What is your opinion on Kumon?
Started by
Magratte
, Aug 23 2018 08:50 AM
114 replies to this topic
#51
mayahlb
Posted 23 August 2018  11:04 PM
Expelliarmus, on 23 August 2018  09:51 PM, said:
Curriculum says 'learn multiplication facts to ten' (year 4) actually.. People think time tables are the same but I disagree.
*damn, why am I not backing away*
I always like your posts expelli as they give great information. I haven’t looked at the curriculum, it’s just some note that came home saying we would like your children to know these times tables by the end of yr 4 and these by the end of yr 5. I know they do more then that in class as another sheet for sent home, something to do with arrays and finding example of multiplication facts in the house. Honestly I don’t touch much math with the big kid as we have more then enough issues with the whole literacy side of thing and math he’s getting along in ok. I was actually more shocked to find the yr 2 kid doing multiplication word problems and that apparently the teacher is introducing division this week. (Like x has a pizza with 8 slices and 3 friends. How many slices does each person get?)
Then again I can’t even remember being taught times tables in primary. I think we might have worked on memorising them in yr 6??? I changed schools a lot and math was easy for me to understand but some of it I don’t remember being explicitly taught.
#52
Literary Lemur
Posted 23 August 2018  11:07 PM
Expelliarmus, on 23 August 2018  11:00 PM, said:
I believe annodam's DD is now in Year 11 or 12.
Thanks. I misunderstood.
#53
WaitForMe
Posted 23 August 2018  11:15 PM
jayskette, on 23 August 2018  08:14 PM, said:
You learn your ABCs by rote in kinder. You don't ask how or why you just know a letter is pronounced thus and looks like thus. It is not until senior high or uni where you get to learn about linguistics and etymology, but until then you still need to learn how to read and speak English. Times tables is one of those concepts that should be taught by rote as early in primary school as possible you kids get to then learn about concepts like artithmetic and number manipulation without calculators. Then you start to understand the concept of multiplication, ratios etc because it clicks. The aim is getting it without the teacher explicitly stating how or why. The teachers can do the explaining for the more advanced concepts.
Actually my DD went to two local kinders and neither taught her the ABCs.
#54
Expelliarmus
Posted 23 August 2018  11:18 PM
mayahlb, on 23 August 2018  11:04 PM, said:
I always like your posts expelli as they give great information. I haven’t looked at the curriculum, it’s just some note that came home saying we would like your children to know these times tables by the end of yr 4 and these by the end of yr 5. I know they do more then that in class as another sheet for sent home, something to do with arrays and finding example of multiplication facts in the house. Honestly I don’t touch much math with the big kid as we have more then enough issues with the whole literacy side of thing and math he’s getting along in ok. I was actually more shocked to find the yr 2 kid doing multiplication word problems and that apparently the teacher is introducing division this week. (Like x has a pizza with 8 slices and 3 friends. How many slices does each person get?)
Then again I can’t even remember being taught times tables in primary. I think we might have worked on memorising them in yr 6??? I changed schools a lot and math was easy for me to understand but some of it I don’t remember being explicitly taught.
Curriculum says ' They recall multiplication facts to 10 x 10 and related division facts.'
Not sure why a Yr2 doing multiplication and division is shocking though. 'By the end of Year 2, students recognise increasing and decreasing number sequences involving 2s, 3s and 5s. They represent multiplication and division by grouping into sets.'
That said this: 'x has a pizza with 8 slices and 3 friends. How many slices does each person get?' is a rubbish question for year 2  I would hope any problems are based on equal sets as required by the content. Also it is worth noting that 'word problems' are not necessarily 'more advanced' than other types of problems. In fact that one is basically a fluency question and not a problem at all  unless they are in year 4 and being expected to deal with remainders and decimals as well as fractions and divide up the entire pizza ...
Arrays are mega important by the way.
Just sayin ...
Posted 23 August 2018  11:50 PM
In year 2 my DD was getting 100% in her maths assessments but when we asked about extension we were told that other students (who were doing kumon) were much faster with their times tables and therefore DD was not believed to be particularly talented at maths.
In my son’s class the principal would regularly drop in to the class to challenge another kumon student to speed tests, ignoring the other students’ efforts.
