Kumon

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Kumon Education Centre
Private
Industry Education Tutoring
Founded 1958
Headquarters Osaka, Japan (Global HQ) with a presence in 49 countries
Products Kumon Math and Kumon Native Language (varies by country)
Website http://www.kumon.org/
Inside a Kumon Center with students studying

Kumon, created by Toru Kumon, is a private tutoring organisation. The Kumon Method is the mathematics and reading educational method which is practised in franchised Kumon centers.[1]

History[edit]

In 1954 in Japan, a Grade 2 student by the name of Takeshi scored poorly in a math test. His mother, Teiko, asked her husband, Toru Kumon, to take a closer look at their son’s school textbooks. Being a high school math teacher, Toru Kumon thought Takeshi's textbooks did not give children enough practice to be confident in a topic. Mr. Kumon decided to help his son by handwriting worksheets for him to practice. This was the start of the Kumon Method.

By the time Takeshi was in Grade 6, he had studied his father’s daily hand-written worksheets for four years and could solve differential and integral calculus problems. Friends and neighbors noticed Takeshi’s achievements and asked Mr. Kumon to help their own children learn with this method. It was through this local word of mouth that the Kumon Method began to spread. In 1958 the Kumon Institute of Education was established in Osaka, Japan. In its first year of operation, Kumon attracted 300 students through recommendations by parents whose children had studied the Kumon Method.

The first Kumon franchise in Tokyo opened in 1962. Kumon franchises were soon opened in the USA, Brazil, Germany, The Philippines, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India and many more. Today there are more than 4 million children of all ages and abilities studying with Kumon in 49 countries.[2]

Kumon method of learning[edit]

Kumon has two core programs, the Kumon Math and Kumon Native Language Program (language varies by country). There are also Kumon Japanese and Kumon Kokugo courses for Japanese language speakers and a Pencil Skills Program for younger students.

How Kumon works is that each student is given an initial assessment of his or her abilities. Based on the results and the student's study skills, a Kumon Instructor will create an individualized study plan. Students commonly begin Kumon at an 'easy starting point' to build study habits, concentration and a strong understanding of the fundamental topics.

As students progress, Kumon Instructors plan for students to study material at what Toru Kumon described as 'the just right level'. This is a level of difficulty that aims to challenge students so they remain motivated and can learn independently but not so difficult as to discourage them.

The study plan is regularly updated by the Kumon Instructor to match the ability of each student. Students are tested at the end of each topic but they do not pass or fail; rather, they are given the chance to practice until they have demonstrated a sound understanding of the material. Once this is achieved, students can progress to more advanced topics.

All Kumon programs are pencil and worksheet based. The worksheets increase in difficulty in small increments. It is recommended that students study for 15–30 minutes for five days of the week with the other two study days being completed when student’s visit their local Kumon Center.

Every study session is timed, marked and recorded to track progress and to assist the Kumon Instructor when planning a student's future study.

Students can start Kumon at any time of year and Centers usually remain open during school holidays except for a short period over the New Year break.

Kumon instructors and assistants[edit]

Kumon is a franchise model with Kumon Education Centers run by a senior Instructor and a team of Center Assistants. All Kumon Instructors are qualified and trained in the teaching of the Kumon method and are supported by Kumon office staff. Kumon Instructors are considered experts in the Kumon curriculum, observing students’ study habits and individualizing the programs to suit a student’s ability.

Kumon Assistants are often past Kumon students with a deep understanding of the method and its goals. Kumon Assistants are trained by Kumon Instructors.

Kumon at home[edit]

The Kumon Method is primarily a home-based learning program. Students are asked to study a little each day for approximately 15–30 minutes (varies by student's ability and subject choice). The home study develops a student’s independence, time management skills and overall mastery of the topics.

Kumon students[edit]

As of January 2016, the majority of Kumon students are in primary school with preschool and high school students also studying Kumon. Common reasons parents enroll their children are for school readiness, catching up to school or to challenge high ability children. Parents also see Kumon as a way to help their children develop study skills and the discipline of a study routine.

