What do you think of Kumon?

(46 Posts)
mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 00:14:36

I am looking into the merits of Kumon for my DS (7). He does not seem to be doing awfully well at school, yet I know he has so much potential. The school have told me his reading age is one year behind his chronological age. However, they do not have a plan of action to tackle this.
I wondered if Kumon might help? Has anybody had any experiences of this?

zumo Sun 30-Dec-12 08:22:55

Why Kumon?
Why cant the school just do a proper job and help him? We had similar problms as most schools just teach a few of the kids in the class and the rest are just along for the ride.
I would do some structured learning and playing at home and possibly get a tutor to help out.
We found the set of books the school use on Amazon, bought the lot, taught the kids to read at home then actually sold them on Ebay for a profit! nd the added bonus of the kids being able to read, teacher took about 12 months to admit she was wrong and one of ours was actually a good reader whilst she said not!
Now you know your kids best but find out what floats his boat, do it witrh him but in a way that he will learn something, our son attends the local scouts, he loves it and has learnt loads of stuff you couldnt just show him.
My point is I often feel the one size suits all we have in education is not good as we are all different, I would have a go yourself, have a google for activity village some good stuff and all free

seeker Sun 30-Dec-12 08:31:33

Boring. Doesn't match with what they are doing at school. Expensive. And cynically preying on parental insecurities.

The school have a plan of action? Make an appointment as early as possible in the new term and get something sorted.

seeker Sun 30-Dec-12 08:32:12

Sorry- why doesn't the school have a plan of action, that should say!

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 08:33:48

There is a thread here on kumon which has almost a thousand relies.


Feenie Sun 30-Dec-12 09:39:26

We had similar problms as most schools just teach a few of the kids in the class and the rest are just along for the ride.

Ridiculous generalisation. And a load of garbage.

mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 10:34:08

Thanks - and thanks for the link to the other thread on Kumon. It seems the general opinion re this is that it is not necessarily the answer for me. I did have a meeting with the teacher last term - and I intended to ask the teacher to give us some extra work to do at home - so DS could catch up - however I allowed myself to get "thrown off" and the meeting resulted in him being referred to audiology and speech and language therapy. I need to broach the subject again in the new term. I think I will put the idea of Kumon on hold and be more assertive and try to get the teacher to give me work to do (or advise me what material I can get hold of)
Actually - I do have the feeling that DS has a very low profile in the class- he is well behaved and very quiet - I think the teacher barely knows hes there! However my DD is very bright and is being hot housed by her teacher - I think there is a general fault in attitude at their school, in that the very bright are given extra attention - but those less able are not helped to reach their potential - unless the parents are a little pushy (like me!)

thanks v much

scrablet Sun 30-Dec-12 10:37:11

Being referred sounds like a plan of action to me. Worked wonders for my 'under achieving' DC.

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 11:16:00

I am no great believer in arguing with teachers about how much extra work to give children. My general belief is that teachers, like the rest of us, are human. As far as I can tell they're far more motivated to do things that they think are necessary and that they're able to do than they are to do things that parents want them to do, (especially if it is not a school policy.) I've often heard that such "pushing" from parents results in warm words from the school and not a lot happening in practice. The parent meanwhile gets more and more frustrated.

My own view is that such a parent should by all means bring up the issue with the teacher (in much the same way as a teacher may mention an underperforming child to his parents at parents evening.) But the teacher doesn't keep asking thereafter "so, mum and dad, what have you done about it? And I think the same should be true in reverse. The parents shouldn't keep asking the teacher, so what have you done about it? Because if the teacher wasn't responsive and the parents weren't responsive the real answers would, in both cases, be: nothing! And I'm not going to do anything about it either.

So my own answer is that if mum wants her son to do better at his school work she should go to WH Smiths educational department, buy some work materials and start educating him herself. When he has stepped up his game then mum can meet up with the teacher and say, OK, I know that he wasn't doing that well before. But we've covered all this extra work at home, could you please see if he now responds better in school? Of course the teacher might see no change because the boy might well work harder and better at home with one to one tuition than he does at school. So, in the end the idea of the boy's potential might really only be in mum's head (unless she wants to carry on supplementing his education at home until he leaves school.)

ohfunnyFRANKENface Sun 30-Dec-12 11:20:26

The worst teacher I trained with left the profession to start her own Kumon school. Good riddance.

