Teach Yourself Japanese with the Kumon Language Course
Struggling with Japanese? The Kumon course - offering tailor-made lessons that you can study when you want - could be for you.
By Rebecca Quin Oct 21, 2016 4 min read 4
There are tons of different ways to learn Japanese in Japan. Maybe you’ve been gripped by the will-they-won’t-they saga of Mary and Takeshi in the Genki textbook series, or you’ve been discussing the merits of Ryan Gosling with the old ladies down at the community center, or perhaps you’ve been taking private lessons that are the last thing you want to do after a long day at work.
And still, you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
In this case, the Kumon Japanese Language Program – offering personalized instruction built around your own schedule – could be worth a try.
What is Kumon?
A global phenomenon, the Kumon method started back in the 1950s when math teacher Toru Kumon began to create personal worksheets for his son who was struggling with calculations at school. His son completed the worksheets on his own and then corrected them with the help of his father. Through this, he was able to rapidly improve his academic ability. And the Kumon method was born.
The Kumon Japanese Language Program is centered on convenient self-learning facilitated by Japanese instructors. You can either study at home with the correspondence course or you can visit a Kumon language center in your local area.
By learning in small increments, on a step-by-step basis, you avoid repeating the same mistakes and are able to build a solid foundation from which to progress. Best of all, you can hit the books whenever you want but still easily track your progress – ideal for those too busy to attend a regular class.
How does it work?
Whichever you choose, learning follows the same fundamental procedure: you work through the worksheets at your level (determined by an initial 30-minute diagnostic test) while listening to and repeating after the CD, and answering the questions.
Then once you’re ready, you submit the worksheets to your instructor who’ll correct them. If you’re at a center, you’ll go through the worksheets together and read the main text aloud before having a short conversation.
After, the instructor will give you homework to complete for the next visit. The amount of work you’re expected to do at home is 10 short sheets per day. After completing a certain number of worksheets you take an achievement test which shows if you can move on to the next level or not.
Who is it for?
The levels of worksheet you study are decided by a system of letters and numbers in three sections: 1) characters (hiragana, katakana and kanji) and vocabulary, 2) grammar, and 3) reading comprehension.
The idea is to overcome your weaker areas before moving on to the next set of worksheets. Like this, you’re able to build sound Japanese proficiency – in the same way as a native speaker would learn from childhood.
So even if you can write complex kanji but you still can’t write some hiragana, you’ll start with hiragana. The emphasis is on mastering your weakest areas to ensure a solid foundation from which to advance.
Your instructor will assign the sheets for you as you progress. The levels of learning are equivalent to beginner JLPT up until N2.
The great thing about Kumon is that it caters to all of the varied abilities out there. Living in Japan, you might have great listening and conversation skills but you haven’t had much chance to practice writing. Or maybe you’re a whizz at katakana but can’t get your kanji strokes in the right order. This is why a lot of students who’ve unsuccessfully tried to learn Japanese before find that Kumon works well for them.
How much does it cost?
The cost of learning with the Kumon method at a center in Japan is pretty reasonable too. High school students and above pay the top fee of ¥8,640 per month based on two scheduled hours per week with the instructor at the center and working on the rest of the materials at home. The correspondence course is priced slightly higher at ¥9,720 to include postage fees. The instructors at the Yokohama center that I visited were friendly and informative, and the space itself was comfortable and quiet.
To enroll at a center, you have to fill out an application form before taking the diagnostic test (if you’ve had some experience of studying Japanese). There’s no enrollment fee so you can go and check it out without signing up to a course.
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Kumon Japanese Language Program
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Was very excited to try Free trial lesson as mentioned on gaijinpot website. But sad to know that its only for people living in Japan 🙁
I am using Kumon classes and as a beginner i really find it a very effective study material. Along with that bi weekly i have a skype interaction with a Sensei assigned to me which gives me 1 on 1 interaction.
You can click on the link above to visit their website.
Thanks for this information I will definitely look in to this. Sounds like im not the only one whos japanese lesson at the local community centre is really more like a joshikai!
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KUMON Japanese Language Course
When I was in Japan I learned (too late) that KUMON offers Japanese language courses tailored to individual needs. Great for anyone in Japan!
My question is…why don’t they do this 100% online, which would extend it to people outside of Japan? I don’t understand why they require the person to be in Japan. I get they require students to visit the center twice weekly for 1-on-1 lessons, but this can easily be done via a webcam, especially since covid is a thing. And requiring everything sent by mail and postage? Just send pdfs of the worksheets, KUMON, please.
