About Kumon

By HighYa Editorial Team
Updated on: Jun 25, 2020

In business more than 50 years with locations in 48 countries, Kumon is the largest after school math and reading program in the world.

At each of the Kumon’s franchise locations, instructors can help “accelerate your child’s learning” through their individualized, carefully planned instruction and disciplined, worksheet-based approach, which allow your child to progress at his or her own pace, regardless of academic level.

Starting from age 3 through high school, Kumon’s structured, proven self-learning math and reading programs claim to give your child “a lifetime of advantages,” including a pattern of academic success, a spark for critical thinking, and help to build their self confidence.

Many Kumon students study above their grade level, which the company claims can help them compete in today’s world.

Whether you’re looking to move your child beyond their current school curriculum, or to help them catch up, is Kumon a good choice? This review assesses the process and what it would look like for your child.

How Do Children Learn at Kumon?

At the core of Kumon’s methodology are their worksheets, which actively involve your child in the process, and which are “continually fine tuned to keep them relevant in the modern world.”

According to the company, their math program was developed from the top-down by asking: “What mathematical skills are necessary to study calculus,” while their reading program is intended to reinforce reasoning, interpretation, induction, and persuasion skills.

During the week, your child will be responsible for completing seven assignments (one per day), which take about 30 minutes each. Five of these assignments will be completed at home with your guidance, while the remaining two are completed at your local Kumon center.

Kumon's worksheets teach concepts in a logical way, so your child will have a solid grasp of the fundamentals before moving on to the next step.

Furthermore, Kumon’s materials are built to enhance what students learn in school, not replace it, so you’ll have the insights to know “if your child is struggling with lessons – or advancing ahead of grade level.” Remember this point, because we’ll come back to it shortly.

Does Kumon Help With Reading?

Kumon’s reading program is designed to help students of all ages and abilities conquer reading, from basic phonics to in-depth comprehension.

To do this, each student will work through a series of assignments in incremental progressions. For example, they’ll first learn to make sounds. Then, they’ll use sounds to form words by connecting words with familiar objects and reciting rhyming phrases.

Next, they’ll use words to form sentences. This is accomplished by studying simple phrases and basic sentences, identifying subjects and predicates, and learning to define words using context clues.

Now, your child will learn how to use sentences to form paragraphs.

They’ll start by creating compound and complex sentences, learning to understand the main and supporting ideas of statements, and developing a relationship between sentences in a paragraph, and also between paragraphs.

Finally, Kumon’s reading program will move into the summary and critique levels, where you child will sharpen their logical reasoning ability and learn how to apply information gathered from text.

This includes developing analysis skills and introducing story elements like plot, character, and descriptive language by exposing them to many different styles of writing.

Kumon’s Math Program

The Kumon Math Program was designed to help students studying at any level, from learning to count to calculus, regardless of their current abilities, age, or grade by asking the question: “What mathematical skills are necessary to study calculus?” As with Reading, each level within Kumon’s Math Program is designed to build on the previous level:

  • Ages 3-5 – Using engaging, colorful worksheets, your child will begin developing basic math skills like counting, writing numbers, and addition and subtraction. This with honing the fine motor skills necessary to write numbers, followed by number sequencing, developing mental calculation skills, and boosting critical thinking skills.

  • Ages 6-12 – At this point, your child will be introduced to more advanced math concepts like arithmetic, fractions, and decimals, including multiplication tables, single and multi-digit numbers, division, fractions, and ultimately, algebra.

  • Ages 13+ – Now, your child will learn advanced, high-school level math, from simple equations and quadratic equations, functions, and integrals, to differential equations. This will prepare them for calculus, college, and ultimately, their career.

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How Much Does Kumon Cost?

Most Kumon educational centers are franchises, so they’re independently owned and operated and prices may vary. However, according to DetroitMommies, you should “expect to pay $95 – $125 per month, per subject, plus a $30 – $50 one-time registration fee.”

A more specific look at the pricing structure is as follows:

  • Enrollment is month-to-month, no long-term commitment required
  • Tuition is $175 per month for one class/subject.
  • For students enrolled in two subjects, tuition is $320 per month.
  • A one-time registration fee is $50 and $30 materials fee per student
  • $175 refundable security deposit per student
  • Tuition is due before the beginning of the month
  • If you want to cancel, you must notify the center 15 days before the beginning of next month.

After enrollment, your child will take a no-cost assessment to determine their best starting point. As mentioned above, upon beginning, this includes all worksheet-based assignments, as well as 2 weekly visits to your neighborhood Kumon center, where your child will complete their assignments.

Regarding these visits, we contacted Kumon customer support to obtain additional information and learned that your child will spend about 30 minutes in class (roughly the same amount of time it will take them to complete assignments at home).

This time can vary though, depending on your child’s progress, whether or not they have any problems that need to be addressed, questions answered, etc., which is the primary purpose of these visits.

