There are several reasons why the Kumon programs fail to help students academically. These reasons vary from the design of the programs themselves to the way in which they're administered.
For many parents, Kumon serves a placebo effect role. While it is understandable that parents seek help for their children, it becomes irrational that they continue to pay for arithmetic worksheets that are available free of charge - or at a very modest price - via the internet. It evades rational thought why parents would pay $125 or $150 per month to have their children go to a storefront location to sit - behind a closed door - for 25 minutes or more and have their son or daughter work 'independently' (aka without any academic support) on worksheets that have little or no bearing on what their child might be doing at school .... month in, month out, year in, and year out.
First to the so-named 'Reading' program. In short, this could be considered more of an 'English as a Second Language' program that addresses only reading comprehension. Having researched the pedagogy behind credible English language programs, the Kumon 'Reading' program falls well short of an English Language program. First, a two or three page 'Placement Test' tells little about a student's strengths or weaknesses in a language.
The Placement Tests may be explicitly designed to start every student at the lowest level reasonably possible without drawing parental scrutiny. Then, there's the matter of the program's administration. The majority of Kumon Center operators would not necessarily list English as a first - or preferred - language. How could anyone who is unable to communicate effectively in English be expected to teach someone else about the language?
Further, despite what Kumon franchisees might say, based on what the corporation tells them to repeat, it is not possible to develop comprehensive language proficiency from a sequenced series of worksheets. To the Kumon 'Math' program. This program is actually more about arithmetic than it is about mathematics. Kumon documents unapologetically state that their 'Math' program covers only between 20% and 40% of curriculum between Grades K and 5, seven formative years of a student's academic journey.
This may well be the underlying reason behind the endless repetition of the same 60 year-old worksheets that Kumon students are subjected to month in, month out, year after year. It could also explain why many Kumon students often need to be tutored. As if to compound matters, the program takes such a divergence to the math students actually cover in school, that the Kumon 'Math' program is almost irrelevant beyond Grade 5 or 6, and certainly offers little relevance by Grade 8. By then however, students have unfortunately missed out on a great deal of underlying material not covered by Kumon.
In fact, my experience now shows that former Kumon students score between 55% and 66% on standard curriculum level math tests at the Grades 5-6 level, and much less (under 40%) by Grade 10. The program is poorly designed, grossly over-weighted in some areas, while others are glaringly under (or not)-represented. These factors weigh heavily against students at any grade level. Further the Kumon Advanced Student Honour Roll serves to confuse and mislead parents.
Once the veneer is removed, how could any program that covers between 20% and 40% of curricula ever credibly confer Advanced Honour Roll standing on any student? 'Advanced?' ... compared to what? I've now had a number of former Kumon students arrive at my independent learning center who, after six years of Kumon, are still unable to add or subtract with any degree of accuracy or fluency.
And, for many students, the timed element of Kumon adds an unconscionable level of stress to their minds. Further, it does no student any good if they're able to do the arithmetic in 5 or 10 seconds... but are unable to understand the math associated with the question. Every standardized test includes a math component that transcends mere arithmetic.
Finally, the notion of developing independent learners may have more to do with hundreds of students at a Kumon Center - working without any academic support - in order for the corporation to collect the royalty fee for each student from their franchisees, without any accountability for what each student is or isn't learning, and the student's parent's inability to know what's really happening behind the closed door to the Kumon 'classroom'. I knew of only two Kumon Center operators with a background in education during my term as a Kumon franchisee. Some do not have a university degree, while the majority does not have a background in a Math-related discipline. This makes it difficult for the majority of Center operators to offer meaningful assistance to students.
Like the majority of education-related franchises, there is no requirement for a background in education among franchisees, who buy a 'business'.
Additionally, much of the rationale used to support the Kumon Method has been debunked by many studies during the past 60 years of educational research since the Kumon programs were developed. The vast majority of children - and stressed minds - simply do not learn the way Kumon tries to convince its student families to accept.
Product or Service Mentioned: Kumon Program.
Reason of review: Bad quality.
Monetary Loss: $100000.
I didn't like: How it does not benefit middle and high school students, Shut them down, Lies.