Kumon Maths follows the Kumon Method, a system of mathematics teaching started in Japan 50 years ago by Toru Kumon a parent who wanted to improve his child’s math scores at school.
Kumon math is a self paced study system, students work through a series of mathematics worksheets, moving up to the next level only when they have mastered the current set of worksheets. Students do not start the program at a level commensurate with their school year; rather they are tested on first joining the program and are started at a point that will be easy for them 1st grade go math. This easy starting point provides them with the opportunity to gain confidence in their ability early in the program and to reinforce basic maths skills. They work through each level of the program repeating and re-repeating the levels as necessary until they achieve complete mastery of a subject. Kumon measures this mastery not only in the number of questions that the student answers correctly, but also in the time that each worksheet booklet is completed in. As the student becomes more proficient their completion times get faster and faster until they meet the standard completion time, a time predetermined by Kumon as showing proficiency in the subject matter they have been studying; at which point they are ready to move up to the next level.
Kumon differs from standard math tutoring in that the worksheets are not completed under the direct supervision of a tutor. Rather, once or twice a week the student visits a Kumon centre where their work is checked and they are allocated new worksheets. They then complete these worksheets at home independently, with them being corrected by parents. New concepts are introduced in a very slow, controlled and self explanatory way within the worksheets such that they do not require new concepts to be “taught” outside of the worksheets. Immediately upon the introduction of a new subject students begin completing exercises based on following very simple examples.
The beauty of the Kumon method is that it allows each child to progress exactly at the pace that they are comfortable with. Kumon automatically self grades the children according to ability and accomplishment and does not require the subjective opinion of a teacher to allocate work at the right level. Children gain confidence through their ability to move through the levels with many children working at levels 2-3 years above their grade level at school.
Kumon math is a large commitment for a family. Not only can it be financially demanding, but there is also a time commitment involved. Each day students are expected to do 20 minutes of study. Whilst this is a good way to instil self discipline in children it can be difficult in the early stages if students are resistant to studying.
Due to the requirement that students repeat and re-repeat Kumon exercises until they are fully mastered some students complain that they find Kumon maths boring. This is particularly true at the halfway point through each level where full mastery has not yet been achieved with a subject but boredom is starting to set in.
However one fact that is indisputable is that Kumon achieves results in its students. Many of them become far more proficient at mathematics, and many children who have been struggling in maths quickly come to be at or near the top of their class