Sorry this is more of a rant cuz I’m just sad I missed out on this, but I don’t get why Japan is always just so behind on the times/opportunities. This is offered in Austrailia and Brazil apparently though!
They actually have a correspondence course that’s by mail that I’m in right now and it’s… not too bad. But I think the reason they don’t offer it overseas is because of 1) shipping costs and 2) there’s biweekly reading sessions online that need to match up with the Japan timezone.
It’s likely based around a lack of available Japanese teachers in other countries to reliably check the work is my guess.
Just curious, what do you see as the benefits of Kumon over other courses? I see quite a lot of language schools are now offering online classes, like GenkiJACS, Akamonkai, Kai Japanese Language School etc.
Honestly, I haven’t tried the others! Kumon works for me because I live in a remote area of Japan, don’t have any local options, and can work on the worksheets at my own pace. I use bunpro/WK/textbooks as well and started Kumon mostly to figure out what areas I was lacking in. It’s a very Japanese style of learning which doesn’t work for everyone. My writing skills have skyrocketed tho lmao, my teacher’s super strict on handwriting.
What’s the work like? I like the kumon math, my kids didn’t though. Haha. I have seen the kumon reading program, for English, but we didn’t need that.
It’s worksheets, practice making verb forms/sentences/kanji/read a passage and answer some questions. It’s not too bad or too difficult, just takes time.
I was gonna say they have kumon in other places too, but I went to look and it looks like they don’t have the japanese course in north america? weird
edit: wait i just saw you did mention that in your post. Still strange though.
cineebon, what level are you on at the moment? And are you doing Nihongo or Kokugo?
I’ve been at it since Nov 2019, and nearing the end of Nihongo Level I now. This level has been really challenging for me and entire booklets(1a to 10b) took me almost 2 hours to finish. Too hard to keep that up, so I started doing half booklets(1a to 5b) instead.
I’m actually hitting the end of H! I took a break for a while lol. I’m doing Nihongo! I know a few people who’ve finished the Nihongo course but no one who’s gone onto Kokugo… I’m very curious about the Kokugo course.
I know a good amount of the grammar in H, but I’ve mostly done Kumon to learn how to write! Each packet takes me a little over an hour right now.
Dang is the difficulty jump between H and I really that intense?
Studied Japanese at Kumon for about 7.5 years. Finished the 日本語 material (but it has been completely revamped since, so it’s not the current one) and the 国語 material they have available abroad, which would be up until I-2 (Japanese middle school)
During my last 2 years in Kumon I was already living in Japan, so I was doingit by “correspondence” from here to Brazil, lol. My instructor would send me the material by ship so I would do it by myself. I would only return it when I was traveling back home, though. I believe she was not supposed to do that, but VERY few people get to finish 国語 outside of Japan, so I assume she, as a Kumon instructor, wanted the record for her center.
Yeah, I have no idea what the criteria is, but I guess I was lucky to be in Brazil. We probably have it due to the high number of Japanese descendants, but god knows why Australia and not the US…
Other people have mentioned it already, but I definitely think Kumon is NOT for everyone. It can be either amazing or traumatic, depending on your learning style and organization skills. It’s extremely different from regular Japanese schools in what they allow you to have your own pace (no lagging behind the class or having to wait for classmates) and that you necessarily have 1x1 time with your instructor twice a week, what is great. Also all their material is of their own (no Genki, Minna, etc) and it’s very good quality, IMO.
Of course it has very low focus on oral skills, but considering it’s usually available only in Japan, that should be the easiest part to compensate by yourself. Also if you get to 国語, you get to study Japanese grammar, vocabulary and kanji in the same way Japanese students do. That is not necessarily good by itself (and even Kumon only gets people to do that after they finished 日本語 anyway) but it surely helps your Japanese to sound a lot more natural.
On my toughest stages I was dividing booklets by three (4-3-3). Good old times, lol. At my Kumon center there were some people who would divide it by four or even five (just 2 sheets!!!), but that’s pretty much giving up without actually giving up, lol. When you get to the middle school level of 国語 (G, H, I) the amount of text in one single sheet is just insane.