We moved to a new school with a specialist maths teacher with high hopes. All but a handful of kids in each class were doing 34 hours a week and all school holidays at coaching college. By yr 4 DD had internalised the belief that she was no good at maths, reinforced by the maths teacher who reacted with surprise whenever she got a good result in a branch of maths that wasn’t commonly coached for (leaving the class on an even playing field).
In yr 5 we relented and got a private maths tutor. One hour a week with an inspiring young woman that DD really admires and maths is now her favourite subject and she tackles complex problems with confidence and enthusiasm.
Based on my experience, if schools want families to eschew coaching college and trust in the education system, then teachers need to stop being dazzled by kumon party tricks.
#56
Expelliarmus
Posted 24 August 2018  06:42 AM
I am in no way dazzled by Kumon. It cannot make kids a year ahead in all four proficiencies as it concentrates on only one, often handicapping their ability to develop all four proficiencies. I find that students who have done Kumon or other commercial tutoring programs have huge gaps in their understanding, analytical reasoning and problem solving. There’s no point being a year 3 kid who can add improper fractions with the same denominator and mixed fractions if you can’t explain what a fraction is. Or name them. Or model them. Or explain the relationship between fractions and division. And percentages. Or find all the halves of a triangle. Or a rectangle. Or identify fractions of a whole or a collection as opposed to a shape. Or use those fractions to find properties of collections  which is the entire point of fractions.
#57
Elly_Bells
Posted 24 August 2018  07:24 AM
Expelliarmus, on 24 August 2018  06:42 AM, said:
I am in no way dazzled by Kumon. It cannot make kids a year ahead in all four proficiencies as it concentrates on only one, often handicapping their ability to develop all four proficiencies. I find that students who have done Kumon or other commercial tutoring programs have huge gaps in their understanding, analytical reasoning and problem solving. There’s no point being a year 3 kid who can add improper fractions with the same denominator and mixed fractions if you can’t explain what a fraction is. Or name them. Or model them. Or explain the relationship between fractions and division. And percentages. Or find all the halves of a triangle. Or a rectangle. Or identify fractions of a whole or a collection as opposed to a shape. Or use those fractions to find properties of collections  which is the entire point of fractions.
Another primary teacher here. I often do a little private sigh when I meet a new student at the beginning of the year who is doing Kumon. It often means that they are very confident with automatic recall and are superkeen to show me how fast they can complete a worksheet, but are lacking in confidence in other areas. In the worst cases they are dismissive of tasks that requires them to apply their understandings or explore mathematical ideas. They just want to be doing more worksheets.
Having said that, Kumon can serve a purpose. If there is a clear goal for attending, and parents stop when that goal is achieved, it can be useful. I have heard of students who were struggling with early reading (decoding) concepts, didn't receive support at their school, who picked it up quickly at Kumon. It can be the same with those struggling with automatic recall of basic facts in maths. But when those goals are achieved I wish those students would stop Kumon so the other areas can develop.
#58
Overtherainbow
Posted 24 August 2018  11:22 AM
Year 2s count forwards and backwards by 1s, 2s, 3s, 5s and 10s forwards and backwards beyond 1000. This allows for skip counting rather than memorisation.
They answer word problems using multiplication and division.
They solve division problems that include a remainder.
They understand the fractions 1/, 1/4 and 1/8
At a higher level they understand relationships between multiplication and division.
They recognise equivalent fractions.
All of this can be taught hands on, and is based on an understanding of how the maths works.
#59
Abernathy
Posted 24 August 2018  02:15 PM
My kids did Kumon for a few months. Bored them to tears. Just worksheets, worksheets and more worksheets. My kids got no actual tutoring from anyone at Kumon. The boredom factor made my kids unwilling to do the worksheets so we stopped. Wouldn't recommend it!
#60
rainne
Posted 24 August 2018  02:46 PM
Expelliarmus, on 24 August 2018  06:42 AM, said:
I am in no way dazzled by Kumon. It cannot make kids a year ahead in all four proficiencies as it concentrates on only one, often handicapping their ability to develop all four proficiencies. I find that students who have done Kumon or other commercial tutoring programs have huge gaps in their understanding, analytical reasoning and problem solving. There’s no point being a year 3 kid who can add improper fractions with the same denominator and mixed fractions if you can’t explain what a fraction is. Or name them. Or model them. Or explain the relationship between fractions and division. And percentages. Or find all the halves of a triangle. Or a rectangle. Or identify fractions of a whole or a collection as opposed to a shape. Or use those fractions to find properties of collections  which is the entire point of fractions.
