True or false: paying a lot of money for a product or service means that you get incredible value from it.
While you may want to jump and answer ‘true’, this isn’t always the case.
Do you remember when you used to have a Blockbuster membership and would pay at $3 a night for a movie? If you held onto that one movie, your wallet suffered quite a bit – especially with the late fees tacked on!
Then Netflix came along and changed the game. For a flat fee per month, you can get unlimited access to movies. That, in addition to convenient access from home, had movie lovers tossing their Blockbuster membership cards aside.
The value that they received from Netflix just didn’t compare to what Blockbuster offered.
This line of thinking can apply to math tutoring programs.
A high cost may not necessarily mean that you get all the features that you find valuable.
Kumon Math® and Thinkster Math are two programs that you may be considering for your child and they differ quite a bit.
We’re sharing our thorough evaluation of 10 important features a math tutoring program should have such as exceptional curriculum, tutoring services, progress reports, technology, and incentives for improving student motivation.
This quick birds-eye view offers insight on how Thinkster Math compares to Kumon Math when it comes to value.
You can play along too by visiting this page.
1. A world-class curriculum with computational, analytical reasoning, and word problems: $150 value
Our first feature is the foundation of any math learning program – a solid and high-quality math curriculum.
There are three types of problems students need to be able to solve:
- Computation problems: important for developing fluency
- Analytical reasoning problems: important for developing core thinking skills
- Word problems: starting in first grade and continuing through all grades
If we look at Kumon Math specifically, they mainly only target one of these three areas: computational skills.
Kumon has been known to focus on improving fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimal, and fraction problems using rote learning methods. They generally do not include logical reasoning or word problems in their curriculum. Because of this, we give Kumon’s curriculum a $50 value.
While fluency is important, many Thinkster parents have shared that Thinkster’s inclusion of analytical and critical thinking problems in the curriculum is incredibly helpful for their kids. Assignments can also be aligned to school work, which gives your child additional support in areas that they may be struggling.
Thinkster Math parent Gemma S. shares:
“I am a huge fan of Thinkster having used it for several years. The topics are covered thoroughly, ensuring that my children really understand the concepts and have ample opportunities to practice. If your child is particularly interested in a certain area of maths, or if you want your child to focus on one topic for a while to support them with their maths at school, then their tutor will accommodate that.”
Thinkster Math encourages and emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills in kids. It is crucial to develop and improve math and reasoning skills, as it leads kids to become lifelong learners and logical thinkers.
Mapped to Common Core and based on Singapore Math, Thinkster Math’s curriculum exposes your child to problem-types that they see in the classroom and in the real world.
By including real-world examples, your child can anchor the problem to something they can visualize and relate to. This can help them understand what the problem is asking them to solve.
For having a curriculum that includes computational skills and emphasizes the development of logical reasoning and critical thinking skills, Thinkster Math gets a $150 value.
2. Everyday personalization of math worksheets: $20 value
Paper or digital worksheets are a great way for a math learning program to deliver content and curriculum to your child.
At both Kumon and Thinkster Math, your child is given a learning plan with worksheets to complete.
Kumon Math was developed in 1958 and the worksheets haven’t changed much since. Parents who have sent their kids to Kumon have shared with Thinkster tutors that the program does not change assignments on a daily basis. This makes it difficult for them to personalize the worksheets to each student or align to match with school work.
Kumon gets a $10 value for their worksheets.
Thinkster Math’s digital assignments are aligned to Common Core State Standards, which makes it easy for the Thinkster tutor to align to school topics to give your child additional math help.
Thinkster Math parent Jaya. S, shares:
“The worksheets are constantly calibrated to my son’s school syllabus and his level of proficiency in each area. Working on Thinkster every day has helped my son to improve his Math grade from C to A and then maintain it as he moves forward. The bi-weekly call with his coach and her feedback has been great and very helpful.”
Thinkster Math tutors also customize worksheets on a daily basis. This is because your child works with one dedicate tutor, who monitors the work on a daily basis and adjusts the learning plan based on performance. If you have any requests for assignments, you can just send the coach a quick message and they can add the topics into the learning plan!
