Math skills are critical for success in school and career. Parents want to give their children the best chance to build a strong math foundation. Two popular supplemental math programs are Russian School of Math and Kumon. But which one offers the better math education?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Both Russian School of Math and Kumon can provide benefits, but they take different approaches. Russian School of Math focuses more on math conceptual understanding and problem solving skills, while Kumon emphasizes repetition and mastery of math basics.

For advanced math students, Russian School of Math may be better, while Kumon may suit students needing more math practice.

Overview and History of Russian School of Math and Kumon

Background on Russian School of Math

The Russian School of Math (RSM) is an educational program that focuses on teaching mathematics to students from kindergarten through high school. It was founded in 1997 by Inessa Rifkin and Irina Khavinson, two mathematicians who immigrated to the United States from Russia.

RSM’s curriculum is based on the methods and techniques used in the Soviet Union to train future mathematicians.

RSM has gained a reputation for its rigorous approach to mathematics education, emphasizing problem-solving skills and logical reasoning. The program has expanded rapidly since its inception, with branches now operating in over 40 locations throughout the United States.

Background on Kumon

Kumon is a worldwide educational program that originated in Japan in 1954. It was developed by Toru Kumon, a math teacher and parent who wanted to help his son excel in mathematics. Kumon’s approach to learning is based on the belief that every child has the potential to become a self-learner.

Kumon offers a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, reading, and language arts. The program is designed to help students develop strong foundational skills and become independent learners. Kumon has expanded globally and currently operates in more than 50 countries, serving millions of students.

Both the Russian School of Math and Kumon have their unique approaches to teaching mathematics. While RSM draws heavily from the Soviet Union’s math education system, Kumon emphasizes self-learning and mastery of foundational skills.

Understanding the history and background of these programs can help parents and students make informed decisions about which one may be a better fit for their educational needs and goals.

Teaching Approaches Used by Each Program

Russian School of Math Teaching Method

The Russian School of Math (RSM) takes a comprehensive and rigorous approach to teaching mathematics. The program is based on the Russian teaching methods that have produced many successful mathematicians.

RSM focuses on building a strong foundation in mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills. They emphasize logical thinking and encourage students to explore different approaches to solving problems.

RSM uses a combination of classroom instruction, individualized assignments, and problem sets to ensure students grasp the material thoroughly. The program is designed to challenge students at their individual levels, pushing them to reach their full potential.

RSM also believes in the importance of regular practice and repetition to reinforce learning.

Kumon Teaching Method

Kumon, on the other hand, follows a more incremental and mastery-based approach to teaching mathematics. The program focuses on building a solid foundation in basic math skills and gradually progresses to more advanced topics.

Kumon believes in the importance of repetition and practice to develop strong computational skills.

Kumon uses individualized learning plans for each student, starting them at their appropriate level and gradually increasing the difficulty as they progress. Students are given worksheets to complete independently, with the goal of mastering each concept before moving on to the next.

Kumon centers also provide instructors who offer guidance and support as needed.

The Kumon method aims to instill confidence and independence in students, as they work through the material at their own pace. The program also emphasizes self-learning and self-motivation, encouraging students to take ownership of their education.

Both the RSM and Kumon teaching methods have their strengths and are successful in their own right. It ultimately depends on the individual student’s learning style and goals. Some students may thrive in RSM’s challenging and comprehensive approach, while others may prefer the incremental and self-paced learning of Kumon.

To make an informed decision, it is recommended to visit the official websites of each program for more detailed information:

Content and Curriculum Differences

Russian School of Math Curriculum

The Russian School of Math (RSM) takes a comprehensive approach to mathematics education. Their curriculum is designed to provide students with a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills.

RSM focuses on building a strong foundation in math by teaching students not only how to solve problems, but also why certain mathematical principles work. This approach helps students develop critical thinking abilities and prepares them for more advanced math topics.

The RSM curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including algebra, geometry, number theory, and calculus. The curriculum is structured in a way that allows students to progress at their own pace, ensuring that each student fully grasps the material before moving on to more complex concepts.

RSM also emphasizes the importance of practice and repetition, providing students with ample opportunities to reinforce their understanding of the material.

According to a study conducted by the American Institutes for Research, students who participated in the RSM program showed significant improvement in their math skills compared to their peers. This suggests that the RSM curriculum is effective in helping students achieve academic success in mathematics.