Elly_Bells, on 24 August 2018  07:24 AM, said:
Another primary teacher here. I often do a little private sigh when I meet a new student at the beginning of the year who is doing Kumon. It often means that they are very confident with automatic recall and are superkeen to show me how fast they can complete a worksheet, but are lacking in confidence in other areas. In the worst cases they are dismissive of tasks that requires them to apply their understandings or explore mathematical ideas. They just want to be doing more worksheets.
Having said that, Kumon can serve a purpose. If there is a clear goal for attending, and parents stop when that goal is achieved, it can be useful. I have heard of students who were struggling with early reading (decoding) concepts, didn't receive support at their school, who picked it up quickly at Kumon. It can be the same with those struggling with automatic recall of basic facts in maths. But when those goals are achieved I wish those students would stop Kumon so the other areas can develop.
Just popping in to say a big thank you to both of you  these threads make me so anxious that I am letting down my children by not buying them private tutoring or extension classes, even though they're both already strong academically. Having experts weigh in and explain the issues so clearly is immensely valuable. Thanks.
(Now if someone can reassure me that the same principle holds true in high school, that would be great, because another thread has me convinced that even the smartest kid stands no chance in the modern world without their parents paying out for private tutelage).
#61
ballogo
Posted 25 August 2018  12:44 PM
Expelliarmus, on 24 August 2018  06:42 AM, said:
There’s no point being a year 3 kid who can add improper fractions with the same denominator and mixed fractions if you can’t explain what a fraction is. Or name them. Or model them. Or explain the relationship between fractions and division. And percentages. Or find all the halves of a triangle. Or a rectangle. Or identify fractions of a whole or a collection as opposed to a shape. Or use those fractions to find properties of collections  which is the entire point of fractions.
This. Exactly this. I had a boy last year who could calculate equivalent fractions and therefore add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators. But when we looked at our windows in the classroom which are a 2 x 3 array he couldn't find the equivalent fractions. Another little girl who has never been tutored but has one of those amazing mathematical brains was able to add a half and a third. She explained to me that to do so she needed all the same size fraction parts. Using the window in the room, the 2 x 3, she told me how she figured out her answer.
The only time I have ever recommended Kumon is in the upper grades when a child really needed to increase the fluency of their recall of their basic facts. Usually this was holding them back from further learning with fractions and geometry.
#62
liveworkplay
Posted 25 August 2018  08:44 PM
Quote There’s no point being a year 3 kid who can add improper fractions with the same denominator and mixed fractions if you can’t explain what a fraction is. Or name them. Or model them. Or explain the relationship between fractions and division. And percentages. Or find all the halves of a triangle. Or a rectangle. Or identify fractions of a whole or a collection as opposed to a shape. Or use those fractions to find properties of collections  which is the entire point of fractions.
I was helping a year 11 with their IA last week. We had a limited amount of a certain chemical they needed and I was asking what volume they needed for their trials. They told me they didn't think it would be enough as they needed 50mls or a 30% solution. I looked at it and asked what mass they would need....blank look. I then asked what mass for 100mls of a 30% solution....blank look...I then asked what does 30% mean?....blank look.
These are smart kids, at a prestigious school which routinely have the highest number of students in the top 1% or ATAR scores in our state, yet they can't use cross discipline knowledge or worse still, don't know their basics
Edited by liveworkplay, 25 August 2018  08:46 PM.
#63
liveworkplay
Posted 25 August 2018  08:50 PM
rainne, on 24 August 2018  02:46 PM, said:
(Now if someone can reassure me that the same principle holds true in high school, that would be great, because another thread has me convinced that even the smartest kid stands no chance in the modern world without their parents paying out for private tutelage).
It's still true. I am not saying some kids don't need tutoring in some of the more demanding subjects in yr 11/12, but kids can do exceedingly well without tutoring, it depends on the child. My eldest DD has always been strong academically. If anything she is doing even better in high school than primary school as she is pushed and extended within class as a matter of course. She is currently doing pre tertiary maths for fun (she is in yr 8) after her teacher asked he if she had actually learnt anything this year in class ( he is the senior maths teacher at her school) and she diplomatically replied "sort of, once you show us something I think "of course I know that, and then can do it"
Edited by liveworkplay, 25 August 2018  08:51 PM.
