Kumon vs. Mathnasium vs. RISU

I have been asked similar questions many times after we launched RISU Math that is a tablet-based, self-directed learning service. So, we would like to provide a comparison with our best knowledge. I would appreciate your feedback as our knowledge of Kumon and Mathnasium is limited.


1. Summary

    Kumon and Mathnasium are excellent services with different focuses. The table below will give you the positioning of each service.

Study location
Center only Center and Home Home only
Focus area Arithmetic  — Kumon  —
All math Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math
Critical Thinking, Competitive math  — RISU Critical Thinking


2. Service Overview

 1) Kumon

Kumon started more than 60 years ago in Japan where RISU began in 2014. There was no electronic calculator at the time. So, Kumon has put its emphasis on arithmetic and developed the program that uses the worksheet extensively to meet the personalization needs. The instructors do not teach but provide worksheets that meet their personal needs. The students need to finish the worksheets at home usually one sheet per day. The students come to the class twice a week and spend about 30 minutes at the class solving the worksheets. Kumon is a great system and the largest educational franchise in the world with nearly 3 million subscribers worldwide.

The students can establish an everyday study habit and build solid arithmetic skills. Though some parents point out the inefficiency and arithmetic focus as the negative side of the service. Mr.  Kumon developed the program before the computer era, designed to maximize the number of students that one instructor can handle and provide standardized quality by eliminating the teaching part. To achieve the goal, he developed great number of worksheets with gradual difficulty level difference so that students can solve them by themselves and learn new subjects.

2) Mathnasium

The students of Mathnasium study at the center and do not bring back the homework. It uses worksheets arranged based on the assessment test. One instructor takes care of a few students to provide better personal attention and teach math if necessary. It covers all math curriculum, not only arithmetic but also geometry and word problems.

No homework, students/instructor ratio, and the full coverage give a clear contrast from Kumon. The price is higher than Kumon to offer lower student/instructor ratio.


RISU provides two types of services.

i) RISU Math and RISU Critical Thinking

  Both programs are tablet-based programs run only on the designated tablet which runs only the RISU application and can be subscribed at home. RISU Math covers all the Common Core State Standards area, and RISU Critical Thinking covers competitive math and five key reasoning areas (figurative (2D), spatial (3D), verbal, numerical and logical reasoning). These programs utilize tablets, AI, videos, parent portal site, emails to provide the family with the most efficient, self-directed and personalized learning experience.

  The Math program fits well with families that the parents can take care of the child’s study or to the child who can manages the practice by him/herself with the most affordable cost.

  The Critical Thinking program is the perfect choice for students who would like to expand their strength to the competitive math and reasoning areas or families that the parents would like to help the child building a further advantage in math. Critical Thinking has a great fit with former Kumon students who have solid arithmetic skills.

ii) RISU Tutoring

  The students study at the center and at home. RISU Tutoring utilizes both tablet and paper worksheets, covers all math curriculum, and assigns homework to establish daily learning habit.  It has a similar student/instructor ratio with Mathnasium to provide personalized teaching. RISU Tutoring utilizes RISU Math and RISU Critical Thinking program to provide efficient, personalized self-directed learning, and uses the paper worksheet to ensure proficiency in the necessary calculation skills.


3. How to select the best fit program

 Assuming someone can take your child to the center twice a week, the first two questions are “are you ok with the daily homework?” in another word, “are you willing to establish daily learning habit?”, and the second question is “are you willing to afford the cost?”. As mentioned above, Kumon and RISU require homework, while Mathnasium does not provide it. Since both Kumon and Mathnasium are franchise, the prices vary by the center and greatly different by area. Kumon usually charges around $100 to $130 per subject per month in the San Francisco Bay area, (Silicon Valley). RISU charges $120 per month. Mathnasium is a few times higher to afford the lower student/teacher ratio.

If you are not able to take your child to the center twice a week in various reasons, RISU Math could be one of the alternatives and RISU Critical Thinking could be the supplement.

