How to Decide Whether to Use Kumon Math

By Julie Vickers
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Kumon is a method of learning for literacy and math that comprises out-of-school tutoring sessions and homework assignments. Kumon instructors observe and monitor children's work and attainment to ensure comprehension of key concepts and steady progression in learning. If you are considering enrolling your child for math tutoring sessions, you may wish to consider whether Kumon math is appropriate for your child's learning needs before committing to a Kumom after-school program.

Kumon Learning Environment

Some children experience difficulty with large-group learning sessions, such as whole-class math sessions at school. For example, shy children may feel embarrassed to ask questions in front of a large class and may then fail to grasp fundamental math concepts. Time constraints and behavioral problems within large classes can erode teachers' availability to answer questions and offer individualized tuition. The Kumon learning environment offers smaller groups and more individual tuition time. However, children who have high energy levels may thrive in an active learning environment, such as a busy classroom, and make faster progress by way of varied teaching methods such as class discussions, school visits, cooperative group work and problem-solving practical tasks. Extroverted children may find that Kumon's quiet and methodological approach is too dull and uninspiring.

Kumon Math Worksheets

The Kumon math program advances children through a series of graded worksheets. For example, children who begin at Kumon Level 7A practice counting skills by counting sets of up to 10 pictures or dots. The aim of the Level 7A worksheets is for children to repeat the counting practice until they can instantly recognize and say the total number of objects on the sheet without counting. However, children may learn math more effectively through concrete rather than abstract examples. Therefore, varied activities and contexts and use of all the senses will help to reinforce skills and concepts and enable transferal of learning. For example, counting and one-to-one correspondence skills can be developed by singing number rhymes and by touching and moving each object in a set.

Focus on Arithmetic

The Kumon Math Curriculum covers a series of arithmetic topics, such as addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and algebra. Regular attendance at Kumon math sessions and completion of Kumon math homework assignments may help children develop fast computational skills. However, children who are competent mathematicians but have poor pencil control skills may struggle to complete Kumon worksheets and experience frustration because they are unable to progress to the next level. With its focus on arithmetic, Kumon offers only limited instruction in math topics such as geometry, measures and time telling. Kumon math may therefore prove unsuitable for children who require more generalized math tuition.

Kumon Math Tutors

Kumon tutors are certified instructors of the Kumon Method of Learning who run Kumon Learning Centers as franchises. Kumon tutors are not necessarily qualified teachers. Therefore, the quality of teaching offered by individual Kumon math tutors may vary between Kumon Centers. Some Kumon tutors may lack the requisite experience and skills necessary to teach concepts such as math and implement the behavioral techniques that keep children on task during lesson times. If possible, you could ask parents within your neighborhood whether they have tried the local Kumon Center. You might also contact the local Kumon Center and ask if you can come along and observe a math session in progress.

About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.