I did Kumon for one week as a university student, helping out as a 'tutor' there. They didn't want to pay me, the system was shocking and I hated it. I left.

clam Sun 30-Dec-12 11:22:05

You say you allowed yourself to be "thrown off" and mention made of audiology/S&L referrals. That doesn't sound to me like being "thrown off." It sounds as though the school is aware there are issues with your son and are suggesting ways to move forward. If there are S&L problems, then I doubt Kumon is the answer at the moment.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 11:34:50

I agree with clam. It seems the school are concerned that there may be a physical cause for your son's difficulties, either with his hearing or language processing which unfortunately no amount of Kumon or work books will solve.

Feenie Sun 30-Dec-12 11:36:25

I know - the absolute gits, allowing getting to the root cause of a problem to divert your attention!

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 11:56:34

Feenie, there's no need for sarcasm. She's only trying to help her son to learn.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 12:06:51

and so is the school

mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 12:57:52

This has been a really useful discussion for me and helped me to understand a few things
I was grateful for the referral to other audiology and SaLT, however I dont think that alone will be sufficient. DS has had his audiology appt and has been discharged as there are no probs with his hearing. Will wait for the SaLT referral to come through and see what happens
I am very prepared to spend time with my son to help him. I have bought some workbooks already and we are going through them together (From WHS but dont know if its the same as suggested from Learnandsay) - i think they are great but even with this work at home, he isnt making progress at school. I was hoping the teacher could help us so that we could do work at home that would complement what they are doing in school. I respect DS teachers opinion, I need her help and expertise - this is not an area that is familiar to me.
I think i will shelve the idea of Kumon - but maybe still consider some form of tutoring.


TotallyBS Sun 30-Dec-12 13:01:36

Kumon is about £60 per month per subject which is roughly equal to two hours 121 tutoring. This is something critics ignore.

Is Kumon the answer to your prayers? No but if you are time or money poor then it is a reasonable product.

clam Sun 30-Dec-12 13:07:00


learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 13:08:15

TotallyBS, I think that kind of detail about kumon is adequately covered in the thread that I linked to. It might be more profitable in this thread to discuss with mimosa what issues she and her son are facing and what the options are rather than kumon in particular which is much debated elsewhere on mumsnet.

ohfunnyFRANKENface Sun 30-Dec-12 13:11:00

£60 a month for 2 hours a month 1-2-1 tutoring would be a much better investment of the money.

I'm sure whatever workbooks you do with him, if you're covering the basics you'll be building his confidence and developing him.

TotallyBS Sun 30-Dec-12 13:19:23

learnandsay, I think it might be more 'profitable in this thread' if you don't go round telling other people what they should be posting.

Feenie Sun 30-Dec-12 13:23:27

Indeedy - you are overstepping the mark, learnandsay.

scrablet Sun 30-Dec-12 16:18:45

As I said above, sounds like the school do have a plan of action with the referrals. These are not nothing, glad audiology signed off, with my DCs was their eyesight and tracking which was the issue.
Maybe let the school get this sorted first because otherwise, no amount of extra work will help (If that is the issue)
BTW, you are lucky school will do this for you, we were told this might be issue and had to do all research, appts ourselves. Not complaining, just saying...

zumo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:12:24

Quote Feenie
We had similar problms as most schools just teach a few of the kids in the class and the rest are just along for the ride.

Ridiculous generalisation. And a load of garbage
I disagree, its based on our experiance.

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 17:20:10

zumo, then you probably mean most schools in your experience rather than most schools. I hazard a guess that most schools in Britain are out of your experience.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 17:21:42

How many or the 250000 primary schools in England is your experience based upon zumo?

zumo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:22:42

Yes thats what I should have said

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 17:24:12

To be fair feenie could have just pointed that out rather than have a good old flame. But some people like flaming I guess.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 17:27:54

but she expressed it so succinctly (and accurately) wink

zumo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:42:32

Well said Mrz, its based on two schools, I shouldnt comment on any others but its remarkable how many people we meet who have schooling issues, I think the reality is many schools dont live up to our expectations.
I just feel very strongly about people having to seek other methods when they feel a school is letting them down, are they expection too much or is it the school not performing?
I have my own ideas but as you say its only based on two children and two schools.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 17:47:03

The OPs school is doing the sensible thing by investigating physical issues first they aren't letting anyone down. Workbooks from WHS or elsewhere will do more harm than good if there is a language difficulty.

mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 18:12:48

oh dear, do you really think I could be doing more damage than good by doing workbooks at home? This is why I want guidance from the teacher as to what I can do. DS speech is not very clear, and he cant pronounce certain words. His teacher has said I must just constantly correct him - which I do and have done since he could talk - but still he struggles to make himself understood to some adults when he talks to them (I often have interpret for him- makes me feel really sad for him) So there could be some language processing problem.