The focus area could be the another considering point. If you would like your child to learn all subjects, Mathnasium or RISU would be the choice. If you are fine with focusing on arithmetic, Kumon could be the choice.


4. Comparison

1) Initial Assessment

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math


   Kumon, Mathnasium and RISU provide the initial assessment to identify the level of understanding of your child. This is a major difference from personal tutors who usually do not have the structured and well-tuned assessment method. RISU uses the proprietary tablet-based assessment that dynamically changing the questions based on the accuracy of the answers to more accurately assess the level of understanding.

  All services set the starting point based on the assessment result.

2) On going personalization

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math


   Kumon, Mathnasium and RISU have their own proprietary methods and the curriculum. Kumon instructors select worksheets based on the progress of your child every time. Mathnasium instructors follow the set of worksheets assigned based on the assessment, but the speed will be adjusted based on the understanding of your child. RISU instructors assign target stage in the tablet software or paper worksheets based on understanding and proficiency of your child. All three services follow the own curriculum with some flexibility.

3) Autonomy

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math


   Students of Kumon and Mathnasium need to follow the curriculum and assigned worksheets. RISU students have a wider autonomy and can pick the maximum seven subjects concurrently based on their interest and progress such as number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, geometry, measurement.

4) Teaching

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math


  Kumon does not allow the instructors to teach and have them force the students to work on the worksheets by themselves. This may sound weird. But Kumon believes that each student can learn new skills by him/herself through the worksheets and designed the worksheets to enable it. This is true to many students but not all. RISU shares the same philosophy and RISU Math was designed to enable it with recent technologies such as videos to provide the better support, and proved that this method works for many students but not all like Kumon.

  Mathnasium and RISU Tutoring instructors teach if necessary, to improve the learning efficiency and ensuring the understanding.

5) Center Visit Frequency

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math
Center Visit per week 2 2 2 0


This will affect your daily life the most. Three services require you or someone bring you child to the center twice a week and pick them again after 30 to 60 minutes. The number is the most generic frequency and may be adjusted to accommodate each family’s needs.  In case of 30 minutes, many parents stay at the center since it is too short to go back home or go somewhere and come back again. If both parents work, it could be a huge challenge.

6) Tuition per subject

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math
Approximate Tuition $100 – $150 A few times of Kumon $120 $38 – $80


The above tuition is based on our own research in the San Francisco Bay Area in later 2018 and subject change. Since Kumon and Mathnasium are franchise, the amount depends on the center and widely vary based on the geography. So, please visit or contact the center where you may take your child and ask for the amount, refund policy, minimum commitment and other restrictions.

The amount of RISU Math is based on the progress speed. If your child progress more than twice faster than the school curriculum, it will go up to $80.

7) Learning location

Kumon Mathnasium RISU Tutoring RISU Math
Learning location Center & Home Center only Center & Home Home only


Mathnasium does not provide homework and has the student study only at the center. So, you do not need to worry about ensuring your child finishing the homework on top of school homework at the same time may think that only twice a week may not enough.

Both Kumon and RISU believe daily study is important. RISU’s research with more than 5,000 students shows the students who study almost every for 15 to 20 minutes achieved the best result compare to the students who studied longer time less frequently and proved our belief.  Therefore, RISU assigns the homework.

In anyway, studying math periodically is very important to better understand it and improve the proficiency.

5. Conclusion

Schools never go back to the subject taught once. So, if your child is not able to keep up with the school’s pace, these services or private tutor are the alternative and only way to prevent your child from drop out except you can do it by yourself. Also, if your child is gifted and talented and the math class at the school is painfully boring, these services also help your child moving forward without school grade boundary and enabling exploring their interest much faster. One of RISU students finished three years portion of math, (4th, 5th and 6th) in six months.

Also, proficiency that is almost ignored in the US is very important especially lower grade. Understanding how to calculate is not enough. Your child needs to be able to calculate accurately and fast enough to succeed in Math. These services help ensuring the proficiency too.

I hope that this article can help you to make the selection decision.

   Hiroji Fukui

May 17, 2019No commentsArticles, MathComparison | Kumon | Math | Mathnasium

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