Honestly, I only started enjoying 国語 from C stage and beyond. I don’t know from what stage they get you to start after finishing 日本語 in Japan, but back at home it would be 国語’s 4A (pre-school). I mean, the pre-school booklets had a sheer amount of flowers and bugs names, which were completely unmanageable to me. (of course my instructor wouldn’t be picky about it nor anything, but still) On A and B you get texts, but they are mostly fairytales, bedtime stories and such. While that might sound easy, it’s not. They are often full of onomatopoeia, dialects and other things that dictionaries might not be of much help. And since it’s 国語 you have no translation nor any sort of help. I felt very frustrated by then. Once you get to C and D you get more “scientific texts” and essay style ones, which have proper grammar and structure, so as long you spend the time you can read it. I do remember enjoying the grammar and writing exercises by then. You get a lot of identifying the parts of the speech training, rewriting sentences using different structures, etc. It definitely does wonders for your written Japanese. (Well, that’s what it’s meant for originally, right) Last but not least, the ridiculously overwhelming amount of text on the last stages is very good for improving your reading speed, although it can be pretty stressful.
As I said in the beginning, I don’t think Kumon is for everyone. But for the ones who like it, I think it is an amazing course with very good quality material. Also, if you are planning on ever living in Japan while using Japanese as your main language, the skills Kumon focus on are crucial for your work life, so I definitely recommend it.
One day I’m still entering a Kumon center in Japan to get those final 国語 stages they don’t have in Brazil
As a curiosity, a picture from the worksheets of my last stages (I-1, here)
I remember that the fact it’s printed so you can’t simply copy and paste into a dictionary (and if it was an unknown kanji, good luck) together with every sheet being a completely different text with different vocabulary was VERY challenging for me by then.
Oh dang, I’ve heard that the final few level of 日本語 are mostly reading but that’s… a lot of reading wow.
How would you say Kumon helped your Japanese in the long run? Did you take a JLPT afterwards or have you noticed a difference in your ability?
I’d say it’s definitely improved my writing and kanji recognition by a LOT, but hasn’t been a great help for grammar.
What do you mean by improving writing if not grammar? Actual calligraphy? Vocabulary?
I came to Japan after studying about 5 years in Kumon back at home. During that time I took JLPT N5 to N3 and failed N2 for just a bit right before coming. At my Japanese language school I was placed at the class between 上級 and 中級 and got N1 after 8 months. Didn’t bother taking N2 since my Japanese had clearly improved a lot since coming here.
When compared to other students I would usually have one the best compositions due to good sentence and text structuring, while having poor pronunciation.
I’m not sure what exactly you have in mind when saying grammar (as in verb conjugations? particles? sentence patterns?), but I remember doing a lot of sentence structure exercises (both 日本語 and 国語), reordering passages, rewriting paragraphs and summarizing texts (国語). It helps A LOT on seeing how the particles connect the different parts of the speech and “who belongs to who”. I think it is very good on freeing you from the sentence pattern memorization many Japanese grammar books fall into.
I do acknowledge however that these memorized patterns are what usually appear on JLPT exams. So if by improving grammar you mean being able to answer exam questions, it might not be the greatest material on earth, indeed. On real life Japanese, though, I never felt my grammar skills lacking.
That being said, if we are talking about straight up verb conjugation, it was indeed just root memorization, and not a good one. I do remember that when I was in 日本語’s D (by then when you learn た・て form, dunno about the current worksheets) I had to actually stop and study the worksheets, because just answering the exercises was giving me zero retention.
And yes, it is a shit-ton of reading, so it definitely helps a lot on kanji recognition and improving reading speed.
I mostly meant handwriting! I couldn’t write Japanese almost at all before starting Kumon. I have horrible English handwriting too lol. My Kumon teacher’s been very strict on my handwriting and helped me understand it. Writing kanji has helped a lot with my ability to learn and retain kanji as well.
That exactly! Verb conjugations, particles and a lot of the smaller patterns. I think Kumon is great for practicing that sort of thing, but I needed more in-depth explanations for a lot of grammar (which I found on the internet). That’s just my personal learning style though!
Thank you for giving me more information though! I really enjoy hearing about the different methods used in Japanese learning programs.
I had a quick look at my H sheets and I’d been spending around 1h30min or so on each booklet. If you’re having an easy time with H, I think you’ll probably not have too much trouble with I.
Some other Kumon posts also say it takes them about an hour to finish the booklets, even in the higher levels. I can’t figure out what I’m doing that makes it take me so much longer…
I listen to the audio and try to shadow it before doing the exercises. Every section of text or exercise, I read aloud at a natural pace while doing the exercises, even if I’ve just read the same text over and over on the previous sheets. I have to copy-write all the kanji most of the time, because there’s no way I can write them from memory. (this can be quite slow…)
Do you follow a similar routine?