3. Daily Teacher Grading and Feedback: $30 ($1/day) value
After your child completes their personalized worksheets, it’s important that they receive timely feedback so that they can learn from their mistakes.
With Kumon, an instructor issues a grade on the assignments that are completed at the center, but all worksheets that are completed at home are typically marked by you. If your child gets a question wrong, either at the Kumon center or at home, your child does not receive detailed feedback. Instead, they are expected to self-correct their work.
Using self-correction as a learning method does have some benefits, but what if your child is really stuck or confused on a concept? Is your child able to identify where they went wrong when using a strategy? Can they recognize if a better strategy can be used to solve a problem?
With Thinkster Math, your child’s tutor reviews all assignments on a daily basis. The tutor provides corrections and feedback on every incorrect question, as well as those where a better strategy could have been used to solve problems.
Another bonus – the Thinkster tutor is available all seven days of the week! This means that your child receives timely feedback to review and learn from.
4. Video tutorials with every worksheet: $10 value
If your child is completing an assignment that they find challenging, they may reach a point where they feel stuck or confused. This feeling can quickly spiral into frustration the longer your child struggles to solve the problem.
Having access to support the moment your child needs it can minimize any frustration, and video tutorials are a great resource for this!
Kumon worksheets do not provide any resources, such as video tutorials, to your child if they ever reach a point where they feel stuck. Instead, they may rely on you or even a sibling to help them navigate difficult problems. We have heard from several parents and students that when they were with Kumon, the lack of access to timely help was one of the biggest frustrations that they had.
At Thinkster Math, every practice worksheet is matched with at least one video tutorial. The video tutorials provide a review of multiple strategies to solve math problems, which helps minimize student frustration.
5. A.I. Driven Insights & Active Replay Technology (ART): $25 value
For math tutors that provide grading on assignments, there are tools that are available to them that can lead to providing more impactful feedback and responses on your child’s assignments.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool for providing efficiency and personalization in education. With AI, teachers have the ability to provide more individualized instruction for their students.
Kumon assignments are paper-based worksheets, so they do not offer any technological advantages that AI provides.
Thinkster Math tutors use AI to gain insights into your child’s progress and track important data, such as time-taken and accuracy, to help with suggestions of their next assignments. The combination of AI and a dynamic progress matrix helps tutors personalize assignments for each of their student and track student progress.
Thinkster tutors also use patent-pending Active Replay Technology (ART) to understand how your child answers questions or why they may be struggling to reach the correct answer. ART captures whatever your child is doing to the tablet or computer screen as the solve a problem – writing, erasing, pausing to think, or watching a video tutorial for guidance.
The tutor then views a playback of your child’s ART recording in order to observe their learning behavior. This is as if the tutor is sitting next to your child and watching them complete the question in real-time!
Tutors gain incredible insights using ART when grading assignments, and the feedback that they provide is more tailored and specific to how your child is using strategies to answer questions.
6. Dynamic Progress Matrix: $10 value
Understanding your child’s progress is incredibly important. As a parent, you want to be able to measure that your child is making learning improvements.
Parents that have been with Kumon have shared with Thinkster tutors that progress updates are not always easy for them to see. Some parents have shared that they never even had the chance to see any sort of reporting system.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have something available at your fingertips so that you can see and understand your child’s progress at any time?
We mentioned in the previous section that Thinkster tutors use a dynamic progress matrix to personalize assignments for each student. This same matrix is available for you to view at any time too!
The progress matrix changes color at the concept level to show student improvements after each assessment or unit test.
Every step of progression is captured on the matrix and the visualization with the color-coded system allows you to easily understand your child’s performance. The tutor uses this dynamic progress matrix to ensure that your child reaches and maintains proficiency for every concept.
The dynamic progress matrix is easily accessible to you too. You can check the Student App or use the Parent Insights App to see the matrix and other awesome data points.
7. Parent Insights App and Daily Reporting: $10 value
Being able to constantly and conveniently access data and reporting is a valuable feature of a tutoring program. The ability to see and measure learning improvements gives you insight into your child’s hard work!
Kumon Math shares a monthly paper report for a performance update. Outside of this update, you may need to wait to see your child’s progress as you don’t quite have access to it at any time.
