There are plenty of reasons why your children could benefit from after-school tutoring. They could be falling behind on classwork. They may not be learning well within a traditional classroom setting. You may want to push them to excel. You may even want to improve college preparedness with SAT prep.
Because each tutoring program has its own philosophy, requirements, and potential benefits, you’re left with many things to consider. It’s not easy to decide which tutoring program is the best fit for your child’s needs.
Kumon and Sylvan Learning are two major tutoring providers, each having hundreds of locations across the country. While the programs do have some similarities, there are many differences. To help you make the best education decisions, let’s get beyond the marketing buzz to compare Sylvan and Kumon on educational methods, cost, academic improvement, and more.
Sylvan vs. Kumon: Comparing Learning Format
To start, consider the similarities between Sylvan and Kumon. They both provide after-school tutoring for students in math and language studies. Students are independently placed in the programs at the level of their current skills, even if it differs from their grade level. This provides an opportunity for advanced students to excel and struggling students to catch up.
Both Sylvan and Kumon support students in grades K through 12. Because the two programs are independent of your child’s school, there’s a risk that the methods learned in the tutoring program will differ from what the student experiences in the classroom. This could confuse the student.
The educational approaches of Kumon and Sylvan are much different from one another.
With Kumon, the focus is on repetition and drills. Following an initial assessment, students are placed at a low level to build confidence and establish comfort with the worksheet format. Then, students use self-learning to work through topic-focused worksheets. There’s minimal hands-on instruction from classroom leaders, and daily practice is required, including homework worksheets for parents to grade. Repetition is the core of the program. For example, in one level, a student would have 200 worksheets on beginner addition, without even mentioning subtraction. That’s 3,620 questions on addition!
Sylvan Learning takes a more traditional tutoring approach with options for personalized tutoring sessions, academic coaching, and test prep. With this approach, Sylvan guarantees that students will learn at least 50 skills in 50 hours of instruction, making it a more active pace than Kumon. Additionally, Sylvan uses a tech-friendly approach to tutoring. Students’ lessons are taught on an iPad. Using the SylvanSync learning platform, lesson plans can be adapted based upon the student’s learning status. Additionally, the MySylvan online portal provides access for parents to see real-time information about their child’s progress as well as receive student access to at-home assignments.
Sylvan vs. Kumon: Tutoring Program Basics
As to cost, Sylvan’s hands-on approach means that tutoring will cost more; however, prices vary by location. In Missouri, the range is about $32 to $52 an hour, but in California, rates start at about $50 per hour. Sylvan maintains a ratio of one teacher for every three students, so students will be receiving a high degree of one-on-one support from certified teachers.
In contrast, Kumon costs only about $150 per month for each subject. The majority of the fee goes toward the worksheets because, in each session, instructors offer minimal private tutoring, spending only about 10 minutes with each student.
Both Sylvan and Kumon are franchises; thus, parents may find differences between locations. For example, one Sylvan Learning Center in Long Island partnered with local organizations to provide additional programs in swimming, robotics, and coding.
Notably, there are significantly more Kumon tutoring centers with about 1,500 in the United States and more than 24,000 globally. Kumon has also been recognized as a strong franchise model, and Entrepreneur Magazine has ranked it as the #1 education franchise for 18 years in a row.
Sylvan has about a third as many U.S. locations. However, in 2018, the company saw a 15 percent increase in its college prep programs.
Sylvan vs. Kumon: Academic Results
How does each program impact a student’s grades? Results will vary, but here’s what we know.
Sylvan reports that among its students, those enrolled in the math program see 51 percent more academic growth when compared to peers who only had their school’s math instruction. Among reading students, the impact is even greater with Sylvan students seeing 98 percent more academic growth as compared to those who don’t attend Sylvan.
Kumon hasn’t released any figures about how the program impacts its students. However, parents have been vocal about their experiences. As one D.C. mom said about Kumon, “The upside is that it works. The downside is there’s a lot of complaining.” Parents contribute to the program’s impact because they’re responsible for overseeing and grading worksheets on days when there are no sessions, including summer months after the school year ends. Admittedly, some parents do report finding unfinished pages stuffed under couch cushions.
Sylvan vs. Kumon: Conclusion
Both Sylvan and Kumon can help your student with math and reading from kindergarten through middle school, and into high school.
Kumon is a more affordable choice that involves daily worksheets that use a repetition-based approach. During sessions, there’s little instructor assistance; instead, students are encouraged to self-learn.
Sylvan provides programs that are more hands-on, typically having a three-to-one student-teacher ratio. Sylvan is also the more expensive option, but the academic results reported by the company do indicate students see significant benefit.
Ultimately, choosing between Sylvan and Kumon will be a decision about choosing the best option for how your child learns, how much time you can spend, and your family’s budget.
Keep in mind that as your student continues to progress, even more academic resources will become available. For example, OneClass Homework Help app provides on-demand micro-tutoring for students in high school and college. With on-demand support, students won’t be held back by questions they can’t solve.
Once in college, students will have even more online resources available. OneClass’ note-sharing platform lets students access an unlimited database of shared lecture notes and study guides. Students can search by school, course, and professor to find materials that will be most helpful. The academic impact of using shared resources has been so meaningful that more than 90 percent of users have improved by at least one letter grade.
With OneClass, students are getting the help they need to succeed.image attribution: jsco – stock.adobe.com