Kumon vs. Explore Learning(12 Posts)
WE have gone to Kumon for a couple of years now. DD is 7 and in year 3. Her math is really good and attribute that success to Kumon. It has served us very well. But, the current techer is moving on, and I am wondering whether this might be the time for us to do the same. Whilst DD does very well in math, her English is not so strong. So I am wondering if a place like Explore Learning where she could get help in all subjects might be the thing for her. DS (yr 1) would have to follow. He also does Kumon, but I can't possibly fit both in. If one moves to Explore the other will have to do the same.
So, has anyone used Explore? Are they good? What is the quality of the teachers?
My child was on the Explore Learning programme for a year, and I am really angry. The recent school report shows he has got much worse in Maths and English. His test results have got much worse and he is now behind in the class, whereas he was slightly above average before Explore.
The school teacher asked if he was spending too much time staring at screen because he now seemed 'vacant', 'couldn't concentrate' and seemed to find it difficult to remember anything he heard.
I told them I was surprised by this because he was on tuition. They asked what kind. I told them it was Explore Learning. The teacher gave me a knowing look and told me that it was a common problem amongst students going to Explore Learning. They always seemed to get worse in the Maths and English, and had problems with memory and concentration.
It seems that computer programmes are too reliant on multimedia, which damage a children's ability to concentrate and remember things, much as we know TV harms children.
Explore Learning seem to know about this problem, as they now deny it is 'computer tuition' on their website. But the truth is that at my centre my son is always on the computer and never does any real written work - just a bit of hand writing which they never mark.
Right now I am really angry. I feel like Explore Learning is an elaborate scam.
It is a bit silly of me though. Why should I pay £1176 per year (£98 per month) for a US computer programme with Explore, when I can get it for free on BBC bitesize which is based on the UK national curriculum?
I should have known better.
I've asked Explore Learning for a refund and pulled out my son.
My advice is that computer multimedia tuition will ruin your child's education. A recent BBC Panarama programme seemed to say as much.
This comment is in relation the the last. I am a teacher and I am very surprised at your comments.
Firstly it seems incredibly unlikely that your son's attainment level would have decreased from extra education. What is more likely (and I'm ashamed to say this as a teacher) is that the level that you were told he was achieving last year was incorrect and that your son was probably underachieving in school. You do however have to bare in mind that it takes 2 years to progress a level. A child may achieve a level 3 in some areas of maths or literacy, but may still be working on level 3 in Year 4, this is perfectly acceptable because your child will be working on more challenging areas of the level 3 curriculum. I would suggest that you ask your teacher to explain the areas of maths or Literacy that your son hasn't progressed and ask why this is. A child should make some progress without additional tuition, if not this needs to be addressed in school by the teacher. If this were a child in my class I would be asking parents in to discuss the matter. so your teacher will I'm sure happily discuss this with you.
From what you have said about your son's teacher it appears that s/he has a prejudice towards additional tuition. It's not the best compliment for a teacher to say that you're sending your child to additional tuition, but should be more accepted. More parents are working these days so can't dedicate the time that used to be dedicated to home learning. If parents want to give their child extra tuition why not? Some teachers feel threatened by extra educational services like Explore Learning, because often when a child improves parents put it down to the tuition, not a combination of teacher and tutor. This is infuriating for the teacher who, day after day teaches your children, helping them with their understanding. It really is no great surprise to me however, that extra learning will help children have a better understanding.
The comment about the lack of attention span completely shocked me! There is not evidence to say 1 or 2 hours on a computer each week will decrease a child's attention span. 1 or 2 hours a day maybe but not per week!!! I would question the activities that the teacher is doing in class. If you can't keep children focused for an hour's lesson then you need to change the activity. Your son's teacher needs to stop passing the buck and consider other options. When something doesn't work in my class I am the first one I question, not home, extra tuition or anything else.
Lastly you're argument about the computer programme I'm afraid is unfounded. I have seen the software they use and it is perfectly suited to the curriculum in this country. I also know from watching the tutors when they have been into my school that their teaching methods are accurate. Going on BBC bitesize is great for revision, but not so good if you can't remember how to do it; that is the purpose of the tutors. Which is why Explore Learning isn't computer tuition it is 1:6 tutor tuition.
I hope I have put a few things straight for you and anyone else who is unsure. You need to see your son's class teacher and talk about steps forward. It's all very well discussing the past and passing blame, but what is going to be done to support your son from now. If he really is behind he will need help in school and out.
Good luck and I hope you get some help from your school.
Samantha Hemmings, as a teacher with more than 20 years experience, I can confirm what you've found. There has been a big deterioration in educational standards over the last 20 years, as we all know. Many parents are worried. The main culprit is a change in children's lifestyles. They don't read any more. Too few do real written homework.
Instead they spend up to six hours per day staring at the screen:
Children should be doing a minimum of 5 hours per week on homework or reading, and more as they get older. At school we only get 6 hours, and after deducting lunch and breaks there are only four and a half hours left in a day and how many other subjects are there. It is not enough. If some of the extra study is tuition that is fine.
There can be no doubt that screens are harming many children's lives. This has been confirmed by a number of studies and there is a growing body of scientists who recommend that children should be severely restricted in watching TV and computer games in order to prevent brain damage. This is now standard advice in most schools.
