I took my kids to Kumon last week, thinking the three of us could bond over math diagnostics. I’d heard great reports about their results, and had some deluded fantasy of bonding at breakfast over Kumon worksheets and english muffins.

It’s 10 minutes a day, for crying out loud!

Wrong! My children rejected the experience (opportunity?) with a fervor that stunned even me.

After attempts to bribe them failed,  I made diversionary excuses to the sweet woman who was running the center:

“It’s got to be that logo,” I told her.  “Why isn’t the little guy smiling?”

She explained that it’s a “thinking face,” and told me it was designed by the same person who designed the Nike Swoosh (which I have yet to verify).

Here’s the logo explanation from the Kumon site:

The design is simple, conveying an intellectual and modern atmosphere. It has a touch of humor and is easy to understand so that a broad spectrum of people, ranging from young children to adults, will feel affinity with it. The light blue color expresses intelligence, honesty, and the color of the sky stretching across the world, suggesting that the world is one.

The logo includes a face called “THE THINKING FACE,” our symbol, which suggests that all those involved in Kumon, the students, the Instructors, Center Assistants and staff all continue to think and grow as individuals.


Have been trying to muster the courage to hold my head high and walk back into the scene of mortal embarrassment, and sign up solo.

Actually, I’ve been trying to find an eager and appreciative kid to take along with me to try it out.  Does anyone know one of these, or are they an urban myth?



  • So what was your kids’ gripe with Kumon?  Something with the program, or just not wanting to give up summer time studying?

    And in my mind, that face looks depressed.  Not exactly inspiring!  

    • Not sure I got to the bottom of exact what the problem is as it’s actually still too heated…..though I imagine they don’t like the idea of “learning” (AT ALL) during the summer. Summer to them is for “playing” and “having fun” — which I get — but personally, I wish “learning” weren’t such a negative experience, AND I wish the summer months (which feel like half the year to me) could include a little brain food without a MAJOR fight attached.

      • I’d LOVE to spend the summer learning!  But then I’m 38, and school sounds like such a luxury now.  Ha!  But seriously, for kids, learning is their work.  They don’t want to do it anymore than we want to do work when we’re on vacation.  Problem is that for us adults, learning is a heck of a lot more fun than the daily grind.  Maybe kids need to spend less time in school and more time at manual labor…learning would look a lot more attractive :)  Kumon would almost certainly be palatable if the alternative was a full-time job.  OK…must stop sounding like such a curmudgeon…

        • If you’re sounding like a curmudgeon, then what must I sound like?

          I may see if I can have gas station shirts made with their name tags as a reminder of “what’s possible.”

          • JD

            I like the first minute of this video…


            That “Thinking Face” is a fail. They probably spent too much money on it to ever admit it though. I do like the color…

            My younger kids go to Mathnasium once a week over the summer. If it weren’t in the same strip mall as a Dairy Queen I think I would be in trouble…

          • Ok, that video made me laugh out loud.

            I hate the Kumon logo — but I still want to try it, and I still believe it can work!

        • If you’re sounding like a curmudgeon, then what must I sound like?

          I may see if I can have gas station shirts made with their name tags as a reminder of “what’s possible.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t get humor from that logo. Melancholy, perhaps dejection, yes; funny, no. But perhaps I’m not sufficiently perceptive. 

    • I wonder if it’s a cultural distinction.  Would children of other cultures see it as funny.

  • Akil

    I’m eager and appreciative.. 2 our of 3 is 95% so you can take me

  • Joanie D

    I’ve had more success with KhanAcademy.org  for math drills with reluctant teens.  Check it out. I love Salman Khan & his very clear lessons & drills & points system.

    • Khan is great in theory.  I’ve tried Khan many times — but I have a few issues: 1) the videos are never quite precisely where you need them to be so a lot of time is spent navigating. In fact, I’d say that at least 50% of my time was spent on navigation.  2) The exercises rarely line up with the videos, so again, lots of wasted time navigating  — trying to find videos that match exercises.  3) there’s no live person to ask a question to (which I often need) or monitoring how well we are doing and I can tell you my own kids will often say they are doing great (and probably think they are) unless some savvy adult checks their work and points out otherwise.  4) It’s not a  tried and true “method” (yet).  It’s still in experimental stage.  