Good to know it’s normal to divide the booklets into multiple parts! It can be so hard to muster the energy to do a whole booklet. Were you able to write all the kanji from memory? Did you read any novels while you were doing Kumon?
Oh, Kanji was always a quest. lol. On 日本語 it was still more or less manageable, but on 国語 you have very little practice, so it was quite tough at times. I guess since it’s meant for Japanese kids, the material probably assumes you see the kanji on a regular basis, so you get to right it like two or three times and that’s it.
I used to read the books they had at my Kumon center for borrowing. Some were novels, some were children books, also a couple of graded readers…
Sorry, I know this topic is old, but I was wondering if you remember if the 国語course had a lot of emphasis on writing kanji? (especially from memory)?
Sorry for the late reply, I was traveling for the weekend.
Yeah, I actually touched on that topic on my last reply to this post, but by the end 国語 really just glosses over the kanji, specially for the stages equivalent to middle school (what means all kanji above 教育漢字 but within 常用漢字, aka “the second half of Joyo Kanji”).
I took a picture of my old materials just to give you an idea:
It really just gives you the basic info, makes you write it within context maybe twice and that’s it, ready to go. On the earlier stages it has a bit more drills, but even then it’s not really kanji-focused, if that’s your main goal.
That being said, Kumon does make you handwrite a lot of Japanese what is nice in my opinion, but still very different from systematically making you practice Kanji so you can remember all of them. Kumon method is more likely to let you in a position similar to most Japanese folks, which is being able to write from memory common Japanese words and to read almost all Joyo, but in doubt if asked to write by hand more “uncommon” words.
In the end, I believe that as a material designed for Japanese children, they assume the Kanji-drilling is already being done in school anyway, so they’d better focus on giving more reading material, teaching grammar and discussing text structure.
Oh whoops I definitely missed that in your og reply, sorry!!!
Thanks so much for your reply and sharing the materials. I really appreciate it. My main goal is definitely reading (plus the grammar and such that goes into that) so Kumon actually might not be a bad option for me. Again, thanks so much for your help.
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Correspondence Course Enrollment Application
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Start your study
Submit your homework. Receive the worksheets for the Center study
Study using the audio material
Study using worksheets
Submit the completed worksheets to your instructor
Have the worksheets graded by your instructor and correct mistakes if any!
Read the worksheets aloud and have this checked by your instructor
You've finished your study at the Center!
You also study at home! At home you follow the study procedures, too.
※At the Center you will study for about an hour.
The Class Course allows you to study Japanese at a Kumon Center
How is kumon (class course) different from japanese language schools.
At Kumon, you don't attend a class in which "teachers teach you." Instead, you will read the explanations on worksheets, practice oral readings, and solve questions on your own to master Japanese. Students use the worksheets and the audio material of their proficiency level.
How many hours do I study per week?
Kumon Centers are basically open two days a week, and the hours differ among the Centers. During the Center hours, you can go there and study at any time that is convenient for you.
At the Center you will study for about one hour. After the study, you will receive your homework and study this at home until the next Center day.
What will the instructor do for me?
Kumon instructors help you to smoothly advance your study. They give individual support to each student through the students' study and oral reading practices at the Center, as well as through the worksheets they completed at home.
By grading the worksheets that students completed, the instructors assess the Japanese comprehension level of the students, give them hints to enhance their self-learning ability, and adjust the level of worksheets that they study to the "just-right" level. In addition, the instructors give students advice for proper Japanese pronunciation by checking their oral reading.
An enrollment fee is not required
Tokyo or Kanagawa
16 years of age or above
You can search for nearby Kumon Centers for the Japanese Language Program from address, postal code or station name.
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The Kumon Programmes and their benefits
The Kumon Programmes aim to develop:
- Calculation ability and reading ability
- Discipline to maintain a daily study and reading habit
- Confidence to learn independently.
Please scroll down to read about the Kumon curricula and the specific topics we cover in our Maths, English, Japanese and Kokugo programmes.
The Kumon Maths programme develops quick, precise calculation skills necessary for the study of high school mathematics. Only topics essential for high school mathematics are included. They include number recognition, counting and writing; the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; fractions and decimals; algebra, equations, functions and calculus.
Each worksheet builds on what has come before and prepares students for what comes next. Students progress step by step, towards the goal of advanced high school mathematics.