#64
tomson
Posted 25 August 2018  09:09 PM
The no tutoring in high school is possible, but be prepared for disbelief when the kid answers "no one" to the question of who your tutor is. I have had parents bail me up to confirm what they have been told by their kids (and by the school itself, which i can't quite get over).
My kid is entirely academic, it is just his thing, and is dux of his selective high, with no tutoring ever. A lot of his friends are spending hours at tutoring, and it does seem to be reasonably standard, particularly with his friends with an Indian background.
Having seen some of the worksheets and worked solutions, particularly in English, my kid doesn't see the value.
My other kid is a mid range student at the same school, and again no tutoring, and is happy with her progress (this last might be the point  happy and coping fine, so no tutoring needed).
#65
annodam
Posted 26 August 2018  01:39 PM
I also believe in (High School at least) a good Math Teacher is worth their weight in Gold!
I have relatives & friends who are Teachers. Some in PS some in a HS setting. The HS ones always repeat ad nauseum there's a shortage of good Math Teachers around for Senior students.
With DD, Yrs 7/8/9 we had exceptional Math Teachers at our school (still do) & DD was coping just fine. No issues at all, she was a C grade student, which I was happy with as I knew Math wasn't her strongest subject.
To me, as long as she was passing & enjoying the subject was more than enough.
However, come Yr 10 & a rubbish Math Teacher, everything went down hill, even a Tutor twice a week couldn't pull her out of the raging torrent!
After that debacle, no fkn way am I gonna let this happen with my second! A Private Tutor from Yr 7, despite the fact he gets Math now.
No point excelling at Math in bloody PS!
I need him excelling in the Senior years where it counts!
#66
Twinkie12
Posted 26 August 2018  02:34 PM
I did Kumon as a kid. Not sure if it has changed since then, but I do recall a lot of repetition and rote learning.
My mother started me on it, as she was a teacher, and could see I was falling behind in about grade 1/2.
In those days, being in country victoria, it was all done by correspondence.
I had a special desk set up for my daily Kumon, which made it feel very formal and grown up. It helped keep me interested.
My mother also teamed it with random times table quizzes in the 10 minute car ride to school each day.
For the rest of primary school and up to maths methods, I was at the top of the class. The rote learning stuck with me and I don’t use a calculator a lot. It also taught me the process of learning, which was useful in all learning.
#67
Selkie
Posted 26 August 2018  09:41 PM
rainne, on 24 August 2018  02:46 PM, said:
(Now if someone can reassure me that the same principle holds true in high school, that would be great, because another thread has me convinced that even the smartest kid stands no chance in the modern world without their parents paying out for private tutelage).
I came from an economically disadvantaged rural background and I had a tutor in senior high school for specialist maths. It was only for an hour or so a fortnight, but to be able able to work through concepts that I didn't understand in a 1:1 setting was invaluable. It just worked in a way I couldn't achieve entirely in the classroom.
#68
unicycle
Posted 27 August 2018  12:50 PM
rainne, on 24 August 2018  02:46 PM, said:
(Now if someone can reassure me that the same principle holds true in high school, that would be great, because another thread has me convinced that even the smartest kid stands no chance in the modern world without their parents paying out for private tutelage).
Our biggest issue has been the teachers in high school using the tutored kids as a benchmark. These kids are getting the tutors to teach ahead of the curriculum so that when it is time for the next topic they appear advanced. The teacher uses this then as the class normbecause it now is and my kids miss out. True story.
#69
rainne
Posted 27 August 2018  01:11 PM
Thanks guys. Sorry for the derail, but I do appreciate the responses!
To be clear, of course I don't object to the very notion of tutors! They can be immensely valuable, and some of my best friends, etc., etc. I do object to precisely the point unicycle makes, and if the ATAR is graded on a curve that's...a whole thing. A thing that entrenches inequality, amongst many other issues.
Anyway we can get back to Kumon! Sorry OP.
#70
aquarium2
Posted 27 August 2018  01:36 PM
My dd7 has been doing maths kumon for about 18 mths.
