If your child has struggled with mathematics at some point during their academic career, you can rest assured that they are not alone. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment, American students rank significantly below average in math comprehension. Of all the highest-achieving math students across the globe, from kindergarten through high school, only 8.8% are from the United States.
Students find math challenging for various reasons; some find the abstract nature of the subject difficult to grasp, while others lack confidence in their abilities. Thankfully, there are numerous resources for struggling students, the most potent of which is math tutoring services. In this article, we will examine two of the most popular math tutoring companies: Best Brains and Kumon. Learning more about the tutoring services’ benefits, cost, structure, and tutors will help you decide whether either platform will help your child achieve their academic goals.
What is Kumon?
Kumon is a popular tutoring service established over 65 years ago by its namesake, Toru Kumon. Kumon created this now-renowned platform to help his own son excel in his studies. Currently, there are more than 1,500 Kumon learning centers in the United States and more than 25,000 locations scattered across the globe. Entrepreneur Magazine has ranked Kumon as the #1 education franchise for 18 consecutive years.
Kumon offers both math and reading programs for kindergarten through high school-aged students. This platform revolves around a teaching style called the “Kumon method,” where students are given limited guidance so they can complete assignments on their own merit. Kumon designed this system to create an environment where every child has an equal opportunity to learn, regardless of age, school, or learning style.
- Established and structured curriculum
- Offers math and reading lessons
- Relatively affordable
- Relatively unqualified tutors
- Not designed for students who need one-on-one assistance
- Does not promote a deep understanding of mathematical concepts
Bottom Line: Kumon is a renowned tutoring platform famous for its drills and repetitive math and reading exercises. This self-learning system creates an environment where every child has an equal opportunity to learn, regardless of age, school, or learning style.
What is Best Brains?
Launched in 2011, Best Brains offers small-group tutoring programs in math, English, and general knowledge for students aged 3 to 14. This decade-old platform also provides test prep for the SAT, ACT, and CogSAT, a math program called Abacus for students 7+, and a special needs program for students with learning differences. Best Brains is a newer, smaller tutoring franchise with only 150 in-person tutoring centers nationwide.
Contrary to Kumon, Best Brains takes pride in its non-repetitive approach to learning. The curriculum is unique to Best Brains and attmempts to better align with the same concepts children learn in school. Best Brain’s primary mission is to help your child better understand math concepts, complete homework more efficiently, and achieve higher test scores and grades.
- Offers small group courses
- Offers classes in math, English, test prep, and other subjects
- Only hires board-certified teachers
- Most programs are not offered to high school students
- Fewer programs and less accessibility
Bottom Line: Best Brain’s primary mission is to help your child better understand math concepts, complete homework more efficiently, and achieve higher test scores and grades. The curriculum is unique to Best Brains and was designed to align with the same concepts children learn in school.
Kumon vs. Best Brains Benefits
There are many benefits to the self-learning style known as the “Kumon Method.” The lack of hand-holding means that students are forced to solve problems on their own merit, and consequently build confidence in their abilities. Kumon’s instructors believe that the more “ah-ha” moments a student experiences after independently solving a problem, the more they will believe they can solve similar problems in the future. Supporting this, studies show a direct correlation between confidence and academic success.
In some ways, Kumon’s learning center setup, with one instructor and numerous students in a single room, mimics a traditional classroom environment. If students have a question or struggle with a particularly difficult math problem, they must ask for help in front of a group of peers. One of the reasons students tend to fall behind in math class is that they are too embarrassed or proud to admit when they don’t understand something. Kumon helps students get in the habit of asking for help, which will aid them in the rest of their academic careers and beyond.
Lastly, Kumon boasts a solid success rate. According to its website, Kumon students’ skills were over a year ahead of the national average. Kumon math students also tend to score 5.27 points higher on Math SATs on average.
Best Brains Benefits
One of the most significant benefits of Best Brains’ program is that students receive instruction within small group courses that align with the Common Core standards. This structure means that the weekly content students learn likely aligns with their school curriculum. The small group structure is also more hands-on and interactive than Kumon. The small group classes are usually five students for every instructor, who is a board-certified teacher. While this is less personalized than private math tutoring, students nonetheless receive more individual attention than in a traditional classroom setting.
Parents have had relatively positive things to say about the Best Brains tutoring service. In Best Brains’ end-of-year survey in 2020, 96% of parents reported improvement on their child’s report cards. In addition, over 90% of parents reported that their children participated more in class and felt more confident in their mathematical abilities.