The Kumon English worksheets develop a high level of reading comprehension ability. To inspire students to read widely, the worksheets contain more extracts from published texts than any other reading programme in the world.
They are arranged in order of increasing difficulty, from the simplest to the most complex.
Audio files support the student’s progress, as do Kumon’s recommended reading lists.
Kumon Japanese aims for mastery of advanced reading comprehension skills, which enable students to fluently read Japanese texts.
Kumon Japanese has links to the Japanese Language Proficiency Tests, conducted each year throughout the world by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Thereby, Kumon Japanese students are able to acquire internationally recognised qualifications.
Kumon Japanese is comprised of fifteen levels of worksheets that are designed for students to learn step-by-step. CDs recorded by native Japanese speakers ensure students hear correct pronunciation of words.
After mastering hiragana and katakana (phonetic alphabets), students progress to the study of kanji (Chinese characters) and more complex sentence structures.
Kumon Kokugo is a language programme designed for children whose native language is Japanese. The programme assumes native Japanese fluency.
Furthermore, students who have completed Kumon Japanese can then progress to Kumon Kokugo.
Kumon Kokugo enhances vocabulary acquisition through development of advanced reading and writing skills.
The Pencil Skills Programme is a supplementary programme that supports the development of students’ ability to control a pencil.
Pencil Skills includes the ability to hold a pencil securely and correctly, to use consistent writing pressure, to control the start and end of lines, to draw straight lines, to draw curved lines and to draw lines within narrow spaces.
The worksheets are intended to be fun and to be studied by preschoolers. The Pencil Skills Programme consists of two levels, ZI and ZII, with 100 worksheets in each level.
Therefore, the Pencil Skills programme is usually studied as a prelude to Kumon Mathematics and/or Kumon English.
How Kumon study could benefit students of all ages
For early learners: ages four and younger.
The Kumon Maths programme has many benefits for early learners. These include:
- Instructing early learners on how to hold and use a pencil through interesting exercises and activities in the preparatory level worksheets
- Helping early learners to recite, read and count and write numbers by themselves
- Assisting early learner to see the joy in learning through our colourful and interesting worksheets, and through the constant encouragement from their Kumon Instructor
- Preparing early learners for later learning by providing a strong maths foundation
- Kumon study only takes a small amount of time each day. Early learners will have plenty of time for play and other activities!
The Kumon English programme has many benefits for early learners. These include:
- Helping early learners learn to read and recognise words, phrases and sentences, through repeating, reciting and reading. Additionally, early learners’ letter writing will improve by tracing, copying and writing words
- Assisting them to see the joy in learning through our colourful and interesting worksheets, and through constant encouragement from their Kumon Instructor
- Preparing them for later life with a strong foundation in reading and writing
- Kumon study only takes a small amount of time each day. Early learners will still have plenty of time for play and other activities!
The Kumon Japanese programme has many benefits for early learners. These include:
- Learning a second language is proven to have great benefits for children’s development. The earlier they begin to learn a language, the more likely they are to retain the knowledge in later life
- Helping them learn to read and recognise words, phrases and sentences, through repeating, reciting and reading. Additionally, their character writing will improve by tracing, copying and writing
- Kumon study only takes a small amount of time each day, leaving plenty of time for play and other activities!
The Kumon Kokugo programme has many benefits for early learners. These include:
- Maintaining and developing early learners’ Japanese native language ability.
- Helping them learn to read and recognise words, phrases and sentences, through repeating, reciting and reading. Additionally, character writing will improve by tracing, copying and writing
For primary school students: ages five to 12
The Kumon Maths programme can benefit primary school students, aged five to 12, by:
- Providing a personalised study programme based on your child’s individual needs and addressing any gaps in their learning. Students can even go on to be advanced in their learning
- Ensuring students have mastered essential mathematical concepts. This includes the four basic operations, fractions, and algebra
- Ensuring students have developed essential skills. This includes strong mental calculation ability, verification skills and self-correction skills
- Extending the abilities of advanced students. Some students come to Kumon with a special interest or ability in maths. Our programmes can help develop their interest, abilities and pique their curiosity.
The Kumon English programme can benefit primary school students, aged five to 12, by:
- Providing a personalised study programme based on your child’s individual needs and addressing any gaps in their learning. They can even go on to be advanced in their learning
- Ensuring students are exposed to a wide range of texts and develop strong reading comprehension ability. Afterwards, your child will be able to compose simple sentences, visualise passages and interpret passages, through re-statement, examples and description.
