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How Does Kumon Learning Center Train Kids to be Independent Through Drills?


Have you ever wondered what Kumon is and whether or not it is effective? In your circles, you would undoubtedly have heard a parent comment on the advantages and the true impact of signing up in a program by the Kumon Learning Center.


What is the Kumon Learning Center Method?


The Kumon Learning Center was first established in 1954 by Japanese school teacher Tori Kumon. Today, it continues to be one of the most popular tutoring programs, which focuses on reading and mathematics. It aims to help students develop the necessary skills and independence to excel in school. In Kumon, a student’s academic ability is improved by completing worksheets of increasing difficulty. Kumon Learning Center’s program is not based on the child’s school curriculum but is adapted from an international curriculum. Furthermore, the level by which a child starts is determined by evaluating his or her current skills instead of their age. 

A Kumon instructor gives examples when introducing a new concept to students, who are then encouraged to answer the worksheets on their own. The materials they are handed increase in difficulty in small increments to facilitate independent learning. This method allows students to connect new concepts with topics that they have already tackled. It also allows them to master concepts at their own pace as they work on topics repeatedly before moving on to the next. Each worksheet must be completed within 30 minutes to train students to be more aware of time, which is an important factor when taking exams.

When enrolled in a Kumon class, a student goes to the center with a teacher chairing it, twice a week. Over the next five days, five worksheets have to be finished at home with 30 minutes for each worksheet. There are Kumon centers throughout the world, each following the same worksheets, structure, and design.


How Does Kumon Work?


Because of the rigid nature of worksheet drills, the Kumon Learning Center program is often deemed too strict by some parents and teachers. However, Kumon maintains that discipline and independence or autonomous learning are the core aspects of their philosophy. The Kumon program is geared  towards instilling discipline and a strong work ethic in children, which can benefit them not only in school but also in their adult lives.

The Kumon method is guided by its four basic pillars, which are:

  • Individual capacity
  • Self-taught children
  • Progressive Development
  • The instructor as an observer

The last item is particularly different from traditional tutoring methods. While most school teachers and tutors describe procedures and closely monitor a child’s work, Kumon tutors are encouraged to lead instead of “teach.” Because the program is based on concepts and examples, Kumon tutors guide students in accomplishing their tasks. When a child makes a mistake, a Kumon tutor may give tips or advice but will not explicitly show the child what he or she did wrong. 

To some parents, this may sound counterproductive. However, Kumon stresses the importance of self-motivation and self-directed learning through positive reinforcement. And while this method has worked wonders for a lot of students, it certainly is not for everyone.


Kumon Learning Center


Kumon Math


The mathematics program of Kumon typically involves mental calculation and problem-solving that students can easily absorb and resolve. The skills and confidence they develop in accomplishing Kumon worksheets can then be applied in the math curriculum they tackle in school.

Kumon Math is offered to students until Grade 12, but adults may also choose to take the program. 


Kumon English, grammar and composition


Kumon English focuses on reading and comprehension as well as phonic factoring, letter sounds, grammar, punctuation, and writing. Children are given CDs to listen to before beginning their work.

Kumon Learning Center also makes use of renowned of literary works for the higher grade levels to help encourage a student’s creative and imaginative use of language.


Developing a Strong Work Ethic


Kumon develops a strong work ethic in children at an early age. From working and submitting worksheets to completing each level of the program, everything follows a strict structure. Hence, a child learns invaluable skills, such as organization, timeliness, and the ability to focus.



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Craig Selinger

Author Craig Selinger

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