Many parents are curious as to what the differences between Thinkster Math and Kumon are. In an earlier blog, we highlighted some of the differences from a parent’s perspective. Our Thinkster coaches have more to share.
Thinkster Math has three coaches (Debbie P., Wendy B., and Caroline M.) on the team who are ex-Kumon instructors. Their experience with Kumon, particularly limitations they faced, encouraged them to look for alternatives.
When Debbie, one of Thinkster’s Canadian coaches, is asked what she liked about Kumon, she replies, “Near the end of my career, not much. I found it terribly constricting that I was not able to help the students at their grade level school work. It was ‘drill and kill’ with the regurgitation of mental calculation and hoping that it would transcend to application skills.”
This sentiment is echoed by all three teachers.
While Kumon does lead to success with mental arithmetic skills, success is ultimately measured by how quickly a student progresses through ‘levels’. For example, an impressive feat is when a student in 3rd grade is at Level G (basic algebra) in Kumon.
But how does this translate to the classroom?
It undoubtedly helps in building confidence, but the topics do not remain relevant to the student. As Debbie says, “What’s the point of knowing algebra when you won’t be doing it at school for another five years? With Thinkster I can build a student’s foundational skills while addressing school topics.”
The alignment to school curriculum and the ability to focus on a variety of topics to develop well-rounded math skills makes the learning plan for the student highly individualized, relevant, and, as a result, engaging.
The collaborative atmosphere in Thinkster is also quite different from Kumon. With Kumon, a parent grades and corrects the homework assignments, which are then brought back to the center. With Thinkster, the coach is responsible for grading and providing the feedback daily, and will communicate the performance to the parent. The coach works with the students on an individual basis, creating a personalized learning plan that encourages independent learning, while also providing guidance when needed.
Wendy states that many kids who come to her from high levels in Kumon and start Thinkster, “can’t translate their skills into word problems and critical thinking skills.” Kumon’s methodology focuses on arithmetic skills, with the intention that developing these skills will allow the student to improve their problem-solving skills. This is an independent process. With Thinkster, coaches guarantee that foundational computational, analytical, and problem-solving skills are all focused and addressed in the learning plan. As Caroline says, “Thinkster Math builds mathematicians, not just arithmeticians.”
The goal of Thinkster is to encourage children to think. It is not just being able to quickly regurgitate math facts and answer questions. Instead, students focus on problem-solving and critical thinking skills by utilizing different strategies from Common Core and Singapore methods. This makes the material and strategies relatable to those in the classroom.
There are many different reasons our coaches love Thinkster compared to Kumon, such as a curriculum that fosters problem-solving, personalized learning plans that are relevant and engaging for students, and working with students on an individual basis.
To learn more, check out the following: