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To Kumon or not to Kumon. That is the question.

(1000 Posts)
megabored Sun 17-Jun-12 00:28:30

DD is starting school in September. Below are the Pros and Cons I have been debating recently.

1. She is bright, so should be okay without extra help in school
2. It is too early to put her through this
3. Kumon is expensive and time consuming.

The Pros

1. It may give her that bit of extra confidence at school
2. Earlier is better as then she can grow with that system
3. Its not so expensive as to be prohibitive.

I really cant decide either way. Please someone help?

MumTryingHerBest Tue 01-Mar-16 13:32:49

Amboz I live in an 11 plus area. Not a single current/former Kumon child is in the top group for maths in my DCs year group.

Amboz Tue 01-Mar-16 07:30:19

To address your question of why I have suddenly popped up out of the blue to address this question, it is because I recently started dancing and my dance teacher is worried about her DS so I suggested Kumon in response to which I got an uncharacteristically negative reaction. I didn't pursue it because I am not trying to persuade - just share my experience. But I have long wanted to get on to mumsnet because it has such a great reputation and I thought it would be interesting to see what people thought of Kumon. It was a huge shock to read the overwhelmingly negative comments so I decided to simply share my personal experience including what my children think especially as they have both now finished uni and can reflect on its overall impact.

I am grateful that you have taken the time to read my comments. They reflect just one view in a very difficult challenge.

Feenie Tue 01-Mar-16 06:46:28

Three more. Need my glasses on - NOT Kumon!

Feenie Tue 01-Mar-16 06:43:36

I have heard it all now!

Amboz, it is extremely unlikely, to say the least, that you joined MN and unearthed a zombie thread, simply to extol the 'magic' (snort!) of Kumon off your own bat.

What a crock. Thank goodness total farce of a thread will be full in two more posts.

Good riddance!

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 23:55:06

Reinforcing the fact that I have no connection with Kumon other than experiencing it's astonishing impact on my two daughters' life I have another inspiring story to relate.

My sincere apologies also to everyone who is bored with this topic!

I met a profoundly deaf girl recently and while chatting to her about various aspects of schooling discovered to my deep sadness how incredibly difficult life is for deaf people. Hardly any go to university because of the enormous challenges it presents. She lost her hearing through a bout of meningitis when she was little affecting not only her hearing (total loss) but also her balance.

Her courageous parents fought for her and got her onto a program in which she was fitted with a cochlear implant. My naive understanding was that everything is alright after that. However, apparently this gives a patient a crude equivalent of about 0.07% of the noise channels of a normal person. I have heard the simulated effect and consider it to be inaudible. As I understand it we have about 30,000 audio channels taking sound info to our brain. Cochlear implants provide around 50! So my guess is they get less than 1% of the sound information that hearing people do. Please note I am no expert.

Years of speech therapy and listening training follows as loads of brain power is diverted to interpret these crude noises and enable the patient to at least have a conversation on a 1 to 1 basis in a quiet environment provided the companion does not bounce randomly between different subjects.

She speaks beautifully with a few, sometimes embarrassing, faults. It is heartbreaking to witness how much she has fought to do things I take for granted.

As with my daughters she also had wonderful professionals of all sorts of skill helping her along the way (I am, of course, referring to our wonderful teachers, medical staff, sports coaches and many others doing there very best to help all our children.

And quite spontaneously she started to relate how one particular programme transformed her confidence in her own ability to learn in general as well as her ability to do maths. The program was Kumon. In her words it took her a year to go from being two years behind to being 2 years ahead of her class and she also noted that being ahead didn't lead to boredom but meant that she could learn new and exciting things that her excellent school teacher could challenge her with as well as further reinforce her learning by participating more in helping classmates (as, of course, they would help her).

With the wonderful support of many professionals and through her own indomitable spirit she successfully graduated from university now.

All of these people contributed to her progress but their is no doubt that Kumon played a key, transformational part in her progress.

I don't want hard pressed parents to feel it is in anyway mandatory and it is important to recognise that the experience is a bad one for many children. My own niece hates it and I fully acknowledge that individual experiences with it can be damaging.

However that is no reason to unconditionally trash it and prevent many children from experiencing its magic.

My own recommendation is to proceed very gently with it and if your children do not catch a bug of excitement with it, then drop it. For example, we could go for a week without doing any Kumon because the girls were tired or busy with projects and other stuff. Although we encouraged it and set aside a time for it, their mental 'courage' on a daily basis was more important and it was never mandatory. And you could see them catching the sort of excitement that they also got from playing things like tamagotchi when they did get into the rhythm of it. An excitement that comes from instant positive reinforcement based on real achievement.

GreatAuntAda Mon 29-Feb-16 23:47:31

If it's a learning thing, as I gather it is, why is it spelled in that wanky way?

Pontytidy Mon 29-Feb-16 23:11:58

I think that kumon can work extremely well , as a parent you need to support it and as workbooks need to be completed daily it is not an easy option but it covers the key areas and is a good way to supplement school work.

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 22:58:40

It is wrong if I have given the impression that I have attributed their success to Kumon, but right if I have conveyed the fact that they have attributed ,not their overall success, but the turning point, or the trigger of their success to Kumon. It has been an important foundation stone in a rich tapestry of exceelent experiences. The point is the transformation in their confidence that it created - again according to them not me. My main aim is to counter the extreme criticism and give a little balance to the discussion which I have not yet encountered.