- Stretching the abilities of advanced students. Some students come to Kumon with a special interest or ability in English. Our programmes can help develop interest, ability and pique their curiosity
- Supporting the learning of both native and non-native English speakers.
The Kumon Japanese programme can benefit primary school students, aged five to 12, by:
- Helping them learn a second language. This is proven to have great benefits for the development of children’s brains. The earlier they begin to learn a language the more likely they are to retain the knowledge in later life
- Helping them learn to read and recognise words, phrases and sentences, through repeating, reciting and reading. Additionally, their character writing will improve by tracing, copying and writing.
The Kumon Kokugo programme can benefit primary school students, aged five to 12, by:
- Maintaining and developing their native Japanese language ability
- Building their Japanese reading comprehension ability
For high school students: ages 13 and above
The Kumon Maths programme can benefit all high school students, aged 13 and above, by:
- Providing a personalised study programme based on your child’s individual needs and addressing any gaps in their learning . They can even go on to be advanced in their learning
- Ensuring students have mastered essential concepts. This includes complex algebraic equations, functions and graphs, differentiation and trigonometric functions
- Ensuring students develop the discipline, mindset and skills necessary for learning independently , as they progress through high school maths
- Extending the abilities of advanced students. Some students come to Kumon with a special interest or ability in Maths. Our programmes can help develop their interest, ability and pique their curiosity.
The Kumon English programme can benefit all high school students, aged 13 and above, by:
- Ensuring students develop their critical reading skills. They are able to summarise, analyse and interpret elements of literature. This includes figurative language, comedy, irony and tragedy
- Ensuring students develop the discipline, mindset and skills necessary for learning independently as they progress through high school English
- Extending the abilities of advanced students. Some students come to Kumon with a special interest or ability in English. Our programmes can help develop their interest, ability and pique their curiosity
The Kumon Japanese programme can benefit high school students, who are aged 13 and above, by
- Helping them learn a second language. This is proven to have great benefits for the development of teenager’s brains
The Kumon Kokugo programme can benefit high school students, who are aged 13 and above, by:
- Maintaining and developing their Japanese native language ability
- Build their Japanese reading comprehension ability
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Home > The Kumon Method and Its Strengths > Small-Step Worksheets
The Kumon Method and Its Strengths
3. Small-Step Worksheets
Self-learning is facilitated by Kumon’s constantly evolving small-step worksheets.
Kumon worksheets are laid out in very small steps
Kumon worksheets are laid out in very small steps, enabling each student to advance smoothly from easy to difficult problems and, ultimately, to the study of high school level material.
The international version of the Kumon math program consists of 20 levels (from Level 6A to Level O) and five elective levels, making a total of 4,420 double-sided worksheets. All of these worksheets were carefully designed to take students from counting up to advanced math, with the level of difficulty increasing in small steps. This enables students to steadily move up to higher levels on their own.
Worksheets are revised through learning from students
The current lineup of Kumon worksheets is not the same as it was in the beginning. Originally, there were just approximately 800 worksheets in total and they were all handmade by Toru Kumon for his son Takeshi.
Since then, information such as students’ reactions to the worksheets and feedback from Instructors has been continually taken into account when revising the worksheets to make them easier for students to do independently.
We will continue learning from children and revising the worksheets in order to make them even more effective for self-learning.
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How much does Kumon Cost?
$150 – $200 cost per month per subject.
Kumon prices are $150 to $200 per month per subject on average with discounts available for multiple-subjects. Most Kumon locations offer free placement testing but charge a $50 registration fee and an initial $30 materials fee.
David Samuel at Kumon Math And Reading Center Of Westchester , CA, says average prices are $160 per subject . Kumon Math & Reading Center of Anaheim Hills-Weir Canyon charges $150/month per subject . Kumon prices vary around the country due to variances in overhead. Most centers prefer to give a quote in person rather than online.
Background on Kumon
Kumon centers were first started in 1958 by Toru Kumon in Osaka, Japan, after he found the teaching methods he developed for his son, Takeshi, helped him greatly with his reading and math skills. Kumon had previously been a high school teacher, and he developed the program based on teaching students rote memorization of math facts.
Soon after, he changed the name of the center from the Kumon Institute of Mathematics to the Kumon Institute of Education to reflect the fact that the center also had reading programs.
The program really began to grow after the success of Kumon’s book, The Secret of Kumon Math, to where Kumon is now a program that teaches 4 million students around the world, with 2,200 Kumon centers in the US alone. There are also Japanese and Kokugo courses available for Japanese speakers in some of the centers.