Kumon vs. Best Brains Tutoring Service
Kumon Tutoring Service
After taking a short placement test, instructors assign students to a starting class of worksheets. Students are typically placed in a slightly lower starting class to build confidence and become familiar with the worksheet format. Only after a student has mastered a particular subject will they move on to the next worksheet class. For example, students must complete 200 addition worksheets before progressing to subtraction. While this structure encourages focused concentration and mastering basic math skills, some parents worry that this approach doesn’t result in a deep understanding of problem-solving.
Students are seated in a large classroom with one administrator and a number of “helpers.” Students usually attend two weekly sessions at their local Kumon center and are expected to complete homework daily. This requirement means that Kumon’s style of instruction involves more parental support than other tutoring programs, as parents must oversee and grade homework sheets. Therefore, if you already struggle finding time to help your child with their math homework from school, Kumon may not be the right fit for you.
Best Brains Tutoring Service
In contrast, Best Brains distinguishes itself from Kumon by emphasizing its “non-repetitive” interactive teaching methods. Classes are held once a week, either online or in person. Best Brains does not offer private tutoring; instead, students are placed in a group class of no more than five people. In each weekly small group instruction session, teachers focus on one concept, and students are assigned a homework packet to complete. These homework assignments reinforce the content taught in the lesson and allow the Best Brains team to ensure that students understand and retain that content.
Best Brains requires minimal involvement from parents and families. Parents might need to encourage their children to do their daily homework assignments, but they are not responsible for grading or checking their work. Best Brains expects students to dedicate 10 minutes per subject daily to complete homework assignments on time. Every week, students will receive a weekly report in their “Progress Book,” which parents must review and sign off on.
Kumon vs. Best Brains Tutors
Kumon classes typically have one administrator and a handful of “helpers,” typically high school and college students. It’s important to remember that Kumon functions under a self-learning system. Because of this, it's less important for the "tutors" to have teaching credentials or knowledge of the subject matter since their main job is supervising and answering questions when needed, not teaching math. In addition, even though Kumon offers its services to middle and high school students, most of the children who participate are elementary school students. Therefore, high school and college students will likely be able to help with basic math and reading questions involving concepts like addition and subtraction.
Best Brains Tutors
On the other hand, all of Best Brains’ instructors are board certified at the state and national levels. According to Best Brains’ website, the company only hires board-certified educators to ensure their instructors have years of real-world experience and the knowledge required to teach students what they need to succeed at school. Best Brains’ also claims that each instructor receives training to assess students' educational needs.
It’s important to note that students work with the same instructors every week at Best Brains. This consistency allows teachers to monitor student progress and ensure their problem areas are continually addressed.
Kumon vs. Best Brains Cost
Kumon costs will depend on the location of your learning center and the subject matter your child is studying. Kumon typically charges students $100 to $200 per month. If your child is in high school or learning more advanced material, or if they participate in Kumon’s reading math programs, they may be charged a higher rate. These fees cover two weekly sessions at a Kumon center and the homework worksheets that students are given to complete at home.
Best Brains Cost
One of the downsides of Best Brains’ is that it is difficult to determine the program’s cost from the information provided online. According to some sources, prices differ from location to location. On average, rates are $250 per month for students to take classes in all core subjects.
According to the Best Brains’ website, students are not locked into any long-term packages with this tutoring program, and payments are made monthly.
Why Choose Learner
Even though Kumon and Best Brains are well-known tutoring services with a track record of success, neither can compare with Learner's private math tutoring. Every Learner customer begins by completing an initial assessment, which allows Learner’s matching specialist to pair students with the most compatible tutors in the Learner network. When making this choice, the matching specialist looks at the student's schedule, personality, strengths, weaknesses, learning style, and interests.
Even though Best Brains' website promises personalized lessons and one-on-one attention, it is only possible to achieve both of these things in a private tutoring environment. Every Learner tutor creates customized lesson plans catered to the student’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and learning style. Students can work at their own pace and ask as many questions as needed without monopolizing a lesson. Private tutoring environments are also safe spaces for students to make mistakes and open up about concepts with which they struggle.
With numerous math tutoring platforms on the market, choosing the one that best supports your child's education can be a challenge. But with high-quality tutors, personalized lesson plans, affordable prices, and a customer satisfaction guarantee, Learner checks all of our boxes for the best arithmetic program to help your child learn math. Learner has the added bonus of also being an online tutoring platform. Not only is online tutoring more convenient and affordable for families, but it also gives you easy access to experts from all across the country.