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Is ”kumon” Compulsory ?

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by anika987, Sep 21, 2019.

  1. Gauri03

    Gauri03 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    You weren't kidding about 4-year olds attending Kumon. Apparently their programs start at three! :yikes:

    Why do you think your daughter needs an enrichment program in math? Do you want to keep her occupied mentally? Do you want her to develop skills above grade-level so that she can take advanced math electives in middle and high school, or do you want her to pursue mathematics competitively? The second reason is why a majority of parents opt for extracurricular math training. These programs are time and cost intensive. Signing up without a clear objective will frustrate both you and your child. Before jumping in know your reasons so in a year you can assess whether the commitment was worth it.

    I don't like the Kumon methodology, definitely not for a 6-year old. If fostering interest in math is the goal then trapping your child in a rigid, repetitive program that makes math a drudgery is the wrong way to go about it. They might get really good at doing homework but it won't help them get math, i.e., develop an appreciation for the learning and doing of mathematics. At her age she is likely to become resentful of the forced drills and consequently the subject itself. An insidious side-effect of taxing a child's patience with monotonous 'math worksheets' is the internalization of the belief that because they don't enjoy solving two dozen long-division problems nightly they are not good at math. This self limiting belief has ruined many a budding math mind. I've met too many bright young girls who say they 'hate math' simply because no one ever made it fun and accessible for them. I don't have a formula for turning your daughter into a math prodigy but I'm sharing what has worked with my own kids.

    1. Read regularly and extensively: The benefits of reading to young children are too numerous to cite. Suffice it to say reading to your elementary-aged kids for 20 minutes a night is the best educational gift you will ever give them. From my experience reading comprehension skills are a strong predictor of mathematical ability. At its core, mathematics is the skill of higher order thinking. The ability to evaluate available information, identify patterns, make associations and draw conclusions from them is the crux of mathematical thinking. Being able to read well and reason critically helps children become independent learners later in life, an asset when learning advanced mathematics. Sadly, most math teachers fail miserably at this task. A cursory search on Amazon brings up a bunch of really good books for encouraging mathematical thought. One set that I am currently using with my five year old daughter is Bedtime Math 1- 4. Think of these as an occasional replacement for bedtime stories. We read the stories, talk through the puzzles and later repeat variations of the problems in the car, at the dining table or while walking the dog. The idea is to introduce mathematical concepts without having to make her explicitly learn math. With my son I didn't have access to the books but I did something similar by making up my own problems that we 'talked out' instead of working out using pencil and paper.

    2. For elementary-aged kids (grades 2-5) I like the Beast Academy program by AoPS. You can buy the guidebooks/workbooks and work through them at home, or enroll in the online program or sign up for classes at a Beast Academy center if there is one in your area. The guidebooks continue the story telling mode of instruction while building a solid conceptual foundation. These are simply the best books for elementary school math that I have come across. The focus is less on mastering techniques and more on developing an intuition for mathematics. When my son started these there were no online classes or center in our area. We solved them at home and it did require a significant investment of time and energy on my part. But I cannot recommend them enough. I credit a lot of my son's math proficiency to these books.

    3. Grades 4 and up are when I believe children truly benefit from having a peer group. This is around the time they become eligible for most math competitions like MOEMS, Math Kangaroo (this one starts earlier I think), AMC 8, MathCounts etc. It helps to have the company of other children engaged in a subject most school kids consider 'uncool'. Of all the classes available I found RSM the closest fit for our needs. I really like their merit based system of promotion. Based on the child's skill level they are placed in a beginner, intermediate, or honors class. This ensures that your child is surrounded by other children of similar or greater ability, very helpful when you are trying to keep them grounded while encouraging them to strive harder.

    My son has participated in a few national math competitions over the past two years and we've had great results. As he enters the realm of algebra and geometry, I am in the process of formulating a new study plan for him, but I will stick with the above approach for my kindergartner's early math education.
  2. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Very valuable suggestions to parents. Great Gauri madam!.American parents in California always blame Indian parents for giving too much pressure to young kids.Indian parents talk a lot about not giving stress to children when they talk to each other.But at home,they behave altogether differently ,looking a demoness to kids.in spite of so many psychological texts on child upbringing, setting up too high a target seems to continue.

    My grand daughter also did attend Kumon. for one or two months.After sometime, my daughter found it too much taxing, devised her own method depending on the child's interest to avoid stress and monotony. Now my grand daughter loves maths and thanks her mother for cultivating such interest by way of fun.
    Jayasala 42
    Gauri03, startinganew and Vedhavalli like this.

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