Something I've observed about kids that do Kumon (maths).

(46 Posts)
Cortina Sat 18-Sep-10 16:43:41

A few of my friends have children who do Kumon. What
I am finding is that without exception these children are in the top sets for maths eventually. Obviously I don't know hundreds but I do know about 20 separate children and ALL have improved and grown in confidence.

The mothers are committed to the programme and get their children to do the obligatory 10 minute work sheet every single day come what may, no exception for high days or holidays.

The kids do the sheets with a clock on a desk or table - 10 mins and an alarm rings. The emphasis appears to be on speed.

One friend of mine enrolled her daughter in a maths class at 3 and half. One of the youngest they've ever taken. All of her children are now exceptional at maths, confident, interested and committed.

It's made me wonder about discipline, these children don't have a problem knuckling down to study later. That enforced, no quibble, initial 10 mins a day stood them in good stead. I wonder if they are on to something?

ruddynorah Sat 18-Sep-10 16:46:39

I wonder if you are in fact Mrs kumon.

Lougle Sat 18-Sep-10 16:46:41

It isn't Kumon that did it though, is it? It is the repitition. I bet if you sat your child down with progressive worksheets for 10 minutes each and every day, you would find the same results. Attach the name 'Kumon' to it, and suddenly it is worth hundreds hmm

Cortina Sat 18-Sep-10 16:53:26

True, money spinning genius .

I don't have time to attend the classes even if I did buy into it. Around here they seem to insist you go twice a week, not possible for us.

It's not so much the Kumon, it's the early discipline that has given me a bit of a light bulb moment. We are a bit hit and miss and I tend to read with my son some nights not others - the nights I do we do more than 10 mins, do a bit of reinforcing at home here and there but short, disciplined bursts just seem to make sense.

I know my friends with teenagers (around 13/14) complain they simply won't study and are not self motivated but often up until then they haven't done much in the way of regular homework, certainly not in a quick burst every day from a young age. Just musing whether this early discipline in one way or another could work wonders going forward?

onimolap Sat 18-Sep-10 16:53:36

Andperhaps the parents who use such a scheme have a more active approach to, and involvement in, their child's education, and that in itself may be performance boosting.

The regularity of practice probably helps concentration too, which I'd expect to be good for classroom performance.

Cortina Sat 18-Sep-10 16:55:22

Agreed onimolap and it reinforces my beliefs about 'learnable intelligence' to a degree.

mrz Sat 18-Sep-10 17:05:05

We a have a few children who did Kumon and they are all struggling (and failing ) with "real" maths they can complete pages of calculations no problem but don't know where to start to apply the concepts.

Cortina Sat 18-Sep-10 17:15:32

When does that tend to happen out of interest mrz?

In the early years counting in 2s, 5s, 10s, doubling and halving etc are very useful tools in the classroom and perhaps make you appear very competent with numeracy? We have been told to please help our children reinforce all these basics at home.

Maths teachers have told me that if children learn maths basics by rote they will eventually 'get it' as far as 'real' maths goes? (That's obviously not the wider view hence we've abolished the 'old' ways of adding up in the classroom etc)?

Perhaps for many Kumon is a great foundation and 'real' maths just clicks? But for a sizeable minority the end point is confusion? (I find maths v challenging, and this would be me, I can't see to visualise numbers or see logical patterns).

I prefer Carol Vorderman or a similar system where the 'concepts' seem to be explained.

Cortina Sat 18-Sep-10 17:17:11

I think the reinforcing of literacy, numeracy at home in very short bursts and encouraging children to do this independently has to be a great discipline?

mrz Sat 18-Sep-10 17:31:36

I think rote learning has a place but children need to understand what they are learning so if you are teaching the two times table for example they need to understand they are adding 5 lots of 2 when they say 5 x 2.
We've certainly found by Y4 Kumon children struggle to keep up with the rest of the class.

mrz Sat 18-Sep-10 17:33:20

Reinforcing what has been taught in school helps children to retain the knowledge which is another problem with Kumon in my experience. Often what they teach bears no relationship to what the child is learning in school.

RamonaThePest Sat 18-Sep-10 22:28:52

Have seen a few Kumon kids who absolutely refuse to detail out their working. Worry that this is something that will ultimately catch them out as questions get more complicated/multi-step, etc.

TheSistersGrim Sat 18-Sep-10 22:37:10

mrz is there anything that is useful to do at home to help with 'real' maths? Ds loves doing 'sums' and he knows some times tables and is good at mental arithmatic but when he get his very easy numeracy homework he takes ages to grasp what he is actually supposed to do.

Algebra18MinusPiEquals16 Sat 18-Sep-10 22:38:45

I worked at Kumon and IMO it's bollocks

it's just repetition and speed, it's not real maths, it's arithmetic.

technically if you had a 3yo with a great memory (which is good in itself obviously) you could teach them to recite times tables but that means sweet FA if they don't actually know what multiplication actually means.

just another way of getting money out of paranoid parents.

RoadArt Sat 18-Sep-10 22:55:51

I think if every child did 10 minutes of something every night, they would improve in that topic, no matter what it is.

The discipline of actually getting them to do it is the hardest. By the time they have argued and moaned and wasted an hour, they could have done whatever they should and more.