Why do tutoring with the Kumon method?
Prepares children for life.
Part of the reason why many students don’t get into college is because they can’t get high enough scores in math and English, and it’s not only because of a lack of understanding; it’s because they haven’t been taught basic math and vocabulary facts they can recall instantly during exams.
Students often decide they won’t need math or reading in their future careers, and that if they do, they’ll have their phones for looking up what they need; but there are too many degrees that require students to pass basic math and English in their first year of study. Not having these skills can set them back severely from a well-paid future career.
One student says that going through the program has helped her so much more in her fashion studies because of the amount of math and technology she needs to know. The Kumon Math and Reading Center of Westchester says, “With a strong academic foundation, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, your child has the potential to achieve whatever he or she desires.”
Poor curriculum in schools
Each school and each school district is dependent on many things which will affect the student’s overall ability to learn what he or she needs to, including the quality of the teachers, the school budget, the general attitude toward learning in the school, and the level of parental involvement. The parents must take up the fallout from anything missing in their children’s education.
Kumon’s reading program includes a “recommended reading list that contains 380 books designed to help you as a parent select material that enhances your child’s appreciation for and understanding of the English language and helps to develop a lifelong love for reading. Many of the books on the Recommended Reading List have won literary awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award.”
The Kumon math program begins with counting and number sequencing and over the program, builds up to calculus, probability, and statistics.
High student to teacher ratio
Over the last 25 years, schools have been expanding their class size and shrinking the ratio of teachers per student. Given that most students are followers of the student with the most influence in the classroom rather than the teacher, it’s safe to say that about 80% of students are not giving their teachers their full attention during any given lesson, if we use the 80/20 rule.
According to a 2015 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average US high school class size ranges from 18.7 in Alaska to 34.5 in Nevada. This shifting number makes it incredibly difficult for teachers to keep the class’s attention, let alone convey what they are trying to teach in that hour.
Given that it now takes two working parents to afford current living costs, many parents are not available for their kids after school to help with homework or even to explain basic facts. Without that support, children are finding it more frustrating trying to learn what they need to alone. The benefit of a Kumon center means they can get that help after school as they need it.
Parents’ forgotten knowledge
Even if one parent is able to stay at home, he/she might not have the ability to recall school learning, let alone be able to explain certain concepts. Children need to be able to have someone familiar with their schoolwork available for questions after school.
Ineffective teachers at school
While there are many teachers who are gifted and excellent at conveying what the students need to know, there are others who cannot teach well and leave the students feeling even more confused. Unfortunately, parents have no control over which public school teachers their children get.
Many Kumon students volunteer their time once they complete the program, and they go on to become teachers because of their love for teaching that is developed during that time. Kumon teachers have ongoing training and are constantly helping improve the teaching program based on their experience with students and student case studies.
Child lacks confidence or self-esteem
The less a child is able to keep up with the rest of the class or understand the topics, the more frustrated the student becomes. This leads to children giving up and not paying attention in class, and as the curriculum builds, they get even more lost. Self-confidence disappears and they start to become afraid of even asking a question in class that might display their lack of knowledge.
Many children have testified that Kumon has helped them face challenges and overcome them. The practice of pushing through in small steps rather than getting overwhelmed with the end picture has given them tools for life. “My determination to keep going has become stronger,” says one aspiring ballerina. “Kumon improved my self-esteem, because every time I saw a hard math question on a test at school, I’d know how to do it,” says Abishek.
“Knowing how to do it is great, but knowing how to do it efficiently and fast is much better.” The owner of Kumon of North Arlington , TX, says, “I create an at-home study plan for each student in addition to monitoring classroom assignments, and I emphasize the importance of accurately completing each assignment within a designated time frame. This has helped many of my students increase self-confidence, thus becoming more self-reliant.”
Child lacks motivation
Some kids have other problems they are dealing with in life and it’s taking their focus off paying attention in school. Perhaps bullies are picking on them or their friends are ghosting them or a sibling is sick. Once in the smaller, safer environment of a Kumon center’s class, children can focus on what needs to be learned.
One child says that she enjoys getting higher scores on her math and English tests thanks to what she has learned with Kumon. One part of the program that incentivizes children is that they write in their start and end times on every worksheet, and each time they are encouraged to improve their personal best. This encourages personal pride in their work.