What Is Kumon+?

Every complete month your child attends Kumon, they can earn points that can be traded in for different rewards, such as microscopes and art tools, games and sports equipment, and even the ability to make a charitable donation to a worthy cause.

All students’ points are displayed on their personalized home page, along with their complete rewards catalog.

Are Parents & Students Happy with Kumon’s Instruction?

It seems that reviewers either love or loathe Kumon, with little middle ground.

For example, many of the parents interviewed in this 2011 NY Times article seemed pleased with their child’s progress at Kumon. However, most of the professionals quoted in the article questioned the programs’ real world usefulness.

The author specifically stated, “Research suggests that there is little benefit from this kind of tutoring; that young children learn just as much about math, if not more, fitting mixing bowls together on the kitchen floor.”

Similarly, Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, was quoted as saying, “The best you can say is that they’re useless.”

Donald Sauter, a former Kumon franchisee whose contract wasn’t renewed after he claims he attempted to raise concerns about the coursework, seems to think there are many more cons than pros. Specifically, he thinks the company has an “unreasonable” approach to math:

“Above the arithmetic levels, there is hardly any correspondence between Kumon levels and school grades. For example, Kumon puts calculus before trigonometry. But that's not the reason your child will never reach trigonometry; Kumon is almost certain to weed him out long before calculus. It does this with ridiculously complicated work in polynomial factorization; in maxima and minima of every sort of function to come down the pike; and wrestling with inequalities of those functions.

… speaking from the point of view of someone who loved math and was a physics and math major in college, I found much of it very painful and of very questionable value. It's no mystery that there are long- and well-established Kumon centers that have never had a math program completer.”

To this extent, MathInsider.com claims that Kumon isn’t “the answer to all maths problems but it’s not a rip-off or scam either.” In other words, while your child could very well experience progress, it’s important that you keep your expectations realistic and understand that:

  • Teachers may not be “qualified” to teach math (and different ones will have different personalities),
  • There is a lot of rote memorization involved, and
  • There’s very often a difference between the methods taught at Kumon and what your child might learn at school.

Finally, from a company perspective, Kumon North America, based out of Teaneck, NJ, had an A- Better Business Bureau rating at the time of our research.

Although there were only three closed complaints, the company failed to respond to all of them. However, none referenced the company specifically—only individual branches.

Is Kumon a Good Tutoring Program?

Kumon has been in business for well over half a century, most centers are independently owned and operated by franchisees, and you’ll find supportive Kumon reviews wherever you click online.

Just like any other legitimate business, though—especially one that focuses on learning—what works well for one child might may not for another.

For example, based on much of the professional feedback we read during our research, it appears Kumon takes a repetition and drill-oriented approach to learning; especially math.

Students might repeat the same equation dozens of times before moving on, with as little explanation as possible. On top of this, students are frequently expected to complete highly challenging timed tests in order to qualify for higher levels.

Given these points, if your child prefers to have someone provide a detailed explanation of the concept behind the equation they’re working on, if they require diversity in order to remain engaged, or they don’t perform well during timed drills, Kumon’s learning style may not be their (or your) cup of tea.

On the other hand, thousands of parents swear by what their children have accomplished through Kumon’s learning centers, and claim that they’re often light years ahead of their peers.

Also, as with any other purchase, remember to explore all your options. In addition to Kumon, there are other nationwide tutoring and after-school centers like Sylvan, online-only programs, and even options available through many school districts.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of Kumon:
  • 24 Customer Reviews
  • 38% Recommend This Company
2.7 out of 5
5 star: 37% 4 star: 0% 3 star: 4% 2 star: 8% 1 star: 50%

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  • Kumon is the worst

    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    Kumon is the worst way to make your child learn, they have an outdated learning way, they give you tons of homework every day that my child could not fit in her schedule!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Boo Kumon

    • By Wilk T.,
    • Washington, DC,
    • Apr 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I signed my kids up for Kumon in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I had a terrible experience with them. They had terrible customer service, and were rude to me. I definitely do not recommend signing your kids up for this.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Bad and rude tutor

    • By Rohit K.,
    • Melbourne, Australia,
    • Dec 5, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    My son goes to Kumon Ivanhoe center. The lady instructor Nora here is very very rude. She just does not let the parent talk. It's a very bad experience and so so difficult dealing with her. Never seen any teacher so aggressive and trying control. Don't know how they treat kids when they are talking to parents like that.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Feed back

    • By Daniel M.,
    • Nashville, TN,
    • May 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    It has been a couple of months since my son started attending Kumon. He started with the reading program. He improved very significantly his understanding of the articles he read and reflected of a significant improvement in his school performance. He initially hated to do the homework but later on, he developed the habit of doing his homework regularly and with no reminder from his parents. Seeing his improved performance in reading, he started the math class. The teachers are very dedicated and diligent in their work and I would say that this is the high-value service I ever found for my child. I recommend all parents to consider this as an important gift to their children.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Still taking money after stopping membership