The key is routine, but the other issue that we read time and time on family forums, is that we shouldnt be getting our kids to do extra learning at home, that they do enough in school

We have just started with whizzmaths and their biggest emphasis is that a child should do a minimum of 90 minutes a week to improve their maths age. Now for kids that dont want to do stuff at home this is a long time (broken down over 3-4 days ideally, but if you did any kind of maths programme for 90 minutes a week on top of what the kids learn at school, then every single child will improve. They dont need expensive programmes to do this.

However, by paying a third party there is the discipline that work is being set, and expected to be completed, whereas at home, it gets forgotten, delayed and then not done.

I dont know anything about Kumon, but we have used a variety of computer based teaching programmes over th years, starting with the Jump Ahead series.

With learning maths, kids need to understand what the numbers actually mean, rote learning is fine to a point but they need to know what 3x6 or 7x4 or 15/3 really means.

I have read that kids are "great at maths" but cant understand questions when written out as words, eg "there are 24 biscuits and 6 children, how many biscuits each will they get".
If they cant work this out then they dont understand, but if you said was 24/6 they could probably answer, because they have memorised the numbers

RoadArt Sat 18-Sep-10 23:01:12

The Sisters Grim

The best maths at home is talking scenarios and use worded problems so that your child understands the numbers.

Sharing out between people (division)

Baking,
Weights,
Liquids,
Scales
Look at packets of food and compare weights, volumes so they can visualise sizes.

sizes of anything and everything, get out rulers, tape measures.

discuss numbers as an every day topic, when you are shopping for everything (toys, books, shoes, clothes as well as food).

Kids need to relate the numbers to something physical.

play games, there are loads of board games and also lots to download,

Most of all, dont mention the word maths!

The other important thing is that children need to understand and discuss how they got their answer. This lets the teacher know that they do actually understand.

maggiethecat Sat 18-Sep-10 23:35:43

Good thread Cortina. I have tried (and failed) to adopt the 'little and often' mantra for dd and maths. We seem to manage spurts in between the schedule for everything else and of course the wasted time moaning. I have seen where dd's reading has improved this term (yr 3) by the more consistent approach to reading - she's been an able reader but reading for that bit longer every night (as suggested by the school) has seen her flying through the pages.

It would be great if I could work out a system for this consistent approach - putting together resources and materials but I'm not that organised. Someone has mentioned Vorderman - would something like that be a good starting point for materials?

TheSistersGrim Sat 18-Sep-10 23:50:36

Thaks Roadart. I think he can relate numbers to physical things but I can do more baking/talking about numbers etc at home. I tend to do a lot of stuff like that with my younger dc and forget about my PFB blush.

Now I think about it I think if I said 'what is 5x7' he could answer it straight away and if I asked 'if there was 5 bags of oranges with 7 in each bag how many oranges would you have' he could answer it after a bit of pondering but if it was written in his homework book he would squirm about claiming not to understand. Possibly he has more of a reading comprehension problem than a maths comprehension problem.

Malaleuca Sun 19-Sep-10 04:58:03

There's no alternative to the stage by stage approach of starting with basic concepts and building more advanced ones into them....Most of mathematics is interconnected: algebra can serve arithmetic, while being able to add, subtract, and multiply is of use in trigonometry. This means that losing your grip on any one idea or technique could have repercussions elsewhere in your mathematical repertoire.

....maths more than any other subject is sensitive to earlier failures to understand. How well children understand depends on how well they learn at each stage, and this in turn depends on how well the curriculum is designed and the teaching carried out.

(Brian Butterworth, 'What Counts'.)

Practice is the key to being good. Yes... you can develop your own curriculum and do the same thing. Kumon does this, gives plenty of practice in basic arithmetic.

lovecheese Sun 19-Sep-10 08:39:05

Woken up feeling rubbish after a bad night with the toddler but feel a bit better after skim reading the posts here; Sad reason you probably think but not to me! Reason? Have got into the routine of doing something each day with two DDs, obviously reading but also some mental maths, problem solving, doubling etc, all things mentioned on here, and they are certainly in the routine of "getting busy" for 10 minutes during the day - dd1 struggles a bit with maths but dd2 seems to have more of a knack and enjoys it. Please dont come and criticise me now, It's working for us.

Callisto Sun 19-Sep-10 08:51:12

Cortina - slightly off topic, but as far as teenagers and how to ensure they grow up with the ability to self motivate, you may want to talk to some of the HE parents on here. I know a few HE teens and without exception they are self-motivated. They have no problem at all deciding which courses they want to do, which college/university will suit them best, what sort of work experience will give them the edge. Of course HE parents tend to be self-motivated anyway, but plenty of them practice autonomous learning (child learns as and when and picks their own subjects) with the same results.

Flighttattendant Sun 19-Sep-10 08:55:20

Gah, can you imagine doing your maths even on holiday.

Priorities, people grin

RoadArt Sun 19-Sep-10 09:01:42

Holidays do seem to be the time that parents help their kids (in my personal experience). they buy books for their kids to do, or do internet trials through the holidays with a view to following through in the school term - but it never happens.

In any event 10 minutes is nothing and certainly doesnt harm the kids.

mnistooaddictive Sun 19-Sep-10 09:04:40

I know plenty of children who have done Kumon and are not in top sets.

FleurDelacour Sun 19-Sep-10 09:05:08

I am a maths teacher and IME Kumon can make students fast and accurate with arithmetic which can get them into top sets in year 7.

However the effect wears off as they go through senior school as understanding becomes more important.

Thinking skills are important for A level maths and FM. These are not skills you learn from Kumon.

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