Change of schools
US families often have to move out of town or to a new state because of job opportunities, which can make things difficult for children as they struggle to adapt to the new environment and new classmates. Also, the quality of teaching might be worse than at the old school or at too high a level for them. Kumon can bridge that transition.
Deciding to work on math and reading at the delicate tween and teen stage can become a battle between child and parents as children begin to assert their individuality and independence. Letting them learn at a Kumon center rather than listen to parents yelling at them to do their homework can be hugely beneficial, as they don’t have the same issues with teachers.
Why the Kumon method?
The Kumon method is unique in that it teaches the students math and reading facts through memorization. Students learn skills incrementally and don’t move on to the next level or skill until the first one is mastered. It’s a step-by-step system that has proven itself over and over throughout the world, and is particularly useful for kids who find other methods of learning overwhelming.
Daily assignments take about 30 minutes to complete, two of which are completed at the Kumon center and five which are completed at home. The main beauty of the method is that students are self-taught from the content in the program and guided in their learning by the teachers, rather than taught by the teachers and told what they can learn and when.
Parents have found the routine and predictability of Kumon to be very helpful for kids who need this level of routine. Children with autism and other disorders have said that it helps to learn at a pace they can set for themselves, and that always having an instructor present while at the center or available through e-mail is settling. The father of Peter, a Down Syndrome kid with leukemia, has said that the dedication and consistency of Kumon has been very helpful to Peter.
Because no children start without taking an assessment to gauge how much they understand, you can rest assured that they will begin in the right place. The assessment not only studies the number of correct answers, but instructors also look at a child’s posture, handwriting, way of holding the pencil, and level of distractibility in order to best customize the program to the child. Worksheets are designed to teach students everything they need to know at that level.
Once students get the answers right, they can move on to the next level, thus insuring that, unlike school, they know the material before moving on to another concept. This helps children become self-taught rather than spoon fed, and they get to set the pace for themselves without having to slow down or scramble ahead to match the rest of the class.
The instructors are all certified in the Kumon method, and they have regular conferences with the child and parent in order to evaluate and monitor progress and help the child achieve success at each level. Children feel a great sense of pride in passing each level, and when they are struggling with the material, they are encouraged to try to solve the problems on their own first before asking for help.
An instructor is always present in the room to explain concepts or help a child problem-solve, and the perspective is that there is always a way they can adjust the learning schedule to fit the child’s learning curve and learning style. You’ll find that many students stay in touch with their former Kumon instructors for the rest of their lives, such is the feeling of care their instructors emanate.
The Kumon program does not offer online classes, as the premise is that students are guided in their own learning rather than taught.
Darryl Young , a former Kumon student, is now a professor of mathematics in Harvey Mudd College, Los Angeles, and he says Kumon has helped him see his students through different eyes. Imitating the Kumon method, he seeks to know what they can and can’t do and what they are successful in, so he can help each student build off those successes.
He started a group in 2007 called Math for America, providing teachers with everything he can possibly give to help them at their craft. He says what Kumon tries to do is show that math is a skill, just like any other skill that must be learned; and if you work at it, you will get better. Many former students have found Kumon so helpful that they want to help at their local center long after they’ve completed the program.
Research & Studies
A study of the effects of the Kumon Method upon the mathematical development of a group of inner-city junior high school students was this:
“103 Hispanic junior high school students were instructed using the Kumon Mathematical Method. Instruction took place 1 hour per day, 5 days a week in a public school setting. Instruction extended over an eight month period. ... Reported were significant gains in math computation, math concepts, and math applications scores at the seventh grade level; grade 8 students maintained their percentile rankings for the duration of the study; subjects significantly increased their speed on the Kumon exam.”
Finding Your Tutor
Your children can start the Kumon program at the age of three, if desired—once they are ready to learn to read and hold a pencil. In order to figure out if the Kumon program would be a good fit for your child, meet with an instructor at your nearest Kumon center. There you will be able to get answers for any and all questions you might have.
Attend an orientation. You can find your nearest location here. Your child will be given an orientation test to assess current abilities and gauge where to start in the program. Once enrolled, you can monitor progress through the online portal.
As one parent said, “These results translated into a self-esteem boost that I didn’t anticipate. They’ve gotten that there’s a thrill in achieving something. I care more about that than I care about them reading. ... I treat them both with more respect now, because I see what they’re capable of intellectually.”
Find your nearest Kumon center today. Get free quotes from local Kumon Centers, as well as private tutors on Tutors.com.