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Homepage Slider Parenting — 21 February 2013

You know the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? It’s when you spot or learn something ‘new’ and then after that you see it around everywhere? Well, that happened to me with a thing called Kumon…

Toru Kumon of the Kumon Method

I saw a poster for Kumon classes at our tennis club, then, the next day I was wandering the back streets of Crystal Palace and saw that a Kumon centre had opened. That night, yes, that very same night, I spoke to a friend who mentioned that 2 children in her music class were Kumon kids. That was it. I needed to know more.

I contacted Helen at the SE19 Kumon centre and demanded to know just what all this Kumon business was about. Was it about to take over the world? Did I need to get involved? When? Where? How much? So many questions which, fortunately, she was very happy to answer.

Helen told me how school maths teacher Toru Kumon developed the Kumon Method in 1958 to help his son. From there it grew to the present day where it incorporates an English programme which, just like the maths, focusses on the individual’s potential,  builds their confidence and instils a love of learning.

Of course, all kids are keen to learn, that’s why they’re constantly asking questions from the moment they rise to the sleepy ‘what is the moon made of?’ as they’re just about to close their eyes. But getting children eager beaver behind a desk?  To want to plough through workbooks?…

I’m told that each child is assessed to measure their needs and ability. They then begin on the Kumon journey which for the first 20 days (or ‘Starting Point’) covers familiar ground. After that they are ready to move to the Discovery stage where they learn new things by completing workbooks both in the centre and at home. Eventually children move to the Enrichment stage where the child sets their own goals and moves towards completion of the course.

Helen showed me the teaching area of the class which is set up as row of desks with stools (no slouching here) and a LOT of clocks. The instructor sits at the front of the class and other facilitators mill around the desks to observe children and assist. When they need help the kids are encouraged to seek the answer for themselves.

Kumon on mummy rates itKumon doesn’t start and finish in the classroom. Children have homework worksheets to complete – it’s suggested they do some every night and parents don’t get off lightly either – you’re expected to mark the worksheets. Throughout the programme the children receive homework boxes, certificates and awards. Do the parents get them too?!

Obviously Kumon doesn’t come for free. You need to commit your time but also your money. Classes in Crystal Palace are £60 per month per subject with a one-off membership fee of £25.

With the cost implications to consider you have to have the cash, the desire and/or the need. Kumon certainly sounds like a great resource for home-schoolers, those with kids nearing exams but also parents who want to make sure that any gaps left from day-to-day schooling are dealt with.

So that is what Kumon is about. Now I’m off to see what my next  Baader-Meinhof  ’thing’ will be. In the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more about Kumon or to take advantage of a free assessment click here.

  • I did not receive any money/product for writing this post. All words and opinions my own.

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