important is not where kids take breaks but how much freedom we give them from their structured work. When break times are teacher-directed, Pellegrini found, the recess loses its value. It’s free-play that gives students the opportunity to develop social competence. During these times, they not only rest and recharge—they also learn to cooperate, communicate, and compromise, all skills they need to succeed academically as well as in life.

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    I don't disagree with the content of this answer, but I have to downvote it as it does not answer the question. Arguing with the premise is not considered appropriate on this site; you're welcome to discuss it at length in Parenting Chat. – Joe Aug 9 '16 at 19:27
  • @Joe discuss what in length? My answer or your reason for down voting? Either way, I suppose, I am not really interested. I inferred questions that the OP wasn't quite asking that should help them. In a way, it was an answer to a question they didn't know to ask. Do what you need to. – Jeff.Clark Aug 9 '16 at 19:41
  • @Jeff.Clark I also disagree with Joe, as I think your answer is actually the best, and the article you linked to was interesting. We've actually now enrolled our daughter to Explore Learning (and cancelled), which has hour long sessions, and a 15 minute break time at the end where she socialises with other pupils and plays as a reward for her work (like the article you linked to). She's been for a few sessions now and not only enjoys it a lot more, but also seems more engaged with her learning again. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:28
  • Oh, good, glad you are seeing progress @JamesR We all want the best for our kiddos, and it is quite difficult to see them struggle :( – Jeff.Clark Aug 10 '16 at 21:46
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I took Kumon for 6 years as a kid & now a Mom.

Will I sign my daughter up for Kumon? Absolutely - Kumon is not just about math but great for character building.

To be frank, I hated Kumon as a kid. For a 10 years old, it's insanely dull and boring to do hundreds of math problems everyday. However despite of my heavy protest, my parents insisted on me continuing, stressing that I needed a good math foundation.

After I started middle school, I realized my parents were right. Because of Kumon, solving arithmetic has become a reflex. When facing with a difficult math problem, I can spend time to come up with many solutions since I can finish the actual calculation in a flash. Math became my favorite subject because I was able to focus on problem solving,the fun part, rather than the boring mechanics like adding and subtracting.

More importantly, Kumon taught me discipline to work patiently even if the task is boring or seems impossible. Life is not all fun and games. I want my daughter to learn how to work through challenges instead of quitting when things get tough.

Want to teach your children persistence and diligence? sign them up for Kumon.

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    Although I agree that everything isn't easy, we did feel that Kumon was taking our daughter's passion for learning, and after trialing her at Explore Learning, we saw a massive difference immediately. She was switched on, happy, and seemed really positive towards it. I think Kumon does work for some children, and it does help them, but it wasn't right for our daughter, and she was being rushed through without fully understanding the concepts. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:40
  • Interesting about the delayed usefulness - good thing to consider. – Warren Dew Aug 11 '16 at 4:29
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I'm not a parent, but I am a student whose parents did sign me up for tutoring when I was younger.

My parents picked a tutor from a variety of sources they knew personally, and ultimately came to decide on a girl from the local high school who had recently graduated. This is not meant to be a horror story - just a document of my experience.

When I was that age, I really struggled with math. And I mean really struggled. I couldn't do basic addition, I couldn't do multiplication in my head, and I couldn't divide for the life of me. This girl (classified as a private tutor) had to do a lot. She had to get me to sit down, she had to get me to like it, and she had to get me to shut up. I couldn't concentrate on math for more than five seconds.

It must've been a pain for her, who was now working on some type of thesis for college. I sat there, and looking back, found she was more than a little selfish. If she had just gone a little slower, maybe we would've seen each other eye-to-eye.

What I'm trying to say here is it really doesn't matter what tutor you go with (whether affiliated with a group or not) - it matters more the content of the individual tutor's character and their patience to work with your child. Of course, your child should be willing to work too, but that matters less than a supposedly more mature adult's work ethic and experience. If they can't calm your child long enough to get them through an equation, they're not worth it.

It's basically a cost-benefit analysis comprised of what's best for your child along with the tutor's particular credentials. Also, as a recent graduate of the rote-memorization type school system present in America, I would say that what's best for your child also includes learning methods tailored to her. Rote is not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to be used to it and like it.

  • Thanks for your answer. I agree with the comment that a lot depends on the tutor, and that's why we held back on private tutoring and took her to Kumon in the first place. We've now gone to Explore Learning, and the staff there are the opposite of the tutor you encountered. They're enthusiastic, know exactly how to talk to all ages of children, and really engage with them. It seems to be having a great effect on our daughter, so hopefully will allow her to improve. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:44
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I think it depends a lot on who the private tutor is.

Kumon centers have a reputation for being very intensive. While reasonably rapid calculation at each level of math is important as a foundation on which to build at the next level, the speed targeted by Kumon centers is probably more than is necessary.

I've used Kumon workbooks - specifically, the grade level workbooks, not the early learning workbooks - for my two older kids, now 6 and 8. I think they provide an adequate amount of practice, without the overkill of the Kumon centers. I do think it's worthwhile to provide some explanations when new concepts are introduced; for example, if your daughter's column addition involves more than one digit, it may help explicitly to explain the concept and mechanics of carrying. It will also be important for your daughter to understand place value; the Kumon "Geometry and Measurement" books might be good for that. If your daughter had not yet done subtraction, the Kumon "Grade 1 Subtraction" book might also be appropriate.

I also recommend math oriented games. In particular, "Sleeping Queens" is an excellent game that involves single digit addition; I would bet that your daughter would love playing it with you. "Zeus on the Loose" is good for the transition to double digit addition and some other arithmetic manipulations.

I do recommend you allocate perhaps an hour a day to help supervise and do these workbook and game activities with your daughter if you decide to use them instead of tutoring.

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    Thanks for your answer, we do a lot of work already with our daughter, and use a fair few books and methods such as the above. We also have a Kumon book, and think it's a decent book on it's own. We just felt Kumon as a class wasn't helping her and was killing her passion for learning. We've now enrolled her on Explore Learning instead, which seems better. – James R Aug 10 '16 at 20:31

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