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Our Kumon Story...

From the site
Written by OHmommy   
Monday, 08 November 2010 00:00

"I wish I had more worksheets to do tonight. This is fun!" my eight year old smiled after completing double digit addition problems for the first time. "48+19 = EASY!, 36+28 = EASY!, 65+25 = EASY!" he sang throughout his worksheets. Enrolled in Kumon (an after-school enrichment program) for over twenty-four months he's by far the best in his math class.

 Let me start by saying that there are many people who disagree with the Kumon method. The biggest complaint is that there's too much memorization and repetition. So it's no surprise when I recommend Kumon to local girlfriends and they quit after a couple of weeks. I don't blame them, the time commitment is heavy (about 5 double sided worksheets a night). There are days when I'm the only mother speaking English without an accent in the waiting room. Why would an educational program be so popular amongst English-as-a-second-language parents? I believe it's because memorization and repetition is how most of the world learns math and reading and it's what's lacking in American school systems today. Of course you can disagree with me, that's the beauty of America.

 I live nestled between the best school districts in all of Ohio which implement award winning educational programs but yet our Kumon center is the busiest one in Ohio. Why? Walk into any elementary classroom in my area and children count on fingers until junior high because math facts aren't stressed and they often misspell words because phonics isn't taught. Sure it's okay to make mistakes - that's part of learning. Which is the beauty of Kumon.

 Kumon, as a supplemental program, works because a child can not progress to the next level until a.) they complete work with 98% accuracy and b.) do so fast. This means students are constantly, through repetition and memorization, correcting their mistakes and learning from them. "Accuracy + Speed = Mastery" is Kumon's belief. "Children sharpen their academic skills by practicing them until they become second nature-just as they do in sports or the arts." It makes so much sense to me. Practice, practice, practice until you master what you've practiced.  My preschooler, after months of weekly swimming lessons, swims as well as she breathes - it's become second nature to her.

 However practicing swimming is much more enjoyable than practicing math/reading facts, for most. I would be lying if I said that my children don't cry over the decision my husband and I made by sending them to Kumon. "No one else does this much homework!" they often argue.

 The first year of Kumon was the hardest. Financially and emotionally. Both took a great toll on all of us. I wondered how spending so much money for my children to complete such simple math/reading problems would help. We wrote checks faster then they moved up levels, even though they were breezing through their worksheets.  The children begged us to pull them out of Kumon.  Everyone cried.   "Can't you make an exception and promote my children to the next level?" I pleaded with the director. "They are bored because it's too easy for them. My son knows what 3 + 8 is, he's answered that problem at least a hundred times this past month!"

 "They need this foundation. They are building confidence." the director stated.

 It took me another year to fully understand.  For the last two years, five days a week, thirty minutes a day my children work on their Kumon worksheets. Tonight was a good good night.  My son started a new Kumon level of double digit addition and it was just second nature for him. No explanations needed, "48+19 = EASY!, 36+28 = EASY!, 65+25 = EASY!" he sang without any instruction. "I wish I had more worksheets to do tonight. This is fun!" However, in the middle of his work this evening he asked for a break.

 "Why Handsome?'

"Can you please skype Dziadek to show him what I'm doing?"


"Because he loves math and he will never believe what I'm doing unless I show him myself." Jay said.

 Although three hundred and sixty miles apart - our skype conversation turned into a virtual math showdown between Dziadek (my father) and Jay. I would announce a double digit addition problem.  The boys would answer.  One point awarded to the boy with the first correct answer.  In the end we announced a dead tie. Because (sorry Dad) it was just that.... a tie.

 "We are both same!" Dziadek announced in his thick Polish accent.

"Yes. We both love math!" Jay confidently agreed via webcam.

"We are good at the math."

"Actually. I am better." Jay admitted.

"No. I better."

"Dziadek, you are 60 and I am only 8. That means I am better!"

"No. I still better. I know more."

Without missing a beat Jay exclaimed, "Give me 52 years Dziadek and I will know much more!"


And that. That confidence. That confidence is priceless. That's our Kumon story.  Not an ad. Just our story.