      Love the concept.  Love Khan.  I found it more like clocking time…click click click “i’m working i’m working”   but I never TRULY had a sense that progress was being made FOR SURE.  It was more like “maybe,”  Or “maybe not.”

  • Honestly, I have not observed too many kids who appear “eager and appreciative” at our local Kumon centers.  Rather, the kids faces actually kinda mirror the logo.  If I were to vocalize the anti-Kumon stance on this, I might say the parents “force” their kids to attend and have created little automatons resigned to completing endless worksheets.  OTOH, based on my own kid, I believe many of these kids have come to realize the work is often not “fun”, but they recognize the end result is worth the work.  (And it’s really NOT that much work, usually one visit per week and ten minutes a day.)

    The grins and satisfaction come later, when the child is whizzing through math problems that his peers are struggling with.  That’s what I’ve seen.

    • That’s I guess the best that I was hoping for (i.e. they would tolerate it and appreciate it later).

      My kids like the “idea” of doing well, but aren’t really willing to do the work to get there.

      At the moment, I’ve thrown my hands up in the air in despair.  (It’s been a hard week since the Kumon fiasco).  My attitude at the moment is “come and get it.”  Otherwise, I’m not chasing anyone down to do work any longer.  Maybe they can get a job at gas station or diner if this college thing doesn’t work out.

    • Taegveer Tut

      at my kumon centre, its usually twice a week, and 30-60 minutes per visit. some kids like it there, and some dont. i personally like it because after being a student they gave me a job, and im almost done the whole program. but the work is still kind of confusing and really boring. i hate that logo, it mirrors my own face.

  • I’ve come across vehement anti-Kumon rantings on the internet posted by kids.  Some of it just typical teen angst, similar to what I see on Facebook, where “fml” will be the posted status when a kid’s parents won’t let him go to Dunkin Donuts with his friends that afternoon.  IOW, I just don’t take it that seriously.

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  • I went to a Kumon seminar to learn how it worked (I’m a teacher) and to see if I could use any of the ideas in the classroom.  I came away not knowing what they actually did in the session – no materials were shown, and what educational methods they based it on – they just fired off lots of names related to educational development but didn’t explain how their method supported these.  Death by worksheet isn’t fun for anyone!

  • Truely, that logo looks boring. And maybe even worse than that, it’s a little bit scary. 
    Even if the logo is for some math things, it should look more appealing, more fun.

    For example take a look at a google image search of fun math:

    • Maybe it’s a cultural thing….I don’t know.  

      Strangely, it’s kind of grown on me.

  • its not suppose to be fun its work thats why the logo isn’t smiling because this is work.

    • Right. NOT inherently fun = deliberate practice. I learned that afterwards. I still love and believe in Kumon though (even if it’s NOT fun!). My son has finally gotten on the Kumon bandwagon (age 16) and sees the benefit — so it’s never too late. I plan to go back myself.

  • Mr Jeeves

    The logo?
    I read it as ‘Kumon’ face. Now if people don’t see a slight problem with that they do indeed need some extra curricular activity and its not that sort! What a terrible identity!

  • Andrew S

    I want to enroll at kumon! but I’m already an adult :(

    • You can enroll as an adult. Not only did I do it, but I know other adults who have as well. Do it!

  • Bianca

    Kumon math, reading, tutoring, learning centers,
    early childhood education, individualized, independent study, gifted students, homework? I hate it.

  • Sarah Nguyen

    the face isnt smiling because it is thinking, as it says above, about how stupid kumon is and how that person got suckered in to do the shit. Also it is thinking about how it is “happy”.

  • mcgoo

    yeah its a thinking face… it’s thinkg ‘wtf do i do here?’ haha the expression says lost and confused in my opinion.

  • PhantomyPhantom

    I view it as the Kumon Logo. No more, no less.

  • Angela

    I go to Kumon and it is fun

  • Angela

    And the logo maybe it’s how it’s made by someone????????????????????

  • Sean Andrews

    My daughter said that’s the look on a kid’s face when you tell them they’re going to have math homework every night for the next five years

  • MasterCy

    No the logo means “Your child can be the most advanced student in their class, but their faces will look like this!”

  • tim wag

    I’ll go with you. I want to learn bit more about that disturbing logo.