Kumon Curriculum

Kumon, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach to math education. The Kumon curriculum focuses on developing strong calculation skills and mental math abilities. The program starts with basic arithmetic and gradually progresses to more advanced topics such as algebra and calculus.

The Kumon curriculum is designed to be self-paced, allowing students to progress at their own speed. Each level consists of a series of worksheets that students complete independently. The emphasis is on repetition and mastery, with students expected to achieve near-perfect accuracy before moving on to the next level.

One of the advantages of the Kumon program is its flexibility. Students can join at any time and work on their assigned worksheets at their own convenience. This makes Kumon a popular choice for busy families who want to incorporate math practice into their child’s routine.

It’s important to note that both the Russian School of Math and Kumon have their own strengths and areas of focus. The best choice for a student will depend on their individual needs and learning style.

It may be helpful to talk to educators and parents who have experience with both programs to determine which one aligns better with a student’s goals and preferences.

Cost and Time Commitment

Russian School of Math Schedule and Cost

The Russian School of Math (RSM) is known for its rigorous and comprehensive math program. However, this level of quality education does come at a cost. RSM classes typically meet once a week for 90 minutes, providing students with ample time to delve deep into mathematical concepts.

The cost of RSM classes varies depending on the location and level of the class, but it generally ranges from $150 to $250 per month.

While the price may seem steep, it’s important to consider the value that RSM offers. Their curriculum is designed to challenge and engage students, ensuring that they develop a strong foundation in mathematics.

Additionally, RSM provides personalized attention and small class sizes, allowing students to receive individualized instruction and support.

Kumon Schedule and Cost

Kumon is another popular option for math education, offering a self-paced learning program. Unlike RSM, Kumon centers are open multiple times a week, giving students the flexibility to choose their own schedule.

Students typically attend Kumon classes twice a week, with each session lasting around 30 minutes.

The cost of Kumon varies depending on the center and level of the program. On average, Kumon fees range from $100 to $150 per month. While this may be more affordable compared to RSM, it’s important to note that Kumon’s approach is more focused on repetitive practice rather than conceptual understanding.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kumon offers a home-based learning option, where students complete worksheets at home and only visit the center for periodic assessments and progress tracking. This option can be more convenient for families with busy schedules, but it may require more discipline and self-motivation from the student.

When considering the cost and time commitment for both RSM and Kumon, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits each program offers. While RSM may be more expensive and require a longer time commitment, its emphasis on conceptual understanding and personalized instruction can greatly benefit students in the long run.

On the other hand, Kumon’s flexible schedule and more affordable fees may suit families who are looking for a more independent learning approach.

Suitability for Different Students

Both the Russian School of Math and Kumon have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to providing a math education. Each program may be more suitable for different types of students based on their learning styles, abilities, and goals.

When Russian School of Math Excels

The Russian School of Math is known for its rigorous and comprehensive approach to teaching mathematics. It is particularly well-suited for students who are highly motivated, excel in math, and are looking to challenge themselves.

The program is designed to foster critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a deep understanding of mathematical concepts. With small class sizes and experienced instructors, students receive personalized attention and guidance.

The Russian School of Math also offers enrichment programs and competitions for those who want to further explore their mathematical abilities.

When Kumon Excels

Kumon, on the other hand, focuses on building a strong foundation in math through repetitive practice and mastery of basic skills. It is suitable for students who may need extra support or struggle with certain math concepts.

Kumon’s individualized learning plans and self-paced approach allow students to progress at their own speed, building confidence along the way. The program also emphasizes independent learning and self-discipline, which can be beneficial for students who prefer a more flexible learning environment.

Additionally, Kumon offers a wider range of subjects beyond math, such as reading and writing, making it a comprehensive program for overall academic development.

Ultimately, the choice between the Russian School of Math and Kumon depends on the needs and preferences of the individual student. It is recommended to research and visit both programs, speak with current students and parents, and consider factors such as teaching philosophy, curriculum, and the student’s own strengths and goals.

Remember, every student is unique, and finding the right math education will greatly contribute to their academic success and future opportunities.


In summary, while both Russian School of Math and Kumon aim to improve children’s math skills, they take different approaches. Russian School of Math focuses more on conceptual understanding and problem-solving. Kumon emphasizes repetition and mastery of basic math skills.

Advanced students may benefit more from Russian School of Math, while students needing more math practice may prefer Kumon’s approach. Consider your child’s needs and learning style when choosing between these two popular supplemental math programs.

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