Learning with Kumon

Have you ever tried to teach a family member a skill, only to realize you would be doing both of you a favour if you got someone else to do the teaching?

For the past three years we have been encouraging my daughter to swim unassisted. Up until 6 months ago, she still wasn't putting her face in the water and she refused to let go of us. She did the same level of swimming FIVE times. Then we took a vacation to Florida with my parents and brother's family, where our house rental had a pool in the backyard. One day my brother said to my daughter "hey, I know you can swim. I think you should take your floaties off." Within 30 minutes of back-and-forth discussion, my daughter had taken her floaties off and was swimming short distances unassisted. Soon my brother was throwing new challenges at her, and by the end of the afternoon, she was doing cannonballs off the edge, and swimming from one end of the pool to the other (I believe there was also the promise of ice cream, but I'll take it, bribe or no bribe.)

The lesson? Sometimes it's hard to teach our children new things! Clearly my brother had a better method - we were telling my daughter to swim, but we weren't giving her measurable goals that she could complete. So "swimming" just seemed insurmountable. 

I'm sure many parents have experienced the same thing when trying to teach their children school subjects. We spend hours with our children encouraging math and reading skills, only to find ourselves going in circles (and our children finding themselves in tears!)

It's often another (objective) person who can be successful in teaching our children what they need to know. And that is what the folks at Kumon can do!

Kumon is the world's largest school reading program for kids. You may have seen their locations scattered around the city and wondered what they were all about. It's not tutoring necessarily, but a specific method that uses small steps to help your child reach the next level. The program was developed in the 1950s in Japan - looking for a way to encourage his son's love of learning, Toru Kumon gave Takeshi short, incremental assignments to complete, allowing his son to master each concept completely before learning a new skill. The method was so successful that by sixth grade, Takeshi was solving calculus problems.

Although your goal may not be to create a child math prodigy, many of us have children that are struggling with math and reading skills, and at-home tutoring by parents is just not cutting it.

What is involved?

Your child will attend a local Kumon centre twice a week for 30 minutes. For the other 5 days of the week, your child is working independently at home. Children are even taught to self-correct their worksheets, which means little involvement from parents (bonus if you have had the experience of your kid throwing his book at you and stomping to his room in tears.)

There are 'tests' when a child is ready to complete a certain level and move on to the next level. There may also be occasional meetings with the Kumon advisor to discuss your child's progress. 

As incentive, children are given "Kumon dollars" which they can save and spend on small prizes.

When do kids attend?

Kumon is open year-round, but summer is a great time to get started. Kids have some extra time to devote to their studies, without the pressure of school and extra-curriculars. As well, a summer program may give your child the extra boost they need to be reading at their skill level by the time the school year begins.

Where can I find out more?

Start by visiting the Kumon website, and you can also check out this great blog post by Montreal blogger Montreal Mom, who tested the program with her nine year-old daughter.

Just like the method my brother used with my daughter to teach her how to swim, I'm convinced that Kumon has the same idea - baby steps, so that children's confidence improves and they find themselves having FUN while learning.

Have you tried Kumon with your child?

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post from Kumon International. All opinions are our own.