MumTryingHerBest Mon 29-Feb-16 21:59:00

Amboz Odd that you have attributed those amazing things you DDs have done/achieved to Kumon rather than their own drive and ability.

I do wonder if this is why they had such low self esteem in the first place.

Inkymess Mon 29-Feb-16 21:04:39

Would not subject any poor young child to it

Feenie Mon 29-Feb-16 18:30:36


Interesting first ever four posts there, Amboz.

Aaaand this thread just keeps on giving, doesn't it!

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 15:14:35

But my biggest accolade is not that it taught my girls maths (which it did) but that it transformed their opinion of their ability to become confident in tackling any challenge confronting them.

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 15:12:51

On the topic of the view of teachers, I have spoken to many who are really impressed with its contribution, who feel it teaches maths, not just arithmetic all the way to GCSE and A level and some teachers have become tutor instructors.

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 15:10:46

On the controversial side of Kumon being a business I would submit that my feeling that there is some natural balance with it being commercial because it has to work well enough for people to pay. In retrospect the benefit has massively outweighed the cost in my case. And I will not suggest that it has been worth it for everyone.

Amboz Mon 29-Feb-16 15:06:41

It is sad to read the vitriolic anti-Kumon rhetoric. I have no connection with Kumon other than sending both my daughters to it. We were very gentle with them and did not make them do it when they were feeling tired or had lots of other work. After an initial settling in period they caught fire with a passion to discover if they could do the next paper and the immediate feedback was very motivating for them. My experience was that it changed their lives and flooded them with confidence which dramatically improved all other areas of endeavour including sport and their acting, singing and dancing. Far from being bored in class they became go to people that others came to for help and also ended up helping other girls in other years.

One daughter played first team tennis and hockey and she came back from being behind academically to taking a science degree and is now doing her PhD.

The other, by her own admission went from average to top set maths, stealing the show in her school play, going on to getting a 1st at Oxford and coming 1st in her Masters at KCL. Just like school there is a three way responsibility between child, Kumon and parent and a real need to be gentle but persistent ( there should never be any tears).

I understand that this balance is difficult as my girls' cousin hated it, but I don't think that negates the good results it does achieve.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 14-Dec-15 11:13:12

There can't be many more posts to go until it's full and can't be revived again.

StrapOnDodo Mon 14-Dec-15 11:09:36

Zombie thread grin

Hopefully killed it off..

ReallyTired Mon 14-Dec-15 11:09:11

Singapore Math is far better than Kumon (and mor enjoyable and developmentally appriopiate)

This book is brilliant

It has lots of hands on practical exercises to help a child gain a practical understanding of the world. Counting pairs of shoes to under standing counting in twos. Arranging objects into groups to understand division or place value.

I believe the new maths curriculum goes too fast. If you are going to do extra at home then a child needs time to consolidate rather than get ahead of the game. In Singapore their children appear to be behind up to the age of seven/ eight but they then fly because they have a such good understanding of how numbers work. The foundation stage is about laying a foundation for life. There is little point in teaching adding until a child can count the number of toys cars on the floor in front of him.

Learning is play based under the age of five in schools because research shows that it is what works best. Children need to understand the world before they can understand maths.

StrapOnDodo Mon 14-Dec-15 11:08:40

Whenever I see the word Kumon, I imagine some overanxious parents leaning over a kid with a maths book shouting 'come on, come on- KUMON...only one more sheet then it's time for Mandarin'.

kongseongfatt Mon 14-Dec-15 10:49:32

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Cloud2 Mon 24-Aug-15 10:51:52

Nicolepowell999, maybe you can buy some book from shop and do it youself? Like Bond nonsense math, If he stuggles, you can try year 7-8 first. There are free worksheet from Bond website too. The nice thing about do it youself, is you can find out what your DS is struggling about.

I always think there is not enough practice in primary school now, some children may be fine. But most children would benifit from a bit practice. Like my DS2, he is at the top math group(finished Y2), but is still not very quick at 8+7, 17-8 this sorts of basic question. He can get it, but need thinking.

I buy books from shop, download worksheet from website, we do 2-3 papers a week, everytime it takes 10 minutes. I think this is enough.

ImperialBlether Sat 22-Aug-15 21:36:07

My daughter was very good at Maths. My son wasn't, so he did Kumon and I enrolled my daughter on it, too. She was about 9 and started on 1+1 - by the time she left, a year later, she still wasn't at the point she'd been at when she started.

It's money driven, that's the problem with it. It's a good idea, but by making children start at the basics, the students who find Maths easier will be very, very bored.

Cookie122 Sat 22-Aug-15 21:29:27

i done kumon and found it soooo boring and some days so stressed out. BUT it did help me soooo much I really struggled with maths and it totally helped me

nicolepowell999 Mon 17-Aug-15 19:57:55

Hi sorry to bring this back up but my son is the youngest in the year and struggles a bit with a lot of work and support from me he now has no extra help at school but this scares me and I thought about Kumon but my goodness I am confused! Is it any good for a just turned 8 year old boy who could do with some help?

mrz Sun 16-Nov-14 06:38:08


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