Kumon was founded by Japanese educator Toru Kumon in July 1958, when he opened the first Kumon Math Center in Moriguchi, Osaka. Its opening hours vary by location. Before founding the Kumon franchises, he was a teacher at Kochi City High School and Tosa Junior/Senior High School. Inspired by his own son Takeshi’s teaching, Kumon developed a curriculum focused on memorization.
At first, Kumon grew slowly, achieving only 63,000 students in its first 16 years. However, in 1974, Kumon published a book entitled Kumon’s Math Secrets, which caused its numbers to double over the next two years. However, Kumon promotes the principle of “no show work.” That is why Kumon is not so popular with parents and educators.”  Kumon opened its first U.S. branches in 1983 and reached 1.4 million students in 1985.
Kumon soon added more educational courses, which led to a name change from Kumon Institute of Mathematics to Kumon Institute of Education. The first Kumon logo was created at that time. In 1985, Kumon’s success led to an increase in the number of students.
Tras la introducción del Método Kumon en la Escuela Primaria de Sumiton, Alabama, Kumon atrajo la atención nacional en los Estados Unidos. Se convirtió en el primer colegio de Estados Unidos en incorporar el método matemático Kumon al plan de estudios regular de matemáticas para los niños de 4º a 6º curso.
Sumiton continuó utilizando Kumon hasta 2001 e influyó en otros colegios para que también adoptaran el método Kumon en su plan de estudios.
In 2008, Kumon had more than 26,000 centers worldwide with more than 4 million registered students. In 2018, 410,000 students were enrolled in 2,200 centers in the United States.
In 2012, Kumon Japan created Baby Kumon, a tutoring program designed for children aged 1 to 2 years old. Baby Kumon has not been used in most Kumon centers in other countries outside Japan. In North America, Kumon launched “Junior Kumon” in 2001, aimed at children ages 2 to 5.
What is the Kumon Method?
Kumon is an enrichment or remedial program in which instructors and assistants tailor instruction to individual students.
Each student receives an initial assessment of his or her abilities, called the Kumon Diagnostic Test. Each test ranges from 20 to 60 questions. Based on the results and the student’s study skills, the Kumon instructor creates an individualized study plan.
Students often begin Kumon classes as an “easy start” to help them build study habits, concentration and a solid understanding of basic topics. As students progress, Kumon instructors plan for students to study at a level of difficulty that challenges them to stay motivated, but is not so difficult as to discourage them. The study plan is regularly updated by the Kumon instructor to match each student’s ability. Students move to the next level after passing a mastery test based on speed and accuracy. Students do not take or pass the mastery test, but have the opportunity to practice and repeat the material until they demonstrate a good understanding.
Kumon has two main programs: the Kumon Math Program and the Kumon Native Language Program. There are also Kumon Japanese and Kumon Kokugo courses for Japanese-speaking students and a pencil skills program for younger students.
All Kumon programs are based on pencil and worksheets. The difficulty of the worksheets increases in small increments. It is recommended that students study for 15 to 30 minutes for five days a week, with the remaining two days of study time spent visiting a local Kumon center.
How much does Kumón cost?
Currently it is difficult to know how much Kumón costs, as it is a program that adapts to the needs of each family, depending on the attention required, the hours per day or days per week. The price can vary, however, we have found that the base price is around $90 which could vary depending on the country, so we will give you the contacts, so you can talk to them directly.
The contact telephone numbers of its different offices are:
- Oficinas Centrales, Estados Unidos – 201-928-0444 – 1.800.222.6284
- Canadá – 416-490-1434 – 1.800.222.6284
- México– 55-5281-2346 – 800-01-58666
- Panamá – +52.55.5281.2346
- Argentina – +54 (11) 4551-0898
- Bolivia – No disponible
- Chile – 2 2706 5460
- Colombia – 315 6237670
- Perú – No disponible
- Uruguay – No disponible
- España – 913 231 053
Is Kumon worth it?
From a lack of qualified “instructors” to less than 44% coverage of the curriculum to a host of other disqualifying factors, Kumon is far less helpful to students than many families realize.
Consider first the Kumon “Reading” program; that is easier to disqualify as a credible educational program. In short, it is not an “English language” program, but is usually taught by people for whom English is not their first language.
The placement tests in the Kumon “Reading” program are convoluted and – like the tests in the “Math” program – are explicitly designed to get the student to the lowest starting point. I have often found it to be a discouraging waste of time (for students) when an 8th or 9th grader starts with 3rd or 4th grade content. Such a student has little hope of getting to grade level in a time frame that is beneficial for them to even seriously consider pursuing Kumon.
