In a year’s time Gabbie will hopefully be in a big school. I am thrilled with the idea and so is Gabbie. But big school also means more workload for her. Which means at some point, I know the worksheets won’t be as fun and her “play” attitude towards school will slowly be replaced with “work”. With that, we’re really considering enrolling her in supplemental programs that can enhance her comprehensive skills to help her be self-sufficient when she starts going to the big school.
Good thing Gabbie and I had a chance to visit one of the branches of Kumon Center. There, we get to have a firsthand feel of the place and the program.
Kumon is an after-school supplemental learning program that considers the individual needs of each student with academic advancement through self-learning as its main goal. The Kumon Method makes use of worksheets that have been designed to enable the children to progress in small steps and study at the level most suitable for their academic ability.
Gabbie was actually thrilled upon learning that she gets to answer a worksheet during our visit. But what got her even more giddy was the section where books are displayed.
When we arrived at the Kumon Center, we immediately saw how very independent the kids were. Each one seated at their chosen desk, quitely answering their worksheets with less supervision from the teachers.
While we were waiting for Teacher Abby, the head instructor for the Kumon Center we visited, Gabbie immediately asked me if she can get a book to read. Each book is categorized based on the level of difficulty of reading. Soon after, she also had the chance to form a puzzle, one of the activities the students can do aside from answering their worksheets and reading books.
What sets Kumon apart from the other after-school supplemental learning programs? It’s the Kumon Method. Kumon Method was developed in 1954 by Toru Kumon, (thus the name) a high school mathematics teacher. He wanted to enhance his eldest son’s skills gradually, so he produced a series of hand-written learning materials that his son, Takeshi can complete progressively on his own. Mr. Toru Kumon believed that all children possess undiscovered potential and abilities that surpass even the expectations of adults. He believed that instruction based on maximizing children’s independence was of the highest importance.
There are five characteristics of the Kumon Method which I have mostly observed during our visit.
Individualized Instruction- The ‘Just-right’ Level of Study.
By pursuing the potential of each individual, Kumon allows children to be the best they can. Individualized instruction became one of the critical factors of the Kumon Method. The key to this is study at the ‘just-right’ level. It is a level where at any time with maximum effort, student can progress on their own without being specifically taught. Depending on the level of a child, a certain time frame will be given to so as to exercise his critical thinking as well as his capability to process information even when time pressured. Each student will be assessed first to know what level they are when it comes to mathematics and reading. Through this assessment will they be able to provide the ‘just-right’ level specifically for each child.
Self-learning according to Kumon’s definition is the ability to set goals and solve unfamiliar and challenging tasks independently. The ambition to take on a new challenge is fostered in students because they feel a sense of accomplishement in their study. So each worksheet is different for each individual. New students may have to be assisted by a teacher for the first few sessions to make them feel at ease and comfortable. But once they’ve gotten the idea of how it goes about, they then have to do the worksheets on their own.
The Role of the Instructor.
Instructors are devoted to each child’s development and growth. A student is required to attend a Kumon Center on a regular basis, at least twice in a week. Each child follows a simple routine that supports their study at home since worksheets are given on a daily basis (including weekends). The instructor’s role is to ensure that students can, without any hindrance, experience over and over the sense of accomplishment and feeling of confidence gained as a result of thinking through and solving problems on their own. In order for them to do so, the Kumon instructor observes a child’s study behavior, particularly when doing the repetition and studying new content. According to Teacher Abby, Gabbie at her age fits the level of a pre-schooler. This is the age when repetition is quickly learned and absorbed as well as studying new content. Her age also is the starting level which is easier to keep track and to build progression. The instructor would also keep track of each student’s progress and relays it to the parents, who in return will facilitate the child at home.
Progress in Small Steps.
The Kumon worksheets are structured to foster self-learning. These are specially designed to advance in small steps enabling students to progress smoothly while learning at a new level that is most appropriate for them. The worksheets are designed to allow students to figure out how to solve problems on their own and they will never encounter a problem that they are completely unfamiliar with. Here’s a look at the level difference: Level 3A is adding with numbers up to 5, while level 2A is adding with numbers up to 10 and subtracting numbers up to 9. See how gradual the learning is per level? That way, the student will gain a sense of knowledge in a slow but surely paced manner, where there is enough transition to provide clarity in understanding.
The Pursuit of Potential.
Studying beyond School Grade Level: Fostering Confidence and Self-Esteem. Gone are the days when only those with high IQ or those born genius can do Statistics at a tender age. Kumon has definitely proven otherwise, that with their Kumon Method, anybody can advance beyond their school grade level. With their ‘just-right’ level, the instructors can help nurture a child’s ability and help them realize their potential. I’ve learned that in such cases, Kumon produces students that can do Basic Algebra at the ages of 8-11 years old. These students can do advance learning in preparation for their chosen course in college and have proven that there is a correlation between academic behavior with social behavior. Advance learning can help a child develop a deeper awareness of others around them and experience has shown that these students actually become kinder and more considerate of their peers and others.
There is no pre-requisite if you’re interested in letting your child try Kumon. They have students as young as two years old who have shown interested in reading and mathematics even though there isn’t any formal schooling. I asked Gabbie after her brief session with Teacher Abby what she liked about her visit to Kumon Center. She said she liked counting numbers and writing them by herself. It was actually a fun experience for her as she kept on talking about how fun it was to “play” with numbers.
I believe every parent wants their child to excel in life. What better way to do that than to harness their learning skills to better prepare them for school life and the future?
For more information visit http://ph.kumonglobal.com/