Replacement for Kumon?

by | Math | 7 comments

I am not a “real” homeschooler, as my children do attend school (real homeschooling is unfortunately not an option for us). I consider myself a part-time homeschooler, as I spend many evenings, weekends, and vacations either reteaching what the school was supposed to teach, or teaching them what I consider to be missing from the school curriculum (multiplication tables, for example).

This year, I tried supplementing math for 2 of my kids (ages 8 and 10) by taking them to the Kumon center, which has been very good for my kids, but is prohibitively expensive ($200 a month). I think that the program itself is excellent–it involves a lot of repetition, which might sound dull, but the effect is that my kids now know the basics backwards and forwards, without having to think about it, and math is much easier for them, and therefore more enjoyable. They do about 10 pages (about 20 minutes) a day of problems, which I grade, and they only see the teacher at the Kumon center for about 5-10 minutes a week (which makes the $200 seem like an awful lot, especially considering how much time I’m spending, grading!)

My question is this: do you know of any supplementary curriculum that works like the Kumon curriculum (which I like), but doesn’t require me to go to a center and pay $200 a month?



  1. Anna (adversarian)

    When I was there age I had also gotten a grasp of basic math. Instead of courses to supplement my learning I got a big workbook for 3rd-6th grade, and worked in that when we had the time to go through it. It continued as a supplement for a couple years ( and was a $10 buy ), and included answers and fun cut out activities. It kept us on track and we always knew what I needed to work on.

    I’m sure there would be something similar out there today as well, the book I’m speaking of was bought from WalMart. 😛 Good luck!

  2. Alison

    Thank you so much!

    Fore those of you not familiar with Kumon, it is a Japanese supplementary education thing–it was supposedly developed by a Japanese teacher who wanted to help his child study for the college entrance exams. In Japan, competition to get into college is so fierce, they start preparing for the entrance exams before the end of elementary school.

    If you are familiar with the Suzuki violin method, it’s somewhat similar: they start with simple things, progress in slow, logical increments, and study/practice involves lots of repetition in order to gain ease of technique.

    By contrast, the public AND private schools these days seem to be teaching math without much homework (which would be the repetition that reinforces the concepts learned during class time), and they rely instead on “Mad Minutes,” where the kids are given a page of 20 or so problems and told to complete as many as possible in 60 seconds.

    For many kids, it’s simply a source of frustration, rather than something to enable real learning. And they don’t get any real concept of what multiplication MEANS from the Mad Minutes.

    I taught the basic idea of multiplication with M&M’s–how many in 3 groups of 5? How about 5 groups of 3? After we rearranged them into various groups, the groups turned into snack.

    And the schools don’t teach multiplication tables any more. When I complained at our public school, the principal said with supreme disdain, “Oh, we don’t rely on learning by rote, any more, we do Mad Minutes instead!” I tried to explain that learning the BASICS by memory (okay, you can call it “rote”) would make the Mad Minutes easier and faster, but she wasn’t listening.

    So I went home, and gave my son two copies of the multiplication table; one was filled out, the other blank. I told him to simply copy the complete one. We did that every night for a week. Then I asked him to see how much he could fill out from memory, and then copy the rest.

    After about 10 days, he knew up to the 12’s.

    Unfortunately, I’m a bit burned out from the home-schooling-after-school-combined-with-being-a-working-mom thing, which is why Kumon sounded so appealing in the first place!

    Thanks again,

  3. Kathy

    Hi. I came across this post looking for the same answer. I have recently discovered Kumon Method. I bought some of the books at Barnes and Noble for my 2 yr old and my 4 yr old. There are no Kumon locations any where near us and I couldn’t afford it if there were. I don’t know if there is a cut off level for the book store, but you might be able to just buy the books you need. That would be much cheaper. And since you already know the routine, there wouldn’t be any problems, right? I’m looking for a complete curriculum for homeschooling. My son will be 5 this spring. Lots of research ahead. I think Sonlight looks like a good one but the dont do math. But they do have selection of math providers and very detailed descriptions of their methods in there catalog at . You can get them to mail you a catalog for free if you prefer. Hope this helps.

  4. jazbar

    Across the world, in all areas of learning, there is never a mention of QUALIFIED TEACHERS doing the KUMON METHOD. QED

  5. James

    We found Kumon students doing division when they are in Pre-Algebra at school. Once a child starts at a certain level, there is no way for them to quickly move up the skill levels when they are able to do so. At the rate Kumon has the students progressing through the pre-determined levels, students in calculus (at school) will be doing pre-algebra at Kumon. Because I know the children in this situation, this tells me the instructors are not assessing the students properly or are required not to by Kumon. We have dropped Kumon and are working through text books on our own.

  6. lotus

    Practice with books from library, online practice lessons. Any way in schools all the math at every grade is analytical.So just methodology just doesn’t help. Please do not enrole kids in classes, where they use Abacus. It is nothing but a manual calculator. If your child is not supposed to use digital calculators, the child should not be using Abacus.
    I am from a school system who used rote system . Analytics is the best way for math.


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