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Getting the Grade with Kumon

July 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Special Features


KumonThe home is a place where parent and child learn lessons of family, growth and education. When children are struggling at school or need to be challenged, they bring their concerns to mom and dad. Toru Kumon was a math teacher, but his station in life was being a father. It was in this role that he decided to create short daily assignments for the benefit of his son and gradually, for children around the world.

Since opening the first centre in his home in 1956, Kumon’s method struck a global cord, reaching 47 countries and over four million students. On the company’s global success, Lisa Kaul, president of Kumon Canada, says, “I think that there’s a universality to parents’ desires to have their children be successful. So I think it’s really fundamental and important to know that the program was started by a father who was interested in having his own children be successful, and that’s very much what drives the philosophy that we have towards learning.”

Christine Shanthirajah shares this parental desire for success. The word Kumon first reached her curious ears six years ago after meeting a Grade 8 girl who was off to take a Grade 10 exam. Shanthirajah’s son Sebastian, then in Grade 2, was soon enrolled and his two younger siblings, Judeto and Marian, would later follow. “He gets so excited. He wants to study more, he wants to go to the class and do the work at home on time,” Shanthirajah says of her eldest son. “This helps him to be more efficient in language and math.”

Shanthirajah’s boys attend Kumon twice a week. They are given worksheets at the centre where they strive to complete them in a timely manner to progress to the next level. When they are not at the centre, Kumon families complete short assignments at home every day. For the Shanthirajah family, the worksheets have become a daily activity, similar to eating breakfast or brushing teeth.

“I kind of just develop it into my routine. In the morning I do Kumon and in the evening I do my homework,” says Sebastian, who is now in Grade 8. He first attended Kumon for remedial purposes, but is now working at a Grade 11 math and reading level.

Anna-Sophia Cacciola, a Grade 6 student working at a Grade 9 level, understands that the key to success is repetition. “In Kumon, sometimes I find [Level] G a bit hard, but whenever I keep practising it, it gets easier,” she says.

“My children readily accept more challenging math work now,” says her mother, Lucy Cacciola. “They have the confidence and they are so proud to be able to do math work that is a few grade levels higher than their current grade level.”

Kumon’s supplemental learning helps build students’ math or reading skills by allowing them to start at a level they are comfortable with and advancing onto more challenging work. “I don’t think that we should be putting an artificial limit on what our children should accomplish,” says Kaul. This attitude is why students like, Anna-Sophia, and millions of others are able to reach their potential and exceed expectations on a daily basis.


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