Thinkster Math tutors send weekly email reports regarding your child’s performance. Thinkster then goes one step beyond by making this information available at your fingertips at all times.
The Parent Insights App shares trackable data points, such as accuracy, time-taken, and community averages. It also shares specific question performance, coach feedback on assignments, and highlights the upcoming worksheets in your child’s road map.
Instant and constant access makes receiving progress updates incredibly convenient.
8. Homework Help: $20 value
One feature that many parents look for in a math tutoring program is homework help.
When your child is struggling with a homework assignment, it is usually a reflection of trouble they are facing to understand the question or strategies needed to solve the problem. It could also mean that perhaps they didn’t understand the lesson taught in the classroom that day. Maybe they weren’t comfortable telling their teacher that they needed some help.
At Thinkster, we’ve heard from some parents that helping with school homework can sometimes be difficult for them. This could be for a number of different reasons, such as a busy schedule or that their child is reluctant to take their help. Another big reason is that parents are not familiar with the strategies now taught in the classroom.
Kumon parents have shared that the program does not offer any additional math help, as their focus is on the worksheets that they provide to students. Your child cannot bring outside assignments, like school homework, to the learning center.
At Thinkster Math, your child can review school homework questions during their one-on-one whiteboard tutoring sessions. The tutor helps by working through problems and guiding them through the strategies that are taught in the classroom.
Providing homework help is a great way to bridge what your child is learning in school to the Thinkster Math program! Your child will stay engaged with Thinskter when your child sees that the topics they are in learning at school are related.
9. Up to $5 Cash Gift Card Rewards and Community Leaderboard: $10 value
Students who engage and use a program daily can make great learning improvements. Rewards can motivate students and offer an exciting incentive for them to continue their hard work!
Kumon Plus® is a rewards system that allows your child to turn points for worksheet completion and attendance into games, devices, crafts, and more. While Kumon offers an online portal for point redemption, the portal only gives information for your child.
For having a rewards system, Kumon earns a $5 value.
One thing that can be motivating for your child is the ability to see the point totals other students are earning. Similar to sports and clubs, seeing the standing of others may encourage your child to improve their performance so that they can climb higher on a leaderboard.
While Kumon does not offer a community leaderboard, Thinkster Math does. It’s a fun way to see the points and medal status of students in your child’s grade level, country, or students around the world!
Your child can earn fun rewards for their hard work too. Each month they have the ability to earn a $5 gift card. There are a few awesome places available for redemption, such as Target, Amazon, and Chili’s.
10. One-on-one Private Tutoring Sessions: $50 value
When your child is struggling or needs math help, interacting with a tutor can provide the support they need to understand difficult concepts and strategies.
As per what Kumon shares on their learning method, they embrace self-learning. While at the learning center, your child works independently and can ask for assistance if needed.
If searching specifically for a math tutor for your child, Kumon Math may not meet what you are looking for. After all, a math tutor usually provides one-on-one instruction to help your child understand concepts.
Providing your child this level of individualized support is why Thinkster Math offers one-on-one whiteboard tutoring sessions. The dedicated tutor that is grading your child’s work is also the one conducting the one-on-one tutoring sessions.
The whiteboard tutoring sessions give your child the assistance they need to improve their math skills and conceptual understanding.
Another bonus is that parents have the flexibility to purchase additional tutoring sessions if looking for more time with the tutor.
A digital tutoring program like Thinkster Math that has all of the listed features makes it valued at $335.
Kumon Math, which misses out on some of the offerings, weighs in at a value of $65.
While Kumon and Thinkster Math may be similar in cost (averaging $100-145 per month), it is important to actually look at the value you get from each.
As you compare programs, remember to look into all features carefully and make sure that your child’s learning goals and needs are carefully considered. As you continue to compare, you can read more on why Thinkster Math is a compelling alternative to Kumon and other in-center learning programs here.
What’s one of the most important features to you as you search for a math learning program for your child?
Note: Kumon® is a registered trademark of Kumon North America, Inc. Thinkster Math is in no way affiliated to the same.
Sources:  https://www.kumon. com/about-kumon/kumon-method/kumon-instructors/role