View Full Version : Math tutoring: Sylvan vs. Kumon smackdown
04-29-2010, 11:56 AM
Does anyone have any experience with Sylvan Learning Centers vs. Kumon for math tutoring?
04-30-2010, 02:23 AM
Well I worked at a kumon study centre for a while and most of the kids learnt to remember the answers. So much for learning maths, certainly improved their memories though.
04-30-2010, 02:42 PM
FWIW I have a former teacher/current co-worker who I chat with often and she has nothing but great things to say for the Sylvan program. She sent her daughter to it last year and plans to do the same this summer.
04-30-2010, 06:59 PM
She sent her daughter to it last year and plans to do the same this summer.
So it is school camp?
04-30-2010, 07:21 PM
I only have experience with Kumon. If done properly, it is boring but it works. Can't say anything but hearsay about Sylvan.
04-30-2010, 08:23 PM
So it is school camp?
No, it's just a tutoring session. The price was very steep at $34/hour (and that was with the discount my friend gets for being a teacher) but she ranted and raved about how much it improved her daughter's abilities. Her situation is probably a little different than other parents' as she has the summers off and is able to take her daughter to the sessions. She said that it also boosted her girl's self-esteem once she got better through tutoring. I could always ask for more info on Monday if anyone's interested.
04-30-2010, 10:07 PM
Yes, I'm interested in any experiences with their methods.
05-01-2010, 12:00 AM
My sister struggled with math in school, so my parents signed her up for Kumon. My parents being of the "All Siblings Must Be Treated Equally" school of thought, I had to go too, even though I was at the top of my class.
This is one thing I can say for Kumon: it is DEAD BORING. Very little personal instruction was provided. We went once a week to take a test. If you passed that test, you were moved to the next level and sent home with a bunch of worksheets. I remember poring in agony over the inexplicable sample problems, until eventually I figured them out. In this way, I taught myself algebra. My sister didn't make any progress.
Later, my parents stuck my sister in Sylvan. I didn't have to go this time, thank goodness. My parents' main complaint about Sylvan was that they started my sister at a very low level, and then when they moved her up, claimed that she had made progress, when all they had really done was start her far below her ability level and then bring her up to where she already was when she began the tutoring.
05-01-2010, 09:46 AM
Later, my parents stuck my sister in Sylvan. I didn't have to go this time, thank goodness. My parents' main complaint about Sylvan was that they started my sister at a very low level, and then when they moved her up, claimed that she had made progress, when all they had really done was start her far below her ability level and then bring her up to where she already was when she began the tutoring.IME, Kumon typically starts kids way below level as well, not to claim that they're making progress, but to automatize the easy stuff before working on the hard stuff. A lot of kids struggling with algebra still count on their fingers when subtracting and haven't a clue what to do with fractions. Did they do this with you two? Some centers aren't run very well.
But yeah, boring. However, in two years it put me from slightly behind in math to taking precal in 9th grade without any terrible effort.
05-01-2010, 08:16 PM
I'm a math tutor at Sylvan so I'll tell you about that. I have no experience at all with the other system. I've not been there long and I'm not involved in the testing process so my experience in that part is sketchy. I just teach the students they send to me.
First you have to understand that the Sylvan's are franchises so how good they are may vary. Also, like any educational institution, the quality of the teachers is key and that may vary.
All students are given the California Achievement Test both when they enter and when they leave. This is used to establish progress in terms of grade level. Each student is also given distributive practice sheets (DPs) to test specific skills. If they do well on a pre-assessment DPs, 80%+, that skill is not taught as a lesson. If they do not do well they are taught a lesson on that skill. They are then tested after the lesson with three post-DPs over a period of time. They must score 80%+ on them or the lesson is retaught. There are five problems per DP and the DPs are very narrowly targeted (ex. multiplication of three digits by two digits). They are given more pre-DPs throughout their time at Sylvan.
Each lesson uses both concrete manipulatives and individual explanation to teach the skill and then a series of lessons on the skill starting with guided practice and ending with problem solving applications. They must score 100% or two 80%+ on the independent practice and problem solving in order to progress.
Some students do start on math topics much lower than what they are doing in school, but, at my center at least, that is because they can't do those simpler topics. Sure they are doing slope at school, but they can't multiply well or do simple division so we go back and teach them that. It tends to make them much stronger at mathematics in the long run.
However, if you want your child to also have time spent on the topics covered int school just tell the center you want homework support and have your child bring in some lessons. The tutors will go over homework before getting to the skills.
From what I've seen most children do improve in their abilities and feel better about math in general. They see they can do it if they work at it and stop dreading it. However, like all educational techniques, Sylvan may not be best for every child, but I've not yet seen a cooperative child who it didn't benefit.
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