The Kumon math program is vastly overrated in terms of its benefits to students; in fact, it is highly inefficient and in many cases downright ineffective, and not worth the investment of time and money for many reasons:
- First, there is a difference between “arithmetic” and “mathematics”. Using the term “math” to describe an arithmetic program is misleading and misrepresentative…whether unintentionally or not. Most standardized tests offered in the mainstream academic world (such as the SSAT, PSAT, SAT, and ACT) present students with word-based problems that go beyond mere arithmetic (in other words, math), assuming they have basic arithmetic knowledge. Arithmetic worksheets are available on many websites at minimal cost (even free!). Many of them are very viable alternatives to the Kumon “Math” program at a fraction of the cost.
- The Kumon “Math” program emphasizes rote learning. However, rote learning is a very superficial form of knowledge accumulation. Of course, students have to memorize the basic operations of addition, subtraction and multiplication. But combining this into a 21-level series of arithmetic worksheets and calling it a “math” program is complicated.
- The problem of curriculum coverage is one that undermines the ability of Kumon’s “Math” program to be considered a credible math program. According to Kumon’s publication, Kumon’s “Math” program offers less than 44% of what students should master, on average, in grades 1-8. And for a student to apply that 44% of the curriculum, he or she has to complete literally hundreds (if not more than a thousand) worksheets. Furthermore, after completing the same tired worksheets two, three, four or more times, the net coverage of the curriculum is still
- Lack of experience of Kumon “instructors”. When I applied to run a Kumon franchise, I was surprised to learn that you only need to have a sixth grade math level (according to the franchisor’s metrics) to open a Kumon center. Kumon franchise instructors are often viewed as “experts” in math; however, this is only true as long as they have the “answer book” for that level of arithmetic in hand. In addition, most Kumon franchisees could not declare English as their first language, and there was at least one Kumon franchisee in the system at the time who had no higher education.
- I noticed that less than a handful of Kumon franchisees had any educational background… other than that required by the franchisor (which consisted of filling out thousands of worksheets), yet they had no educational background at all.
- Then there is the issue of the supposed “independent learning” often presented by the franchisor. This may have more to do with the franchisor’s need to have dozens of students working at the Kumon Center with a very minimal level of support available to the students if the franchisee’s monthly bills are to be paid (>€3000/month rent, >35% franchisee royalties, utilities, program supplies and staff). The vast majority of elementary school students often do not have the ability – or desire – to learn independently. This is a myth propagated by Kumon.
- Kumon franchisees are financially rewarded for having students on the so-called “ASHR” (Advanced Student Honor Roll) list. This precipitates artificially rapid progression of students through the levels (possibly without confirmation of “mastery,” another overused mythical Kumon term). What does the term “advanced” mean? What does “advanced” compare to without being aligned to the curriculum?
- Something about the design of an educational resource or pedagogical reflection… that addresses the issue of scope and sequence. The scope of each level of Kumon is completely out of the sequence of how students learn math in conventional schools. And stacking 200 worksheets to cover multiplication or division (for example) is ultimately very inefficient.Why? Because young children often forget how to do it at other levels. Again, this is a very flawed assumption on Kumon’s part about how young minds process and retain information.
- While at my Kumon center I have all student worksheets checked off, parents might ask if other Kumon centers follow a similar level of franchise operation or code of conduct. In other words, how do parents ensure how their daughter or son is actually doing or progressing in the Kumon programs?
- During my tenure as a Kumon franchisee, it has not escaped my notice that several students have actually strengthened their arithmetic skills in Kumon math classes. However, I also know that students in this category (less than 5%) would have done well in math even without Kumon… especially if they had access to a qualified teacher (or tutor) with credible resources for learning. And the number of kids crying because of punitive worksheets far outnumbered the few who gained anything from the Kumon experience.
- Parents need only have their child tested against a known educational standard to determine their child’s developmental level in math or English. Then seek an effective remedial program or procedure, as they would with any other important consideration in a child’s life. Entrusting a child’s educational future to someone who knows nothing about education – and who offers a program that is more than minimally deficient in many respects – may not be the wisest decision.
- Bottom line: if your child is not being taught by a qualified educator – and with material that is not relevant to what he or she is doing in school – what good is an educational program?
Kumon es un claro ejemplo de emprendimiento social, es un sistema que pueda ayudar a tus hijos o puede que les haga sentirse más frustrados, este método ha sido creado para intentar ayudar, cientos de personas han terminado muy contentos con su paso por esta institución y les ha ayudado mucho a seguir avanzando, en cambio a otros no, es por ello que al final del día es decisión tuya decidir si decides confiar en ellos o no.