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Kumon is a tutoring service that helps your child excel at math, reading, critical thinking, and other skills that can help them succeed in life.

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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.


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

2.7 Stars out of 25 Reviews
5 Star:36% 4 Star:0% 3 Star:8% 2 Star:8% 1 Star:48%
36% Recommend This Company
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Posted on Sep 20, 2017

Worst experience

By Wasiq Mirza, Texas, Verified Reviewer

My son went to Kumon in this summer. He spent all his summer until August but couldn't learn any new thing. He is six and they asked him to repeat the same level of math for atleast three times and took all his time in doing 200 pages for three times while he already knows the concept. It was just additions, which he already did in kindergarten. And the staff was really rude, and when I told them that I do not want to continue they did not even ask the reason but they took extra fees for last month even though my son didn't go the whole month.

My experience is very disappointing with Kumon. They are just interested in money and don't care about your child's education. This is my experience with Kumon located on Spring Cypress in Spring, Texas. Maybe other branches are different.

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

Helpful Review? 35 People Have Voted

Posted on Sep 26, 2017

Disappointing. Stay away.

By E Tremblay, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Verified Reviewer

I took my daughter to a Kumon Center for a year (forced to do this due to a contract). I cannot recommend the program in any way. While the rote memory of very basic math operations might help some younger students for a short time, the program is not at all in step with the curricula children face in school. The program is of no benefit to older students - other than to frustrate them. The “Reading” program is an unfocused hodgepodge of some of the elements of English and of minimal use.

By doing research, I've learned that Kumon actually tells its center operators that they should not tutor children. Students are supposed to get enough guidance from very sparse instructions on tiny worksheets. I saw many children in tears as they sat at their desks. Kumon operators are not trained teachers or tutors. The “extensive training” that Kumon center operators say that they get (look at their websites) is simply completing all the worksheets that they will assign to students.

The Center gave very little time or attention to the students. My advice to other parents and students is to stay away.

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

Helpful Review? 42 People Have Voted

Posted on Sep 27, 2017

Bad instructor attitude

By Deep, British Columbia, Canada, Verified Reviewer

My son studied at Kumon for more than one year. But one evening the center head talked to me so rudely, asking me to make my son quit Kumon. He had no legitimate reason but was so rude to my son and me. He said my son asks too many questions and needs more help and Kumon principles do not permit that. That guy was not even ready to explain and even talk to me politely. I wonder if they can't talk politely to parents, how they must be treating kids. I am so disappointed. I will inform my friend circle to not to send their kids to Kumon.

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

Helpful Review? 44 People Have Voted

Posted on Feb 8, 2018

Very rude behavior

By Taranjit Kaur, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, Verified Reviewer

I went to register my son at Kumon, and the guy there was so rude. He asked me if it's the first time for my son at the Kumon, I said no because my son was only around 6 when I registered him there, and after a few months he didn't like it there at all. He would cry every time and I thought I should give a break for some time and so this time I talked to my son and he agreed and said he wanted to go because he needs help in math. So I went there and the guy at the Kumon said "your son didn’t like it here before, so he’s not going to like it this time either, so I can't take him back. I don’t want to waste your time and money."

I was so shocked. Like, I know my son better than you, how could he say that to me? There are many better Tuition Centers than Kumon. Now I myself wouldn’t want to send my child there with the rude people with no respect.

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

Helpful Review? 37 People Have Voted

Posted on Apr 18, 2018

Horrible teaching skill and over crowded

By Sherry Singh, Grand Rapids, MI, Verified Reviewer

I have been sending my daughter to Kumon for almost three years now. She was great in the beginning but as levels started getting harder, the time frame to finish her worksheets took longer. In the last test, it took her one hour to finish her three digits subtraction/addition and the instructor at the center diagnosed her with ADHD. It just made me furious.

Kumon lady, my daughter has been over her grade level, she's way above her state-level MAP test. How dare you say she has ADHD and recommending I should feed her fish oil. Anyway, this might not be the program for my daughter anymore.

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

Helpful Review? 37 People Have Voted

Posted on Oct 7, 2018

Terrible ownership

By Kiril M., Hoffman Estates, IL, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 22 People Have Voted

Posted on Feb 10, 2019

Hate Kumon!

By Andrew L., Warsaw, Poland, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 17 People Have Voted

Posted on Feb 20, 2019

No comment

By John R., Victoria, Australia, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 19 People Have Voted

Posted on May 15, 2019

Still taking money after stopping membership

By Ippei Y., Georgia, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 27 People Have Voted

Posted on Dec 5, 2019

Bad and rude tutor

By Rohit K., Melbourne, Australia, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 10 People Have Voted

Posted on Apr 3, 2020

Boo Kumon

By Wilk T., Washington, DC, Verified Reviewer

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

Helpful Review? 5 People Have Voted
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