    • By Ippei Y.,
    • Georgia,
    • May 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    We stopped the membership 6 months ago and signed paperwork to stop Kumon. However, they took money from the bank and do not return them. They keep ignoring phone calls or texts. Currently I'm working with a lawyer for this issue. Their study program was OK, but how they handle customer's money is no good.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Not a sustainable program

    • By Jenny B.,
    • Credit View/Britannia, Mississauga, Canada,
    • Apr 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I sent my child to the center for English Reading. The program was good for him initially, but in just less than a year, it became too difficult for him to continue. At the center, there is an inexperienced teaching staff. When the child is struggling with understanding concepts, this is not explained to them. The solution offered by the staff is to get the student to repeat the same material over and over again without understanding the concepts taught. The Kumon solution is simply, to repeat the material multiple times. The child hates doing the same material over and over again. The staff will also make a student repeat the material if they take more than the allocated time to complete each book. My child took much longer to do the material than the allocated time, as he hated doing the work and spent most of the time complaining about having to do the material. He is also a very slow writer. Kumon does not take any of these factors into account. It assumes that if a child takes longer than what they determine is acceptable then, the child needs to repeat the material. When the child repeats the material, they remember the answers not how to determine the answers.

    The early levels 7A to 2A (inclusive) tests did not assess his spelling of basic words. They started testing spelling at A1 level. I noticed that even though my child moved on to a higher level, he still did not know how to spell basic words. Kumon assumes that the child will learn how to spell basic words in earlier levels which is wrong. At A1 level and beyond, the child is expected to learn how to spell about 150 words (which is excessive) in addition to the concepts taught at each level. In the material, there are no strategies explaining to the child how to answer comprehension questions.

    The Kumon material also does not explain concepts well or often, provides no explanation at all. Kumon books, which can be purchased from retailers, explains concepts far better than the course material.

    In some levels, there is too much for the child to learn in one level. If the child fails, they are given the same test to do. The child passes the second time, simply because they know the answers to the test not because they have learned the concepts in the level tested. This is a "false" sense of achievement for the child and the parent. But Kumon does this to make parents believe the program is working for their child.

    The center offers no helpful assistance to the child and the program is 100% reliant on the parent to assist the child. So you are paying for the material $130- $150 per month.

    Significant improvements need to be made to the Kumon material and the method of teaching. My recommendation is if you want to try the program, try it for no more than 8 months and then switch to another course or use the Kumon books instead, which can be purchased online.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • No comment

    • By John R.,
    • Victoria, Australia,
    • Feb 20, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    The Kumon center which is located in Springvale is a very unsafe place mentally and physically. It is not recommended to send your children there or work there. The owner of the franchise bases in Springvale is very rude with his employees, whom he abuses verbally and physically. The students who are sent there are very rude and uneducated, always yelling and being rude towards the teachers and each other.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Hate Kumon!

    • By Andrew L.,
    • Warsaw, Poland,
    • Feb 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Attitude to people like cattle! It is the worst conference in Warsaw! Not recommend Kumon this to a friend! Not a transparent selection!

    German behavior, manners gone. The method is interesting but very bad organization and people from the German office - Thomas Ashlin. Bad, very bad!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Great program!

    • By Geetha V.,
    • King of Prussia, PA,
    • Jan 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    This program helped a lot to my son. He improved his skills (writing/reading). We started this program when he is in Pre-K. And still, he continues. I would recommend this program for all students. Great learning.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Great method

    • By Valentina P.,
    • North Miami, FL,
    • Oct 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    My husband discovered this method of learning 6 years ago. My older son started the program in math when he was 4 years old and the program worked very good, and the kids learn to do the work by himself day by day. After more than 5 years I can observe that this is a method of consistency that requires discipline, little time and we parents have to correct the work at home, make the kids use to keep working on vacation and weekends, also the adult need to drive the kids to the center two times a week. Kumon helps the kids to focus, they notice their own improvements in time and when they go to class at school. Kumon keeps the kids motivated.

    We also made our youngest son start when he was 4 years old.

    I don’t see Kumon like a tutoring system because I believe that if they start before kindergarten, the kid is used to do this little work every day before they start the school homework. This method, in my opinion, is a long-term program to improve the kids' capacity of learning.

    I hope you like it too!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Terrible ownership

    • By Kiril M.,
    • Hoffman Estates, IL,
    • Oct 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    The place is very bad and dirty, the owner took an over $700 deposit and after only one lesson refused to refund. My kid did not like the place, it was dirty and stinky.

    Kids sit there and solve same problems for hours, no logical education. The place is a total scam and the corporate office did not help since it’s a franchise business.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


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