Kumon is booming in New York City and its affluent suburbs, writes Paulette Miniter in City Journal. Parents who pay high taxes for public schools and/or private school tuition are paying even more — $85 to $150 a month — for Kumon classes.
. . . John LaMagna of Cortlandt explained why he had brought his son to Kumon. “It helps with the basic fundamentals of reading and math, which kids just don’t learn today,” he said. “Multiplication tables up to 12—like I did as a kid.”
Toru Kumon, a Japanese high school math teacher, “believed that kids needed to have a strong foundation in the basics — phonetic awareness and those memorized multiplication tables, for starters — before they could excel at a more advanced level.”
The curriculum consists of more than 20 defined skill levels for math and reading. New students take a free placement test, get started at a skill level below their current abilities, and move up in small increments. In order for students to advance, they must achieve a perfect score on a test within a set amount of time. The idea is that a child who demonstrates both speed and accuracy shows full mastery of the material.
Students complete worksheets at home and visit a Kumon center once or twice a week. U.S. enrollment has doubled since 2001.