Paul Yau, principal of HKCCCU Logos Academy, sent his sons to Kumon and saw good results, but cautions that extra tutorials may conflict with regular school programmes. Mr Yau's sons, now in university, started with Kumon at a very young age and finished all primary school maths while they were still in kindergarten. The gifted pair were already doing calculus in Primary Six. 'My sons loved doing Kumon homework. During a visit to the United States, the first thing they wanted to do every time our car stopped, was to do Kumon maths,' he said. He said Kumon was good for gifted students because it allowed them to speed ahead according to their ability. 'In school, you always have to follow the syllabus no matter how well you do.' He said Kumon had sound teaching methods that were not as mysterious as people might think. 'Kumon has no magic - it can't turn poor maths students into mathematicians. But its materials are systematic and cover various types of topics and equations. It allows students to progress gradually through everyday practices. When you practice every day, it's only normal that you improve extensively,' he said. 'Kumon does have a role to play in Hong Kong. There are no other materials in the market as systematic.' He said Kumon also helped students develop good learning habits. 'Students like what they learn. They are not afraid of everyday homework and the subjects they are learning, which is good. It trains students to have good concentration and work fast.' He also commended Kumon's reward system. 'Regular ceremonies are held to reward top students. It gives them motivation to learn.' Kumon, however, does have its shortcomings. Mr Yau said that while the Kumon method trained calculating skills, it did not offer many applied questions to enhance thinking skills. He was also wary of the qualifications of some of the instructors. 'As far as I know, many of the instructors are housewives. This casts doubt on whether they are qualified to teach,' he said. 'As a school principal, I must also say parents have to carefully decide whether their children really need outside programmes that run parallel with school programmes. 'If they make a bad choice, it could have a negative effect on studies and be a waste of time.' Chu Kai-wing, principal of CCC Hoh Fuk Tong College, sends his own primary school children to Kumon to lay a better foundation for their future studies. He also introduced Kumon into his school as a voluntary extra-curricular activity. About 100 secondary one to two students have enrolled in Kumon maths. The secondary school principal has found from years of teaching that local secondary school students are weak in Chinese, English and mathematics. 'Students haven't built a good foundation in primary schools, thus they have a lot of problems learning in secondary schools and they have low self-esteem,' he said. Mr Chu found out about Kumon in 2002 when he was researching tutorial options for his own children. The two elder ones are studying Kumon maths. 'Kumon has helped my kids a lot,' he said. 'My sons acquired good self-learning skills and learning motivation.' He said Kumon had also helped a lot of his students. 'Firstly, the students show better problem-solving skills. You can also see a change in their learning attitude through their homework,' he said. 'Secondly, students build up good learning habits. Kumon students have to finish a number of materials every day and they also have to learn how to manage their time. Kumon maths helped them lay a good foundation, especially in algebra. 'Kumon takes care of individual students. Students can set up their own targets and progress according to their abilities.' He said most of his school students who studied with Kumon were more active in class and more confident.