I started her at Kumon because she was falling behind in number recall simple addition and subtraction.
18 mths later, she's one of the fasted in her class at basic addition, subtraction and division. She also knows all of her timetables. No other child in her class can recall time tables like she can.
I do recognise that kumon is largely about rote, however you cannot ignore the fact that Kumon is taught in such a way that teaches children to teach themselves. The way the sums are arranged on the worksheets is very strategic and pattern orientated. Kumon students get used to not relying on a tutor to help them solve problems, they are taught to do it themselves by using the work books.
I look at Kumon as a bonus, and I expect school to teach other the other components of maths.
I do think though that it depends on they style of learning that suits the child. My DD benefits from repetition and right now I don't care if she doesn't understand why 7*7 is 49. Simple fact is she can draw on core number skills and learn the rational and logic along the way.
And kumon books also have word based questions too, it's not all rote.
#71
BeStill
Posted 27 August 2018  01:46 PM
seemingly, on 23 August 2018  07:35 PM, said:
I managed to get through my entire primary years not knowing my times tables, fractions or decimals. How? Because I could count quickly on my fingers and in my head.
5 x 6? 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5.
It wasn't until I was in year 8 and had to really start learning algebra and rearranging linear equations that my math teacher informed my parents.
They immediately enrolled me in Kumon, which I attended initially twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday afternoons). I was placed in a what I considered super easy level, booklets of 2 + 7 = 9 sort of questions.
Those questions built to 23 + 87. And then 146  39, etc.
Then it was times tables, starting with 2 x 2 etc, all the way up to 12. Followed by division tables, 81 / 9.
Next was fractions  adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing.
I was then topping my class in Math by the next year, because I could easily do the basics.
My 2 cents is that if your child does not know their times tables, or needs a calculator to solve sums like 25 + 93, doesn't understand fractions and/or wants to advance to more challenging mathematical concepts, Kumon is a great learning tool.
I still don’t know my times tables... I still managed a very high TER (don’t know what the equivalent is though now) and completed 3 university degrees, coming top of my cohort in 2 out of 3 of those. Rote learning and times tables aren’t everything;)
#72
Elizabethandfriend
Posted 27 August 2018  01:50 PM
I think a key point is that Kumon is costly in both money and time. You are generally expected to attend twice a week and do a daily worksheet. For most families, including travel, that would be something like a 34 hour commitment.
Its not that children get nothing from Kumon but if you spent 34 hours a week doing the other things people have suggested in this thread  online programs, maths books from the newsagency, maths games, asking for extra work from the teacher or even tutoring, you are likely to produce a stronger maths student than through the Kumon approach.
#73
seayork2002
Posted 27 August 2018  01:57 PM
BeStill, on 27 August 2018  01:46 PM, said:
I still don’t know my times tables... I still managed a very high TER (don’t know what the equivalent is though now) and completed 3 university degrees, coming top of my cohort in 2 out of 3 of those. Rote learning and times tables aren’t everything;)
I topped my class for alegbra and was pretty good at other high school maths, I did some uni maths courses and got high marks for those  I can work timetables out in my head but have no idea how to recall them instantly and I have no idea how the heck to help DS with primary school maths!
#74
BeStill
Posted 27 August 2018  02:06 PM
seayork2002, on 27 August 2018  01:57 PM, said:
I topped my class for alegbra and was pretty good at other high school maths, I did some uni maths courses and got high marks for those  I can work timetables out in my head but have no idea how to recall them instantly and I have no idea how the heck to help DS with primary school maths!
Yep I’m exactly the same. I still count 5 times tables by 5’s on my fingers lol. I can do 9’s on my hands with the drop finger trick. Beyond that I’ve got no tricks. I do them in my head but I’m definitely not able to recall them automatically. I’ve survived to date.
#75
seemingly
Posted 27 August 2018  07:44 PM
Of course you can survive without knowing your times tables instantly, but knowing the basics really does make math in general easier. By seeing 93 and knowing what it can be divided by, or 24/36 and knowing how to reduce that fraction, or knowing you can change 16 x 5 to 8 x 10 to make the multiplication easier  all can be achieved through rote learning and recognising patterns. Kumon is great for building up the basics so the harder concepts in math are much easier.
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