Learning, the Kumon Way
This summer, we did away from the usual sports activities, and instead opted for a more academic experience, so we enrolled EA in the Kumon Math program.
What is Kumon, you may ask? And how does it work? I took an excerpt from their website just to give you a glimpse of how Kumon works:
The following four strengths enable Kumon to achieve its learning objectives:
1. Individualized Instruction
Kumon is an individualized learning method that allows each student to study at a comfortable level, regardless of age or school grade, and advance beyond his or her current school grade level. At Kumon, students become enthusiastic for learning and experience a sense of accomplishment as they increase their academic ability and develop their potential to the maximum.
Kumon places great importance on self-learning, encouraging students to read the worksheets, think, and do the exercises on their own. The ability to study independently helps students become proactive and assists them in the pursuit of their goals and aspirations.
3. Small-Step Worksheets
Kumon worksheets are designed to take students from easy problems to difficult problems in very small steps. This enables each student to study at an appropriate level and advance smoothly through the program.
4. Kumon Instructors
Kumon Instructors discover what individual students are capable of and bring out their potential. Instructors pay careful attention to each student’s academic ability, personality and how he or she solves the worksheets. Based on their observations, Instructors provide effective support to ensure study at a level that is “just right” for each individual.
I became familiar with Kumon learning when it became my external audit client during my years in Deloitte. Since then I had always believed in its methodology and its high success rating. At the back of my mind I was thinking that I would want my kids to get into it someday.
Fast forward to 2017, we decided to get EA into Kumon for two reasons; (1) to improve his math and analytical skills, and (2) to develop good study habits.
So how does Kumon work exactly? Well, for each subject (EA’s Kumon Center offers English and Math subjects, others even offer Japanese), kids go to class twice a week, with each class lasting about an hour long. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the kid and the teacher. After each class, they are given their assignments for the next coming days before their next scheduled class. During Kumon school days, there are no assignments as they will be doing their worksheets in class. However, for the remaining days, worksheets are given even on weekends and holidays. But do not fret! Each worksheet is approximately worth just 20 minutes to an hour of your child’s time. For me that is much better than them spending these minutes on computer games or watching TV. Once the Teacher sees that the child has mastered a particular topic, an assessment test will be given to the child. Once he passed, he moves to the next level. In his two months in Kumon, EA moved up to four levels! So proud.
I have to say that I liked the result of EA being in Kumon this summer. I had seen a great improvement in his sense of responsibility, good study habits and discipline.
When we were on our 8-day family vacation in Japan, we brought along 8 days worth of worksheets too. While some find this too much, or harsh for the kids, for me it is a great way to teach our son how to be responsible, the same way that me and Daddy S will sometimes have to check work at night even on vacation. I liked how EA had the initiative to do his worksheets in the morning without even me reminding him about it or even doing it in the airplane to while away the time.
Another good thing that I saw as result of Kumon is that EA’s self confidence improved. The good thing about Kumon is that, the teachers talk to parents or guardians whenever the child moves up a level, and when we do, I always take along EA so he can hear what his teacher has to say. The praises gave him a big boost and the areas for improvement he worked on himself! Aside from that, I also congratulate him and give him a well deserve pat on the back for a job well done. It is a great reminder for him that hardwork is indeed rewarded.
Given the wonderful benefits of Kumon, we decided to continue on with the program beyond summer classes. The challenge now is that EA will have a regular class in school plus Kumon. However, since school started, there is a decrease in the volume of assignments given so as not to compete with their schoolwork. Our aim is for EA to complete the entire program, which is up until fourth year high level.
In the end I would totally recommend sending your kids to Kumon. If ever you will, here are reminders that I would like you to take note of:
(1) check your child’s preparedness to enter the program
I am and have always been a firm believer that we should not force out child to learn things. They have to be prepared to do it, otherwise you will not yield the results that you want. How would you know they are? For EA, I always make it a point to talk to him. Our policy in dealing with our kids is honesty. We are honest with him all the time. So with Kumon, i explained to him the method and how it works. I always relayed the expectations from him, which is to do his worksheets everyday. I also mentioned the benefits in the program and what he will gain from it. He understood and although quite worried at first, he trusted our judgment and went on with it.
For some, EA joining Kumon at 8 years old may be a bit late. I have seen students as young as 2.5 – 3 years old in EA’s Kumon center enrolled in either reading or math. As much as I do not disagree on it, again, it really depends on the child. For my son, last summer was the perfect time.
(2) Get to know the Kumon center and instructors, most especially the owner
If I remember it correctly, Kumon is picky when it comes to who is granted a franchise. They have to have the same passion to teach and deliver the objective of the franchise.
The owner of EA’s center is one of the pioneers of the Kumon franchise in the Philippines. Thus, the center has been in operations for more than 15 years already. During the orientation, she was the one leading the presentation and discussion and I get the glimpse of how she was as an instructor. Even though she is not the one directly mentoring EA, seeing her gave me an idea on how she will lead the instructors in her center.
(3) Attend orientations and parent-teacher discussions
Orientations are the best venue to ask questions and concerns by the franchise owner themselves. As for parent-teacher discussion, it is a best way to know the achievements and areas for improvement of your child.
(4) Be an encouraging and supportive parent
Children thrive more when they are in an environment that encourages them to do their best and succeed. Monitor their work at home and discuss with your child any correction or wrong answer that they may have. At times when they have difficulty with a particular topic, give them a boost of confidence. Make learning a fun experience for your child.
Whatever activity that you decide to engage your child in. whether it be for summer or extra curriculum, always take into consideration their enjoyment. After all, they are young and are meant to have a lot of fun at their age. Learning comes easier when they love what they are doing.