Advice from an ex Kumon parent

Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Thinkster

We’ve been asking our Thinkster members to give us feedback on the program. This is the text of an email that one new Thinkster member sent us last week:

This is to anyone who has been doing Kumon® and they or their child are getting stressed:

 My son has been doing Kumon for a year. He was progressing well and according to their statistics, he was well above national average in his math
However, it came at a price, and I was really beginning to wonder whether it was worth it. Talking to other parents in the Kumon centre, I realized I was not alone in feeling totally stressed out with the Kumon program. My child was rarely happy to sit and do 5 to 10 pages of repeated sums, all of which to his mind, looked the same. What was supposed to take 10 minutes invariably took at least double that time, sometimes even 40 minutes. There was hardly any time left for anything else.
To my surprise, after all that time and effort, he didn’t shine in his math report at school. In fact, he might have been able to do complex subtraction in columns, but was struggling on some basic number line work. 
After searching for alternatives, I found Thinkster Math. This is my experience so far:
 
  1. Boys love iPads and would sooner tap away on the screen any day, than be faced with paper and pen.
  2. Thinkster is so portable that he can easily finish off a sheet or two on the short journey to picking up his brother from nursery. I offer him the choice, “You can do your math in the car now, so you have more play time at home, but its your choice!”
  3. The worksheets are in the right bite-size chunks and he dips in and out of it, without me having to dedicate 40 minutes pinning him to the desk. I can reward him immediately with iPad time of his own choice (this works really well on car journeys).
  4. I am no longer looking over his shoulder as much as when he was doing Kumon, because he gets immediate feedback and knows when he has made a mistake. The Thinkster app can’t lie! 
  5. My son is way more motivated, because he reads how many sums he got correct, in what time and how many stars he received. He is upset if he loses stars, so I am taking that as a good sign of motivation.
  6. The Thinkster worksheets are varied and that really suits him. He isn’t bored. He can choose a combination of quick or easy or more challenging work depending on his concentration/ energy level. 
  7. The videos avoid a few arguments between us, as I am no longer having to teach him as much!
  8. My son feels more in control, because he chooses the sheets he is doing that day. 
  9. Arguments and stress levels are definitely lower in our house with Thinkster compared with Kumon.
With respect to the math, I realize it is probably more beneficial doing math in line with the school curriculum. It probably helps his confidence at school and better supports him for school tests etc.
I got a bit worried that the worksheets might be too easy at times, how will they assess his progression etc, but I think even doing stuff that is easy is great for his confidence. I also found it a bit of a shock that some of his basic maths skills were rubbish. Despite doing complex column subtraction in Kumon he struggled with some word problems and also reasoning skills.
I do feel Thinkster gives a much more rounded set of skills, which will hopefully stand him in good stead. He might not be as fast at arithmetic as he would be with Kumon, but I think that is compensated for by him learning to problem solve better ( and learning vital skills, like reading the question!!).
The support from the coach so far has been amazing. More chats than I have with his school teacher! By not having to go into a Kumon center once week, my son has essentially gained an afternoon to chill after school. Yes, he does his Thinkster instead, but it  takes way less time, can be chunked into pieces and so gives my son more time to do things he wants to do too. 
After my 2 week trial, I have signed up and stopped my payments to Kumon. 
This is just a personal insight. I am only 3 weeks in but I think I like what I have seen so far. 
 
Thinkster has a 2 week free trial available to all. Not just for those who are feeling the Kumon stress!
Note:  Kumon®  is a registered trademark of Kumon North America, Inc. Thinkster Math is in no way affiliated to the same.

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Caroline Mukisa

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