Do Preschoolers Need Enrichment Programs?

I wrote about Kumon in Upper Montclair a few weeks ago. Apparently, I’m not the only local parent with this enrichment program on my mind. Montclair mom and New York Times writer Kate Zernike penned an article about it in last weekend’s Sunday Styles section, see here.  With storefronts popping up all over Manhattan and New Jersey, Kumon seems like the trendy thing to do. Or not.

Zernike’s piece says that Kumon’s business grew by 12 percent last year. Junior Kumon, for nursery schoolers through kindergarten, saw a 30 percent jump. In Junior Kumon, kids as young a two (they have to be potty trained with a 15-minute attention span), learn how to recognize and write letters and numbers. They move on to reading at their own pace, fast-tracking their progress at preschool. A psychologist in Zernike’s piece called these enrichment programs useless.

That shrink apparently has not experienced Baristaville peer pressure. I enrolled my kids in Kumon after a neighbor urged me repeatedly. Other mothers on my street send their children, too. Early learning–including repetitive worksheets–go against my parenting instincts, but it’s hard to argue with the results. My kids are reading, and they like going to Kumon twice a week to work with their tutor. They even enjoy doing their daily homework with me. Is this enrichment program useless? At $100 per month per subject per kid, I hope not.

Do you think Kumon is over-the-top? Take the poll on the next page.


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  1. Please go watch the movie Race to Nowhere. The district I work in showed it to parents and teachers.

    It is important for kids that this age to play. Play is crucial in development. They need to get their hands dirty, build things and explore(not that your kids don’t). Investigate cause and effect. Make up unique games. This will help them with problem solving which will in turn help them in school. It more likely to make them successful and happy in life.

    Early reading is not a precurser to academic success. I have witnessed kids who were incredible readers at 3 and is barely making it through community college and other kids who didn’t learn to read until second grade then never put down a book and went to law school.

    Remember all of these places are businesses. Hopefully, your children will love learning and reading.

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