All I know is that he was recently assessed at school to determine his reading age - and I was told he was one year behind. And that was that - no plan about what we are going to do and no plan to reassess. Hence why I feel more action must be taken - or if I did nothing, then nothing would happen! And DS would continue to be behind.......

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 18:27:28

Was your son a late talker?
Do you think your son has intermittent hearing difficulties? (audiology doesn't always pick up problems on the day)
does he get frequent head colds/running nose which cause a dip in his hearing for example ?
Does he hear the sounds in words when you say them?
Can he build words when he says the sounds?

The workbooks will only make you both more frustrated ...it does sound as if he needs SaLT input I would focus my efforts there.

mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 18:53:05

yes, I am 100% positive that he needs SaLT - I have tried and failed to access SaLT in the past - via GP and Health visitor - but to no avail. To give the teacher credit - she is the only one who has gotten anywhere with SaLT.
He saw audiology x3 times. He doesnt have frequent colds etc, and I am not sure about his ability to build words when he says sounds. He was average - late talker.

I hope I havent left it too late for him. Is it possible that he now has well established speech difficulties that will be difficult to remedy?

CaptainNancy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:57:36

Can he tell which sounds begin or end words? E.g. C starting cat, t ending it?
My children mispronounced words, but they most definitely had hearing problems- both had glue ear and needed grommets fitting, but DD would have many days of hearing 'okay' between deaf spells, as mrz says, making it hard to pick up. DS was just stone deaf, somewhat easier to spot!
I also suggest an eye test- short-sightedness is picked up easily, but long-sightedness is far more difficult to spot in small children, and may cause difficulties with interpreting what's on the page.
Ruling out all the physical issues will point school in the right direction if they need to investigate further.

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 19:09:11

Workbooks may or may not be the thing to help. But if workbooks don't help after the OP has tried them she will also know that asking the teacher for extra work won't help either. Sometimes parents get lots of tests done too and never get a satisfactory answer.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 19:11:13

Workbooks won't help a child with physical difficulties learnandsay neither will extra work from the teacher. SaLT will!

scrablet Sun 30-Dec-12 19:35:18

You are still saying no plan from school...they have instigated assessment. What plan do you expect before they have the result? The wrong one?

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 20:03:06

Aren't the physical difficulties only a possibility at this point? I'm looking but I can't see anything definite mentioned. I can see a desire for therapy. But not a diagnosis of any kind.

LIZS Sun 30-Dec-12 20:05:27

Surely always best to eliminate the obvious before splashing money around unnecessarily. Appointment's can take a while to come through so better to get into the system early and perhaps not need it . A year "behind" at this age isn't necessarily a long term problem anyway.

mrz Sun 30-Dec-12 20:07:05

Did you read the posts?

mimosa Sun 30-Dec-12 18:53:05

yes, I am 100% positive that he needs SaLT

DS speech is not very clear, and he cant pronounce certain words. His teacher has said I must just constantly correct him - which I do and have done since he could talk - but still he struggles to make himself understood to some adults when he talks to them (I often have interpret for him- makes me feel really sad for him) So there could be some language processing problem.

learnandsay Sun 30-Dec-12 21:20:21

The word I used was diagnosis.

lingle Sun 30-Dec-12 22:24:07

Mimosa, it's great that you have the referral to SALT and that on thinking it through you're giving credit to the teacher.

I have lots of experience as user of SALT, though it was in relation to a different aspect of language. In the area where my kids struggled, there were certain techniques that parents could learn to use that we would be told about right from the first visit. But it's really important that any techniques you take up right now are ones that the SALT thinks either may help or definitely won't do any harm.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 08:37:20

No learnandsay you said "Aren't the physical difficulties only a possibility at this point?" which clearly they aren't as the OP has said. What the OP doesn't have is a assessment of those physical difficulties and a programme to correct them so that her son can make progress at school.

seeker Mon 31-Dec-12 09:03:46

Workbooks are only useful if it's won't not can't. If it's can't then the frustration on both sides could only be imagined.

ReallyTired Tue 01-Jan-13 21:58:18

mimosa I am sorry that you are going through language problems with your son. Rather than correcting speech I was recommended to model speech.


child: "look dat" (excitely points at cat on the garden wall)
me: "Yes, you are right, there is a black cat on the wall."

Correcting speech can interfere with the child's communication and demoralise them.

We found that practicing the jolly phonics sounds helped with ds's speech.

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