Learning tailored for each child at Kumon

Kumon Mathematics and English provides learning tailored for each individual child right for the start.

It is common for parents to have concerns around whether their child has acquired the skills needed to thrive in a preschool or classroom environment and to enjoy learning. Parents want their children to form a strong foundation that contributes to a positive self-image of themselves in the future.

At Kumon, students begin study at a level that allows them to build confidence from day one. Worksheets are intentionally designed with young learners in mind. The clear and systematic approach supports parents in implementing the programme with their children at home. Not only do children progress through the content at their own pace, the level of difficulty is customised to cater for their individual skills and ability.

Learning at the ‘just right’ level

In a recent article, Sydney Morning Herald journalist Daniella White reports on NSW schools who consistently achieve high scores in NAPLAN. In this article, Principal Damien Moran, from Ashfield Public School, discusses the school’s strategy of using data to identify the students who need further support and how this helps deliver above-average progress for students.

Such an approach is consistent with the findings of the 2015 Grattan Institute Report. This report recommended the use of data to improve student learning, through a model called targeted teaching, whereby teachers and schools focus on what each student knows now, target their teaching to what each student is ready to learn next, and track every student’s progress over time.

This method is what Kumon has implemented with students for over 60 years.

Established in Japan in 1958, and celebrating 40 years in Australia in 2024, Kumon helps children develop strong calculation and reading skills. Through its programmes, students acquire strong study habits and build confidence in their ability to learn. In time, they study materials independently, at a level that is ahead of their school grade. They feel comfortable to face challenges and develop a mindset where no problem is too difficult to attempt.

At Kumon, extensive data about each child’s performance, including details such as the time taken to complete work, and the number of correct answers, is recorded during every learning session. The information is then collected by the Instructor when they next see the student. Access to this data allows the Kumon Instructor to assign work that is the most relevant or ‘just right’ for that child to study next. By reviewing this vital data, the Instructor tailors the learning for each student.

Nurturing self-learning ability

The after school learning industry encompasses many different forms of tuition. Sometimes the purpose of tuition is to help a student catch up. And many families initially seek the support of Kumon Mathematics and English for this reason. But Kumon goes beyond tuition: Kumon empowers students to learn for themselves, rather than to prepare for a particular test or assessment. Kumon students work towards building self-learning ability, meaning they will not be dependent on the skills and knowledge of others.

Key to this empowerment is advanced study, where Kumon students self-learn mathematics and English concepts far ahead of their school grade. Advanced study is more than knowledge acquisition. Toru Kumon, the late founder of Kumon, believed when students self-learn ahead of school grade, their character also grows. Confidence and discipline were specific character traits Toru Kumon saw thousands of students develop during his lifetime. “Go to any Kumon centre and you can see examples of children developing as people as they develop their academic ability,” Toru Kumon once said.

Practical applications for primary school, high school, university, and beyond

Michael, who now studies an undergraduate engineering degree, started Kumon Mathematics when he was 10 years old and in Year 4 at school. By Year 8, Michael was studying Kumon Mathematics at senior high school level. For Michael self-learning became a habit, helping him greatly in high school.

“Kumon definitely helped me be independent and not have to ask people for help as much,” Michael says. “If I get stuck on a question, I will generally try and figure it out myself. Being independent and persevering with studies was a great help in high school, especially in my Year 12 exams.”

Now, four years into his degree, Michael continues the habit of self-learning he developed at Kumon. This is essential for success at university, an environment where students are expected to study independently and be self-motivated to learn.

Both Kumon Mathematics and English support students to develop a daily study habit and to use self-learning to overcome challenges in their worksheets. As students build their daily study habits, they develop discipline, and as students overcome challenges using self-learning, they grow in confidence.

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