Kumon values[edit]

Toru Kumon strongly believed that the potential of children is limitless. He believed the further children are able to advance by studying on their own, the more motivated they become and the more drive they have to push themselves further.

After guiding many students with his method, Mr. Kumon began to see the benefits of advanced, independent learning. He saw that once a child experienced the success of studying content ahead of their school grade level, they begin to develop other positive characteristics such as confidence, composure, perseverance and maturity.

Kumon curriculum[edit]

As a high school mathematics teacher, Mr. Kumon understood that an understanding of calculus was essential for Japanese university entrance exams so in writing worksheets for his son, Mr. Kumon focused on all the topics needed for a strong understanding of calculus starting from the basics of counting. Kumon students do not use calculators and solve all problems using mental calculation. A student is known as a Kumon Completer once they reach the finish the final level of the Kumon Math or Kumon Native Language program. (Note* Levels vary slightly by country)

  • Level 6A: Counting numbers to 10, reading numbers
  • Level 5A: Reading numbers to 50, sequence of numbers
  • Level 4A: Reading numbers, writing numbers to 120
  • Level 3A: Numbers up to 120, adding up to 3
  • Level 2A: Adding up to 10
  • Level A: Horizontal addition, Subtraction from numbers up to 20
  • Level B: Vertical addition and subtraction
  • Level C: Basic multiplication, division
  • Level D: Long multiplication, long division, introduction to fractions
  • Level E: Fractions
  • Level F: Four operations of fractions, decimals
  • Level G: Positive/negative numbers, exponents, Algebraic expressions, Single-Variable Equations with 1-4 steps
  • Level H: Transforming Equations, Linear/simultaneous equations, inequalities, algebraic functions and graphs, adding and subtracting Monomials and Polynomials
  • Level I: Factorization, square roots, quadratic equations, Pythagorean theorem
  • Level J: Algebra II
  • Level K: Functions: Quadratic, fractional, irrational, exponential
  • Level L: Logarithms, basic limits, derivatives, integrals, and its applications
  • Level M: Trigonometry, straight lines, equation of circles.
  • Level N: Loci, limits of functions, sequences, differentiation
  • Level O: Advanced differentiation, integration, applications of calculus, differential equations.
  • Level X (elective level): Triangles, vectors, matrices, probability, statistics

Answer books are available for levels 6A to O.

Reading program[3][edit]

The Kumon Native Language Programs are designed to expose students to a broad range of texts and develop the skill of reading comprehension. Many Kumon Centres also use audio CDs to help students with pronunciation.

  • Level 7A: Look, Listen, Repeat
  • Level 6A: Reciting Words with Pictures
  • Level 5A: Letter Sounds
  • Level 4A: Consonant Combinations and Vowel Sounds
  • Level 3A: Advanced Vowel Sounds & Advanced Sounding Out
  • Level 2A: Functions of Words (nouns, verbs, adjectives), Reading Aloud
  • Level AI: Structure of Simple Sentences
  • Level AII: Sentence Structure, Sentence Topics, Thought Sequence
  • Level BI: Subject and Predicate
  • Level BII: Comparing and Contrasting
  • Level CI: Constructing Sentences
  • Level CII: Organizing Information
  • Level DI: Combining Sentences
  • Level DII: Main Idea, Understanding Paragraphs
  • Level EI: Clauses
  • Level EII: Reason and Result
  • Level FI: Referring Words, Interpreting Text
  • Level FII: Concision, Analysis of & Recounting Events from Paragraphs
  • Level G: Point Making, Theme, Story Elements, Summary
  • Level H: Summation
  • Level I: Persuasion
  • Level J: Critical Reading
  • Level K: Elements of Literature
  • Level L: Interpretation
Pencils and an eraser with the Kumon logo

[edit]

The Kumon logo features a distinctive face known as 'the Thinking Face'.

References[edit]