Explore Learning exploits parents fears, and simply makes matters worse. When modern lifestyles are causing this problem the last thing we need is children spending even more time in front of a screen.
Most studies show that regardless of the activity on the TV or computer, it is still harmful to overall learning outcomes and success in life. TV, computer games, etc. inherently require reactions that are too passive, primitive and basic. They stifle the child.
We have found that the simple multiple choice type computer programme used by Explore Learning does harm learning in Maths and English. It is a poor substitute for complex oral responses and sentence based written responses in English or hand written Maths answers showing full working out. None of this can be done in the US computer programme used by Explore Learning.
While I wouldn't use the word scam, I would say that Explore Learning is not a real tuition provider, but a baby-sitting service. Parents should not kid themselves that this is real learning or tuition. It is not. Children should spend more time interacting with their parents while they shop in the supermarket, not be left to sit in front of a screen with Explore. They would learn more exploring the store than in Explore.
This is the conclusion most of the teachers at our school have drawn.
We were even at the receiving end of their aggressive sales tactics. They pestered the head teachers office with sales calls, so they could come in to the school. Inside they gave us another aggressive sales pitch about their programme. After hearing them out, and discussing it amongst ourselves, we were quite shocked to discover what we found. Some of the worst performing children in the school had already been enrolled onto Explore Learning for some time. Teachers also found the 'blank stare' in these students, and a difficulty with listening and concentrating in lessons. Many of them had not been poorly performing in the past. Their parents told us Explore Learning had been very aggressive in trying to enrol them at the local Sainsburys. Some seemed upset at their childrens lack of progress.
Since then I have spoken to teachers from other schools as well. They all report problems with the blank stare, and poor academic performance. The most common problem mentioned by teachers is with memory. The children tend to retain very little of what Explore Learning claims they have learnt via the computer screen.
Our school decided not to have anything to do with Explore Learning. We have always been positive about tuition programmes in general, but advise parents quite strongly to limit time on the computer and TV they are good for entertainment, but very poor for study. We dont directly recommend any programme by name, but we do suggest any programme that asks children to do real written work as the core element of learning, or includes real teaching requiring complex oral understanding from the child is better, and will not harm the child.
As for Explore Learning we do not feel they should be allowed to call themselves a tuition provider. They do not provide real tuition. We do not have enough information about Kumon to draw a conclusion. However, parents report that they provide worksheets only, and do not provide tuition. All marking and teaching must be done by the parent.
The 3 Biggest Scams in After-School Tuition
1. Explore Learning Scam No. 1 (charging for crappy American software, when much better is free on internet - see many free links below that offer better software than Explore Learning).
2. Student Support Centre Scam No. 2 (massively overpriced videos that children cannot understand - they still ask for a tutor).
3. Kumon Scam No. 3 (massively overpriced worksheet printing service - includes no tuition, marking, teaching or support - parents have to do everything).
All three of the above rake off massive amounts of money, use aggressive sales tactics, and are not 'tuition providers' at all. Explore learning uses untrained teenagers as teachers! So does Kumon. Students Support Centre doesn't even have teachers - just videos.
The fact is its only because we parents have been so gullible that all 3 of the above get away with. Don't get ripped off by Explore, Student Support, or Kumon.
Kumon worksheets actually reduced my child to tears through a combination of no teaching or explanation, endless repetition and intense boredom. Children need more.
I myself have been ripped off by two of the above, and warned about the other by many parents. Now I am much more careful.
If you want tuition (and the truth is all children need it today), then my advice is get free worksheets and software off the internet. But if you are serious about your child's education pay for it. We get what we pay for. A good tutor usually costs £30-50 per hour now. However, if you are lunch you can get some very good tuition centres that will teach properly with real teachers for just £15 per hour. That is pretty good value.
These are good and are free.
These are very good and cost peanuts.
But I would still recommend getting a proper tutor or tuition centre. In the long-run they are worth the investment.
My DS has been going to Explore for over a year and he absolutely loves it. It was recommended to me by his class teacher at school because he was really struggling with his reading, and now he reads at home on his own without any arguments, which is worth the cost alone. The staff there are very supportive and give you really regular feedback on how your child is doing, which is very reassuring. I'd definitely recommend it.
at the "TV is the work of the Devil" comments.
My kids have a busy academic/social life during term time so there are days/evenings where they just want some brain dead activity like watching TV.
Like most 'vices' TV in moderation is not harmful. In fact, many a history/current affairs conversation have een started because of some program or film DCs had watched on TV.
Generally speaking dumping a child in front of a TV for hours at a time is indicative of a certain parenting style. It is this 'style' that restricts a child's development as opposed to the TV itself.
New to Mumsnet but have been reading latest blogs on tuition. Having looked for some time for professional tuition and being very sceptical about the whole setup we opted for Kip McGrath which has recently opened in Newcastle where we live. Our DD received a free assessment and the teacher (professional qualified PGCE etc.....) was very indulgent of our question and answer session regarding his qualifications and what we could expect. Several weeks on we are very pleased with the whole venture DD loves it and never wants to leave and her confidence is flying. Would recommend a look.
I was considering to put my 2 DDs into Explore Learning for the summer period but I have to say after reading the comments I'm a little put off. Sophie1978, you did mention that it's better to use a private tutor or tuition centre. Can you recommend any tuition centres in either Oxford or London?
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