Kumon survey finds Canadian parents want to help their kids with homework – but more than half cite frustration as the major barrier.

New teaching methods and shifting curricula lead to disconnect between parents and children

TORONTO, ON, APRIL 13, 2015 – Struggles with homework and learning materials are nothing new to parents helping their kids with homework – but new educational techniques and an ever-changing curriculum can leave both parents and children baffled. A new survey conducted on the Angus Reid Forums and commissioned by Kumon Canada, reveals that parents of struggling students 7-16 years old, are frustrated, unable to help, and don’t know how to approach the subject matter.

Of the parents surveyed, two –in-five (41%) agree the greatest barrier to their child’s education is their confidence when they struggle with a specific subject. It’s not just the children who suffer, but two-thirds (65%) of parents agree the whole family is affected when their child is struggling at school.

“Despite best intentions, parents can’t always help their child overcome learning obstacles on their own,” says Lyndsay Lowman, Brand Communications Manager, Kumon Canada Inc. “It’s important that parents know there are options to help their children achieve their learning objectives.”

The parents surveyed said their strategy for aiding their children would be to first spend more time with their child, then to ask their child’s teacher for advice. With a curriculum very different and constantly changing, parents with good reason, are struggling to keep up.

That lack of success damages learning outcomes. Families surveyed reported that a continued lack of success led to negative emotions like frustration (59%) and diminished motivation to learn (37%). New Canadian communities, with non English and French speaking families are also reporting high levels of frustration (45%) and discouragement (35%).

Thankfully, there is a solution. While private tutoring is unaffordable for three out of four Canadian parents, a learning strategy promoting self-directed learning can help the child seek out resources on their own, saving money, time and emotional energy. For example, Kumon Canada, which operates after-school learning centres located across the country, uses an innovative learning approach which relies on building up confidence in the student and fostering independence – a strategy much more likely to meet with success.

“At Kumon, we pride ourselves on helping children learn how to learn on their own – this not only develops academic skills, but helps the students gain confidence that will help them in the classroom and beyond,” says Lowman.


  • Almost half (45%) of non-native English and French speaking parents surveyed admit understanding their child’s homework causes the most frustration.
    • This problem is particularly acute in ethnic homes as well, affecting 50 per cent of ethnic families.
  • Math is considered the most difficult subject for parents (43 per cent), closely followed by science (31 per cent) and languages (32 per cent).
  • For parents with children between the ages of 3 and 6, reading skills aren’t as important compared to verbal communication skills (36% vs. 91%); however, 52 per cent say their child struggles with reading the most.
  • Private tutoring is not affordable for 3 out of 4 Canadian parents.
  • 41 per cent of parents cite confidence as the greatest barrier to their child’s education and learning success. Other barriers include shortage of school resources (27%), difficulties completing homework (26%) and frustration (23%).

Kumon Canada is one of the largest after-school math and reading programs for children ages three to 16, offering an alternative to conventional tutoring. Kumon provides students with worksheets tailored to their level in math and reading. These worksheets cover everything from counting to calculus, from phonics to Shakespeare and include examples of how to problem solve and self-learn new concepts independently.

About Kumon

Kumon is an after-school math and reading enrichment program that unlocks the potential of children so they can achieve more on their own. Founded in Japan in 1958, the learning method uses an individualized approach that helps children develop a solid command of math and reading skills. Through daily practice and mastery of materials, students increase confidence, improve concentration and develop better study skills. Kumon has 26,000 centres in 48 countries and more than four million students studying worldwide. Visit www.kumon.ca to learn more.

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About Angus Reid Survey Methodology

From February 12th to February 18th, 2015 an online survey was conducted among 1,521 randomly selected Canadian parents who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. Among parents, 307 had a child aged 3-6, and 1214 had a child aged 7-16. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to region and gender Census data to ensure a sample representative of Canadian parents. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.